Requires debt collectors to inform debtors in each initial communication that written communications are available in large print format.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the general business law, in relation to requiring debt collectors to inform debtors that written communications are available in large print format
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill would require debt collectors to notify debtors of the availability of large print for future notices. For the purposes of this bill it also defines a "communication, debt, and debt collector."
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends section 600 of the general business law, adding three new subdivision which offer definitions of relevant terms for this bill.
Section 2 amends the general business law by adding a new section, 601-a, which required creditors or debt collectors to offer, upon initial communication, large print for any further communications that the debtor may receive. Furthermore, this section defines what large print will qualify as.
Section 3 amends subdivision 1 of section 602 of the general business law, to add a misdemeanor penalty that any creditor or debtor who violates the requirements set forth in section 601-a of this bill will be guilty of. This section also determines a fine and the dollar amount of this fine.
Section 4 sets the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: This bill would offer some protection to debtors who suffer from vision problems. Often times debt collectors will bombard debtors with information that can be intimidating and also difficult to understand. This bill at the very least would ensure that debtors who suffer from poor vision would be able to receive notice that the communications they are receiving can be provided in large print. This service will insure that those who are intended to read, understand, and comply with these communications, are better prepared to do so.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2011-12-A.5438 - Referred to Codes
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the state
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 5386 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE May 16, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Consumer Protection AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to requiring debt collectors to inform debtors that written communications are available in large print format THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 600 of the general business law is amended by adding three new subdivisions 4, 5 and 6 to read as follows: 4. "COMMUNICATION" SHALL MEAN THE CONVEYING OF INFORMATION REGARDING A DEBT DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TO ANY PERSON THROUGH ANY MEDIUM. 5. "DEBT" MEANS ANY OBLIGATION OR ALLEGED OBLIGATION OF A CONSUMER TO PAY MONEY ARISING OUT OF A TRANSACTION IN WHICH THE MONEY, PROPERTY, INSURANCE, OR SERVICES WHICH ARE THE SUBJECT OF THE TRANSACTION ARE PRIMARILY FOR PERSONAL, FAMILY, OR HOUSEHOLD PURPOSES, WHETHER OR NOT SUCH OBLIGATION HAS BEEN REDUCED TO JUDGMENT. 6. "DEBT COLLECTOR" MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL WHO, AS PART OF HIS OR HER JOB, REGULARLY COLLECTS OR ATTEMPTS TO COLLECT DEBTS: (A) OWED OR DUE OR ASSERTED TO BE OWED OR DUE TO ANOTHER; OR (B) OBTAINED BY, OR ASSIGNED TO, SUCH PERSON, FIRM OR CORPORATION, THAT ARE IN DEFAULT WHEN OBTAINED OR ACQUIRED BY SUCH PERSON, FIRM OR CORPORATION. S 2. The general business law is amended by adding a new section 601-a to read as follows: S 601-A. LARGE PRINT NOTICES. 1. EACH AND EVERY PRINCIPAL CREDITOR OR DEBT COLLECTOR SHALL, IN EACH INITIAL COMMUNICATION, CLEARLY AND CONSPICUOUSLY DISCLOSE TO THE DEBTOR THAT WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE PRINCIPAL CREDITOR OR DEBT COLLECTOR MAY BE RECEIVED IN A LARGE PRINT FORMAT. UPON WRITTEN REQUEST BY A DEBTOR, THE PRINCIPAL CREDITOR OR DEBT COLLECTOR MUST PROVIDE ANY WRITTEN COMMUNICATION SENT TO THE DEBTOR IN THE LARGE PRINT FORMAT.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01484-01-3 S. 5386 2
2. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, LARGE PRINT FORMAT SHALL MEAN A PRINTED FONT SIZE OF SIXTEEN OR LARGER. S 3. Subdivision 1 of section 602 of the general business law, as added by chapter 753 of the laws of 1973, is amended to read as follows: 1. Except as otherwise provided by law, any person who
[shall violate]VIOLATES the terms OF SECTION SIX HUNDRED ONE of this article [shall be]IS guilty of a misdemeanor, and each such violation shall be deemed a separate offense. A VIOLATION BY ANY PERSON OF SECTION SIX HUNDRED ONE-A OF THIS ARTICLE, IF SUCH VIOLATION CONSTITUTES THE FIRST SUCH OFFENSE BY SUCH PERSON, IS PUNISHABLE BY A CIVIL PENALTY NOT TO EXCEED TWO HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS. THE SECOND OFFENSE AND ANY OFFENSE COMMITTED THEREAFTER IS PUNISHABLE BY A CIVIL PENALTY NOT TO EXCEED FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. S 4. This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have become a law.