Carlucci’s Column: Unwanted Robocalls Surging

BY STATE SENATOR DAVID CARLUCCI

Americans are receiving 4 billion automated calls per month, according to the Federal Communications Commission. That’s about 1,543 calls per second. Worse, the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) ranks New York 5thin the nation for total robocalls. Last year New Yorkers were hit with 1.92 billion robocalls.

Now the State Comptroller’s Office has found the department tasked with investigating violators of the states’ Do Not Call Registry are not investigating these offenders sufficiently. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s auditors discovered that Do Not Call Registry complaints more than doubled since 2014, from 217,031 to 454,100 in 2017. However, legal counsel with the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection were only referred 1 case in 2017 as oppose to 15 in 2014. Further, fines levied against offenders in 2014 accumulated to about $1.9 million and dropped to just $44,000 in 2017. The Comptroller’s Office blamed the problems on a lack of staffing and organization in the department, among other things.

It is clear we cannot depend on the state’s Do Not Call Registry, and additionally, some legitimate companies and scammers entirely ignore it anyway. Many companies are using advanced technology to evade unsuspecting people and this makes it extremely difficult for investigators to trace the numbers.

This is why I am fighting to pass legislation (S.8674), which prohibits robocalls to our cell and land line phones without a consumer’s consent and requires telephone companies offer consumers free tools to stop unwanted robocalls. The legislation will also better protect consumers by allowing them to take legal action against companies who illegally target them.

People are losing millions of dollars in robocall scams because they are often designed to steal a person’s personal information and carry out identity theft. This has to end, and lawmakers need pass this legislation to help protect our consumers from fraud.