S.B. 404 amends the Kansas Consumer Protection Act regarding odometer fraud to raise the amount of a civil penalty that may be assessed against a violator whose action would constitute the commission of the crime of tampering with the odometer of a motor vehicle as provided by K.S.A. 21-3757 from not more than $2,000 to not more than $10,000. The civil penalty for a violation of K.S.A. 50-653 (title search disclosure) remains at not more than $2,000.
The bill would also amend the Kansas Consumer Protection Act to prohibit "slamming"--the practice of a carrier switching a consumer's primary long distance carrier or local exchange carrier or adding other telecommunications services without obtaining the consumer's express authorization. The bill would include the following provisions.
Burden of Proof. The carrier requesting the change of carrier or change or addition of service would have the burden of proving express authorization by clear and convincing evidence. "Express authorization" is defined in the bill as an express, affirmative act by a consumer clearly agreeing to the change in the consumer's primary long distance carrier or local exchange carrier or to change or add to the consumer's other telecommunications services.
Prohibited Solicitation and Verification Methods. Local exchange carriers, telecommunications carriers, or any third-party verification entity would be prohibited from soliciting or verifying changes in carrier or changes or additions to service that could be potentially misleading, deceptive, or confusing. Other prohibited procedures for inducing a consumer's change in service or carrier would include: the use of a box to collect sweepstakes, contests, or drawings to gather authorization for change in carrier or change or addition to services; and methods not approved by the Federal Communications Commission or Kansas Corporation Commission.
Carrier's Liability to Consumer. Any carrier in violation of the Act would be required to refund to a consumer any amounts collected or credit any unpaid amounts resulting from slamming. Moreover, the bill would require the carrier to restore to a consumer any premiums the consumer may have forfeited through slamming.
Notice of Change. Within three business days of submitting an order to change a consumer's carrier, the carrier making the change would have to mail the consumer a letter describing the authorized change. The letter would have to contain information specified in the bill.
Penalties. Any carrier in violation of the Act would be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $5,000, nor more than $20,000, for each violation. The bill also would authorize the Kansas Corporation Commission to pursue any other sanctions deemed necessary to respond to a carrier's violations of the Act. Moreover, the Attorney General would be authorized to pursue violations of the other sections of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.
The bill was recommended by the 1997 interim Special Committee on Judiciary. The bill was supported by the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division and the Kansas Automobile Dealers Association.
The bill would have no fiscal impact.
The House Committee of the Whole amendments were originally contained in H.B. 2649.
1. *Supplemental notes are prepared by the Legislative Research Department and do not express legislative intent. The supplemental note and fiscal note for this bill may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/fulltext-bill.html.