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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 22, 2023 12:52 PM
From: Representative Carol Hill-Evans
To: All House members
Subject: Cancellation of Shared Telephone Contract for Victims of Domestic Violence
For victims of domestic violence, being able to hide from or avoid an assailant or abuser may be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, shared telephone plans have proved an unexpected stumbling block for victims, allowing abusers to track the victim's location and take information about the victim's contacts. Canceling may be difficult for the victim if the victim is not a primary account holder. Phone companies, including major providers such as Verizon, often require the primary account holder to give consent for individuals to leave a plan without an exception for cases where the primary account holder is an individual's abuser. It could be additionally burdensome when early termination fees can cost consumers hundred of dollars. 

Some States have taken steps to help survivors of domestic violence from getting trapped by shared phone plans, but not Pennsylvania. That is why I will soon introduce legislation that alleviates this financial burden for victims of domestic violence. My legislation will enable a victim of domestic violence who is not a primary account holder to ask the courts to order the abuser to remove the victim from a shared telephone plan. In addition, the courts would have the authority to order an abuser responsible for any early termination fees associated with removing a victim from the shared telephone plan.

For victims who are primary account holders, my legislation would have telecommunications service providers waive any fees associated with removing an abuser from a shared telephone plan and provide the victim with a new telephone number within 24 hours if requested. Victims making such requests would have to do so in writing and provide valid proof of domestic abuse, such as a protection from abuse order. This bill also provides for confidentiality on behalf of a telecommunications service provider with respect to a consumer's personal information or documentation relating to domestic violence. 

As legislators, we should stand behind victims of domestic violence to give them the tools they need to protect themselves and their loved ones from their abusers. Please join me in supporting victims of abuse by sponsoring this legislation. 

Introduced as HB238