FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/19/2015
Representative Wu’s Consumer Protection Bill Passes the House
AUSTIN – Last week, House Bill 1265 by Representative Gene Wu (Houston) passed the Texas House of Representatives with overwhelming support, and will now be considered in the upper chamber. The bill expands and clarifies the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), prohibiting the distribution of deceptive solicitations from commercial entities that impersonate government agencies.
“The types of solicitations that my bill would prohibit are loaded with confusing legal jargon and often suggest a criminal penalty if the recipient doesn’t pay up.” Wu states. “Even though I’m an attorney and a legislator, there have been times when I've had trouble figuring out whether one of these solicitations was a legitimate government letter. I can imagine lots of people being confused, scared, and tricked out of their money.“
The current laws are too broad to effectively capture the deceptive solicitations sent by these commercial entities. As a result, the vague language of the DTPA makes it difficult for the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to prosecute a masquerading business.
HB 1265 targets solicitations that are designed to resemble government documents in an attempt to swindle money from recipients. The bill would also add specificity to the DTPA, empowering the OAG to more effectively prosecute commercial entities that profit from deceiving victims. Wu adds, "Coincidently, the state agency that is most frequently impersonated is the Texas Attorney General's Office."
“As members of the Texas Legislature, we should work to preserve the name and reputation of the state and its agencies,” Wu says. “More importantly, we need to protect consumers from government impersonators that make money by defrauding and scaring people. I filed this bill to put them out of business.”