Have you gotten behind on bills, and find debt collectors calling you every few hours? Albany, which has undoubtedly noticed many voters are in the same boat, offers a bit of relief.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been dishing out subpoenas to companies that do illegal, harassment-grade debt collection. Recently he put two related companies under investigation for not only mercilessly hassling debtors and threatening to arrest them but also calling their neighbors and employers. Today Cuomo announced that he was fining three other debt collection firms $245,000 for similar offenses. The firms’ officers say they’ll “substantially reform their business practices.” We bet.
Governor Paterson’s getting in on the act with a program bill that would “implement several restrictions on debt collection practices” by requiring better notification of debt transfer and prohibiting a very long list of common forms of collector deception and harassment. Near the end, the bill also provides a tasty bill of consumer empowerment: if your debt collector violates any of its many prohibitions, you are empowered to seek “actual damages or two thousand five hundred dollars” for each violation, whether or not the government is prosecuting them.