The act was completed by the NCCUSL in 2005. Four states have already adopted it:
Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin all introduced the legislation during 2007 [source: UDMSA].
One of the act's requirements for agencies includes strict guidelines for registering with the state.
Among other things, when a firm registers with the state, it must:
Firms must now be more up-front and comprehensive about their services and fees to help educate the consumer. Because of the act, registered firms now have to:
The act also imposes limitations on fees and other charges. Although the fees can vary, firms must also be clearer about the fees they are charging. In addition to annually reviewing fee rates, agencies are required to:
In addition, a firm must provide services without fees if a person can't afford it. However, this requirement only applies if the person has filed for bankruptcy protection or if the firm has tax-exempt status.
Agencies now have to be careful of several limitations in the act. The UDMSA limits many practices that the NCCUSL considers unlawful. These regulations help keep the consumer safe when doing business. The act does not allow firms to:
These are just a few of the ways that the law is now on the consumers' side. The UDMSA also requires that all registered agencies have a toll-free telephone line staffed during normal business hours so consumers can speak to an actual person during the day.
Although the act has yet to be passed in many states, consumers can rest easier knowing there is a uniform model to follow and someone is looking out for their best interests.
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