Assemblyman MICHAEL PATRICK CARROLL
District 25 (Morris and Somerset)
Prohibits fees for certain bill payments.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act prohibiting certain consumer account fees and supplementing P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.).
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. As used in this act:
“Consumer” means a natural person who is a resident of this State.
“Consumer credit” means credit extended to a consumer, primarily for personal, family or household purposes, pursuant to a plan under which the creditor may permit the consumer to make purchases or obtain loans, from time to time, directly from the creditor or indirectly by use of a credit card, check or other device, as the plan may provide.
“Creditor” means a person, partnership, corporation, association or other entity who, in the ordinary course of business, regularly extends consumer credit.
“Financial institution” means a bank, savings bank, savings and loan association, mutual savings bank, or credit union organized, chartered, or holding a license or authorization certificate under the laws of this State, any other state, the United States, or of any other country, or the parent or the subsidiary of a financial institution.
2. No creditor or financial institution shall impose a fee on a consumer’s account for a payment which is made by mail, electronic transfer, telephone authorization, online through the Internet, or any other means.
3. Failure of a creditor or financial institution to fulfill any obligation under this act shall not be considered to be the exercise of a power, right, benefit, or privilege under the parity provisions of P.L.1981, c.163 (C.17:9A-24b1), section 48 of P.L.1963, c.144 (C.17:12B-48), or section 12 of P.L.1984, c.171 (C.17:13-90), and it shall not be a defense to a violation of this act that the failure to fulfill any provision of the act is an exercise of such a power, right, benefit, or privilege.
4. It shall be an unlawful practice and a violation of P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.) to violate the provisions of this act.
5. The Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall promulgate regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), necessary to effectuate the provisions of this act.
6. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill prohibits the “pay to pay” practice that occurs when a consumer is charged a fee for making payments in certain instances. The bill prohibits a creditor or financial institution from imposing a fee on the consumer’s account for a payment which is made by mail, electronic transfer, telephone authorization, online through the Internet, or any other means.
A violation of this bill's provisions is an unlawful practice and a violation of the consumer fraud act, P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.). Thus, any person who violates any of the provisions of the bill is liable to a penalty of not more than $10,000 for the first offense and not more than $20,000 for the second and each subsequent offense. In addition, a violation may result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, and the awarding of treble damages, attorneys’ fees and costs of suit to the injured party.