Bloomberg Admin Announces New Rules for Debt Collectors


The Bloomberg administration announced new rules on Monday that are intended to change the way debt collectors operate by making sure they are going after the right people.

The new rules require collection agencies to provide consumers with the equivalent of an “original receipt” of the debt, proving the ownership and including an itemized list of accrued interest and any additional fees, said Jonathan B. Mintz, the city’s consumer affairs commissioner.

Until now, licensed collection agencies equipped with a list of debtors could contact anyone in New York City whose name appeared on a debtor list, regardless of whether that person owed money or not. The new rules, the commissioner said, will force original creditors to keep paperwork documenting a debt, who owes it, how old it is and whether it is still owed under the statutes of limitations. Debt collectors have recently been criticized by some judges for their tactics, and for the lack of documentation supporting their claims.

“Let’s say that one of the names on their list is Michael Bloomberg,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a news conference held by the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation. “They quickly find people with that name all across the tristate area.”

A 2009 change to the city’s administrative code regarding debt collectors allows the city simply to impose the new rules within the five boroughs, officials said.

One key to improving the debt collection system for New Yorkers, however, is getting consumers to work with debt collection agencies.

New Yorkers frustrated by automated calls from collection agencies, or harassment for debts they do not owe, are also newly entitled to speak with an agent within 60 seconds of returning a call to a collection company.

The Bloomberg administration is not planning any public news media campaign to inform people of the upgraded rules, but it encourages New Yorkers to dial 311 if they are receiving harassing phone calls or need help managing their debt.

(Source: NY Times Blog)