Many consumers have heard of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protected them from abusive, unfair, and unconscionable treatment by third-party debt collectors. What may not be as well-known is that individual states have their own debt collection laws, some of which extend greater protection to residents.
The New York debt collection regulations were updated in August 2015 after consumers, their attorneys, and advocacy groups brought up certain concerns that were not adequately addressed by the existing law.
One noteworthy example is the inclusion of “a buyer of debt” within the state law definition of a debt collector. Companies that purchase huge debt portfolios for pennies on the dollar and then attempt to collect the full amount were attracting more complaints, especially when these debts had already been paid, settled, or were beyond the statute of limitations.
Thanks to this update, the New York debt collection laws provide you with a wide range of strong protections that include:
- Your right to receive the following information, either during the first communication with you or within five days afterward:
- Information about your rights as a New York consumer. This includes a list of income types that are protected from collection (e.g., unemployment benefits, welfare) and a list of prohibited debt collection activities.
- Information about the debt, such as the name of the original creditor, an itemized breakdown of the debt, the amount of the debt when it was sent to collection, and the amount of interest accrued since then.
- Information about the statute of limitations and your right to not pay a debt that is time-barred.
If you don’t believe that you owe the debt or believe that the amount requested is inaccurate, then you can request that the collection agency prove that it belongs to you and the total is correct. This information must be provided to you within 60 days. In addition, the debt collector must provide you with the following details if you send a written dispute of the debt:
- Any applications or contracts you may have signed
- A copy of the statement from the original creditor stating that your account was going into collections
- Information about how the debt collector acquired your debt from the creditor
- Details about any previous settlement of the debt
If you are in a position to pay the debt, then the New York law provides you with added protection. If the debt collection accepts a proposed payment arrangement from you, then they must send you a written confirmation within five days and you must receive a quarterly accounting of the payments you made. After the debt is paid off, the collection agency must provide you with written confirmation of the fact within 20 days.
These protections help ensure that if you do declare bankruptcy, it is because you need a fresh start and not because it was your only way to escape from a debt collector. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, New York bankruptcy attorney who has helped many clients obtain a fresh financial start. He has over 35 years of legal experience and offers free in-office initial consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment, especially if you are being harassed by debt collection agencies. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com/Bankruptcy to learn more.