GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Are you getting too many calls from telemarketers?
You’re certainly not alone.
Complaints to New York’s Do Not Call Registry were way up last year, but almost none were investigated.
So what’s the disconnect? CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff tried to find out on Tuesday.
They are the most unwelcome of callers — telemarketers and scammers, often disguised as local calls.
“It’s annoying and it’s scary because your number is everywhere,” one person said.
“Midnight, I’ll be waking up to phone calls,” another said.
“Constantly, constantly,” another added.
Fourteen million people in New York state are on the Do Not Call Registry to block nuisance calls, but maddening violations continue.
“It’s constant and it’s getting worse,” Garden City resident Barbara Cashen said. “I’m on the Do Not Call list, but I don’t think that works, though.”
It doesn’t work, according to an audit by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. Do Not Call registry complaints doubled to 450,000 last year, but they’re falling on deaf ears.
“Only one case was referred for further investigation,” said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Comptroller DiNapoli.
You heard right. One case per year referred for enforcement.
“Who is going to do it if the state isn’t following up or doing what its supposed to do?” Cashen asked.
And the audit found fines for violators plummeted from $1.9 million in 2014 to just $44,000 last year.
“The folks that are supposed to investigate these cases were vastly understaffed during the time period we looked at,” Johnson said.
The Do Not Call Registry program logging half a million complains last year has only five staff members, many of them wearing other hats, with no one in charge. The Director of Investigations position was vacant for a year and half.
In response, the Department of State, which runs the Do Not Call Registry, said it has already made improvements, filling the investigations job.
But CBS2’s Gusoff didn’t get any answers when she asked why it took so long. However, to the auditor, the Department of State wrote, “New technologies make it difficult to identify companies making unwanted calls.”
Frustrated New Yorkers say turn up the volume on enforcement or hang up the program.