New Jersey targeting unsolicited checks that can lead to unwanted fees

Ever get a “check” in the mail promising you free money? In this case, a South Jersey resident cashed the check only to find out that he was automatically enrolled in a $16-a-month automotive roadside assistance program.

South Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4th) of Camden and Gloucester counties wants to put an end to this. His bill would impose a fine for companies sending bait and switch checks. It has passed the Assembly and is awaiting action in the state Senate. 

A first violation would mean a fine not more than $500 and $1,000 for each subsequent violation, which the Attorney General would collect.

A previous version of the bill passed unanimously in both chambers, but Gov. Chris Christie gave it a “conditional veto” last month.

In Christie’s conditional veto statement, the governor wrote that he agreed with the intent of the legislation. But he was concerned about the original bill’s imposition of penalties under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, which he worried “would be disproportionate” to the offenses.

“In order to address this imbalance, I propose removing the bill’s provisions from the Consumer Fraud Act, establishing a more equitable penalty, and maintaining enforcement authority with the Attorney General,” Christie wrote.

In the press release, Moriarty stated: ““These so-called free money offers are at their best deceptive and, at their worst, downright dishonest… Right now, consumers are at their most vulnerable to fall for a scheme that appears to offer them instant cash but would end up costing them much more in the long run.”

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This post is part of our South Jersey Politics Blog

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