New telemarketing law in New York

One New York state law that took effect March 6 requires telemarketers operating in the state to offer the option of being added to that seller’s do-not-call list at the outset of certain calls, rather than at the end.

What effect this will have on scam callers is unclear at best. Phone scammers, by definition, are breaking the law, and have a history of adapting their pitches to the news of the day. When one tactic no longer works, they find another. It would be no trouble at all for them to impersonate legitimate telemarketers, trying to trick you into giving up personal information under the guise of putting you on a do-not-call list.

Wasn’t this all supposed to go away?

That was what federal regulators hoped when they required telephone carriers to authenticate calls using their networks, starting in 2021. The new rules are working but can only disable one method in scammers’ seemingly bottomless bag of tricks.

Our advice remains the same: when you see an unfamiliar number appear on your Caller ID screen, ignore the call, or screen the call until you’re certain who’s calling. If you’ve picked up by force of habit and you suspect a scammer, just hang up. No need to talk to them, no need to push the buttons they want you to push, no need to call the number they want you to call. Just hang up.

If you only have a non-internet landline phone with no Caller ID or voice mail, so that you must pick up to find out who’s calling, many common spam-blocking techniques are unavailable. Scammers know this and send even more calls to landline numbers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends checking your phone provider’s website or calling their customer service number to find out what your options are, or if there’s a service they recommend. Some phone providers offer these services for free, but some charge a fee.

There are hardware call blocking devices available at a cost of $70 and up. We’re unsure how much help they can be. The blockers come pre-programmed with thousands of known scammers’ phone numbers; but, to a scammer, changing phone numbers comes as naturally as breathing.

What can I tell Mom?

Whether scammers target us with phone calls, the mail, your home computer or mobile device, and whether they’re targeting somebody who’s 91 or 19, scammers have one overarching goal: to manipulate our emotions with stories that sound plausible only on the surface, and to keep us nervous about imaginary consequences. Don’t play their game; you’ll only lose.

If you’re still worried about the pretext a scammer used to try fooling you, there is a printable Scam Prevention Resources sheet available at www.dutchessny.gov/aging that includes local contact information on how to report a wide variety of scams.

 

Golden Living is prepared by the Dutchess County Office for the Aging, 114 Delafield St., Poughkeepsie, New York 12601, telephone 845-486-2555; email: ofa@dutchessny.gov; www.dutchessny.gov/aging

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