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New NY law helps consumers hang up on telemarketers

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Businesses that use telemarketing as part of their sales activities will have another state law with which they need to comply.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Dec. 2 signed into law the Nuisance Call Act that goes into effect 90 days from signing.

Cuomo

The law was designed to close a loophole in previous regulations. Until now, New Yorkers could opt out of receiving unsolicited robocalls by registering their phone numbers with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Do-Not-Call Registry either directly or through New York’s Department of State. Telemarketers could get around the regulation by using live salespeople instead of a computer-generated voice or prerecorded sales pitch played back using robotic equipment.

The new law mandates that a live telemarketer making a call tell the recipient that he or she can opt out.

“The telemarketer or seller shall inform the customer that he or she may request that his or her telephone number be added to the seller’s entity specific do-not-call list,” the new law states. “If the customer opts to do so, the telemarketer or seller shall immediately end the call and shall add the number called to such list or cause the number called to be added to such list.”

The new law also requires telemarketers to have a consumer’s written consent before sharing or selling their contact information. Unchanged is a requirement that telemarketers have and use a version of the FTC’s Do-Not-Call Registry that is no more than 31 days old.

Cuomo said telemarketers have been taking advantage of the loophole in the existing regulations for far too long.

According to the FTC, 14,356,622 phone numbers in New York state were on the Do-Not-Call Registry as of the end of Fiscal Year 2018. New York ranks 26th on the list with 72,328 active registrations per 100,000 population, indicating almost three-quarters of New Yorkers are seeking relief from unwanted solicitation phone calls. At the top of the list was New Hampshire. At the bottom, Alaska.

Once registered, the phone number stays in the registry unless it is removed by the consumer. Businesses that violate the regulations can be fined up to $11,000 per incident by the New York Department of State. In addition, they could face additional fines by the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission.

At the end of Fiscal Year 2018, the FTC had 235,302,818 phone numbers in the Do-Not-Call Registry. It had received 5,780,172 complaints about unwanted calls, of which 1,894,327 involved live callers. Of the total, 348,651 complaints came from New Yorkers.

Assembly Member Amy Paulin of Scarsdale, who was the legislation’s primary Assembly sponsor, said, “I get these calls myself all the time and I know how frustrating they can be. With this bill becoming law, our residents can finally get themselves off some of these telemarketing lists and can prevent their contact information from being shared.”

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