Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the 17th proposal of his 2020 State of the State Agenda – a comprehensive proposal to fight incessant robocalls or nuisance calls. This multi-pronged legislative package will require telecommunications companies to deploy technology that allows customers to block suspected robocalls. As technology improves to identify and stop these nuisance calls, or robocallers try to find new ways to circumvent these efforts, telecom companies will be required to update their blocking technology to protect their consumers. The proposal will also require providers to quickly adopt widely available technology that warns consumers about potential robocalls and scams, including those not originating from New York numbers. The proposal would also ramp up financial penalties against companies that do not comply with New York’s “Do Not Call Law.”
“New Yorkers pay good money for their phone service but are still being hounded by millions of robocalls every day. With this measure, we’re saying to telecom companies – get off the sidelines and stop transmitting these harassing calls to your customers or we will hold you accountable,” Governor Cuomo said. “Illegal robocallers will not be let off the hook either, and we are stepping up enforcement and doubling fines against anyone who violates New York’s ‘Do Not Call’ Law.”
Nationally, experts projected that in 2019 over 45 percent of all mobile phone traffic would be robocalls or scam calls, and it is estimated that 10.4 million robocalls are being delivered to New Yorkers daily. The robocall scourge fueled by spoofing technologies provides an insidious gateway for fraudsters and unscrupulous telemarketers to scam vulnerable New Yorkers. They have also driven people to stop answering when unknown numbers call, costing businesses who struggle to communicate with their customers and leading people to ignore important phone calls from health care professionals and public schools.
As part of his 2020 State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo will introduce a comprehensive package to thwart scammers and illegal robocallers.
Require Telephone Providers to Block Robocalls or be Held Responsible
New York consumers payphone providers money every month for their service, yet these companies allow millions of abusive and deceptive calls to pass onto their consumers every day. Under the Governor’s proposal, telecommunication providers will be required to deploy the best robocall blocking technology available to consumers by default. Right now, some companies offer the technology only upon request, if at all. Companies that fail to deploy these best efforts to stop robocalls will be held accountable and subject to investigation and fines of up to $100,000 a day by the Department of Public Service or the State Division of Consumer Protection.
Require Rapid Implementation of Call Authentication Technology to Flag Questionable Callers
Under the Governor’s proposal, every telephone service provider will be required to fully implement STIR/SHAKEN protocol, an industry-based call authentication protocol as soon as possible. The STIR/SHAKEN protocol was developed by the telecommunications industry to provide additional caller ID information on all phone numbers, including those not originating from New York numbers, and warn consumers of potential scams and robocalls. Most telephone service providers previously committed to deploying this technology but to date, many have shown little to no progress on implementation.
Double Penalties Against Robocallers for “Do Not Call” Law Violations
New York’s “Do Not Call” Law, provides the State Division of Consumer Protection enforcement authority to track down and penalize bad actors who make unsolicited calls to New Yorkers who have signed up with the State’s Do Not Call Registry. In addition to the up to $100,000 a day penalty to telecommunication companies for failure to block robocalls, the Governor is proposing doubling the current maximum fines for “Do Not Call” violators from $11,000 per call to up to $22,000 per call.
If you do receive any unwanted calls, New Yorkers are encouraged to report the call online at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 888-382-1222.
For more information on how to register with the Do Not Call Registry, or file a complaint please review the Division of Consumer Protection’s Do Not Call Guide.