Attorney General Ford Announces Improvements to Consumer Protection Laws in Nevada
Assembly Bills 61 and 47, Senate Bill 62 signed into law by Governor
Carson City, NV –Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford praised the passage of three of his bills that were recently signed into law: Assembly Bill (AB) 61, Assembly Bill (AB) 47, and Senate Bill (SB) 62. All three bills will enhance protections for consumers in Nevada, a priority for AG Ford’s administration, and will take effect on October 1, 2021.
“One of my biggest priorities as attorney general is you, Nevadans,” said AG Ford. “You are all consumers and every week you are purchasing products or services. That is why I have a division in my office called the Bureau of Consumer Protection that is dedicated to helping and protecting you from fraud and scams. These three bills were created with you in mind so my office can help you fight unfair business practices and different kinds of fraud. I am grateful to the Legislature and to Governor Sisolak for helping my office pass these important bills into law.”
Assembly Bill 61: AB 61 helps Nevada consumers by making a number of amendments to the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) including, but not limited to:
• Establishing a price gouging prohibition during times of emergency. With the passage of this bill, when the governor declares a state of emergency as he did during the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes a violation of the DTPA for a person to sell or rent certain goods or services grossly in excess of the usual price. This statute is only applicable when the Nevada governor declares a state of emergency, within the geographic area of that emergency, and only during the time of the state of emergency or for a period not to exceed 75 days;
- Adjusting criminal penalties for violations of the DTPA to align with that of general theft. Because violations of the DTPA constitutes fraud and often result in victims losing money, violations of the DTPA now carry the same penalties that are prescribed for general theft;
- Enhanced penalties for conduct targeting minors. If a person in violation of the DTPA directs the conduct at a person who is younger than 17 years of age, the court may impose a civil penalty of up to $12,500 per violation. This enhanced penalty matches that of conduct against the elderly;
- Adjusting penalties for robocalling offenses. Certain robocalling acts, including both voice and text messages, are now violations of the DTPA and can carry penalties under the law;
- Adding unconscionable trade practices to the DTPA. An unconscionable trade practice is one that takes advantage of a person’s lack of knowledge, ability, experience, or capacity that either results in the consumer paying too much for or not receiving access to a good or service; and
- Making changes to allow for the streamlined administration of the DTPA. Makes changes to certain areas of the DTPA that allow for a more streamlined mechanism to prosecute enforcement actions, including hearings, service of process, and statutes of limitations.Assembly Bill 47: AB 47 helps Nevada consumers by changing the Nevada Unfair Trade Practices Act, including, but not limited to:
- Allowing the Attorney General’s Office to view healthcare transactions that could increase healthcare costs to Nevada families. Under the new law, healthcare entities must provide a confidential, short report to our office to see if a particular transaction would affect Nevada’s healthcare market;
- Prohibiting the application of noncompete agreements to hourly employees in Nevada. If a court finds that an employer tried to enforce a noncompete agreement against an hourly worker, it may award the employee attorney’s fees and costs. A non-compete agreement is one where an individual or group agrees not to start or join a similar profession or trade in competition against their previous employer for a certain period of time; and
- Providing clarification about the remedies the Attorney General’s Office has in investigations and actions under the Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Senate Bill 62: SB62 helps Nevada consumers by strengthening laws against organizations that claim to be making charitable donations and preventing false claims or misrepresentations when soliciting donations. The bill expands the Attorney General’s authority to bring lawsuits against scams that falsely claim to raise money for charitable causes.
The new definition of charitable organizations that must register with the Secretary of State includes organizations that claim to have a charitable purpose as a reason for soliciting donations, even if the organization is not determined to be tax exempt under 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3). With this amendment to the law, an organization may not solicit donations in Nevada unless they are registered with the Secretary of State regardless of its tax-exempt status. Additionally, these organizations must comply with the DTPA by not misleading or deceiving donors or omitting material facts about how charitable contributions are used.
Consumers who suspect that an organization or individual is falsely claiming to raise money for a charity should file a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office and the Office of the Nevada Attorney General.