2010 Georgia Code
O.C.G.A. 10-1-393 (2010)
Title 10 - COMMERCE AND TRADE
Chapter 1 - SELLING AND OTHER TRADE PRACTICES
E - 15. DECEPTIVE OR UNFAIR PRACTICES
Part 2 - FAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES ACT
§ . 10-1-393 -
10-1-393. (For effective date, see note.) Unfair or deceptive practices in consumer transactions unlawful; examples
(a) Unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of consumer transactions and consumer acts or practices in trade or commerce are declared unlawful.
(b) By way of illustration only and without limiting the scope of subsection (a) of this Code section, the following practices are declared unlawful:
(1) Passing off goods or services as those of another;
(2) Causing actual confusion or actual misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;
(3) Causing actual confusion or actual misunderstanding as to affiliation, connection, or association with or certification by another;
(4) (For effective date, see note.) (A) Using deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, it is specifically declared to be unlawful:
(i) For any nonlocal business to cause to be listed in any local telephone directory a local telephone number for the business if calls to the local telephone number are routinely forwarded or otherwise transferred to the nonlocal business location that is outside the calling area covered by such local telephone directory or to a toll-free number which does not have a local address and the listing fails to state clearly the principal place of business of the nonlocal business;
(ii) For any person operating a business to cause to be listed in any local telephone directory a toll-free number for the business if the listing fails to state clearly the principal place of business of such business; or
(iii) For any person to use an assumed or fictitious name in the conduct of such person's business, if the use of such name could reasonably be construed to be a misrepresentation of the geographic origin or location of such person's business.
(B) For purposes of this paragraph, the term:
(i) "Local" or "local area" means the area in which any particular telephone directory is distributed or otherwise provided free of charge to some or all telecommunications services subscribers.
(ii) "Local telephone directory" means any telecommunications services directory, directory assistance data base, or other directory listing which is distributed or otherwise provided free of charge to some or all telecommunications services subscribers in any area of this state and includes such directories distributed by telecommunications companies as well as such directories distributed by other parties.
(iii) "Local telephone number" means any telecommunications services number which is not clearly identifiable as a long-distance telecommunications services number and which has a three-number prefix typically used by the local telecommunications company for telecommunications services devices physically located within the local area.
(iv) "Nonlocal business" means any business which does not have within the local area a physical place of business providing the goods or services which are the subject of the advertisement or listing in question.
(v) "Telecommunications company" shall have the same meaning as provided in Code Section 46-5-162.
(vi) "Telecommunications services" shall have the same meaning as provided in Code Section 46-5-162.
(vii) "Telecommunications services subscriber" means a person or entity to whom telecommunications services, either residential or commercial, are provided;
(5) Representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have or that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection that he or she does not have;
(6) Representing that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, reconditioned, reclaimed, used, or secondhand;
(7) Representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade or that goods are of a particular style or model, if they are of another;
(8) Disparaging goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representation;
(9) Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;
(10) Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity;
(11) Making false or misleading statements concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions;
(12) Failing to comply with the provisions of Code Section 10-1-393.2 concerning health spas;
(13) Failure to comply with the following provisions concerning career consulting firms:
(A) A written contract shall be employed which shall constitute the entire agreement between the parties, a fully completed copy of which shall be furnished to the consumer at the time of its execution which shows the date of the transaction and the name and address of the career consulting firm;
(B) The contract or an attachment thereto shall contain a statement in boldface type which complies substantially with the following:
"The provisions of this agreement have been fully explained to me and I understand that the services to be provided under this agreement by the seller do not include actual job placement."
The statement shall be signed by both the consumer and the authorized representative of the seller;
(C) Any advertising offering the services of a career consulting firm shall contain a statement which contains the following language: "A career consulting firm does not guarantee actual job placement as one of its services.";
(14) Failure of a hospital or long-term care facility to deliver to an inpatient who has been discharged or to his or her legal representative, not later than six business days after the date of such discharge, an itemized statement of all charges for which the patient or third-party payor is being billed;
(15) Any violation of 49 U.S.C. Sections 32702 through 32704 and any violation of regulations prescribed under 49 U.S.C. Section 32705. Notwithstanding anything in this part to the contrary, all such actions in violation of such federal statutes or regulations shall be consumer transactions and consumer acts or practices in trade or commerce;
(16) Failure to comply with the following provisions concerning promotions:
(A) For purposes of this paragraph, the term:
(i) "Conspicuously," when referring to type size, means either a larger or bolder type than the adjacent and surrounding material.
(ii) "In conjunction with and in immediate proximity to," when referring to a listing of verifiable retail value and odds for each prize, means that such value and odds must be adjacent to that particular prize with no other printed or pictorial matter between the value and odds and that listed prize.
(iii) "Notice" means a communication of the disclosures required by this paragraph to be given to a consumer that has been selected, or has purportedly been selected, to participate in a promotion. If the original notice is in writing, it shall include all of the disclosures required by this paragraph. If the original notice is oral, it shall include all of the disclosures required by this paragraph and shall be followed by a written notice to the consumer of the same disclosures. In all cases, written notice shall be received by the consumer before any agreement or other arrangement is entered into which obligates the consumer in any manner.
(iv) "Participant" means a person who is offered an opportunity to participate in a promotion.
(v) "Promoter" means the person conducting the promotion.
(vi) "Sponsor" means the person on whose behalf the promotion is conducted in order to promote or advertise the goods, services, or property of that person.
(vii) "Verifiable retail value," when referring to a prize, means:
(I) The price at which the promoter or sponsor can substantiate that a substantial number of those prizes have been sold at retail by someone other than the promoter or sponsor; or
(II) In the event that substantiation as described in subdivision (I) of this division is not readily available to the promoter or sponsor, no more than three times the amount which the promoter or sponsor has actually paid for the prize.
(A.1) Persons who are offered an opportunity to participate in a promotion must be given a notice as required by this paragraph. The written notice must be given to the participant either prior to the person's traveling to the place of business or, if no travel by the participant is necessary, prior to any seminar, sales presentation, or other presentation, by whatever name denominated. Written notices may be delivered by hand, by mail, by newspaper, or by periodical. Any offer to participate made through any other medium must be preceded by or followed by the required notice at the required time. It is the intent of this paragraph that full, clear, and meaningful disclosure shall be made to the participant in a manner such that the participant can fully study and understand the disclosure prior to deciding whether to travel to the place of participation or whether to allow a presentation to be made in the participant's home; and that this paragraph be liberally construed to effect this purpose. The notice requirements of this paragraph shall be applicable to any promotion offer made by any person in the State of Georgia or any promotion offer made to any person in the State of Georgia;
(B) The promotion must be an advertising and promotional undertaking, in good faith, solely for the purpose of advertising the goods, services, or property, real or personal, of the sponsor. The notice shall contain the name and address of the promoter and of the sponsor, as applicable. The promoter and the sponsor may be held liable for any failure to comply with the provisions of this paragraph;
(C) A promotion shall be a violation of this paragraph if a person is required to pay any money including, but not limited to, payments for service fees, mailing fees, or handling fees payable to the sponsor or seller or furnish any consideration for the prize, other than the consideration of traveling to the place of business or to the presentation or of allowing the presentation to be made in the participant's home, in order to receive any prize; provided, however, that the payment of any deposit made in connection with an activity described in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (22) of this subsection shall not constitute a requirement to pay any money under this subparagraph;
(D) Each notice must state the verifiable retail value of each prize which the participant has a chance of receiving. Each notice must state the odds of the participant's receiving each prize if there is an element of chance involved. The odds must be clearly identified as "odds." Odds must be stated as the total number of that particular prize which will be given and of the total number of notices. The total number of notices shall include all notices in which that prize may be given, regardless of whether it includes notices for other sponsors. If the odds of winning a particular prize would not be accurately stated on the basis of the number of notices, then the odds may be stated in another manner, but must be clearly stated in a manner which will not deceive or mislead the participant regarding the participant's chance of receiving the prize. The verifiable retail value and odds for each prize must be stated in conjunction and in immediate proximity with each listing of the prize in each place where it appears on the written notice and must be listed in the same size type and same boldness as the prize. Odds and verifiable retail values may not be listed in any manner which requires the participant to refer from one place in the written notice to another place in the written notice to determine the odds and verifiable retail value of the particular prize. Verifiable retail values shall be stated in Arabic numerals;
(E) Upon arriving at the place of business or upon allowing the sponsor to enter the participant's home, the participant must be immediately informed which, if any, prize the participant will receive prior to any seminar, sales presentation, or other presentation; and the prize, or any voucher, certificate, or other evidence of obligation in lieu of the prize, must be given to the participant at the time the participant is so informed;
(F) No participant shall be required or invited to view, hear, or attend any sales presentation, by whatever name denominated, unless such requirement or invitation has been conspicuously disclosed to the participant in the written notice in at least ten-point boldface type;
(G) Except in relation to an activity described in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (22) of this subsection, in no event shall any prize be offered or given which will require the participant to purchase additional goods or services, including shipping fees, handling fees, or any other charge by whatever name denominated, from any person in order to make the prize conform to what it reasonably appears to be in the mailing or delivery, unless such requirement and the additional cost to the participant is clearly disclosed in each place where the prize is listed in the written notice using a statement in the same size type and boldness as the prize listed;
(H) Any limitation on eligibility of participants must be clearly disclosed in the notice;
(I) Substitutes of prizes shall not be made. In the event the represented prize is unavailable, the participant shall be presented with a certificate which the sponsor shall honor within 30 days by shipping the prize, as represented in the notice, to the participant at no cost to the participant. In the event a certificate cannot be honored within 30 days, the sponsor shall mail to the participant a valid check or money order for the verifiable retail value which was represented in the notice;
(J) In the event the participant is presented with a voucher, certificate, or other evidence of obligation as the participant's prize, or in lieu of the participant's prize, it shall be the responsibility of the sponsor to honor the voucher, certificate, or other evidence of obligation, as represented in the notice, if the person who is named as being responsible for honoring the voucher, certificate, or other evidence of obligation fails to honor it as represented in the notice;
(K) The geographic area covered by the notice must be clearly stated. If any of the prizes may be awarded to persons outside of the listed geographical area or to participants in promotions for other sponsors, these facts must be clearly stated, with a corresponding explanation that every prize may not be given away by that particular sponsor. If prizes will not be awarded or given if the winning ticket, token, number, lot, or other device used to determine winners in that particular promotion is not presented to the promoter or sponsor, this fact must be clearly disclosed;
(L) Upon request of the administrator, the sponsor or promoter must within ten days furnish to the administrator the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons who have received any prize;
(M) A list of all winning tickets, tokens, numbers, lots, or other devices used to determine winners in promotions involving an element of chance must be prominently posted at the place of business or distributed to all participants if the seminar, sales presentation, or other presentation is made at a place other than the place of business. A copy of such list shall be furnished to each participant who so requests;
(N) Any promotion involving an element of chance which does not conform with the provisions of this paragraph shall be considered an unlawful lottery as defined in Code Section 16-12-20. The administrator may seek and shall receive the assistance of the prosecuting attorneys of this state in the commencement and prosecution of persons who promote and sponsor promotions which constitute an unlawful lottery;
(O) Any person who participates in a promotion and does not receive an item which conforms with what that person, exercising ordinary diligence, reasonably believed that person should have received based upon the representations made to that person may bring the private action provided for in Code Section 10-1-399 and, if that person prevails, shall be awarded, in addition to any other recovery provided under this part, a sum which will allow that person to purchase an item at retail which reasonably conforms to the prize which that person, exercising ordinary diligence, reasonably believed that person would receive; and
(P) In addition to any other remedy provided under this part, where a contract is entered into while participating in a promotion which does not conform with this paragraph, the contract shall be voidable by the participant for ten business days following the date of the participant's receipt of the prize. In order to void the contract, the participant must notify the sponsor in writing within ten business days following the participant's receipt of the prize;
(17) Failure to furnish to the buyer of any campground membership or marine membership at the time of purchase a notice to the buyer allowing the buyer seven days to cancel the purchase. The notice shall be on a separate sheet of paper with no other written or pictorial material, in at least ten-point boldface type, double spaced, and shall read as follows:
"Notice to the Buyer
Please read this form completely and carefully. It contains valuable cancellation rights.
The buyer or buyers may cancel this transaction at any time prior to 5:00 P.M. of the seventh day following receipt of this notice.
This cancellation right cannot be waived in any manner by the buyer or buyers.
Any money paid by the buyer or buyers must be returned by the seller within 30 days of cancellation.
To cancel, sign this form, and mail by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, by 5:00 P.M. of the seventh day following the transaction. Be sure to keep a photocopy of the signed form and your post office receipt.
Address to which cancellation is to be mailed
I (we) hereby cancel this transaction.
Printed Name(s) of Buyer(s)
City, State, ZIP Code"
(18) Failure of the seller of a campground membership or marine membership to fill in the seller's name and the address to which cancellation notices should be mailed on the form specified in paragraph (17) of this subsection;
(19) Failure of the seller of a campground membership or marine membership to cancel according to the terms specified in the form described in paragraph (17) of this subsection;
(20)(A) Representing that moneys provided to or on behalf of a debtor, as defined in Code Section 44-14-162.1 in connection with property used as a dwelling place by said debtor, are a loan if in fact they are used to purchase said property and any such misrepresentation upon which is based the execution of a quitclaim deed or warranty deed by that debtor shall authorize that debtor to bring an action to reform such deed into a deed to secure debt in addition to any other right such debtor may have to cancel the deed pursuant to Code Section 23-2-2, 23-2-60, or any other applicable provision of law.
(B) Advertising to assist debtors whose loan for property the debtors use as a dwelling place is in default with intent not to assist them as advertised or making false or misleading representations to such a debtor about assisting the debtor in connection with said property.
(C) Failing to comply with the following provisions in connection with the purchase of property used as a dwelling place by a debtor whose loan for said property is in default and who remains in possession of this property after said purchase:
(i) A written contract shall be employed by the buyer which shall summarize and incorporate the entire agreement between the parties, a fully completed copy of which shall be furnished to the debtor at the time of its execution. Said contract shall show the date of the transaction and the name and address of the parties; shall state, in plain and bold language, that the subject transaction is a sale; and shall indicate the amount of cash proceeds and the amount of any other financial benefits that the debtor will receive;
(ii) This contract shall contain a statement in boldface type which complies substantially with the following:
"The provisions of this agreement have been fully explained to me. I understand that under this agreement I am selling my house to the other undersigned party."
This statement shall be signed by the debtor and the buyer;
(iii) If a lease or rental agreement is executed in connection with said sale, it shall set forth the amount of monthly rent and shall state, in plain and bold language, that the debtor may be evicted for failure to pay said rent. Should an option to purchase be included in this lease, it shall state, in plain and bold language, the conditions that must be fulfilled in order to exercise it; and
(iv) The buyer shall furnish to the seller at the time of closing a notice to the seller allowing the seller ten days to cancel the purchase. This right to cancel shall not limit or otherwise affect the seller's right to cancel pursuant to Code Section 23-2-2, 23-2-60, or any other applicable provision of law. The notice shall serve as the cover sheet to the closing documents. It shall be on a separate sheet of paper with no other written or pictorial material, in at least ten-point boldface type, double spaced, and shall read as follows:
"Notice to the Seller
Please read this form completely and carefully. It contains valuable cancellation rights.
The seller or sellers may cancel this transaction at any time prior to 5:00 P.M. of the tenth day following receipt of this notice.
This cancellation right cannot be waived in any manner by the seller or sellers.
Any money paid to the seller or sellers must be returned by the seller within 30 days of cancellation.
To cancel, sign this form, and return it to the buyer by 5:00 P.M. of the tenth day following the transaction. It is best to mail it by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, and to keep a photocopy of the signed form and your post office receipt.
Address to which cancellation
is to be returned
I (we) hereby cancel this transaction.
Printed Name(s) of Seller(s)
City, State, ZIP Code"
(D) The provisions of subparagraph (C) of this paragraph shall only apply where all three of the following conditions are present:
(i) A loan on the property used as a dwelling place is in default;
(ii) The debtor transfers the title to the property by quitclaim deed, limited warranty deed, or general warranty deed; and
(iii) The debtor remains in possession of the property under a lease or as a tenant at will;
(21) Advertising a telephone number the prefix of which is 976 and which when called automatically imposes a per-call charge or cost to the consumer, other than a regular charge imposed for long-distance telephone service, unless the advertisement contains the name, address, and telephone number of the person responsible for the advertisement and unless the person's telephone number and the per-call charge is printed in type of the same size as that of the number being advertised;
(22) Representing, in connection with a vacation, holiday, or an item described by terms of similar meaning, or implying that:
(A) A person is a winner, has been selected or approved, or is in any other manner involved in a select or special group for receipt of an opportunity or prize, or that a person is entering a contest, sweepstakes, drawing, or other competitive enterprise from which a winner or select group will receive an opportunity or prize, when in fact the enterprise is designed to make contact with prospective customers, or in which all or a substantial number of those entering such competitive enterprise receive the same prize or opportunity; or
(B) In connection with the types of representations referred to in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, representing that a vacation, holiday, or an item described by other terms of similar meaning, is being offered, given, awarded, or otherwise distributed unless:
(i) The item represented includes all transportation, meals, and lodging;
(ii) The representation specifically describes any transportation, meals, or lodging which is not included; or
(iii) The representation discloses that a deposit is required to secure a reservation, if that is the case.
The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply where the party making the representations is in compliance with paragraph (16) of this subsection;
(23) Except in relation to an activity which is in compliance with paragraph (16) or (22) of this subsection, stating, in writing or by telephone, that a person has won, is the winner of, or will win or receive anything of value, unless the person will receive the prize without obligation;
(24)(A) Conducting a going-out-of-business sale for more than 90 days.
(B) After the 90 day time limit in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph has expired, continuing to do business in any manner contrary to any representations which were made regarding the nature of the going-out-of-business sale.
(C) The prohibitions of this paragraph shall not extend to any of the following:
(i) Sales for the estate of a decedent by the personal representative or the personal representative's agent, according to law or by the provisions of the will;
(ii) Sales of property conveyed by security deed, deed of trust, mortgage, or judgment or ordered to be sold according to the deed, mortgage, judgment, or order;
(iii) Sales of all agricultural produce and livestock arising from the labor of the seller or other labor under the seller's control on or belonging to the seller's real or personal estate and not purchased or sold for speculation;
(iv) All sales under legal process;
(v) Sales by a pawnbroker or loan company which is selling or offering for sale unredeemed pledges of chattels as provided by law; or
(vi) Sales of automobiles by an auctioneer licensed under the laws of the State of Georgia;
(25) The issuance of a check or draft by a lender in connection with a real estate transaction in violation of Code Section 44-14-13;
(26) With respect to any individual or facility providing personal care services:
(A) Any person or entity not duly licensed or registered as a personal care home formally or informally offering, advertising to, or soliciting the public for residents or referrals;
(B) Any personal care home, as defined in subsection (a) of Code Section 31-7-12, offering, advertising, or soliciting the public to provide services:
(i) Which are outside the scope of personal care services; and
(ii) For which it has not been specifically authorized.
Nothing in this subparagraph prohibits advertising by a personal care home for services authorized by the Department of Community Health under a waiver or variance pursuant to subsection (b) of Code Section 31-2-9;
(C) For purposes of this paragraph, "personal care" means protective care and watchful oversight of a resident who needs a watchful environment but who does not have an illness, injury, or disability which requires chronic or convalescent care including medical and nursing services.
The provisions of this paragraph shall be enforced following consultation with the Department of Community Health which shall retain primary responsibility for issues relating to licensure of any individual or facility providing personal care services;
(27) Mailing any notice, notification, or similar statement to any consumer regarding winning or receiving any prize in a promotion, and the envelope or other enclosure for the notice fails to conspicuously identify on its face that the contents of the envelope or other enclosure is a commercial solicitation and, if there is an element of chance in winning a prize, the odds of winning as "odds";
(28) Any violation of the rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Driver Services pursuant to subsection (e) of Code Section 40-5-83 which relates to the consumer transactions and business practices of DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Programs, except that the Department of Driver Services shall retain primary jurisdiction over such complaints;
(29) With respect to any consumer reporting agency:
(A) Any person who knowingly and willfully obtains information relative to a consumer from a consumer reporting agency under false pretenses shall be guilty of a misdemeanor;
(B) Any officer or employee of a consumer reporting agency who knowingly and willfully provides information concerning an individual from the agency's files to a person not authorized to receive that information shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; and
(C) Each consumer reporting agency which compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nation-wide basis shall furnish to any consumer who has provided appropriate verification of his or her identity two complete consumer reports per calendar year, upon request and without charge;
(29.1) With respect to any credit card issuer:
(A) A credit card issuer who mails an unsolicited offer or solicitation to apply for a credit card and who receives by mail a completed application in response to the solicitation which lists an address that is not substantially the same as the address on the solicitation may not issue a credit card based on that application until steps have been taken to verify the applicant's valid address to the same extent required by regulations prescribed pursuant to subsection (l) of 31 U.S.C. Section 5318. Any person who violates this paragraph commits an unlawful practice within the meaning of this Code section; and
(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, a credit card issuer, upon receiving an application, may issue a credit card to a consumer or commercial customer with whom it already has a business relationship provided the address to which the card is mailed is a valid address based upon information in the records of the credit card issuer or its affiliates;
(30) With respect to any individual or facility providing home health services:
(A) For any person or entity not duly licensed by the Department of Community Health as a home health agency to regularly hold itself out as a home health agency; or
(B) For any person or entity not duly licensed by the Department of Community Health as a home health agency to utilize the words "home health" or "home health services" in any manner including but not limited to advertisements, brochures, or letters. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, nothing in this subparagraph shall be construed to prohibit persons or entities from using the words "home health" or "home health services" in conjunction with the words "equipment," "durable medical equipment," "pharmacy," "pharmaceutical services," "prescription medications," "infusion therapy," or "supplies" in any manner including but not limited to advertisements, brochures, or letters. An unlicensed person or entity may advertise under the category "home health services" in any advertising publication which divides its advertisements into categories, provided that:
(i) The advertisement is not placed in the category with the intent to mislead or deceive;
(ii) The use of the advertisement in the category is not part of an unfair or deceptive practice; and
(iii) The advertisement is not otherwise unfair, deceptive, or misleading.
For purposes of this paragraph, the term "home health agency" shall have the same definition as contained in Code Section 31-7-150, as now or hereafter amended. The provisions of this paragraph shall be enforced by the administrator in consultation with the Department of Community Health; provided, however, that the administrator shall not have any responsibility for matters or functions related to the licensure of home health agencies;
(30.1) Failing to comply with the following provisions in connection with a contract for health care services between a physician and an insurer which offers a health benefit plan under which such physician provides health care services to enrollees:
(A) As used in this paragraph, the term:
(i) "Enrollee" means an individual who has elected to contract for or participate in a health benefit plan for that individual or for that individual and that individual's eligible dependents and includes that enrollee's eligible dependents.
(ii) "Health benefit plan" means any hospital or medical insurance policy or certificate, health care plan contract or certificate, qualified higher deductible health plan, health maintenance organization subscriber contract, any health benefit plan established pursuant to Article 1 of Chapter 18 of Title 45, or any managed care plan.
(iii) "Insurer" means a corporation or other entity which is licensed or otherwise authorized to offer a health benefit plan in this state.
(iv) "Patient" means a person who seeks or receives health care services under a health benefit plan.
(v) "Physician" means a person licensed to practice medicine under Article 2 of Chapter 34 of Title 43.
(B) Every contract between a physician and an insurer which offers a health benefit plan under which that physician provides health care services shall be in writing and shall state the obligations of the parties with respect to charges and fees for services covered under that plan when provided by that physician to enrollees under that plan. Neither the insurer which provides that plan nor the enrollee under that plan shall be liable for any amount which exceeds the obligations so established for such covered services.
(C) Neither the physician nor a representative thereof shall intentionally collect or attempt to collect from an enrollee any obligations with respect to charges and fees for which the enrollee is not liable and neither such physician nor a representative thereof may maintain any action at law against such enrollee to collect any such obligations.
(D) The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to the amount of any deductible or copayment which is not covered by the health benefit plan.
(E) This paragraph shall apply to only such health benefit plan contracts issued, delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state on or after July 2, 2001;
(31) With respect to telemarketing sales:
(A) For any seller or telemarketer to use any part of an electronic record to attempt to induce payment or attempt collection of any payment that the seller or telemarketer claims is due and owing to it pursuant to a telephone conversation or series of telephone conversations with a residential subscriber. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to:
(i) Prohibit the seller or telemarketer from introducing, as evidence in any court proceeding to attempt collection of any payment that the seller or telemarketer claims is due and owing to it pursuant to a telephone conversation or series of telephone conversations with a residential subscriber, an electronic record of the entirety of such telephone conversation or series of telephone conversations; or
(ii) Expand the permissible use of an electronic record made pursuant to 16 C.F.R. Part 310.3(a)(3), the Federal Telemarketing Sales Rule.
(B) For purposes of this paragraph, the term:
(i) "Covered communication" means any unsolicited telephone call or telephone call arising from an unsolicited telephone call.
(ii) "Electronic record" means any recording by electronic device of, in part or in its entirety, a telephone conversation or series of telephone conversations with a residential subscriber that is initiated by a seller or telemarketer in order to induce the purchase of goods, services, or property. This term shall include, without limitation, any subsequent telephone conversations in which the seller or telemarketer attempts to verify any alleged agreement in a previous conversation or previous conversations.
(iii) "Residential subscriber" means any person who has subscribed to residential phone service from a local exchange company or the other persons living or residing with such person.
(iv) "Seller or telemarketer" means any person or entity making a covered communication to a residential subscriber for the purpose of inducing the purchase of goods, services, or property by such subscriber. This term shall include, without limitation, any agent of the seller or telemarketer, whether for purposes of conducting calls to induce the purchase, for purposes of verifying any calls to induce the purchase, or for purposes of attempting to collect on any payment under the purchase;
(32) Selling, marketing, promoting, advertising, providing, or distributing any card or other purchasing mechanism or device that is not insurance or evidence of insurance coverage and that purports to offer or provide discounts or access to discounts on purchases of health care goods or services from providers of the same or making any representation or statement that purports to offer or provide discounts or access to discounts on purchases of health care goods or services from providers of the same, when:
(A) Such card or other purchasing mechanism or device does not contain a notice expressly and prominently providing in boldface type that such discounts are not insurance; or
(B) Such discounts or access to such discounts are not specifically authorized under a separate contract with a provider of health care goods or services to which such discounts are purported to be applicable;
(33)(A) For any person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation to issue a gift certificate, store gift card, or general use gift card without:
(i) Including the terms of the gift certificate, store gift card, or general use gift card in the packaging which accompanies the certificate or card at the time of purchase, as well as making such terms available upon request; and
(ii) Conspicuously printing the expiration date, if applicable, on the certificate or card and conspicuously printing the amount of any dormancy or nonuse fees on:
(I) The certificate or card; or
(II) A sticker affixed to the certificate or card.
A gift certificate, store gift card, or general use gift card shall be valid in accordance with its terms in exchange for merchandise or services.
(B) As used in this paragraph, the term:
(i) "General use gift card" means a plastic card or other electronic payment device which is usable at multiple, unaffiliated merchants or service providers; is issued in an amount which amount may or may not be, at the option of the issuer, increased in value or reloaded if requested by the holder; is purchased or loaded on a prepaid basis by a consumer; and is honored upon presentation by merchants for goods or services.
(ii) "Gift certificate" means a written promise that is usable at a single merchant or an affiliated group of merchants that share the same name, mark, or logo; is issued in a specified amount and cannot be increased in value on the face thereof; is purchased on a prepaid basis by a consumer in exchange for payment; and is honored upon presentation for goods or services by such single merchant or affiliated group of merchants that share the same name, mark, or logo.
(iii) "Store gift card" means a plastic card or other electronic payment device which is usable at a single merchant or an affiliated group of merchants that share the same name, mark, or logo; is issued in a specified amount and may or may not be increased in value or reloaded; is purchased on a prepaid basis by a consumer in exchange for payment; and is honored upon presentation for goods or services by such single merchant or affiliated group of merchants that share the same name, mark, or logo; and
(34) For any person, firm, partnership, business, association, or corporation to willfully and knowingly accept or use an individual taxpayer identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service for fraudulent purposes and in violation of federal law.
(c) A seller may not by contract, agreement, or otherwise limit the operation of this part notwithstanding any other provision of law.
(d) (For effective date, see note.) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, the names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, or any other information which could reasonably serve to identify any person making a complaint about unfair or deceptive acts or practices shall be confidential. However, the complaining party may consent to public release of his or her identity by giving such consent expressly, affirmatively, and directly to the administrator or administrator's employees.
(2) Nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed:
(A) To prevent the administrator from disclosing the complainant's identity if the administrator believes that disclosure will aid in resolution of the complaint;
(B) To prohibit any valid discovery under the relevant discovery rules; or
(C) To prohibit the lawful subpoena of such information.
HISTORY: Ga. L. 1975, p. 376, 3; Ga. L. 1978, p. 2001, 2; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, 10; Ga. L. 1982, p. 1689, 2, 4; Ga. L. 1983, p. 1298, 1; Ga. L. 1984, p. 22, 10; Ga. L. 1984, p. 463, 1; Ga. L. 1985, p. 149, 10; Ga. L. 1985, p. 938, 2; Ga. L. 1985, p. 1183, 1; Ga. L. 1986, p. 405, 2; Ga. L. 1986, p. 1313, 2; Ga. L. 1987, p. 794, 2; Ga. L. 1987, p. 1386, 2; Ga. L. 1988, p. 13, 10; Ga. L. 1988, p. 399, 1-3; Ga. L. 1988, p. 983, 1; Ga. L. 1988, p. 1657, 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 14, 10; Ga. L. 1989, p. 560, 3; Ga. L. 1989, p. 1606, 1; Ga. L. 1990, p. 1653, 2; Ga. L. 1991, p. 94, 10; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1129, 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 2139, 1; Ga. L. 1993, p. 91, 10; Ga. L. 1993, p. 1076, 1, 2; Ga. L. 1993, p. 1676, 1; Ga. L. 1995, p. 729, 1; Ga. L. 1996, p. 1030, 1; Ga. L. 1997, p. 143, 10; Ga. L. 1997, p. 1507, 1; Ga. L. 1998, p. 643, 1; Ga. L. 2000, p. 557, 1; Ga. L. 2000, p. 1181, 1; Ga. L. 2000, p. 1589, 3; Ga. L. 2001, p. 4, 10; Ga. L. 2001, p. 1170, 2; Ga. L. 2004, p. 149, 1; Ga. L. 2005, p. 334, 4-2/HB 501; Ga. L. 2005, p. 1183, 2/SB 13; Ga. L. 2009, p. 86, 18/HB 141; Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, 1-4, 1-11/HB 228; Ga. L. 2010, p. 302, 1/SB 368.
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