New York State Passes Legislation Increasing Telemarketing Transparency

According to reports, the number of Do-Not-Call complaints in New York State has been steadily increasing. New Yorkers filed more than 228,900 Do-Not-Call complaints in 2014 and more than 241,658 complaints in 2015. Approximately 200,000 Do-Not-Call complaints were lodged by New Yorkers in the first six months of 2016.

As a result, on December 1, 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a comprehensive plan to protect New Yorkers from deceptive telemarketing practices (S6809B/A.9457A).

The initiative requires telemarketers to use correct caller identification information and also includes deploying Division of Consumer Protection staff to warn consumers about telemarketing scams, facilitate same-day consumer complaint filing and increase transparency in Do-Not-Call Law enforcement by posting settlements with violators.

Recently, telemarketers have repeatedly called consumers from the same phone number without leaving voicemail, giving the impression the telephone call is from someone the consumer may know. When the consumer returns the call, they receive an unwanted sales pitch.

The Division of Consumer Protection 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.

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, because 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.

“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 stated. “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 stated, “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.”

Senator David Valesky stated, “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.”

The DCP reminds consumers that if an unsolicited telemarketing call is received after the telephone number has been on the Do-Not-Call Registry for more than 31 days, a consumer can file a Do-Not-Call complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Violators of the Do-Not-Call Law are subject to an $11,000 fine for every call.

Exemptions from the Do-Not-Call Law include calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities and telephone surveyors. Companies with which consumers have an existing business relationship may still call for a specified period of time, unless a consumer requests that they be placed on their own DNC list.

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 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. State laws and related exemptions, may vary.

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/.

Contact an FTC compliance and defense lawyer to discuss the New York legislation or other telemarketing compliance-related considerations.

HINCH NEWMAN LLP. ADVERTISING MATERIAL. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. No person should act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney. Information on previous case results does not guarantee a similar future result.

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