75-105.  Enforcement.

(a)        The Attorney General may investigate any complaints received alleging violation of this Article. If the Attorney General finds that there has been a violation of this Article, the Attorney General may bring an action to impose civil penalties and to seek any other appropriate relief pursuant to this Chapter, including equitable relief to restrain the violation. If the Attorney General brings an action on behalf of telephone subscribers pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the Attorney General may not seek treble damages on behalf of telephone subscribers pursuant to G.S. 75-16. Actions for civil penalties under this section shall be consistent with the provisions of this Chapter except that the penalty imposed for a violation of this Article shall be either of the following:

(1)        Five hundred dollars ($500.00) for the first violation, one thousand dollars ($1,000) for the second violation, and five thousand dollars ($5,000) for the third and any other violation that occurs within two years of the first violation.

(2)        One hundred dollars ($100.00) for each violation within two years of the first violation, if the solicitor can show that the violations are the result of a mistake and the telephone solicitor either made the telephone solicitation under G.S. 75-103(a)(1), (2), (3), (4), and (5), or can show that the telephone solicitor complied with G.S. 75-102(d).

(b)        A telephone subscriber who has received a telephone solicitation from or on behalf of a telephone solicitor in violation of this Article may bring any of the following actions in civil court:

(1)        An action to enjoin further violations of this Article by the telephone solicitor.

(2)        An action to recover five hundred dollars ($500.00) for the first violation, one thousand dollars ($1,000) for the second violation, and five thousand dollars ($5,000) for the third and any other violation that occurs within two years of the first violation.

(c)        No action may be brought under subsection (b) of this section if the violations are a result of mistake and the telephone solicitor either made the telephone solicitation under G.S. 75-103(a)(1), (2), (3), (4), and (5), or can show that the telephone solicitor complied with G.S. 75-102(d).

(d)       In an action brought pursuant to this Article, the court may award a prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorneys' fees if the court finds the defendant willfully engaged in the act or practice, and the court may award reasonable attorneys' fees to a prevailing defendant if the court finds that the plaintiff knew, or should have known, that the action was frivolous and malicious.

(e)        A citizen of this State may also bring an action in civil court to enforce the private rights of action established by federal law under 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(3) and 47 U.S.C. 227(c)(5).

(f)        Actions brought by telephone subscribers pursuant to this section shall be tried in the county where the plaintiff resides at the time of the commencement of the action. (2003-411, s. 3.)