The New York State General Assembly Tuesday passed a bill titled the Consumer Credit Fairness Act which significantly restricts the use of the legal collection channel in the state. In addition to a number of new requirements for bringing debt collection lawsuits, the bill would cut in half the statute of limitations in the state.
“There is an epidemic of unfair debt collection lawsuits in New York State,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “In many instances, these actions are brought against low and moderate income New Yorkers who are not aware a lawsuit has been filed against them, leaving them with little recourse and ruining their credit for many years. Unfortunately, the justice system is being abused by unscrupulous third party debt buyers and harming vulnerable New Yorkers. This bill would institute several measures to address these abusive debt collection practices and combat this menace.”
The Consumer Credit Fairness Act (A.2678) was introduced by Judiciary Committee Chair Helene Weinstein and passed the General Assembly on a vote of 90-45. If signed into law, it would curb abusive debt collection lawsuits by:
requiring notice of a pending consumer credit action to be mailed to the defendants by the clerk of the court;
requiring court filings to include more information about the debt targeted in a lawsuit, such as identifying the debt or account and providing proof that the debt is owed to the plaintiff;
lowering the statute of limitations for consumer credit transactions from six years to three years, and eliminating the right to collect the debt once the statute of limitations is expired; and
terminating the ability of debt buyers to sue on expired debt.
“Abusive debt collection lawsuits exploit gaps in our state’s laws,” said Weinstein. “This bill takes important steps to close these loopholes to protect consumers and helps to address the long-term impact of economic abuse, including identity theft, which is often suffered by domestic violence victims at the hands of their abusers.”
The bill was sent to the New York State Senate where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee for further action.
The Consumer Credit Fairness Act has been introduced in previous sessions in the General Assembly. A nearly-identical bill passed the Assembly in both 2009 and 2010 but did not make it out of Senate committees.