Recently Signed Legislation Requires Telemarketers to Use Correct Caller ID Information Multi-Pronged Effort Also Includes Deployment of Consumer Protection Staff to Warn Consumers about Telemarketing Scams and Facilitate Same-Day Consumer Complaint Filing; and Posting of Violator Settlements for Additional Transparency
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a comprehensive plan to protect New Yorkers from deceptive telemarketing practices at a time when the number of Do Not Call complaints in New York State is on the rise. The initiative centers around newly signed legislation requiring telemarketers to use correct caller identification information and also includes deploying Division of Consumer Protection staff throughout the State to warn consumers about telemarketing scams and facilitate same-day consumer complaint filing, as well as increasing transparency in Do Not Call Law enforcement by posting settlements with violators.
"Despite already being listed on the Do Not Call registry, New Yorkers continue to find themselves bombarded by calls from opportunists looking to defraud them out of their hard-earned money,” Governor Cuomo said. "This unscrupulous behavior and disregard of the law is unacceptable and we’re taking action to not only hold those who violate the law accountable, but also increase transparency and stop these deceiving marketing practices in their tracks."
New York Secretary of the State Rossana Rosado said, "Unwanted telemarketing calls continue to be a nuisance to New Yorkers and a wasted sales effort for businesses. In New York State, if a phone number is on the Do Not Call Registry at the time of the telemarketer’s initial unwanted sales call, its residents have a place to go when they are victims."
Legislation Increasing Telemarketing Transparency
Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (S6809B/A.9457A) requiring telemarketers to use correct caller identification information. Many consumers complain that when a telemarketer calls, their caller identification service does not display the caller's correct telephone information, such as the caller’s name or phone number. This is especially problematic for consumers who have signed up for the National Do Not Call Registry, since they have neither the name of the telemarketer nor the number from which they are calling; making it difficult to report violations of the Do Not Call law. This new law seeks to remedy that problem by requiring telemarketers to transmit accurate caller identification information.
Senator David Valesky said,"It is far too easy for telemarketers to evade current Do Not Call laws, creating a nuisance for New Yorkers and also putting many at risk of falling for deceptive ploys. This law will require telemarketers to reveal correct caller identification, adding transparency to the industry while also protecting consumers from any misleading sales practices. I commend Governor Cuomo for his support in signing this bill and the concern he has shown for consumer safety."
Assemblymember Shelley Mayer said, "After hearing from my constituents in Yonkers that they were being besieged by telemarketers using phony names and numbers to try to get people to answer their phones, I sponsored and fought for this legislation which makes it clear that such deceptive practices are unlawful. I'm pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed this important consumer protection legislation. Now there will be strong penalties against those who use these unlawful tactics to prey on New Yorkers."
Deploy Division of Consumer Protection to Increase Consumer Engagement and Do Not Call Enforcement
The Division of Consumer Protection staff will be deployed across the State to educate New Yorkers, help them place their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, and facilitate same-day consumer complaint filing in the face of deceptive new telemarketing tactics. Recently, telemarketers have repeatedly called consumers from the same phone number without leaving voicemail, giving the impression the call is from someone the consumer may know. When the consumer returns the call, they receive an unwanted sales pitch. The Division has already warned telemarketers that the this type of practice still constitutes a violation of the Do Not Call law if the repeated calls are being made to a phone number enlisted on the Do Not Call Registry.
The Division reminds consumers to report each and every unwanted call. Here are guidelines to place your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry and to file a complaint:
- File a Do Not Call complaint. If you receive an unsolicited telemarketing call after your number has been on the Do Not Call Registry for more than 31 days, you can file a Do Not Call complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online at https://www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236).
- File a complaint for each unwanted call. If your number is registered, you can and should file a complaint for every unsolicited telemarketing call you receive. Violators of the Do Not Call Law are subject to an $11,000 fine for every call they make to your phone.
- Register for Do Not Call online or by phone. If you are not registered, you can place your home landline or mobile phone number on the Do Not Call Registry online at https://www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236). Once you register your phone number, telemarketers not exempt from the Do Not Call Registry have up to 31 days from the date you register to stop calling you. Exemptions from the Do Not Call Law include calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors. Companies with which you have an existing business relationship may still call you for up to 18 months (unless you ask them to place your number on their own do-not-call list).
- For information about a Do Not Call outreach location near you, visit http://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/informing/donotcalloutreachlocations.htm.
Increase Transparency in Do Not Call Law Enforcement
To better help consumers understand which businesses are complying with the law, New York is posting information concerning businesses with which the State settles a Do Not Call case. This increased transparency will help consumers better understand the State’s effort to combat Do Not Call law violators.
Settlement information is now available for settlements from 2014 to present at http://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/donotcallenforce.html.
About the Do Not Call Law
The New York State Do Not Call Law became effective in 2001, allowing consumers to place their home landline and personal mobile telephone numbers onto a central registry to reduce the number of unsolicited telemarketing calls received. In 2003, the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) collaborated to create the National Do Not Call Program and Registry. New York’s Do Not Call registrations and complaints are received via the National Do Not Call Registry.
Unwanted telemarketing calls continue to be a nuisance to New Yorkers and a wasted sales effort for businesses. New Yorkers filed more than 228,900 Do Not Call complaints in 2014, and more than 241,658 complaints in 2015. Nearly 200,000 Do Not Call complaints have been lodged by New Yorkers in the first six months of 2016.
Earlier this year, the State reached a major settlement agreement with Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC over unsolicited telemarketing sales calls made to consumers whose telephone numbers were validly registered on the Do Not Call Registry. The violations included no less than 334 unsolicited marketing calls to 133 consumers who were, in fact, validly registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. The company agreed to pay a settlement in the amount of $250,500 and change business practices before continuing to make such calls to New York consumers.
For more information on the Do Not Call Law, go the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection website at: http://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/do_not_call/.
For additional consumer protection information or to file a consumer complaint against a business, visit the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection website at http://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/ or contact the Division’s hotline at (800) 697-1220. The Consumer Assistance Hotline is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For consumer protection alerts and updates, follow the Division of Consumer Protection on social media on Twitter @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.