June 22, 2009

Assembly Passes Legislation To Update Do-Not-Call Registry And Require Enhanced Disclosure Of Telemarketing Promotion Terms

Measure Adds Consumer Protections Against Prerecorded Telemarketing Calls

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee Chair Audrey I. Pheffer today announced the passage of legislation (A.8839-A/Pheffer) that would significantly enhance the Consumer Protection Board's ability to protect consumers from unsolicited telemarketing sales calls and enforce the Do-Not-Call law.

The legislation would classify prerecorded telephone solicitations as telemarketing sales calls subject to the Consumer Protection Board's Do-Not-Call law guidelines. This will ensure that the Board is able to enforce the law against the increasing number of telemarketers that use prerecorded calls in their efforts to sell products and services.

The legislation would also mandate that telemarketers disclose to consumers their identity and the identity of the seller on whose behalf they are calling and the purpose of the call. Telemarketers would be required to provide consumers with the costs and terms of services of the products they offer, including any 'negative option' features. The bill would also allow the Consumer Protection Board to enforce existing law prohibiting telemarketers from calling consumers outside of the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The legislation would update state law to conform more closely to the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule.

"When it passed nearly a decade ago, the Do-Not-Call registry was a landmark consumer protection law intended to prevent the increasing encroachment of commercial activity into peoples' private lives," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "While the registry has provided an important boundary between telemarketers and consumers, changes in the industry required us to update this law. Telemarketing firms will also be required to disclose the nature of their call, the terms and costs of the services they are offering. It is only fair to the consumers."

"Despite the reduction in telemarketing efforts since enactment of the extremely successful Do-Not-Call law, we must remain vigilant and keep New York's telemarketing laws current," said Pheffer (D-Queens). "This legislation will enhance existing protections against unwanted calls and strengthen the Consumer Protection Board's ability to investigate complaints and stop abusive telemarketing practices."

The legislation would enhance the Consumer Protection Board's ability to enforce the law by authorizing the Board to subpoena documents and records as part of its investigations into possible telemarketing violations.