On March 10, 2016, Tennessee Senate Bill 1928, known as the “Government Impostor and Deceptive Advertisements Act”, was signed into law and became effective immediately. This legislation prohibits using or employing in any manner an advertisement (broadly defined to include, among other things, a solicitation, letter, e-mail or website), for the purposes of selling goods and services that deceptively represents or implies that the sender/publisher is associated with a unit of any governmental entity, when that is not the case.
When offering documents that are available free of charge or at a lesser price from a governmental entity, the sender/publisher must clearly disclose the following notice on the front and outside of the mailing envelope, at the top of the e-mail message, on each web page or on the top of each page of any advertisement:
The documents offered by this advertisement are available to Tennessee consumers free of charge or for a lesser price from (insert name, telephone number, and mailing address of the applicable governmental entity). You are NOT required to purchase anything from this company and the company is NOT affiliated, endorsed, or approved by any governmental entity. The item offered in this advertisement has NOT been approved or endorsed by any governmental agency, and this offer is NOT being made by an agency of the government.
Violations of this act are subject to penalties and remedies including payment to the state of up to $100 for each person who receives a written or electronic advertisement and reimbursement to the state for the reasonable costs and expenses of investigating and prosecuting a violation of this section (Tenn. Code Ann. §47-18—131) including attorneys’ fees.
COGENCY GLOBAL INC. posts warnings about these types of scams and misleading solicitations on the Misleading Annual Report and Compliance Solicitations page of our website. We applaud the state of Tennessee for legislatively addressing this issue as we have seen an increase over the past few years in the number of misleading compliance solicitations that “look” authentic and fool recipients into paying for services that are either unnecessary or that can be obtained for free or at a much lower cost from a government agency.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.