Hoylman-Niou bill would protect NY’ers against robocalls and phone scams

Sen. Brad Hoylman, courtesy of the New York State Senate

Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Greenwich Village, recently announced new legislation that would protect New Yorkers from harassment by unwanted and intrusive robocalls on both landlines and cell phones.

The bill (S.8674/A.10739) would prohibit telephone companies from calling consumers without required consent and would mandate that companies offer consumers free tools to stop unwanted robocalls. It is sponsored in the Assembly by Yuh-Line Niou, D-Lower Manhattan.

The new legislation would establish a private right of action for individuals who are illegally targeted and would allow them to revoke their consent at anytime.

“Like so many New Yorkers, everyone in my family has been annoyed by robocalls on a near daily basis,” Hoylman said. “These robocalls are a scourge on the public-at-large, and my constituents have been vocal about the extent to which these calls infringe on their privacy and interrupt their daily lives.”

Hoylman has been working with Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, and the National Consumer Law Center in developing this legislation.  

“Consumers continue to be harassed daily by unwanted robocalls,” said Maureen Mahoney, Policy Analyst for Consumers Union. “These calls not only compromise consumers’ privacy, but too often, robocalls are also scams that can cost them millions. Sen. Hoylman’s legislation will extend legal protections against unwanted robocalls, and ensure that all New York consumers have access to effective, no-cost tools to stop them.”

According to Hoylman, the volume of robocalls has reached epidemic proportions. In March 2018, Americans received 3.2 billion automated scam calls, many of which were sent without consent of the consumer.

The 917 area code in Greater New York City ranks as the fifth worst impacted area code in the country.  Protections such as the federally imposed “Do Not Call Registry” help prevent these unwanted calls from legitimate companies, but are ineffective against deceptive robocalls.

The National Do Not Call Registry is a database maintained by the United States federal government that lists the telephone numbers of individuals and families who have requested that telemarketers not contact them.

“Enough is enough. By allowing robocalls to continue unabated, telephone companies effectively condone this harassment and undermine the broader public trust,” said Hoylman. “I’m pleased to be working with Consumers Union and the National Consumer Law Center to tackle this problem head on.”

The bill currently resides in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and the Assembly Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee.