NY: Utilities can't charge dead customers termination fees

electric utility bills elp

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Phone, cable and utility companies in New York may no longer charge early termination fees when service has been discontinued due to the death of a customer.

The rule was signed into law Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said the practice of charging fees to deceased customers was "heartless and inappropriate" and created burdens for those settling their loved ones' affairs.

Few statistics are available about how often companies took such action, but Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who sponsored the legislation, says a utility tried to charge her mother an early termination fee after she died.

The new regulation applies to landline and cellphone providers, cable, television, internet, power and water companies.

Any provider that violates the rule is subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.

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