On May 15, 2023, New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy signed SB921 (the "Seinfeld Bill") into law, which amends and adds to New Jersey's telemarketing law. As readers of this blog know, this comes on the heels of Maryland's enactment of its own mini–Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") law. The Seinfeld Bill is effective as of December 2023.
The Seinfeld Bill is notably less comprehensive than the mini-TPCA laws of Florida, Maryland, Washington, and Oklahoma. Unlike those mini-TCPA laws, the New Jersey law, among other things, does not include:
- A rebuttable presumption about calls placed to in-state area codes;
- A business-to-business exception;
- Whether there is a private right of action; and
- A provision concerning the use of autodialers.
New Jersey Telemarketing Law Requirements
The amended New Jersey telemarketing law does add new disclosure obligations, which has not been the primary focus of the other states mentioned above. To begin with, during the first 30 seconds of a telemarketing call, telemarketers calling New Jersey residents must accurately identify the name and telephone number of the entity it is calling on behalf of. Second, telemarketers are required to disclose their mailing addresses on any websites that they own or operate and in any written communications to consumers. Consistent with federal law, the New Jersey telemarketing law prohibits calls before 8:00am and after 9:00pm. In addition to constituting a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, the Seinfeld Bill adds that any violation is also a disorderly person offense, which carries up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Finally, the Seinfeld Bill provides an exception for telemarketing calls placed "in response to a customer's phone call or contact with the telemarketer's website, in which the customer affirmatively requests a follow-up telemarketing sales call or other contact from the telemarketer."
Following in New York's Footsteps
In 2022, New York updated its telemarketing law to add several requirements. While telemarketers were already required under law to provide consumers with certain information, the New York amendment clarified that at the very beginning of each telemarketing call, the name of the telemarketer and the option to be placed on the entity specify do-not-call list must be provided. Telemarketers are also now required to inform consumers of the purpose of the call and the goods or services for which a fee will be charged.
The changes to New York's telemarketing law significantly restrict the ability to cold call consumers; however, the State's statute still very much allows businesses to continue calling consumers who provide prior written consent to be contacted. While the New Jersey telemarketing law is different, some of the recent changes closely follow in the footsteps of its neighbor New York.
In the past several weeks, the industry has seen a significant effort to scale back the Florida Telephone Solicitation Act ("FTSA"), as well as Maryland's enactment of a mini-TCPA law. It is likely that other states will follow suit, adjusting their telemarketing regulations in the near future. It seems that the landscape of telemarketing law will, as always, continue to evolve in the coming months.
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