New York State Assembly Albany, New York 12248
NYS Seal News from
the Assembly
Subcommittee on
Protecting the Elderly Consumer
Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Audrey I. Pheffer, Chair, Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee
Steven Englebright, Chair, Aging Committee
Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair, Subcommittee on Protecting the Elderly Consumer
December 2002


ConsumerAlert!
...for the Elderly
Message from the Chair

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As Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Protecting the Elderly Consumer, I am pleased to report the results of a very successful legislative session.

This year, several laws were enacted to help protect New York State residents. Predatory lending legislation was signed into law to protect consumers, especially senior citizens, from unscrupulous lending practices. In addition, the Legislature passed a law to prevent identity theft fraud. The enactment of these laws will further protect consumers from both fraudulent lending practices and from the fraudulent use of their personal information and identity.

I am proud of this yearís many accomplishments and will continue to work hard to protect elderly consumers throughout all of New York State.

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Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair
Assembly Subcommittee on Protecting the Elderly Consumer

Identity Theft Legislation Enacted

Theft of identity is a crime that is becoming increasingly widespread. Victims of identity theft are often left with a bad credit report and must spend months and even years trying to regain their financial health.

This year, Assembly bill 4939-E has been enacted into law. Chapter 619 of the laws of 2002 defines consumers as the victim of the crime, as well as financial institutions. It sets out a range of penalties for those who aid, attempt or commit identity theft óranging from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony.

By enacting an identity theft law, New York will provide law enforcement and local district attorneys with an important tool to prevent this crime.


Predatory Lending Legislation Signed Into Law

Predatory lending is an unfair lending practice that takes advantage of consumers. Most predatory lending schemes occur in the sub-prime market. Consumers end up taking out loans they can not afford, have unclear conditions or cost more than necessary. This can lead to a consumer losing their home. Unfortunately, many senior citizens end up being the victims of predatory lending practices.

In order to prevent predatory lending, the New York Legislature enacted A.11856. A.11856 was designed to protect consumers against abuses in the sub-prime lending market. It provides for consumer disclosures and encourages counseling for consumers when applying for a high cost loan. By providing disclosures and counseling, consumers will be more informed when negotiating a loan, thereby reducing the occurrence of unaffordable, predatory loans.


Stop Unwanted Telephone Calls

The "Do Not Call" telephone preference registry was established by law effective April 1, 2001, to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing sales calls. New Yorkers who register will be protected from most telemarketing calls.

The registry is published on a quarterly basis (April 1, July 1, October 1, and January 1). Telemarketing calls will not stop immediately after registration, because telemarketers have 30 days after the quarterly update to remove registered numbers from call lists.

If you receive a telemarketing call that you believe is in violation of the law, record the following information: the date and time the call was received; the name and address of the company that called; a managerís name; the name of the company whose product or service is sold by the telemarketer; and any service or product information. With this information, you can file a complaint against the telemarketer.

To file a complaint regarding an alleged violation, contact the Consumer Protection Board (CPB) at 1 (800) 697-1220 or via the internet at www.consumer.state.ny.us.


Increased Consumer Protection For Funeral Goods and Services

In 2001, the Legislature enacted a law that increased consumer protection of monies used towards funeral goods and services. The Preneed Funeral Consumer Protection Act of 2001 prohibits funeral directors from receiving a commission from the sale of a funeral/burial insurance policy. This legislation effectively closed a loophole in the law by ensuring that there is no financial incentive to steer a consumer toward any type of funeral service.

The law also ensures that money deposited in an interest-bearing trust could not be invested in surety bonds. This change was prompted by consumer losses in Florida, where monies were put in surety bonds and then lost when the bond issuers defaulted on bond payments.

The Preneed Funeral Consumer Protection Act of 2001 will expire on June 1, 2003. New York State has a reputation for having the strongest consumer protection laws for funeral services in the United States. Renewal of this law will help us maintain that status.


Sign up for the "Do Not Call" Registry

***Click here for printable view.***

If you have not already registered for the "Do Not Call" list and would like to do so, complete this form and mail it to: New York State Consumer Protection Board, Attn: Do-Not-Call Registry, 5 Empire State Plaza, Suite 2101, Albany, NY 12223.

Name of Registrant


Address




City, State and Zip Code


Date


Residential Telephone Numbers to be placed on the list:







Charities

In the wake of September 11, charities in New York State and throughout the nation saw unprecedented levels of generosity. In an effort to ensure that contributions were distributed to those in need, the Assembly worked with the Attorney General and charitable organizations from throughout the state and nation to enact comprehensive legislation dealing with charities. Speaker Silver and the Committees on Governmental Operations, Codes, Judiciary and Oversight jointly held public hearings in New York City on November 7, 2001 to examine the extent to which moneys collected for the victims of the 9/11 attack were in fact reaching the people in need.

Based in part on information gained from this hearing, legislation was enacted. Chapter 43 of the laws of 2002 requires most charities to register with the Attorney Generalís Office and to submit annual financial reports.


(Left to right): Audrey I. Pheffer, Chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs, Gretchen Dykstra, New York City Commissioner for Consumer Affairs and Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Protecting the Elderly, met earlier this year to discuss issues of concern to the elderly consumer.

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Legislative Office Building, Room 639 square Albany, New York 12248 square (518) 455-5965
dinowij@assembly.state.ny.us


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