State warns consumers, businesses about unsolicited telemarketing calls during state of emergency because they’re prohibited

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is reminding businesses and consumers about State law related to telemarketing activity during a declared state of emergency. On December 18th, 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that prohibits unsolicited telemarketing sales calls to anyone in an area subject to a declared state of emergency.

The law, which went into effect immediately, makes it unlawful for any telemarketer doing business in New York to make an unsolicited telemarketing sales call to any person in a county, city, town or village under a declared state of emergency or disaster emergency. On March 7, 2020, through Executive Order 202, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency relating to the novel coronavirus outbreak until September 7, 2020.

“While New York’s smart and phased in approach to COVID-19 is keeping our infection rate low, the COVID-19 crisis is not over,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado who oversees the NYS Division of Consumer Protection. “Unnecessary telemarketing calls are illegal as we continue to be in a state of emergency, thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership with the passage of this law.”

An “unsolicited telemarketing sales call” means “any telemarketing sales call other than a call made:

  • in response to an express written or verbal request by the customer; or
  • in connection with an established business relationship, which has not been terminated by either party, unless such customer has stated to the telemarketer that such customer no longer wishes to receive the telemarketing sales calls of such telemarketer.”[1]

When connecting with consumers, it is important to ensure business strategies and goals comply with New York State law. Businesses engaged in telemarketing activity in New York State should consult with their attorneys prior to engaging in unsolicited telemarketing sales calls in this state while the state of emergency remains in effect. Violating the new law can result in the imposition of thousands of dollars in civil penalties.

Any consumer who has received an unsolicited telemarketing sales call during this  declared state of emergency, is encouraged to report it at www.donotcall.govor by calling 888-382-1222.  When reporting, be prepared to provide details about the call.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. For more consumer protection information, call the Consumer Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or visit the DCP website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.