Your Rights Against Debt Collectors Under NYC Law

How does NYC’s debt collection law help NYC residents?

New York City’s debt collection laws and regulations are among the strongest in the country.  They give NYC residents extra protections that are not provided by federal and state debt collection laws.  For example, under NYC law, debt collectors:

  • Must provide you with specific information if you ask them to “verify” a debt – that is, to confirm that the debt is valid.
  • Must be licensed as debt collectors by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • May not call you more than twice a week about a debt.
  • Must confirm any settlement agreement with you in writing within five business days.
  • Must disclose certain information to you if they try to collect on a debt that is past the statute of limitations.

What does it mean to “verify” a debt?

When you ask a debt collector to “verify” a debt, you ask the debt collector to confirm that the debt is valid by sending you specific information about the debt.  The law states that once you request verification, the debt collector must stop all debt collection activities until it sends you verification of the debt.

How do I ask a debt collector to “verify” a debt?

You can send a letter based on this sample letter.  Under NYC law, you can ask a debt collector to verify a debt at any time.  Once you request verification, the debt collector must stop all debt collection activities until it sends you verification of the debt.

What information does a debt collector have to send me to verify a debt?

A debt collector must provide ALL of the following:

  • Proof of your agreement to pay the original creditor (for example, a copy of your credit card agreement);
  • The final account statement issued by the original creditor;
  • A breakdown of the total amount due, showing principal, interest, and other charges; and,
  • For all other charges, the date of and basis for each charge.

What if the debt collector does not send me information to verify the debt?

The debt collector must stop all debt collection activities until it sends you the information described above.  If the debt collector does not send you all of this information, it cannot attempt to collect the debt or contact you about the debt.  It also cannot sue you on the debt.

How can I find out whether a debt collector is licensed by NYC?

To check if a debt collector is licensed with the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, look up the debt collector here or call 311.

What if a debt collector is not licensed by NYC?

Debt collectors that are not licensed with the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs are not allowed to try to collect debts in NYC.  You should report unlicensed debt collectors to the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs by filing a complaint here or calling 311.  If you are sued by an unlicensed debt collector, call the NYC Financial Justice Hotline at 212-925-4929 for advice.

What if I enter into a settlement agreement or payment plan with a debt collector over the phone?

The debt collector must confirm any settlement agreement or payment plan in writing within five business days.

What if a debt collector is contacting me about a very old debt?

The debt collector must inform you if it is contacting you about collecting on a debt that is too old to be sued on in court (“past the statute of limitations”).  The debt collector must also tell you that if you make a payment on the debt, that payment will “restart the clock” – in other words, your payment will give the debt collector more time to sue you on the debt.  Click here for more information about statutes of limitations for debt collection.

Do I have other rights against debt collectors under any other laws?

Yes.  To learn about protections under federal law, see Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  To learn about protections under other NYC laws, visit the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs’ website.

What can I do if I think a debt collector is violating NYC law?

You can report the debt collector to the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs by filing a complaint here, calling 311, or sending a letter to:

              NYC Department of Consumer Affairs

              Complaints

              42 Broadway, 8th floor

              New York, NY 10004

Disclaimer:  This site provides general information for consumers and links to other sources of information.  This site does not provide legal advice, which you can only get from an attorney.  New Economy Project has no control over the information on linked sites.

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