(1) Any property or services offered or sold to a natural person primarily for personal, family, household or agricultural purposes;
(2) Any property or service offered or sold for the purpose of providing a profit or investment opportunity; or
(3) Any property intended to be attached to or installed in any real property, without regard to whether it is so attached or installed, as well as timeshare estates and licenses, resort and campground memberships, and any services related to such property.
(1) A sweepstakes or other game of chance; or
(2) An oral or written express or implied representation that a person has won, has been selected to receive, or may be eligible to receive a prize, gift or award.
(1) The telemarketer makes an unsolicited telephone call to a consumer, attempting to sell consumer goods or services to the consumer, when the consumer has not previously expressed an interest to the telemarketer in purchasing, investing in, or obtaining information regarding, the consumer goods or services offered by the telemarketer; or
(2) The telemarketer communicates with a consumer by any means and invites or directs the consumer to respond by any means to the telemarketer's communications, and the telemarketer intends to enter into an agreement with the consumer for the purchase of consumer goods or services at some time during the course of one or more subsequent telephone communications with the consumer.
(b) For purposes of this article, "communication" means a written or oral notification or advertisement transmitted from a telemarketer to a consumer by any means.
(b) A telemarketer may initiate or receive a communication that constitutes a telemarketing solicitation on his own behalf, through a salesperson or through an automated dialing machine.
(c) A telemarketer does not include any of the persons or entities exempted pursuant to part II of this article.
(d) A telemarketer does not include a salesperson as defined in section one hundred fourteen of this article.
(e) A telemarketer includes, but is not limited to, owners, operators, officers, directors, partners or other individuals engaged in the management activities of a business entity that is subject to licensing and registration pursuant to this article.
(1) Contains a written description or illustration of each item offered for sale;
(2) Includes the business address or home address of the seller;
(3) Includes at least twenty pages of written material and illustrations and is distributed in more than one state; and
(4) Has an annual circulation, by mailing, of not less than one hundred fifty thousand catalogs.
(1) A telephone company, or any affiliate or agent of a telephone company; or
(2) Any provider of commercial mobile service, as defined by the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1966 (47 U.S.C. §151, et seq.).
(1) The identical consumer goods or services offered for sale by the person through telemarketing activities are offered for sale at the person's business location; and
(2) More than fifty percent of all of the consumer goods or services offered for sale by the person are provided to consumers at the person's business location rather than through telemarketing sales.
(1) Under which the seller provides the consumer with a form which the consumer may use to instruct the seller not to ship the offered merchandise;
(2) That is regulated by the federal trade commission trade regulation concerning use of negative option plans by sellers in commerce; or
(3) That provides for the sale of books, records, videos, multimedia products or other goods that are not covered under subdivision (1) or (2) of this section, including continuity plans, subscription arrangements, standing order arrangements, single sales of items offered for sale one time, supplements, and series arrangements under which the seller periodically ships merchandise to a consumer who has consented in advance to receive such merchandise on a periodic basis.
(b) The initial application for registration shall be made at least sixty days prior to offering consumer goods or services, or offering for sale consumer goods or services through any medium, and an application for renewal shall be made on an annual basis thereafter. The department of tax and revenue shall charge reasonable application and renewal fees for administration of the registration requirements pursuant to this article. The application and renewal fees shall be established through the promulgation of a legislative rule pursuant to chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. The fees so collected shall be deposited into the state treasury to the credit of the special revenue fund known as the "telemarketer registration fund" pursuant to section three hundred four of this article.
(c) The application for a certificate of registration or renewal shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:
(1) The true name, mailing address, telephone number and physical address of the telemarketer, including each name under which the telemarketer intends to engage in telemarketing;
(2) Each occupation or business that the telemarketer's principal owner has engaged in for two years immediately preceding the date of the application;
(3) Whether any principal or manager has been convicted, or pled guilty to, or is being prosecuted by indictment for, racketeering, any violations of state or federal securities laws, a theft offense, or any consumer protection law or telemarketing law;
(4) Whether there has been entered against any principal or manager an injunction, temporary restraining order or a final judgment in any civil or administrative action, involving fraud, theft, racketeering, embezzlement, fraudulent conversion, misappropriation of property, or any consumer protection law or telemarketing law, including any pending litigation against the applicant;
(5) Whether the telemarketer, at any time during the previous seven years, has filed for bankruptcy, been adjudged bankrupt or been reorganized because of insolvency;
(6) The true name, current home address, date of birth, social security number and all other names of the following:
(A) Each person participating in or responsible for the management of the seller's business;
(B) Each person, office manager, or supervisor principally responsible for the management of the seller's business.
(7) The name, address and account number of every institution where banking or any other monetary transactions are done by the seller.
(b) The bond shall provide that the telemarketer will pay all damages to the state or a private person resulting from any unlawful act or action by the telemarketer or its agent in connection with the conduct of telemarketing activities.
(c) The registration of any telemarketer shall be void upon termination of the bond of the surety company, or loss of the bond, unless, prior to such termination, a new bond has been filed with the department of tax and revenue. The surety, for any cause, may cancel the bond upon giving a sixty-day written notice by certified mail to the telemarketer and to the department of tax and revenue. Unless the bond is replaced by that of another surety before the expiration of the sixty-day notice of cancellation, the registration of the telemarketer shall be treated as lapsed.
(d) The surety bond shall remain in effect for three years from the period the telemarketing business ceases to operate in this state.
(e) Any business required under this article to file a bond with a registration application, may file, in lieu thereof, an irrevocable letter of credit, with annual renewals, a certificate of deposit, cash or government bond in the same amount as would be required for the bond. The department of tax and revenue shall deposit any such funds in an interest bearing account. The department of tax and revenue shall hold such letter of credit, cash, certificate of deposit or government bond for three years from the period the telemarketing business ceases to operate or registration lapses, in order to pay claims made against the telemarketing business during its period of operation. At the end of the three-year term all interest accrued, not required for payment of claims, shall be remitted to the telemarketer.
(f) The registration of the telemarketing business will be treated as lapsed if at any time, the amount of the letter of credit, bond, cash, certificate of deposit or government bond falls below the amount required by this section.
(g) Should the license of any surety company to transact business in this state be terminated, all bonds given pursuant to this article upon which such company is surety shall thereupon be suspended, and the department of tax and revenue shall immediately notify each affected licensee of such suspension and require that a new bond be filed. This notice shall be sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and shall be addressed to the telemarketer at his or its principal place of business as shown by the department of tax and revenue records. The failure of any telemarketer to file a bond with new or additional surety within thirty days after being advised in writing by the department of tax and revenue of the necessity to do so shall be cause for the department of tax and revenue to revoke the telemarketer's registration.
(h) An action may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction upon the bond by any person to whom the licensee fails to account and pay as set forth in such bond. The aggregate liability of the surety company to all persons injured by a telemarketer's violations may not exceed the amount of the bond.
(1) Acts as a telemarketer without first registering pursuant to section three hundred one of this article;
(2) Acts as a telemarketer without first meeting the security requirements set forth in section three hundred two of this article;
(3) Acts as a telemarketer after failing to maintain a certificate of registration accompanied by a surety bond as required by sections three hundred one and three hundred two of this article;
(4) Includes any material information on a registration application that is false or misleading; or
(5) Misrepresents that a telemarketer is registered.
In assessing a civil administrative penalty, department of tax and revenue shall take into account the seriousness of the violation, any good faith efforts to comply with applicable requirements, any benefit obtained by the act or omission, and any other appropriate factors as the department of tax and revenue may establish by rules proposed for promulgation by the Legislature in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(b) No assessment shall be levied pursuant to subsection (a) of this section until after the alleged violator has been notified by certified mail or personal service. The notice shall include:
(1) A reference to this section, sections three hundred one and three hundred two of this article, and any legislative rule that was allegedly violated;
(2) A concise statement of the facts alleged to constitute the violation;
(3) A statement of the amount of the administrative penalty to be imposed; and
(4) A statement of the alleged violator's right to an informal hearing.
(c) The alleged violator has twenty calendar days from receipt of the notice within which to deliver to the department of tax and revenue a written request for a hearing. If no hearing is requested, the notice becomes a final order after the expiration of the twenty-day period. If a hearing is requested, the department of tax and revenue shall inform the alleged violator of the time and place of the hearing. The department of tax and revenue may appoint a hearing examiner to conduct the hearing and then make a written recommendation to the department of tax and revenue concerning the assessment of a civil administrative penalty. Within thirty days following the hearing, the department of tax and revenue shall issue and furnish to the alleged violator a written decision which explains the rationale for any assessment of an administrative penalty. The authority to levy an administrative penalty is in addition to all other enforcement provisions of this article and the payment of any assessment does not affect the availability of any other enforcement provision in connection with the violation for which the assessment is levied. No assessment levied pursuant to this section becomes due and payable until the procedures for review of such assessment as set out in this subsection have been completed.
(d) The department of tax and revenue may seek an injunction, or may institute a civil action against any person allegedly in violation of the provisions of this section, sections three hundred one and three hundred two of this article. An application for injunctive relief or civil action under this section may be filed and relief granted notwithstanding the fact that all administrative remedies provided for in this article have not been exhausted or invoked against the person or persons against whom such relief is sought. Upon request of the department of tax and revenue, the division or the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the violation occurs shall assist the department of tax and revenue in any civil action under this section.
(e) Independently of the department of tax and revenue, with respect to any action brought by the division or a private citizen regarding unfair or deceptive acts or practices, or abusive acts or practices under the provisions of this article or under other applicable consumer protection laws set forth in this code, the division or a private citizen may also apply to the court for appropriate relief under this section against a person violating the provisions of sections three hundred one and three hundred two of this article, pending final determination of the proceedings.
(f) Any funds recovered and all registration fees, as provided for in this article, shall be paid into the state treasury to the credit of a special revenue fund to be known as the "telemarketer registration fund" which is hereby created. The moneys so credited to the fund shall be used solely for the purposes of administering and enforcing the registration and security requirements of this article.
(1) One of each advertisement, brochure and other promotional materials;
(2) The name and last known address of each prize recipient and the prize awarded for prizes that are represented, directly or by implication, to have a value of twenty-five dollars or more;
(3) The name and last known address of each customer, the goods or services purchased, the date such goods or services were shipped or provided, and the amount paid by the customer for the goods or services;
(4) The name, last known home address and telephone number, and the job title for all current and former employees directly involved in telephone sales;
(5) All verifiable authorizations required to be provided or received under this article; and
(6) A copy of all scripts, outlines or presentation material the seller will require the telemarketer to use when soliciting, as well as all sales information to be provided by the seller to a purchaser in connection with any solicitation.
(b) A seller or telemarketer may keep the records required by subsection (a) of this section in any form, and in any manner, format, or place as they keep such records in the ordinary course of business. Failure to keep all records required by subsection (a) of this section shall be a violation of this article.
(c) The telemarketer is responsible for complying with the above provisions.
(d) In the event of any dissolution or termination of the seller's or telemarketer's business, the principal of that telemarketer shall maintain all records as required under this section. In the event of any sale, assignment or other change in ownership of the seller's business, the successor shall maintain all records required under this section.
(e) (1) The division may require a telemarketer to file true copies of all scripts, outlines and promotional material and any modifications thereto with the division of consumer protection for a time period to be determined by the division. Such filing may be required upon an investigation and finding by the division that:
(A) A telemarketer is using scripts, outlines or presentation material that contain material misrepresentations or that fail to state material facts; or
(B) A telemarketer is deviating from scripts, outlines or presentation material so as to make material misrepresentations or to fail to state material facts.
(2) The attorney general shall comply with the requirements of article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code for hearings requested pursuant to Part III.
(1) The true identity of the telemarketer;
(2) That the purpose of the call is to sell consumer goods or services; and
(3) The nature of the goods or services offered for sale.
(b) Before a consumer pays for the goods or services offered for sale, the telemarketer shall disclose, in a clear and conspicuous manner, the following material information:
(1) The total costs to purchase, receive or use the consumer goods or services that are the subject of the telemarketing communication;
(2) The quantity of the consumer goods or services that are the subject of the telemarketing solicitation;
(3) All material restrictions, limitations or conditions to purchase, receive, or use the consumer goods or services that are the subject of the telemarketing solicitation;
(4) All material aspects of the performance, quality, efficacy, nature or basic characteristics of the consumer goods or services that are the subject of the telemarketing solicitation;
(5) All material aspects of the nature or terms of the telemarketer's refund, cancellation, exchange or repurchase policies;
(6) All material aspects of a prize promotion, disclosed prior to requesting the consumer to enter into a sale or lease, including, but not limited to, the following:
(A) A description of the prizes, gifts or awards offered or to be given to consumers participating in the prize promotion;
(B) A statement of the true retail value of each prize, gift or award offered or to be given to participating consumers;
(C) A clear identification of the person or entity on whose behalf the contest or promotion is conducted;
(D) A description of all material conditions which a participant must satisfy;
(E) A clear and unequivocal statement that the consumer is not required to make any purchase, lease or rental of consumer goods or services in order to qualify for any prize, gift or award or to otherwise participate in the prize promotion;
(F) A clear and unequivocal statement that the consumer is not required to pay any handling or shipping costs or to make any other payment of any kind in order to win or receive a prize, gift or award or to otherwise participate in the prize promotion;
(G) The actual numbers of the prizes, gifts or awards to be awarded;
(H) The odds of receiving a prize, gift or award; and
(I) A clear explanation of the no-purchase/no-payment method of participating in the prize promotion, with instructions on how to participate.
(7) All material aspects of any investment opportunity being offered, including, but not limited to, a description of the following factors:
(C) Earnings potential;
(E) Benefits; and
(F) If applicable, the value, price and location of any real or personal property that the consumer will acquire by investing.
(1) Accepting returns or canceling services for a period of not less than seven days after the date of delivery to the consumer and providing a cash refund for a cash purchase or issuing a credit for a credit purchase, which credit is applied to the account to which the purchase was debited in connection with the return of its unused and undamaged merchandise or canceled services. For purposes of this subsection, it will be presumed that goods were received seven days after they were mailed unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the goods were not received or received at a later date;
(2) Disclosing the telemarketer's return and refund policy to the buyer, orally by telephone or in writing with advertising, promotional material, or with delivery of the products or service; and
(3) Restoring such payment or issuing such credit, as required under subdivision (1) of this section, within thirty days after the date on which the telemarketer receives returned merchandise or notice of cancellation of services. A seller who discloses, in writing, that a sale is made or provided "satisfaction guaranteed", with "free inspection," "no risk guarantee", or similar words or phrases, shall be deemed to meet the requirements of the review and return for refund policy set forth in this subparagraph.
(b) Failure to comply with the provisions of this section is unfair or deceptive act or practice.
(1) To advertise or represent that registration as a telemarketer equals an endorsement or approval by the state or any governmental agency of the state;
(2) To request or receive payment of any fee or consideration for goods or services represented to remove derogatory information from, or improve, a person's credit history, credit record, or credit rating until:
(A) The time frame in which the telemarketer has represented all of the goods or services will be provided to that person has expired; and
(B) The telemarketer has provided the person with documentation in the form of a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency demonstrating that the promised results have been achieved, such report having been issued more than six months after the results were achieved;
(3) To obtain or submit for payment a check, draft, or other form of negotiable paper drawn on a person's checking, savings, share, or similar account, without that person's express verifiable authorization. Such authorization shall be deemed verifiable if any of the following means are employed:
(A) Express written authorization by the customer, which may include the customer's signature on the negotiable instrument; or
(B) Express oral authorization which is tape recorded and made available upon request to the customer's bank and which evidences clearly both the customer's authorization of payment for the goods and services that are the subject of the sales offer and the customer's receipt of all of the following information:
(i) The date of the draft(s);
(ii) The amount of the draft(s);
(iii) The payor's name;
(iv) The number of draft payments (if more than one);
(v) A telephone number for customer inquiry that is answered during normal business hours; and
(vi) The date of the customer's oral authorization.
(C) Written confirmation of the transaction, sent to the customer prior to submission for payment of the customer's check, draft, or other form of negotiable paper, that includes:
(i) All of the information contained in subparagraphs (i) through (vi), paragraph (B), subdivision (3) of this section; and
(ii) The procedures by which the customer can obtain a refund from the telemarketer in the event the confirmation is inaccurate;
(4) To procure the services of any professional delivery, courier or other pick-up service to obtain immediate receipt and possession of a consumer's payment unless:
(A) Such service is requested by the consumer;
(B) The consumer is informed that he or she can inspect the goods or services prior to payment and may refuse to accept the goods or services; and
(C) The consumer is actually afforded an opportunity to inspect the goods or services prior to payment;
(5) To engage in any other unfair or deceptive conduct which will create a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding to any reasonable consumer;
(6) To misrepresent the requirements of this section;
(7) To provide substantial assistance or support to any telemarketer when that person knows or consciously avoids knowing that the telemarketer is engaged in any act or practice that violates this section;
(8) To engage in any "unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices" as specified in subsection (f), section one hundred two, article six of this chapter and made unlawful by the provisions of section one hundred four, article six of this chapter.
(2) If a telemarketer violates the provisions of section five hundred one of this article, any sale or lease of consumer goods or services is void and the consumer is not obligated to pay either the principal or any finance charge. If the consumer has paid any part of the principal or of the finance charge, he or she has a right to recover the payment from the violator or from any assignee of the violator's rights who undertakes direct collection of payments or enforcement of rights arising from the debt.
(3) A consumer is not obligated to pay a charge in excess of that allowed by the sales agreement, and if the consumer has paid an excess charge, he or she has a right to a refund. A refund may be made by reducing the consumer's obligation by the amount of the excess charge. If the consumer has paid an amount in excess of the lawful obligation under the agreement, the consumer may recover in an action the excess amount from the person who made the excess charge or from an assignee of that person's rights who undertakes direct collection of payments from or enforcement of rights against the consumer arising from the debt.
(4) If a telemarketer has contracted for or received a charge in excess of that allowed by the sales agreement, the consumer may, in addition to recovering such excess charge, also recover from the telemarketer or the person liable in an action a penalty in an amount determined by the court not less than one hundred dollars nor more than three thousand dollars. No action brought pursuant to the provisions of this subsection may be brought more than two years after the date upon which the violation occurred or the due date of the last scheduled payment of the agreement, whichever is later.
(5) A telemarketer has no liability for a penalty under subsection (1) or subsection (4) of this section if, within fifteen days after discovering an error, and prior to the institution of an action under this section or the receipt of written notice of the error, the telemarketer notifies the consumer of the error and corrects the error.
(6) If the telemarketer establishes by a preponderance of evidence that a violation is unintentional or the result of a bona fide error of fact notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such violation or error, no liability is imposed under subsections (1), (2) and (4) of this section, and the validity of the transaction is not affected.
(1) Makes a representation that he will recover all or any portion of the consideration that a consumer has paid to a telemarketer in response to a telemarketing solicitation;
(2) Does not intend to make such recovery or has no reasonable expectation to anticipate that recovery will be made; and
(3) Receives any remuneration from the consumer before a recovery of consideration is made.
(b) Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in a state correctional center not less than one year nor more than ten years, or fined not more than five thousand dollars and confined in a state correctional center not less than one year nor more than ten years.
(1) Threaten, intimidate or use profane or obscene language;
(2) Engage any person repeatedly or continuously with behavior a reasonable person would deem to be annoying, abusive or harassing;
(3) Initiate an outbound telephone call to a person when that person previously has stated that he or she does not wish to receive an outbound telephone call made by or on behalf of the telemarketer whose goods or services are being offered;
(4) Engage in telemarketing to a person's residence at any time other than between eight a.m. and nine p.m. local time, Monday through Sunday, at the called person's location; or
(5) Engage in any other conduct which would be considered abusive to any reasonable consumer.
(b) A telemarketer will not be liable for violating subdivision (3), subsection (a) of this section if:
(1) It has established and implemented written procedures to avoid outbound telephone calls to persons who have previously stated that they do not wish to receive such calls;
(2) It has trained its personnel in the procedures established pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection;
(3) The telemarketer has maintained and recorded lists of persons who have previously stated that they do not wish to receive such calls; and
(4) Any subsequent call is the result of error.
(b) If a telemarketer violates the provisions of section six hundred one of this article, any sale or lease of consumer goods or services is void and the consumer is not obligated to pay either the principal or any finance charge. If the consumer has paid any part of the principal or of the finance charge, he or she has a right to recover the payment from the violator or from any assignee of the violator's rights who undertakes direct collection of payments or enforcement of rights arising from the debt.
(c) Any consumer that suffers harm as a result of any abusive act or practice shall receive injunctive or declaratory relief.
(d) The state, on behalf of its residents who have suffered a loss or harm as a result of a violation of this article, may seek injunctive or declaratory relief, actual damages, consumer restitution, civil penalties, forfeiture of bond, attachment of property, costs, attorney's fees and any other remedies available to the division under the provisions of this chapter or otherwise provided by law.
(e) In any action brought under this article where damages are awarded to a consumer, the court may adjust the damages to account for inflation from the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight, to the time of the award of damages, in an amount determined by the application of data from the consumer price index. Consumer price index means the last consumer price index for all consumers published by the United States department of labor.
The provisions for service of process or notice herein are cumulative and nothing herein contained shall be construed as a bar to the plaintiff in any action from having process or notice in such action served in any other mode and manner provided by law.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.