NYC Enacts Rule Regarding Language Access

A new rule is set to go into effect in New York City later this month that will require debt collectors to notify individuals who do not speak or read English well about other options that may be available to help those people understand their rights and communicate with collection agencies.

The proposed rule is a response to a survey that was conducted late last year by the DCA which revealed that debt collectors in New York were not taking adequate steps to ensure that individuals who do not speak English can understand and resolve their alleged debts.

A copy of the rule, which is scheduled to go into effect June 27 is available by clicking here. A number of industry trade associations are planning to formally ask the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs to delay the implementation of the rule for three months, according to ACA International.

Under the proposed rule, debt collectors would be required 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 the collector 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.

Debt collectors would be prohibited 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.

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