New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Enacts Rule on Debt Collection Language Services


ACA International is working with its state unit in New York and other trades to advocate for more time to submit comments and seek clarity on the rule.

6/11/2020 14:00

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs is adding new rules that require debt collectors to inform consumers about whether certain language access services are available and to retain records relating to language access services.

The rule was reviewed at a public hearing in April and the department did not receive any comments on the proposal.

ACA International is working jointly with the New York State Collectors Association, the Receivables Management Association International, National Creditors Bar Association, and the New York State Creditors Bar Association to formally request the Department of Consumer Affairs extend the effective date of the adopted rule from June 28, 2020 to three months after the final rule publication, reopen an abbreviated comment period to solicit industry and public comments and to provide clarification on several provisions in the rule.

Requirements in the rule for debt collectors in New York City (including all of the five boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) are:

  • 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.

These rules 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.

An amendment to the rule also notes that, “unless otherwise prohibited by federal, state or local law, a debt collection agency shall maintain a separate file for each debt that the debt collection agency attempts to collect from each consumer, in a manner that is searchable or retrievable by the name, address and zip code of the consumer and the creditor who originated the debt the agency is seeking to collect. The debt collection agency shall maintain in each file the following records to document its collection activities with respect to each consumer.”

Read more in the rule here.

ACA International will continue to provide updates on the rule.

For more information on how the ACA Licensing staff can assist with your licensing needs, please contact us at [email protected] or call (952) 926-6547.