2001 - 2002 LEGISLATURE
January 31, 2001 - Introduced by Senators Moore, Burke, Hansen, Lazich and
Darling, cosponsored by Representatives Colon, Young, Bock, Schneider,
Gronemus, Morris-Tatum, Williams, Jeskewitz, Seratti, Turner, Pocan,
Black, Balow, Richards, Berceau, J. Lehman, Miller, Plouff, Musser,
Kreuser, Cullen, Riley, Kedzie, Gunderson, Boyle, Plale and La Fave.
Referred to Committee on Privacy, Electronic Commerce and Financial
1An Act to amend
196.208 (5t) (b), 196.208 (7) (b) (intro.), 196.208 (11) (a) 1. and 2
196.208 (11) (d); and to create
196.208 (1) (bm), 196.208 (2) (cm), 196.208 (7) 3
(a) 1m., 196.208 (7m), 196.208 (9m), 196.208 (11) (bm) and 973.137 of the 4
statutes; relating to: transferring toll-free calls to pay-per-call services or
5international numbers, creating certain disclosure and reporting
6requirements, and providing a penalty.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, providers of pay-per-call services, or 900-number services,
are subject to a number of requirements. A pay-per-call service must generally
begin with a preamble that discloses information about the provider of the service
and the cost of the call. Billing may commence only after a specific identified event,
such as an audible signal tone, after the preamble and after the caller has a
reasonable opportunity to disconnect the call. A provider may not charge for time
that the caller is placed on hold and is subject to certain other limitations regarding
charges. A toll-free vendor may not transfer the calling party to a pay-per-call
service or call the calling party back collect. Unless the calling party has a
preexisting subscription relationship with the toll-free vendor or unless the caller
discloses a credit card account number during the call, the toll-free vendor may not
charge the calling party for information provided during the call.
Telecommunications utilities are required to provide certain disclosures on bills
containing pay-per-call services, informing the customer of the customer's right to
dispute pay-per-call charges and informing the customer that his or her telephone
service may not be disconnected for failure to pay for pay-per-call services.
Telecommunication utilities are subject to additional requirements relating to the
provision of billing services for pay-per-call service providers, to billing collection
practices and to the provision of blocking services to prohibit the access of
pay-per-call services. The department of justice (DOJ) is given authority to enforce
provisions relating to pay-per-call service providers, and the public service
commission (PSC) is responsible for administering the provisions relating to
This bill makes a number of changes to the provisions governing pay-per-call
services, including the following:
1. Transfers to international numbers. The bill prohibits a toll-free vendor
from transferring a toll-free call to an international number.
2. Additional disclosure requirements. The bill requires the preamble at the
beginning of a pay-per-call service to include a statement that it is illegal for a
person to transfer a toll-free call to a pay-per-call service and that, if the caller has
been transferred to this pay-per-call service from a toll-free number, the caller
should report the information to the department of agriculture, trade and consumer
protection (DATCP). Telecommunications utilities are required to place similar
disclosures on bills containing a charge for pay-per-call services.
3. Reporting requirements. The bill requires telecommunications utilities, to
the extent allowed under federal law, to report to DOJ information that they may
obtain regarding the transfer of toll-free calls to international numbers or
pay-per-call services. DATCP must make similar reports to DOJ. The bill also
requires DOJ and DATCP to submit joint biennial reports to the legislature on
complaints received by DATCP and DOJ's enforcement of the pay-per-call
provisions. The report must also include recommendations for legislation, if DOJ or
DATCP determines that additional legislation is needed to enforce the pay-per-call
service provisions effectively.
4. Billing services. The bill prohibits a telecommunications utility from
providing billing services to a pay-per-call service provider that has been convicted
of a violation of the pay-per-call service provisions,without the prior approval of the
PSC. The PSC may approve the provision of billing services to a provider that has
been convicted of a violation of the pay-per-call provisions only if the PSC
determines that the provider has established safeguards that are sufficient to
prevent further violations of these provisions. In addition, if a pay-per-call service
provider is convicted of violating the pay-per-call provisions, the clerk of the court
in which the conviction occurred must notify the PSC, which must notify
telecommunications utilities about the conviction.
5. Penalties. Under current law, whoever violates any of the pay-per-call
service provisions is subject to a forfeiture of not less than $25 nor more than $5,000.
The bill changes the forfeiture (civil penalty) to a criminal penalty of a fine of not less
than $100 nor more than $10,000 per violation or imprisonment for not more than
90 days, or both.
6. Civil liability. Under current law, a person who has been adversely affected
by a violation of the pay-per-call service provisions has a claim for appropriate relief,
including damages, injunctive, or declaratory relief, specific performance and
rescission, costs, disbursements, and reasonable attorney fees. The bill modifies the
civil liability provisions to provide for treble damages.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
SB35, s. 1
196.208 (1) (bm) of the statutes is created to read:
(bm) "Toll-free call" means a call that can be made at no charge to 3
the calling party.
SB35, s. 2
196.208 (2) (cm) of the statutes is created to read:
(cm) A preamble shall include a statement that it is illegal for a 6
person to transfer a toll-free call to this pay-per-call service and that, if the caller 7
has been transferred to this pay-per-call service from a toll-free call, the caller 8
should contact the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection to 9
report the transfer.
SB35, s. 3
196.208 (5t) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) Transfer the calling party to a pay-per-call service or to an
SB35, s. 4
196.208 (7) (a) 1m. of the statutes is created to read:
(a) 1m. Include on each billing statement that includes charges for 15
pay-per-call services a clear and conspicuous notice that states: "It is illegal to 16
transfer a call made to a toll-free number to a `900' number. If you were transferred 17
to a `900' number service from a toll-free number, you should contact the state 18
department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection to report the transfer."
SB35, s. 5
196.208 (7) (b) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) (intro.) A telecommunications utility may not provide billing
3services to a provider that has been convicted of a violation of this section, without
4the prior approval of the commission. The commission may approve the provision
5of billing services to a provider that has been convicted of a violation of this section
6only if the commission determines that the provider has established safeguards that
7are sufficient to prevent further violations of this section.
If a telecommunications 8
utility provides billing services to a provider, the telecommunications utility shall do 9
all of the following:
SB35, s. 6
196.208 (7m) of the statutes is created to read:
196.208 (7m) Reporting by telecommunications utilities.
Except to the 12
extent that the report would violate federal law, a telecommunications utility shall 13
report to the department of justice any information that it obtains concerning a 14
possible violation of sub. (5t).
SB35, s. 7
196.208 (9m) of the statutes is created to read:
196.208 (9m) Reporting requirements.
(a) Biennial report.
No later than 17
January 1 of every odd-numbered year, the departments of agriculture, trade and 18
consumer protection and justice shall submit a joint report to the legislature under 19
s. 13.172 (2). The report shall include information, prepared by the department of 20
agriculture, trade and consumer protection, on complaints received concerning 21
possible violations of this section over the previous 2-year period. The report shall 22
also include a description, prepared by the department of justice, concerning the 23
department's efforts in enforcing this section over the previous 2-year period. The 24
report shall include recommendations for legislation, if the department of 25
agriculture, trade and consumer protection or the department of justice determines
that additional legislation is needed to enforce the pay-per-call service provisions 2
(b) Notices of convictions.
If the public service commission receives a notice 4
from a clerk of court under s. 973.137, the public service commission shall provide 5
a copy of the notice to all telecommunications utilities in this state.
SB35, s. 8
196.208 (11) (a) 1. of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) 1. If a provider or a toll-free service vendor fails to comply with 8
this section, any person or class of persons adversely affected by the failure to comply 9
has a claim for appropriate relief, including but not limited to treble
injunctive or declaratory relief, specific performance,
SB35, s. 9
196.208 (11) (bm) of the statutes is created to read:
(bm) The department of agriculture, trade and consumer 13
protection shall report violations of this section to the department of justice.
SB35, s. 10
196.208 (11) (d) of the statutes is amended to read:
(d) Any person A provider or a toll-free service vendor
violates subs. (2) to (9) shall be required to forfeit
may be fined
not less than $25 $100 17
nor more than $5,000 for each offense. Forfeitures under this $10,000 or imprisoned
18for not more than 90 days or both. This
paragraph shall be enforced
by action on
19behalf of the state
by the department of justice or, upon informing the department 20
of justice, by the district attorney of the county where the violation occurs.
SB35, s. 11
973.137 of the statutes is created to read:
22973.137 Courts to report convictions to the public service commission. 23(1)
In this section:
(a) "Pay-per-call service provider" has the meaning given to "provider" in s. 25
196.208 (1) (b).
(b) "Toll-free service vendor" has the meaning given in s. 196.208 (1) (c).
If a court determines that a person has been convicted of a violation of s. 3
196.208 (2) to (9), the clerk of the court in which such conviction occurred shall 4
promptly forward to the public service commission the record of conviction.
If a conviction under sub. (2) is reversed, set aside, or vacated, the clerk of 6
the court shall promptly forward to the public service commission a certificate 7
stating that the conviction has been reversed, set aside, or vacated.