- Introduced -

SB 963 - This act establishes restrictions on telemarketing and creates a data base where individuals may subscribe if they object to receiving telephone solicitations. This act exempts institutions regulated by the Division of Credit Unions from the unlawful merchandising practice provisions of Section 407.020, RSMo. This act requires that a telemarketer disclose the purpose of the call, the telemarketer's identifiable name, the nature of the merchandise being sold, and all information in regard to prize promotions. If a consumer purchases merchandise offered for sale through telemarketing, the telemarketer will disclose the seller's identifiable name, the address and phone number of the seller, the cost and quantity of the merchandise that is subject to the call, terms of the sale, and all material elements of a prize promotion.

The act makes it an unlawful telemarketing act for a seller or telemarketer to engage in conduct including: misrepresenting any material fact, receiving payment in advance from a consumer, requesting a fee to remove derogatory information from a person's credit history or record, and knowingly and willingly initiating a telemarketing call to a consumer who has previously stated that he or she does not wish to be solicited. The act prohibits abusive conduct by telemarketers, such as the use of obscene language, intimidation, and harassment. It is also a violation to draw on the consumer's checking or savings account without the consumer's express written or oral authorization.

Under this act, a telemarketer is required to keep all verifiable authorizations for a period of twenty-four months including: advertising, name and last known address of prize recipients, name and last known address of each consumer and description of merchandise purchased, and the name and last known address and telephone number for employees.

Any person who violates this act will be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Any consumer that suffers a loss as a result of any unlawful telemarketing will recover actual and punitive damages, attorney's fees, and court costs.

The following calls are exempted from the requirements of the bill: (1) telephone calls where the sale of goods or services is not completed and payment is not required until after a face-to-face sales presentation by the telemarketer; (2) telephone calls initiated by the customer that are not the result of any solicitation by a seller or telemarketer; and (3) Telephone calls or messages to persons who have given permission to be called, and calls to persons with whom the caller has an established business relationship.

This act creates a data base of individuals who object to receiving telephone solicitations. The Secretary of State will establish and operate the data base. A toll-free number and Internet address will be made available for subscribing to the data base. The Lieutenant Governor will be responsible for promoting the data base.