State Comptroller Says Enforcement Of Do Not Call List Is Lacking

ALBANY – Do Not Call registry complaints by New York state residents have more than doubled since 2014 to more than 450,000 annually, but only two cases were referred for enforcement action in 2016 and 2017 combined, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
“The Do Not Call Registry was created to help consumers avoid unwanted, nuisance calls from telemarketers, but requests to investigate violations of the law are going unanswered,” DiNapoli said. “Without enforcement of the law, telemarketers will continue to bother people who do not want calls, attempt to steal personal information or take money from the unsuspecting. Officials at the state’s Division of Consumer Protection need to do a better job putting unwanted calls on mute.”
DiNapoli’s auditors found the number of Do Not Call complaints by state residents more than doubled from 217,031 in 2014 to 454,100 in 2017, but the number of cases referred to legal counsel at the division fell from 15 to one over that time period. The amount of fines levied dropped from $1.9 million to $44,000. In 2017 and 2016 combined, the division referred only two cases to legal counsel for further enforcement, versus 29 in 2015 and 2014 combined.
DiNapoli’s auditors found that the data maintained by the division to document its Do Not Call enforcement efforts was sometimes inaccurate, incomplete or was inconsistent with other information it maintained. In addition, there were no written procedures that provided direction on how to record and maintain the data. Further, the data was not set up to facilitate meaningful analysis, such as year-to-year comparisons or the timeliness of investigative steps.
Division personnel did not maintain a complete and accurate list of active Do Not Call cases and their status. Instead, they maintained multiple spreadsheets of case-related information. In reviewing Do Not Call statistics for the period Jan. 1, 2014 through Sept. 19, 2017, auditors identified conflicting and sometimes missing data.