Attorney General Mills Announces First in the Nation Consumer Protection Bill

March 31, 2010

Attorney General Janet T. Mills Announces First in the Nation Consumer Protection Bill

Contact: Kate Simmons
(207) 626-8577

Augusta-Attorney General Mills today joined Governor Baldacci for a ceremonial signing of LD 1541 ?An Act to Protect Consumers from Charges after a Free Trial Period.? This law is a first in the nation safeguard for consumers from deceptive free trial offers. Under this new law, companies offering free trial periods of goods or services have to confirm billing information directly from the consumer at the time the consumer accepts the offer.

The Office of the Attorney General has received hundreds of complaints from consumers who accepted a free trial offer and unknowingly committed to monthly or annual credit card charges. For example, a consumer rents a car and later receives a check in the mail from the car rental company. The consumer believes the check is a rebate, and cashes it. By cashing the check, the consumer is enrolled in a membership club for a ?free? trial period. After the trial period, the consumer?s credit card is charged for the service on a monthly or annual basis until the consumer realizes that they are being charged, and then tries to cancels the charge.

This new law will require that the consumer give their billing information to the seller in order to accept the free trial period.

?During these tough economic times, Maine people deserve the right to choose exactly what to spend their hard earned money on,? said Attorney General Janet T. Mills. ?Consumers have a right to know who is charging them and for how much. This bill will provide more transparency in free trial offers and will prevent consumers for being charged for services that they do not need or want.?

Attorney General Mills thanked the bill?s lead sponsor, Representative Rob Hunt (D-Buxton), and the members of the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee for their unanimous support of the bill.