PA 10-52—sSB 187

General Law Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT INCREASING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE NO SALES SOLICITATION CALLS ACT

SUMMARY: This act adds a penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation of the law prohibiting solicitors from making unsolicited telephone calls to people who have registered on the state “Do Not Call” registry. By law, a violation is an unfair trade practice.

The act also prohibits anyone not registered with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) as an interior designer or architect from using the title “registered interior designer. ” It eliminates an exception allowing a person to use the title of “interior designer” if he or she used or was identified by the title for at least one year immediately preceding October 1, 1983.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2011 for the “Do Not Call” provision; upon passage for the interior designer provision.

BACKGROUND

Do Not Call Registry

State law allows any individual to register a telephone number with the “Do Not Call” registry, and prohibits telephone solicitors from making unsolicited telephone calls to anyone on it. The law applies to calls made to (1) engage in a marketing or sales solicitation, (2) solicit a credit extension for such goods or services, or (3) obtain information to use in the solicitation of a sale or credit extension.

The law does not apply to calls made or sent (1) with the consumer's prior express written or verbal permission or in response to a consumer's visit to a seller's establishment; (2) by a tax-exempt nonprofit organization; (3) primarily in connection with an existing debt or contract that has not been paid or performed; or (4) to an existing customer, unless the customer has informed the solicitor that he or she no longer wishes to receive the solicitor's calls (CGS 42-288a).

Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA)

The law prohibits businesses from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices. CUTPA allows the DCP commissioner to issue regulations defining what constitutes an unfair trade practice, investigate complaints, issue cease and desist orders, order restitution in cases involving less than $5,000, enter into consent agreements, ask the attorney general to seek injunctive relief, and accept voluntary statements of compliance. It also allows individuals to sue. Courts may issue restraining orders; award actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys fees; and impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for willful violations and $25,000 for violation of a restraining order.

Related Case: Registered Interior Designer

In Roberts et al. v. Farrell, 630 F. Supp. 2d 242 (D. Conn. 2009), the court ruled the interior designer statute (CGS 20-377l) violated the plaintiff's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by restricting their ability to be called an “interior designer. ” The court suggested clarifying the statute by using “registered interior designer” rather than simply “interior designer.

OLR Tracking: DC: JK: PF: DF