(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has reached a settlement with a publishing company that allegedly misrepresented its affiliation with the Idaho Department of Commerce and other agencies.
The settlement was announced today with The Travel Council, LLC, which publishes Idaho travel and recreation guides. The company, which operates under the name “The Idaho Travel Council,” agreed to disclose on its website and in ads that it is a private commercial business and unrelated to the State of Idaho.
“Simply, it’s unlawful for a private business to misrepresent its relationship with government, or that the Attorney General, or any other government agency, in some way endorses or supports that business,” Wasden said.
The Attorney General’s investigation of The Travel Council originated from consumer complaints filed with the Department of Commerce. Consumers reported they were receiving unsolicited telephone calls from persons claiming an association with the Idaho Travel and Convention Industry Council, an advisory group established under Idaho law.
Consumers said the callers indicated the company represented the official travel guide of Idaho. Consumers also said they were confused about the source of the calls and whether solicitations to buy advertising would appear in an official state publication or one published for a private company.
Wasden alleged the solicitations had the tendency to mislead consumers and that the company was making telemarketing calls without being registered to do so in the state.
“Under Idaho law, telemarketers must provide their registration number to potential buyers, but the possession of a registration number in no way allows the telemarketer to use the State as a marketing tool,” Wasden said.
The settlement requires The Travel Council to post a clear and conspicuous disclosure on its website and other ads explaining that it is a privately-owned company with no direct or indirect association with the State, including the Commerce Department, the Idaho Travel and Convention Industry Council, the Idaho Division of Tourism Development or Visit Idaho.
“I appreciate The Travel Council’s responsiveness during our investigation and commend the company for its eagerness to comply with Idaho law,” Wasden said.
The company’s telephone solicitor application is pending, Wasden said. The company has also agreed to pay $500 to the Office of the Attorney General to cover investigatory costs and attorney fees.
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