(a) It is unlawful for a person to solicit payment of money by another by means of a written statement or invoice, or any writing that reasonably could be considered a bill, invoice, or statement of account due, but is in fact a solicitation for an order, unless the solicitation conforms to subdivisions (b) to (f), inclusive.
(b) A solicitation described in subdivision (a) shall bear on its face either the disclaimer prescribed by subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) of subsection (d) of Section 3001 of Title 39 of the United States Code or the following notice:
“THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.”
The statutory disclaimer or the alternative notice shall be displayed in conspicuous boldface capital letters of a color prominently contrasting with the background against which they appear, including all other print on the face of the solicitation and shall be at least as large, bold, and conspicuous as any other print on the face of the solicitation but no smaller than 30-point type.
(c) The notice or disclaimer required by this section shall be displayed conspicuously apart from other print on the page and immediately below each portion of the solicitation that reasonably could be construed to specify a monetary amount due and payable by the recipient. The notice or disclaimer shall not be preceded, followed, or surrounded by words, symbols, or other matter that reduces its conspicuousness or that introduces, modifies, qualifies, or explains the required text, such as “legal notice required by law.”
(d) The notice or disclaimer may not, by folding or any other device, be rendered unintelligible or less prominent than any other information on the face of the solicitation.
(e) If a solicitation consists of more than one page or if any page is designed to be separated into portions, such as by tearing along a perforated line, the notice or disclaimer shall be displayed in its entirety on the face of each page or portion of a page that reasonably might be considered a bill, invoice, or statement of account due as required by subdivisions (b) and (c).
(f) For the purposes of this section, “color” includes black and “color prominently contrasting” excludes any color, or any intensity of an otherwise included color, that does not permit legible reproduction by ordinary office photocopying equipment used under normal operating conditions, and that is not at least as vivid as any other color on the face of the solicitation.
(g) Any person damaged by noncompliance with this section, in addition to other remedies, is entitled to damages in an amount equal to three times the sum solicited.
(h) Any person who violates this section shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation, which shall be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General or by any district attorney, county counsel, or city attorney in any court of competent jurisdiction. If the action is brought by the Attorney General, one-half of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered and one-half to the State Treasurer. If brought by a district attorney or county counsel, the entire amount of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered. If brought by a city attorney or city prosecutor, one-half of the penalty shall be paid to the treasurer of the county and one-half to the city.
(i) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 397, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1997.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018