Governor Pat Quinn today signed two new laws to protect Illinois consumers from so-called "robo-calls" and to establish clear usage terms on pre-paid purchasing cards. Today's actions are part of Governor Quinn's commitment to protect consumers.
"We must protect consumers from abusive telephone solicitations and from hidden usage fees on reloadable purchasing cards," Governor Quinn said. "These new laws will give Illinois citizens more peace of mind at home and in the marketplace."
Sponsored by State Senator Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake) and State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville), Senate Bill 2136 requires those who operate an automatic telephone dialer for commercial purposes to keep a record of all calls they make. It also requires the auto-dialer to sufficiently document any calls they make that they claim are exempt from the Restricted Call Registry Act. The law is designed to add teeth to existing laws and to curb abusive practices that some companies use. The legislation also increases the damages that may be sought by consumers for violations that occur.
"We all get frustrated by the many telemarketer phone calls that we receive in the middle of dinner with our families." Davidsmeyer said "This law will add some additional teeth and penalty for those who choose to ignore the 'Do Not Call List'."
Senate Bill 2136 takes effect immediately.
Senate Bill 1829, sponsored by State Representative Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) and State Senator Emil Jones, III (D-Chicago), requires specific disclosure requirements regarding fees for general-use, pre-paid purchasing cards. The "fine print" on these cards is often complicated and confusing, resulting in many consumers paying more to use the cards than they realize. The law applies to any card sold to a consumer after January 1, 2015 to give businesses ample time to dispose of existing card inventories and become compliant.
"This is an important measure that will increase protections for consumers that use reloadable prepaid cards by requiring those who issue the cards to disclose any consumer fees and other information," Rita said. "Currently, such cards are exempt from federal laws. This new law provides another safeguard for the hardworking people of Illinois."
"A majority of theses reloadable card users don't know about the hidden fees and restrictions," said State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) Jones said. "By making disclosure forms more visible, consumers are far less likely to assume fees and penalties.
"Many of these card users are people in poorer communities who can't get bank accounts. These folks are already in delicate financial situations and we don't want them economically disabled because they didn't know the how to use these cards," Jones said.
Senate Bill 1829 goes into effect January 1, 2014.