2001 Regular Session
To: Public Utilities
By: Representative Ward
House Bill 984
AN ACT TO PROHIBIT TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES AND ANCILLARY SERVICE PROVIDERS FROM BILLING CONSUMERS FOR ADDITIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES OR OTHER GOODS OR SERVICES THAT HAVE NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE CONSUMER; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) As used in this section, the following words and phrases have the meanings ascribed in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Ancillary service provider" means a person who provides goods or services other than, or in addition to, telecommunications services to consumers and bills consumers through a long-distance telecommunications service provider or local telecommunications company.
(b) "Consumer" means a person to whom is assigned in the State of Mississippi a telephone line and corresponding telephone number.
(c) "Telecommunications company" means a public utility of the type defined in Section 77-3-3(d)(iii).
(2) A telecommunications company may not initiate or bill additional telecommunications services that are not required to be offered by the Public Service Commission and which a consumer has not authorized or requested specifically. A consumer may not be required to pay for any additional services that the consumer did not authorize or request. If a charge is assessed on a per-use basis for a service described in this subsection and the consumer notifies the providing telecommunications company that the consumer did not utilize the service or authorize the utilization of the service, the telecommunications company must initiate a refund of the charge or apply a credit in an amount equal to the charge to the consumer's next monthly bill.
(3) An ancillary service provider may not charge a consumer through the consumer's telecommunications bill for goods or services without the consumer's authorization to acquire the goods or services. A consumer may not be required to pay for any goods or services that are provided by an ancillary service provider and which the consumer did not authorize or request specifically. If the consumer paid for any goods or services that the consumer did not authorize or request, the ancillary service provider must refund to the consumer an amount equal to all charges paid to the ancillary service provider by that consumer. The consumer may recover attorney fees and costs incurred in obtaining a refund from the ancillary service provider.
(4) A telecommunications company or ancillary service provider may not use a sweepstakes, contest or drawing entry form as authorization to add or change telecommunications services or other goods or services to a consumer's telephone bill.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2001.