1. Headline
  1. Headline
By
updated 12/28/2009 12:27:17 PM ET 2009-12-28T17:27:17

A pair of state lawmakers are hoping to stop unsolicited text message advertisements from being sent to New Jersey residents by sponsoring legislation to heavily fine violators.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. TODAY's Takeaway: Anchors reveal prom pics; staffers' kids take over

      1. After TODAY producers surprised Tamron Hall by revealing her prom photo on Wednesday, we were inspired to collect #TODA...

    2. Surprise! Stranger captures sweet sidewalk proposal in 'magical' photos
    3. Girl hands her jobless dad's resume to Michelle Obama
    4. Size them up! Babies pose next to monstrous burritos
    5. Roaring guitars, purring pets: Who knew metalheads were so mushy about cats?

Noting that such ads can be a costly nuisance for consumers, Sen. Joseph Vitale says the practice needs to be stopped immediately. He's co-sponsoring legislation that would provide stiff penalties for violators, especially if they knew — or should have known — the consumer receiving the ads was a senior citizen or someone with a disability.

"When a telecommunications customer goes over their allotted text messages in a month, the additional fees charged by telecommunications carriers can add up very quickly," Vitale said. "But particularly when it comes to unsolicited text messaging, the consumer may be footing the bill for advertisers to intrude on their own private mobile devices. That simply doesn't seem fair."

The measure sponsored by Vitale, D-Woodbridge, and Sen. Sean Kean, R-Wall, would bar the sending of unsolicited ads by text messaging if they cause recipients to pay fees or if they reduce the number of text messages allotted by their telecommunications provider.

It defines an unsolicited ad as any message sent without the recipient's express prior permission that encourages the purchase of, rental of or investment in any form of merchandise, including services.

Violators would face fines put forth in the state's Consumer Fraud Act. First offenses could cost offenders as much as $10,000, while fines for subsequent violations could reach as much as $20,000.

And if the violators knew — or should have known — that the victim is a senior citizen or someone with disability, they could be fined as much as $30,000.

However, someone who sends only one such text message during a 12-month period would not be liable under the measure. The legislation would also require telecommunications firms that sell or offer text messaging services in New Jersey to allow consumers the option to block all incoming and outgoing text messages.

"We have to do a much better job in New Jersey to protect consumers from unsolicited text advertisements which can drive their cell phone bills through the roof," Vitale said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

TODAY's Takeaway
  1. TODAY; TIME

    Anchors reveal prom pics; staffers’ kids take over

    4/24/2014 9:19:26 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T21:19:26
  1. Courtesy of Jennae Zuloaga

    Surprise! Stranger captures sweet sidewalk proposal in ‘magical’ photos

    4/24/2014 10:23:52 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T22:23:52
  1. Gorditos Healthy Mexican Food

    Size them up! Babies pose next to monstrous burritos

    4/24/2014 9:27:30 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T21:27:30
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Girl hands her jobless dad's resume to Michelle Obama

    4/24/2014 6:14:48 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T18:14:48
  1. Anikasalsera / Featurepics.com

    Green cleaning: 9 D-I-Y natural cleaners that actually work

    4/24/2014 7:13:55 PM +00:00 2014-04-24T19:13:55