HB 1547-FN – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 1547-FN
This bill regulates use of consumer discount cards issued by retailers.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten
AN ACT relative to the use of consumer discount cards.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 New Chapter; Consumer Discount Cards. Amend RSA by inserting after RSA 359-J the following new chapter:
CONSUMER DISCOUNT CARDS
359-K:1 Definitions. In this chapter:
I. “Retailer” means any person who sells goods used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes to a person who is not in the business of reselling such goods.
II. “Discount card or device” means any card or device issued by a retailer to a consumer, that the consumer may use to obtain a discount when making purchases from the retailer, including, but not limited to, a scanner card.
III. “Consumer” means an individual who is an actual or prospective purchaser of goods used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
IV. “Consumer information” means information that identifies a consumer and that is obtained by a retailer from the consumer’s use of a discount card or device issued by the retailer in the course of the retailer’s business.
359-K:2 Prohibited and Permitted Use of Consumer Information.
I. No retailer who issues, or has issued, a discount card or device in this state to a consumer may sell, lease, or relinquish to any other person, firm, or corporation any consumer information, unless:
(a) The retailer provides reasonable prior written notice to the consumer.
(b) The retailer provides the consumer with the option, at the time the consumer applies for the discount card or device or at the time the consumer receives an unsolicited discount card or device, of preventing the retailer from selling, leasing, or relinquishing such information.
(c) The consumer does not exercise such option to prevent the retailer from selling, leasing, or relinquishing such information.
II. Such notice shall:
(a) State that information identifying the consumer may be sold, leased, or relinquished to other persons, firms, or corporations.
(b) Describe the purposes for which such information would be used.
(c) Include a form the consumer may use to prevent the retailer from selling, leasing, or relinquishing such information.
III. Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. section 1681 et seq.
IV. The provisions of this section do not apply to the sale, lease, or relinquishing of consumer information by a retailer to another person, firm, or corporation that directly or through one or more intermediaries, controls, or is controlled by, or is under common control with, such retailer.
V. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I, a retailer may relinquish consumer information to:
(a) A consumer reporting agency, as defined in RSA 359-B:3, VI and in 15 U.S.C. section 1681 et seq., provided that such information may be relinquished only if the discount card or device also functions as a credit card, as defined in RSA 358-N:1;
(b) A person, firm, or corporation performing or providing services used for the delivery of such retailer’s promotional offers; or
(c) A person, firm, or corporation performing or providing services used for the delivery of such retailer’s billing statements.
359-K:3 Request for Social Security Numbers Prohibited. No retailer which offers a discount card or device for purchases shall require that a consumer who applies for a discount card or device furnish his or her social security number as a condition precedent to the application for the discount card or device.
359-K:4 Penalty. Any violation of any provision of this chapter shall be deemed an unfair or deceptive trade practice under RSA 358-A.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2011.
HB 1547-FN - FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT relative to the use of consumer discount cards.
The Judicial Branch, the Department of Justice, the Judicial Council, and the New Hampshire Association of Counties state this bill may increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2011 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on local expenditures or state, county and local revenue.
The Judicial Branch states this bill will add RSA 359-K to regulate the use of consumer discount cards. Per the proposed RSA 359-K:4, the penalty for violating the prohibited acts in RSA 359-K is that the act is deemed an unfair or deceptive trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act. The Branch has no information to estimate the potential volume of cases that might arise as a result of this bill. The Branch states consumer protection cases carry the potential for enforcement actions by the attorney general, criminal prosecution, and private actions with the potential of up to treble damages. A single case has the potential for the Branch to incur a fiscal impact of over $10,000.
The Department of Justice states the authority for the Attorney General to enforce the criminal and civil penalties contained in the Consumer Protection Act will increase expenditures. Additionally, if an appeal is filed, the Department would have increased expenditures. The Department has no information to estimate how many cases would be prosecuted by the Department or appealed to the Supreme Court to estimate the fiscal impact.
The Judicial Council states to the extent an unspecified misdemeanor results in a misdemeanor offense where the right to counsel exists this bill may result in an indeterminable increase in general fund expenditures. The Council states if an individual is found to be indigent, the flat fee of $275 per misdemeanor is charged by a public defender or contract attorney. If an assigned counsel attorney is used the fee is $60 per hour with a cap of $1,400 for a misdemeanor charge. The Council also states additional costs could be incurred if an appeal is filed. The public defender, contract attorney and assigned counsel rates for Supreme Court appeals is $2,000 per case, with many assigned counsel attorneys seeking permission to exceed
the fee cap. Requests to exceed the fee cap are seldom granted. Finally, expenditures would increase if services other than counsel are requested and approved by the court during the defense of a case or during an appeal.
The New Hampshire Association of Counties states to the extent an individual is prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration, the counties may have increased expenditures. The Association is unable to determine the number of individuals who might be detained or incarcerated as a result of this bill. The average cost to incarcerate an individual in a county facility is $35,342 a year.