NYC Report Proposes Requiring Debt Collectors to Provide Better Services for Consumers with Limited English Proficiency

Today, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) announced the release of a report titled, "Lost in Translation: Findings from Examination of Language Access by Debt Collectors." The report examined several NYC-licensed debt collection agencies to see how they service consumers with limited English proficiency (LEP). DCWP notes that the findings were concerning and proposes solutions that would require licensed debt collection agencies to provide better services to LEP consumers.

The report found that of the thirty-two debt collection agencies investigated, all claimed to provide some form of access to non-English speaking consumers, but that "those services were often limited and lacked quality." Thirty-one of the agencies provided LEP services that were delayed (e.g., having to wait several minutes to be connected to a Spanish-speaking representative) or not provided at all (e.g., transferring the consumer to a voicemail consisting only of English instructions). Fourteen of the agencies failed to record the consumer's language preference, and ten of the agencies failed to maintain policies and procedures about how to work with LEP consumers.

The report also notes that of the 517 NYC-licensed debt collectors that contact consumers directly:

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