Act, 47 U.S.C. fl 222, is a federal law that addresses consumer
concerns on phone solicitation. The law imposes restrictions on the
use of automated phone dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded voice
messages and fax machines to send unsolicited advertisements. Where
calling information is obtained from one telecommunications carrier
from another, the Telecom Act stipulates that the sole purpose must
be the provision of communications service.
Act of 1996 is a major overhaul of telecommunications law.
The goal of the legislation is to let any communications business compete
in any market against any other. The FCC hopes to open up phone markets
and increase competition in long distance services.
places restrictions on the use of telephones and telephone dialing systems
defined as "equipment which has the capacity:
store or produce telephone number to be called using a random or sequential
number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers."
solicitation is defined as "the initiation of a telephone call
or message for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of,
or investment in, property, goods, or services..."
It is unlawful
under the Act to call emergency numbers in the absence of an emergency.
Calls to residences may not be by use of a recorded voice without prior
consent of the called party.
includes provisions protecting the privacy of "Customer Proprietary
Network Information" (CPNI). The Act defines CPNI as "information
that relates to the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination,
and amount of use of a telecommunications service subscribed to by any
customer of a telecommunications carrier, and that is made available
to the carrier by the customer solely by virtue of the carrier-customer
relationship." A phone company must disclose to a customer who
requests in writing the customer's calling information that the phone
company must provide by law to its competitors (called customer proprietary
network information). 47 U.S.C. 222 (c) and (d).
on FCC Implementation of the Telecom Act of 1996 is a report of all
actions taken since February 1996 by the FCC to implement the Act. It
is divided into two sections -- the Commission's actions and facilitating
public information. Transcripts of all hearings are also available.
party may sue for actual damages or "receive $500 in damages for
each... violation" whichever is greater. If the court finds that
the defendant willfully or knowingly violated a person's rights, it
may increase the amount of damages by up to three times the actual damages.
District courts have exclusive jurisdiction over actions brought under
the Act. Permanent and temporary injunctive relief is also available
Act directs the FCC to make sure schools, libraries and health care
providers are included in the information super highway. The universal
service section of the Act, section 254, will help these institutions
gain access to the latest services and technology at discounted rates.
TO FINANCIAL PRIVACY ACT (RFPA)
Congress passed the Right to Financial Privacy Act
(RFPA) 12 U.S.C. sec. 3401 et seq., providing some confidentiality to
the financial records of depositors by governing the transfer of financial
records. The RFPA attempts to strike a balance between the privacy interests
of consumers and the interests of law enforcement officials. In general,
banks are prohibited from disclosing client payment information to the
government without a court order, although the law does have a number
of important exceptions.
Provisions Under RFPA, nearly all federal investigators must provide
"formal written requests" to inspect the financial records
of an individual kept by a financial institution. The agent must give
notice at the same time to the individual, who then has an opportunity
to challenge the access.
must be relevant to a legitimate need within the jurisdiction of the
receiving agency or department.
must be notified in writing of such transfer within fourteen days. Notice
may be delayed, however, if transferring agency has an appropriate court
relief is available to require that the procedures of RFPA are complied
with. Costs and attorneys' fees as determined by a United States district
court may be recovered. Civil penalties may be recovered in the amount
of $100 without regard to the volume of records involved; any actual
damages suffered and punitive damages as allowed by a court.
of OPM may initiate investigation into alleged wrongdoing. The United
States district courts have jurisdiction over court proceedings. There
is a three year statute of limitations on actions.
FUNDS TRANSFER ACT
Funds Transfer Act, 15 U.S.C. flfl 1693 - 1693r, establishes
"mandatory guidelines for the relationship between consumers and
financial institutions in connection with electronic fund transactions."
The primary objective is the provision of individual consumer rights.
requires institutions operating electronic banking services to inform
customers of the circumstances under which automated banking account
information will be disclosed to third parties in the ordinary course
does not restrict the gathering of personal information or limit the
duration of storage of transaction records.
1693k: "No person may:
condition the extension of credit to a consumer based on such consumers
repayment by means of preauthorized electronic funds transfers; or
require a consumer to establish an account for receipt of electronic
fund transfers with a particular financial institution as a condition
of employment or receipt of governmental benefits."
may be found in the provision of actual damages. In the case of an individual
action, damages may be recovered in an amount not less than $100 nor
greater than $1,000. In the case of a class action, such amount as the
court may allow but not more than "the lesser of $500,000 or 1
per centum of the net worth of the defendant." Attorneys' fees
and costs are also recoverable under this Act.
liability may attach as well. Willful noncompliance with the Act may
be punishable by a fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment or both.
If noncompliance involves fraud, counterfeit or forged documents in
interstate or foreign commerce, liability will extend to $10,000 or
ten years' imprisonment or both.
is enforced under section 8 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12
U.S.C. sec. 1818) in the case of national banks, federal branches and
PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT
Privacy Protection Act, 18 USC fl 2721, was passed subsequent
to the stalking and murder of actress Rebecca Schaefer by a fan who
allegedly retrieved her name and address from a motor vehicle department.
prohibits state Departments of Motor Vehicles and their employees from
releasing "personal information" from a driver's record unless
the request fits within one of fourteen exemptions. The exemptions include:
"use by any federal agency; insurance company; licensed private
investigator; or any use related to vehicle safety, emissions, or research..."
requires state motor vehicle departments to provide a citizen a means
of prohibiting the disclosure of name, address, social security number,
medical information or photograph on lists that are either rented out
for marketing purposes or provided to other individuals. Businesses
may still receive such information for certain purposes, including safety,
insurance, use by licensed investigators, auto alterations or recalls
or to verify information previously supplied.
of Motor Vehicles that has a policy or practice of substantial non compliance
shall be subject to civil penalties imposed by the Attorney General
of not more than $5,000 a day for each day for each day of noncompliance.
A United States district court may award actual damages but not less
than liquidated damages on the amount of $2,500. The court may also
award punitive damages. reasonable attorney's fees and litigation costs
and such other preliminary and equitable relief as deemed appropriate.
is enforced by the office of the Attorney General for each state and
jurisdiction is based in United States district courts.
AND CONSUMER FRAUD AND ABUSE PREVENTION ACT OF 1994
and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 1994 , 15 U.S.C.
fl 6101-6108, restricts telemarketing calls, especially those made by
autodialers. The Act and its regulations provide that companies making
sales calls must promptly identify themselves and their product or service.
They must announce the cost before asking for money. They must have
express, verifiable authorization in writing or recorded before debiting
a consumer's checking account. They may call only between 8 a.m. and
9 p.m. Telemarketing may not be conducted in a pattern that is abusive
of consumers' privacy.
brought by a private person under this Act may be brought in a United
States district court. Injunctive relief, as well as damages, costs
and fees are available.
Trade Commission may bring criminal contempt action for violations of
Orders under the Act only after, and pursuant to, appointment by the
Attorney General of an FTC attorney or a Special Assistant United States
authority of the FTC to bring a criminal contempt action... expires
after two years after the date of the first promulgation of rules of
CREDIT REPORTING REFORM ACT
Congress passed the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act,
15 U.S.C. fl 1681-1681t (1997), to help close some of the loopholes
found in the FCRA. The Act narrowed the broad "legitimate need"
purpose for which credit reports could be disseminated. Consumer credit
reports may now be furnished for employment purposes only if the employer
certifies that the employee has consented in writing.
must be able to have access to the nature and substance of the material
collected, excluding medical information); the source of the information;
the recipients of the information and the "date, original papers,
and amounts of any checks" that form the basis for adverse decisions
regarding that consumer's creditworthiness.
for disclosure induce the provision that disclosure must be made within
normal business hours and with adequate notice to the consumer.
certain restrictions on the use of consumer reports. "... whenever
a consumer reporting agency prepares an investigative consumer report,
no adverse information in the consumer report (other than information
which is a matter of public record) may be included in subsequent consumer
report unless such adverse information has been verified..."
noncompliance of this Act invokes liability to the injured party. Actual
damages may be recovered of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000.
Punitive damages as well as attorney's fees and costs are also recoverable.
is enforced under the FTCA 15 U.S.C. section 41, et. seq. The FTC has
"procedural, investigative and enforcement powers - including the
power to issue procedural rules in enforcing compliance ... and to require
the filing of reports, the production of documents and the appearance
updated March 27, 2003
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