2013-10-28 / Opinion

Guest Viewpoint

State Senator James L. Seward

SewardSewardMy office receives inquires on a regular basis concerning unwanted phone calls from telemarketers. I have fought to end this annoying practice for some time with a degree of success, but the battle continues.

Since taking effect in 2001, the “Do Not Call” registry has become one of the most effective and popular consumer laws in New York State. In 2003, New York merged its registry with the national “Do Not Call” registry to provide the most comprehensive protection available. Since that time, several updates and changes have been made to close loopholes and offer additional roadblocks to unwanted, unsolicited phone calls.

One of the most effective improvements came under the Do Not Call Improvement Act of 2007, which became law in February of 2008. From that point on, any number placed on the registry remains on it permanently. Both home landlines and personal mobile phones are covered and more than 221 million phone numbers are on the national registry.

The “Do Not Call” law has proven effective in stopping unwanted calls, however, in some cases, telemarketers have found ways around the law. In order to combat this problem, the senate last year passed legislation (S.7567A) that was signed into law, regulating all telemarketers who do business in New York and adds new consumer protections from unwelcome prerecorded calls.

Also, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved several updates to the registry in recent years that should add additional protections. They include:

· Requiring telemarketers to obtain prior expressed written consent from them, including by electronic means such as a website form, before placing a robocall to a consumer;

· Eliminating the “established business relationship” exemption to the requirement that

telemarketing robocalls to residential wireline phones occur only with prior express

consent from the consumer;

· Requiring telemarketers to provide an automated, interactive “opt-out” mechanism during

each robocall so that consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to stop calling;

· Strictly limiting the number of abandoned or “dead air” calls that telemarketers can make

within each calling campaign.

Even with the continued effort to upgrade the “Do Not Call” law and improve its effectiveness, there are a few exceptions. You may still receive calls from:

Organizations with which you have an existing business relationship;

Charitable organizations;

Religious corporations;

Polling companies;

Political parties and committees.

Signing-up for the “Do Not Call” registry is simple and free. To register by phone, call toll free 1-888-382-1222. You must call from the phone number you wish to register. You may also register on-line at Through the on-line form you can register up to three telephone numbers. You must have a valid e-mail address to take advantage of the on-line registration.

Once you register, your phone number will show up on the “Do Not Call” registry the next day. Telemarketers have up to 31 days to get your phone number and remove it from their call lists. If your number has been on the registry for at least 31 days and you receive a call from a telemarketer that you believe is covered under the law you can file a complaint.

As many of you know, signing-up for the “Do Not Call” registry does not always silence every call. Those attempting to commit fraud or find their way around the law still seem to do their best to keep bombarding us all with unwanted calls. I would urge you to report such calls immediately.

Complaints can be filed through the website,, or by calling the registry’s toll free number. The New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection has some helpful information that can aid in filling out the complaint form. You can read more online at

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