Speaker Carl Heastie and Ways and Means Committee Chair Helene E. Weinstein today announced the Assembly passed a comprehensive package of consumer credit protection legislation.
“The Assembly Majority has long been committed to protecting the rights of consumers,” said Speaker Heastie. “The COVID-19 pandemic created greater economic hardship for New Yorkers and made the passage of these bills that much more critical. This legislation will go a long way in protecting consumers from unscrupulous actors that pray on the vulnerable.”
“My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority have championed these bills for years, but consumer protections became even more essential during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis,” said Assemblymember Weinstein. “My bills will help ensure that New Yorkers are protected from predatory practices that threaten their ability to pursue financial freedom and overcome debt.”
For over a decade, the Assembly has fought to pass the Consumer Credit Fairness Act to prevent abusive consumer debt collection practices, such as for credit card debt. This legislation would create new stringent lawsuit requirements for debt collectors pursuing litigation against consumers, and would also reduce the statute of limitations on consumer credit actions from six to three years, to avoid lawsuits on stale debt. (A.2382, Weinstein). This legislation has also been passed by the Senate.
One bill included in the package would help alleviate the hardship placed on New Yorkers in debt by cutting the interest rate on uncollected consumer debt, including medical debt, from nine percent to two percent (A.6474-A, Weinstein). This legislation has also been passed by the Senate. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation to exempt federal stimulus money from debt collection (A.6617-A, Weinstein).
All too often, consumers who seek relief against the sellers of consumer goods are limited by contracts that set a venue in a far flung location that is inconvenient or impossible for consumers to attend. Legislation passed by the Assembly would prohibit contracts for the purchase or lease of consumer goods from restricting venue in an action relating to such contract (A.2505, Weinstein). This legislation has also been passed by the Senate.
Guardianship petitions transfer an incapacitated person’s legal rights to make financial and personal care decisions to someone appointed by the court. These petitions are generally filed by family members to help them meet the personal or property management needs of an incapacitated relative. However, nursing homes have increasingly been using these petitions solely for the purpose of collecting unpaid bills or to coerce settlement of bill disputes with residents. Legislation passed by the Assembly would ensure that nursing home facilities are not able to file guardianship petitions for that purpose (A.2536, Weinstein).