HCS SS SCS SB 763 -- TELEMARKETING

SPONSOR: Howard (Kissell)

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Public Safety and Law Enforcement by a vote of 13 to 3.

This substitute regulates certain telemarketing practices. In its major provisions, the substitute:

(1) Adds institutions or companies under the Division of Credit Unions to the entities that are exempted from the fraudulent telemarketing provisions (Section 407.020, RSMo);

(2) Provides definitions for "consumer," "telemarketer," and "established business" (Section 407.1070);

(3) Requires telemarketers to disclose certain information to consumers upon making a solicitation (Section 407.1073);

(4) Prohibits telemarketers from misrepresenting facts, threatening or abusing consumers, and contacting consumers at unreasonable times (Section 407.1076);

(5) Requires telemarketers to keep records of advertising and scripts, prize winners, merchandise purchases, and names and addresses of employees for one year (Section 407.1079);

(6) Provides penalties for violations, including actual and punitive damages (Section 407.1082);

(7) Directs telemarketing complaints to the Office of the Attorney General, which must either handle the investigation or forward the complaints to the appropriate licensing agencies (Section 407.1085);

(8) Prohibits telemarketers from soliciting consumers who have given notice to the Attorney General of their objection to telephone solicitation (Section 407.1098);

(9) Requires the Attorney General to establish and operate a database of consumers who object to receiving telephone solicitations by July 1, 2001 (Section 407.1101);

(10) Creates an advisory group to recommend strategies to the Attorney General for the implementation of the no-call database (Section 407.1104);

(11) Requires telephone solicitors to state their identity and prohibits their blocking of caller identification services and accessing of consumers' bank information (Section 407.1107);

(12) Allows the Attorney General to investigate and initiate proceedings against violators with penalties of up to $5,000. Consumers who have received more than one illegal solicitation within one year may seek an injunction and damages. There is a 2-year statute of limitations (Section 407.1110);

(13) Allows the Attorney General to establish an advisory group to help consumers understand their rights by January 1, 2001 (Section 407.1113); and

(14) Requires certain entities that solicit contributions by telephone to disclose the percentage of contributions that go to the soliciting organization (Section 1).

FISCAL NOTE: Estimated Net Cost to General Revenue Fund of up to $469,325 in FY 2001, up to $264,030 in FY 2002, and up to $269,273 in FY 2003.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the bill reforms the regulation of telemarketing to protect consumers from fraud and the nuisance of unwanted telephone solicitations. Supporters also say that instituting a "no-call" list will provide a uniform, organized way of making telemarketers aware of the consumers that do not wish to be contacted.

Testifying for the bill were Senator Howard; Office of the Attorney General; Sprint; Southwestern Bell; GTE; AllTel; AT&T; MCI Worldcom; Missouri Small Telephone Group; AARP; Max Margulis; Missouri Securities Industry Association; and Security Industry Association.

OPPONENTS: Those who oppose the bill say that there are certain differences between the requirements of federal law and those found in the bill as it passed the Senate. The HCS removes those differences.

Testifying against the bill were American Family Insurance; Prudential; Missouri Association of Realtors; Missouri League of Financial Institutions; and Missouri Financial Services Association.

Sarah Madden, Legislative Analyst