Senate Passes Bill to Address Costly Telephone Scams

The New York State Senate today passed a bill to stop scammers from charging phone customers who are unwittingly forwarded to additional and costly phone numbers. The bill (S7652), sponsored by Senator Mark Grisanti (R, North Buffalo), requires better notification if consumers calling a phone number for information are then prompted to call a second number that charges hefty fees.

“Many of us have seen the fliers posted around our neighborhoods offering jobs and services, but what people may not realize, is that a scam could be involved,” Senator Grisanti said. “This bill will help put an end to the practice of consumers unknowingly being charged by pay-per-call lines by requiring notification of the caller if hefty phone fees are involved.”

The legislation was prompted by telephone scammers who post advertisements showing a local number to call for information about employment, affordable housing, child care, educational opportunities and other subjects of interest to people wanting to improve their lives. The local number prompts a call to a second number, which then charges the caller a hefty fee for the phone call. Many, if not most times, the caller receives worthless information after the making calls.

Scams of this type have been labeled “remote call forwarding” by telephone companies.  Since the area codes are local, they seem legitimate to anyone requesting information about the advertisement. However, it is the second three numbers that are where the scam is hidden. Since the three-digit exchange is not always advertised, the scammers prompt callers to a second number with the exchange that will charge a hefty fee to the caller.
This bill would help stop these types of phone scams by keeping consumers informed of what they would be charged. It requires a notice of warning of a fee or charge imposition for calling certain telephone numbers, with the warning message given in the same language as advertisements for the call line.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.