Anti-telemarketer legislation signed into law

Thomas F. O'Mara

August 17, 2012

Albany, N.Y., August 17—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) today applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing of a new law to implement stronger protections for New Yorkers from intrusive or unwanted telemarketing practices.

O’Mara strongly supported and voted in favor of the legislation (S7567), which was given final legislative approval by the Senate in mid-June.  The new law will regulate all telemarketers who do business in New York, wherever they may be located, and add new consumer protections from unwelcome prerecorded calls, known as robocalls, from telemarketers.

“It’s a way to say no to telemarketers, and it’s about time.  These calls have become increasingly intrusive and annoying and New Yorkers everywhere will welcome this way out from unwanted telemarketing calls at dinnertime and other inconvenient hours of the day and night when they arrive in our homes or on our cell phones,” said O’Mara, a member of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee.

The approved legislation, which becomes effective in 90 days, puts all telemarketers on a level playing field. It will regulate all telemarketers who do business in New York, even if they are located in another state, and ensure that telemarketers comply with New York law.  It will also prohibit prerecorded telemarketing calls, also known as robocalls, without the call recipient's express written consent, and require that prerecorded calls provide an automated interactive key-press or voice activated opt-out mechanism that would allow recipients to automatically add their phone number to the telemarketer's do-not-call list and then terminate the call.

In a statement announcing the signing today, Cuomo said, “"Unwanted telemarketing calls are intrusive and irritating. This legislation is designed to ensure that New Yorkers who choose not to receive these promotional messages are not forced to deal with these harassing phone calls."

New Yorkers have registered over 13 million phone numbers on the Do-Not-Call registry. From 2009 to the present, the state Department of State’s (DOS) Division of Consumer Protection has received nearly 5,000 "Do Not Call" complaints and inquires. In just the first quarter of 2012, the Federal Trade Commission received 61,705 "Do Not Call" complaints from New Yorkers.

The DOS registers telemarketers but exempts those engaged in telemarketing that are registered, chartered, certified, or licensed by another state. Currently, only 22 telemarketers are registered in New York. In contrast, in nearby states that require registration of out-of-state telemarketers calling into the state, the numbers are much higher.  For example, 557 telemarketers are registered in New Jersey, 213 are registered in Pennsylvania, and 333 are registered in Vermont.  Without this legislation being enacted, these telemarketers could continue to do business in New York and not be subject to civil and criminal penalties established for violations law which include fines and criminal penalties, as well as the revocation, suspension, and denial of renewal of registration.

Learn more about Do Not Call...