Vermont House passes consumer protection bill

first_imgThe Vermont House of Representatives yesterday passed H. 254, a bill to protect Vermonters against deceptive business practices. The practices outlawed in H.254 include, misleading consumers into authorizing on-going credit card charges, adding unwanted charges to residential or business phone bills, and out-of-state companies masquerading online as a Vermont florists.‘Businesses actively attempting to perpetrate scams on Vermonters is simply unacceptable,’ said Speaker Shap Smith. ‘This bill will outlaw a number of the unscrupulous strategies some out-of-state companies use, as well as strengthen the security of the state’s personal information database.’The key components of H. 254 include:Protection against Misleading Business Practicesâ ¢ Phone Bill Cramming: The bill makes it illegal to charge consumers for goods or services in a phone bill unless they are explicitly authorized; legitimate supplemental phone bill charges are still protected.â ¢ Discount Membership Charges: The bill requires that consumers be notified of their right to cancel membership, requires periodic reminder notifications that the consumer is subscribed and prohibits membership programs lasting longer than 18 months.â ¢ Masquerading: The bill will make it an unlawful and deceptive act to advertise as a ‘local’ or ‘Vermont’ florist if the business isn’t currently located in Vermont. This will protect both consumers and the Vermont florist industry, which is threatened when revenue is siphoned to out-of-state online-order flower businesses.Notification of Security Breachesâ ¢ In the event of a security breach’when consumers’ personal data is lost or stolen’the bill requires the data collector to notify the Vermont Attorney General. Consumers already receive mandatory notification, but notifying the Attorney General will improve law enforcement’s capacity to act on the security breach.Information Technology Securityâ ¢ Strengthens the security of data held by state-level agenciesâ ¢ Clarifies that the Agency of Administration is responsible for Information Technology Security regimens.The bill passed the House unanimously. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.Source: Speaker’s office. 3.30.2011last_img read more