LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is supporting proposed changes to the state’s consumer protection laws that – among other things – would require third parties to disclose that the online services they are offering are available from a public source.
The bipartisan legislation would help consumers understand that the services they are seeking are offered by government agencies, which may be at low or no cost, as opposed to the same or similar services offered by third parties, which usually come with a fee.
Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Springport Township, introduced House Bill 6173 recently to amend the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA). It was passed Tuesday out of the House Regulatory Reform Committee. The full House and Senate need to take action on the bill by the end of the year before it can be presented to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature.
The legislation would require certain disclosures by a third party when that party offers online services which are actually performed by a state agency or department. If the third party is offering such services, it would have to:
- Clearly indicate on its website that it is not a state agency, department or division, and that the services offered are not endorsed by the state;
- Provide a link on its website to the state agency, department or division website where a person could use the online service; and
- Clearly indicate – before a transaction for an online service is completed – any fee it would charge.
“As more public services are offered online, some individuals may try to capitalize on that by charging consumers a fee for something they could get for free or for less money from a public source,” Nessel said. “These commonsense updates to the Michigan Consumer Protection Act offer a simple change with good results for Michiganders. By making them aware of what’s publicly available before they make a third-party purchase, consumers will be better informed when choosing to spend their money.”