Several months ago, New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) adopted amendments related to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) consumers into its debt collection rules. The amendment was initially proposed on March 5, 2020, and a public hearing was held on April 10, 2020—just at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic scramble that led most businesses to send employees home to work. After receiving no comments, DCA moved ahead with its new rule. Only after the industry found its sea legs with the new world under COVID-19 did DCA agree to extend the grace period for enforcement of the new LEP rule to give it time to put forward an FAQ document for businesses. That extension comes to an end next week—on October 1—one big question remains unanswered.
That question is this: what should collection agencies do regarding the hyperlink to translations of commonly-used terms? According to the LEP rule, collection agencies must link to the DCA website (nyc.gov/dca), where a list of such terms and translations are supposed to be housed. However, to-date, DCA's website still does not contain such a list. There's currently no way to correctly comply with this regulation, and it does more harm than good to consumers.
Yesterday, insideARM reached out to DCA via email to get clarification about where on DCA's website the commonly-used collection terms are located and the industry's concerns about the looming grace period deadline. DCA responded that it expects to have a glossary of terms made available before the October 1 deadline and recommends monitoring the website for updates. Until then, we wait.