Effective November 7, 2021, debt collectors will need to provide a new disclosure on initial demands sent to New York consumers. The new disclosure allows consumers to request communications in alternative formats.
On October 8, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochel, signed Senate Bill S737A (S737A) into law. Per S737A, by November 7, 2021, debt collectors must "clearly and conspicuously disclose" in the initial communication that the consumer can request communications in an alternative format such as large print, braille, or an audio compact disk. Additionally, the debt collector must include a telephone number the consumer can call for making the request. However, debt collectors who provide reasonable accommodations in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be deemed not to have violated SB737.
A violation of SB737 is a misdemeanor, and the first offense will come with a civil penalty of up to $250.00. All subsequent offenses will come with a civil penalty of up to $500.00. Each violation is considered a separate offense.
In light of the fact that Reg F goes into effect in less than 50 days, debt collectors may be frustrated by yet another change that requires a compliance review, policy change, and letter update. That said, perhaps the safe harbor for debt collectors who provide reasonable accommodations in compliance with the ADA will lessen the load. Debt collectors collecting in the state of New York should consult with their counsel to determine the best course of action.