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N.J. Sued Over Language Access Law; May Have Implications for ARM Industry

A battle is brewing in New Jersey over a newly enacted state law that could potentially impact the credit and collection industry both in the Garden State as well as other states across the country.

A new law went into effect last week that requires the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to now make credit reports available in Spanish and 10 other languages along with English. The Consumer Data Industry Association filed a lawsuit against the state last week to block the enactment of the law, which they argue is pre-empted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the First Amendment of the Constitution.

A report was released earlier this month, calling out collection agencies in New York City for not doing enough to communicate with individuals for which English is not their first language.

Consumer advocates unleashed their fury at the CDIA’s lawsuit in a press release that was published by the National Consumer Law Center yesterday.

“Nearly 26 million people in this country are limited English proficient,” said Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the NCLC, in a statement. “Not only have the credit bureaus abysmally failed to serve them on a national level by providing credit reports in other languages, but now they are actively suing to invalidate New Jersey’s language access law. I’d expect this type of reaction from anti-immigrant groups, not multinational corporations.”

A copy of the CDIA’s complaint against the state of New Jersey can be accessed by clicking here.

While admitting that the law is “well-intentioned,” a spokesman for the CDIA said it filed the lawsuit because it has “concerns that we are hoping to address in court.”

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