Proposed Rules regarding Debt Collectors

Proposed Rules: Open to Comments

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Comment By: 
Friday, April 10, 2020

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

The Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA” or “Department”) is proposing to add new rules that would require debt collectors to inform consumers about whether certain language access services are available and to retain records relating to language access services.

Approximately a quarter of the population of New York City does not understand English proficiently. Many debt collectors working to collect debts from New York City consumers, however, are not providing adequate language access services to consumers. For more background on this issue, see the Department’s publication, “Lost in Translation: Findings from Examination of Language Access by Debt Collectors.” This publication highlights the lack of language access services provided for limited-English proficiency (LEP) consumers by debt collection agencies.

These proposed rules would enable consumers who require language access services to better understand their rights with respect to debt collection and to facilitate communication between collectors and LEP consumers. The proposed recordkeeping requirements would allow the Department to ensure that LEP consumers are receiving sufficient information when contacted by a debt collector. The proposed prohibited practices would ensure that debt collectors are not engaging in deceptive or unfair conduct with respect to language access.

Specifically, the proposed new rules would require debt collectors to:

• Inform consumers—in any initial collection notice and on any public-facing websites maintained by the collector—of the availability of any language access services provided by the collector and of a translation and description of commonly-used debt collection terms in a consumer’s preferred language on the Department’s website;

• Request, record, and retain, to the extent reasonably possible, a record of the language preference of each consumer from whom it attempts to collect a debt; and

• Maintain a report identifying, by language, the number of consumer accounts on which an employee of the collector attempted to collect a debt in a language other than English, and the number of employees that attempted to collect on such accounts.

The proposed rules would also prohibit debt collectors from:

• Providing false, inaccurate or incomplete translations of any communication to a consumer in the course of attempting to collect a debt; and

• Misrepresenting or omitting a consumer’s language preference when returning, selling or referring for litigation any consumer account, where the debt collector is aware of such preference.

DCA’s authority for this rule is found in Sections 1043 and 2203(f) of the New York City Charter, and Sections 20-104(b), 20-493(a), and 20-702 of the New York City Administrative Code.

Public Hearing

Proposed Rules regarding Debt Collectors

Public Hearing Date: 
Friday, April 10, 2020 - 10:00am

Carlos Ortiz; 212 436 0345;

Department of Consumer Affairs
please dial 712-770-4010, and use the access code 789 503.