Telemarketers Warned: Your Calls Are Banned in NY During Coronavirus Emergency

Thanks to Law Sponsored by Assemblyman David Buchwald Last Year
April 13, 2020

Telemarketers are prohibited from making unsolicited calls during a declared state of emergency in New York State, under terms of a law that went into effect just prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) enacted legislation prohibiting telemarketers from knowingly making calls during a declared state of emergency. The measure won unanimous support in the State Assembly and State Senate and was signed into law by Governor Cuomo this past December. (Chapter 680 of the Laws of 2019)

“During a declared state of emergency, residents must have open lines of communication with medical professionals, local governments and friends and relatives without telemarketers tying up phone lines,” said Assemblyman Buchwald. “With so many New Yorkers staying home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the telephone is a critical tool to combat isolation. Telemarketing calls are annoying enough in normal times, but in this emergency, they are being used to sell phony coronavirus tests kits and useless vitamins to people, especially seniors. Our priority is to make sure the phone is used to maintain healthy contact with family, friends, and first responders.”

During Governor Cuomo's daily press conference on Monday, the subject came up of some New Yorkers applying for unemployment insurance and missing their calls from the New York State Department of Labor. Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa noted that applicants for unemployment insurance may get a call from an unlisted phone number to confirm their details, and those are legitimate calls - something further enhanced by the ban on telemarketing sales calls in effect at this time as a result of Buchwald' legislation.

Residents receiving telemarketing calls should stop the caller, and immediately ask to be placed on the firm’s do not call list. But also, thanks to this new law, New Yorkers can file a complaint with the New York State Department of State on line at https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/form/ComplaintForm1.asp or call (888) 382-1222. Violations can lead to a fine of up to $11,000.