Cuomo, Trump take aim at those pesky, annoying robocalls

Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Trump seem to agree on one thing: Something must be done to finally get rid of those annoying robocalls. (Photo via Pixabay)

New Yorkers could get some reprieve from robocalls under a proposal from the governor and new federal protections signed this week by President Donald Trump.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he will submit legislation to require telecommunications company to warn customers about suspected robocalls and to allow them to block them.

Cuomo said his legislation, which is part of his 2020 State of the State agenda, would also ramp up financial penalties against companies that don’t comply with the state’s Do Not Call law.

The governor’s proposal comes after Trump this week signed a bill to help reduce the torrents of unwanted calls, which in addition to irritating Americans have defrauded people out of millions of dollars and disrupted hospital operations.

Some elements of Cuomo’s proposal mirror the new federal law, which calls for tougher fines when individuals intentionally violate the law. The federal law will require phone companies to help stop robocalls before they reach the consumer and do it at no additional charge.

The law signed by Trump also gives authorities more enforcement powers and could speed up measures the industry is already taking to identify robocalls. The telecommunications industry is developing a system to tell people when the Caller ID number is real.

Americans collectively get billions of robocalls each month. The governor’s office says an estimated 10.4 million robocalls are being delivered to New Yorkers daily.

It’s already illegal to fake numbers on Caller ID to defraud or cause harm under federal law. Scams are also prohibited, as are automated telemarketing calls from legitimate companies that don’t already have written permission.

But enforcement has been tough. Federal agencies have fined scammers hundreds of millions of dollars, but it has been difficult to collect. Many of the callers are overseas.

The federal law also does nothing about telemarketing calls that aren’t automated.