New York state has had a nifty Do Not Call Law for nearly a dozen years. The national "do not call" registry came along a couple of years after New York's law. Both are designed to enable consumers to prevent unwanted sales calls on home landlines as well as mobile telephones. You need only register your phone numbers to prevent telemarketers from calling.
But a pretty big loophole made it hard for the state Consumer Protection Division to enforce the law on telemarketers located out of state. An indication of how ineffective the state's law became is evident in the 61,700 "Do Not Call" complaints the Federal Trade Commission received in just the first three months of this year.
Telemarketers are supposed to register with the state Department of State - but those already registered or chartered in other states are exempt. The upshot is that only 22 telemarketers are registered here - compared with 213 in neighboring Pennsylvania and 333 in Vermont.
The state has finally fixed the problem with legislation regulating all telemarketers who do business in New York, regardless of where they are located. They are required to register and they are subject to civil and criminal penalties for violations of the Do Not Call Law.
And, for good measure, the new law also prohibits those dreadful robocalls - prerecorded telemarketing messages - without written permission from the call's recipient. If you do get a robocall, the caller should offer you a key-press or voice activated way to add your telephone number to the telemarketer's do-not-call list right then and there.
From now on, once you have signed up on for the National Do Not Call registry, there are only four types of telemarketing calls you might receive:
calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship;
calls for which you have given prior written permission;
calls which are not commercial or do not include unsolicited advertisements;
calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt non-profit organizations.
The new law is a welcome change.