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Queens Chronicle

New law regulates telemarketer calls

Bill to stop recorded calls, allow ‘opt out’ goes to governor’s desk

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Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:30 am

Tired of getting those unwanted telemarketing calls? Well, help is on the way.

A bill passed by both houses of the state Legislature and supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo would regulate all telemarketers who do business in New York, and change how they call you.

The bill would prohibit them from making prerecorded telephone calls, also known as robocalls, without the express written consent of the recipient. It also would require that prerecorded calls provide an automated key-press or voice-activated opt-out mechanism that would allow recipients to automatically add their phone number to the telemarketers “do-not-call” list and then terminate the call. The legislation would also give authority to the New York Department of State to ban telemarketing companies that violate the laws from doing business here.

Also under the legislation, all telemarketers doing business in New York will be required to register with the DOS, which will have the authority to revoke or suspend the registration of companies that do not comply with state law. Violation of the telemarketing law could result in additional fines and misdemeanor charges.

According to the goveror’s office, 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. Five hundred fifty seven telemarketers are registered in New Jersey, 213 are registered in Pennsylvania, and 333 are registered in Vermont.

“The legislation passed by both the Assembly and Senate that takes major steps to prevent unwanted and annoying telemarketing calls is a big win for the people of New York State,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We all know what it is like to be harassed in our homes or on our cell phones by calls from telemarketers trying to sell their products, and with the legislation New Yorkers will have new safeguards to stop these intrusive calls.”

Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president, government affairs for the Direct Marketing Association, supports the bill.

“The update to New York’s telemarketing law harmonizes it with federal law regarding prerecorded messages and gives consumers an easy method to be listed on a company’s do-not-call list,” he said. “DMA supports consumers having options in managing communications with marketers.”

According to Cerasale, the DMA is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques, including the U.S. mail.

“This measure will crack down on these unnecessary phone calls, as it is designed to specifically target consumers who have chosen to receive promotional messages and it will provide much needed peace to those who chose not to receive these messages on their phones,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Far Rockaway), who supported the bill.

State Senator Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), another supporter, said the new law is a necessary addition to already existing rules.

“Despite the overall success of existing state and federal statutes that save consumers from being completely deluged by unwanted marketing calls, some companies that want to sell their goods and services over the phone have found a way around our laws,” Addabbo said. “This new measure, which I was proud to support, will help to crack down on these annoying practices.”

Welcome to the discussion.