2002 Regular Session
To: Public Utilities
By: Representative Ellis (By Request)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 77-3-601, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DEFINE CERTAIN TERMS RELATING TO TELEMARKETING; TO CREATE NEW SECTION 77-3-621, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE TELEMARKETERS TO OBTAIN THE NATIONAL DO-NOT-CALL LIST AND TO PROHIBIT CALLS TO CONSUMERS ON THE LIST; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 77-3-601, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
77-3-601. As used in this article:
(a) "Telephonic sales call" means a call made by a telephone solicitor to a consumer for the purpose of soliciting a sale of any consumer goods or services, or for the purpose of soliciting an extension of credit for consumer goods or services, or for the purpose of obtaining information or an extension of credit for these purposes.
(b) "Consumer goods or services" means any real property or any tangible or intangible personal property which is normally used for personal, family or household purposes, including, without limitation, any property intended to be attached to or installed in any real property regardless of whether it is attached or installed, as well as cemetery lots and time-share estates, and any services related to the property.
(c) "Unsolicited telephonic sales call" means a telephonic sales call other than a call made:
(i) In response to an express request of the person called;
(ii) In connection with an existing debt or contract, payment or performance which has not been completed at the time of the call; or
(iii) To any person with whom the telephone solicitor has an established business relationship.
(d) "Consumer" means an actual or prospective purchaser, lessee or recipient of consumer goods or services.
(e) "Merchant" means a person who, directly or indirectly, offers or makes available to consumers any consumer goods or services.
(f) "Telephone solicitor" means any natural person, firm, organization, partnership, association, corporation, or a subsidiary or affiliate thereof, doing business in this state, who makes or causes to be made a telephonic sales call.
(g) "Doing business in this state" refers to businesses who conduct telephonic sales calls from a location in Mississippi or from other states or nations to consumers located in Mississippi.
(h) "Established business relationship" means a prior or existing relationship formed by a voluntary two-way communication between a person or entity and a consumer with or without an exchange of consideration, on the basis of an inquiry, application, purchase or transaction by such person or entity, which relationship has not been previously terminated by either party.
(i) "Commission" means the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
(j) "National do-not-call list" means the list maintained by the Telephone Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association, Inc., or its successor organization, of consumers throughout the nation who have requested that they not receive unsolicited telephonic sales calls from telemarketers or other persons engaging in telemarketing or similar activities.
(k) "Telemarketer" means any person or organization who is a telephone solicitor or a telemarketer as defined in the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 310.2, as that section may be in effect after December 31, 2002.
SECTION 2. The following shall be codified as Section 77-3-621, Mississippi Code of 1972:
77-3-621. (1) All telemarketers shall obtain, no less frequently than on a semi-annual basis, subscription listings of consumers in this state who have arranged to be included on the national do-not-call list.
(2) Any telemarketer who calls a consumer in this state whose name and current telephone number is on the national do-not-call list is in violation of this section unless the telemarketer has an established business relationship with the consumer at the time of the call or had an established business relationship with the consumer within the six-month period immediately preceding the call.
(3) Any telemarketer who violates any provision of the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 310, as that part may be in effect after December 31, 2002, with respect to any call made to a consumer in this state is in violation of this section.
(4) All calls made to consumers in this state by telemarketers are subject to the jurisdiction, control and regulation of the commission. The commission may investigate and enforce this section and impose fines for all violations of this section.
(5) Any person violating this section is guilty of a civil offense and is subject to a fine of up to One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per violation. All fines levied under this section are payable to the commission.
(6) The commission shall promulgate rules to ensure that telecommunications companies providing local exchange service inform their customers of this section. The notification may be made by information provided annually in the billing statements mailed to customers and by conspicuous publication of the notice in the consumer information pages of the local telephone directories.
(7) This section does not apply to nonprofit organizations, political parties and candidates, and other firms that obtain an exemption from the commission. The commission shall establish and publish appropriate criteria by which persons may obtain exemptions and may approve or deny exemptions in accordance with those criteria.
(8) This section applies independently of all other sections contained in this article, and no exemptions enumerated in this article other than those specifically authorized under this section have any application for purposes of this section.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2002.