senate Bill S83

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Regulates debt collection practices; repealer

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Jan 08, 2014 referred to consumer protection
Jan 09, 2013 referred to consumer protection

S83 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
General Business Law
Laws Affected:
Rpld & add Art 29-H ยงยง600 - 603-a, Gen Bus L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S131
2009-2010: S3791, S7309

S83 - Bill Texts

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Enacts the fair debt collection practices act; prohibits debt collectors and creditors from attempting to collect debts by threatening violence, falsely accusing any person of fraud or of a crime, making or threatening to make false accusations to a credit reporting agency, falsely threatening that non-payment will result in arrest, or making other groundless threats; prohibits certain harassing activities by debt collectors; establishes rules for contacting third parties and consumers; provides for private right of action and enforcement by attorney general.

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BILL NUMBER:S83

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the general business law, in relation to regulation of debt
collection; and to repeal
article 29-H of such law relating thereto

PURPOSE:
Under present law consumers, creditors, and debt collection agencies
are subjected to vague and inconsistent protection and regulation in
relation to permissible and impermissible consumer debt collection
practices. While the current federal debt collection statute and the
New York City regulation governing debt collection agencies and
creditors both provide detailed descriptions of prohibited practices;
current State law is vague, overly general, and thus inconsistent
with federal and City mandates.

This bill will insure uniformity among the three laws. As a result,
businesses will no longer be subjected to the uncertainty of
enforcement inherent in a system governed by radically inconsistent
statutes. In short, the bill would provide the business community
with a detailed description of proscribed and acceptable practices so
as to facilitate compliance with the law.

Moreover, New York State consumers will receive the additional
protections now found in federal and New York City law. For example,
consumers will have the right to obtain verification of disputed
debts. Too often consumers are dunned for a bill which either they
paid or did not incur or which reflect an incorrect amount. Many
consumers, faced with the threat of impaired credit ratings and
lawsuits, pay these incorrect debts simply to avoid further
harassment. A debtor would also be protected from calls at specified
unreasonable hours, calls at his place of employment without consent,
obscene and abusive calls, threats of violence, fraudulent
misrepresentations, and baseless threats.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
This bill would repeal General Business Law, Article twenty-nine-H,
the existing debt collection statute, and would substitute a new,
more comprehensive Article 29-H (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

This proposal would prohibit debt collectors and creditors from:
attempting to collect debts by threatening violence; falsely accusing
any person of fraud or of a crime; making or threatening to make
false accusations to a credit reporting agency; falsely threatening
that non-payment will result in arrest; threatening action which the
collector in his usual course of business does not in fact take;
threatening to enforce a right with knowledge that the right does not
exist.

Further, the bill would prohibit debt collectors and creditors from
unreasonably oppressing, harassing, or abusing any person in an
attempt to collect a debt by using profane or obscene language,
making deceptive telephone calls, communicating at an unreasonable
time (before 8:00 A.M. and after 9:00 P.M.) or at an unusual place.


Debt collectors and creditors are prohibited, under the bill, from
unreasonably publicizing information relating to any alleged debt, or
from communicating with the debtor's employer except after judgment
on the debt has been entered or to locate the debtor.

Under the bill, no debt collector or creditor could attempt to collect
a debt or obtain information concerning a consumer by: using any name
other than his own legal name (with limited exceptions); failing to
disclose in any written communication that he is attempting to
collect a debt; falsely representing that he has something of value
for the consumer; failing to disclose the name of the person to whom
the debt is owed; falsely representing the legal status of the debt;
falsely representing that he is associated in any way with any
government agency; falsely representing that the debt may be
increased by attorneys' fees or other charges; or falsely
representing that the sale or assignment of a debt will cause the
consumer to lose a defense to it.

Debt collectors and creditors would be forbidden, under the bill, from
collecting debts by communicating with the debtor without the
debtor's written consent.

Collection agencies also would be prohibited from communicating with a
debtor by telephone before sending a written communication to him. No
debt collector or creditor could seek to locate a debtor by
disclosing the debt to any third party, communicating with any third
party more than once, or communicating orally without first
communicating in writing to any third party.

Creditors and collection agencies would be required, under the bill to
disclose in their first written communication to a consumer the
amount of the debt, to whom the debt is owed, the consumer's right to
dispute the validity of the debt, and the consumer's right to obtain
verification of the debt.

Collection agencies must also disclose, at the consumer's request, the
name of the original creditor if different from the current one, and
the authority of the collection agency to initiate legal action on
behalf of the creditor. In addition, collectors must disclose, in
their initial letter to debtors, some of the most important consumer
rights.

When the debtor resides in New York City, these disclosures must be
made in both English and Spanish. Collection agencies and creditors
would be afforded, under the provisions of the bill, a defense of
bona fide error if it can be shown that they adopted reasonable
procedures to avoid the violation.

The Attorney General would be authorized to bring an action to enjoin
violations of the law and obtain monetary penalties ranging from $50
to $5,000 as well as costs and restitution.
Individuals also could sue violators directly and obtain $50 or their
actual damages, Whichever is greater, plus punitive damages and
attorneys' fees. Creditors would not be liable, under the
bill, for the act of their collection agencies if they can show they
had no reason to believe the collection agency would violate the law
or if they made a prior investigation of the collection agency's


practices. The law would not apply to offices or employees of the
United States or any state to the extent that the collection or
attempt to collect any debt, constituted the performance of official
duties.

JUSTIFICATION:
Numerous complaints are made by consumer debtors victimized by
malicious debt collection practices.

These people have been repeatedly and systematically subjected to
obscene and harassing telephone calls, threats of physical violence,
coercion, threats of criminal prosecution, fraudulent
misrepresentations, and baseless threats of impaired credit standing
and legal action. Consumer debtors also receive dunning letters which
simulate legal process and misrepresent the consequences of
non-payment.

The complaints are directed not only at debt collection agencies but
also at banks, small loan companies, and retail merchants in a
recently concluded case against a major loan company, that numerous
debtors, and their references, children, neighbors, friends,
co-workers and employers were subjected to a barrage of illegal
threats and verbal abuse, many debtors were threatened with death,
serious physical injury, or sexual abuse. Telephone calls in the
middle of the night were not uncommon.

Even the most vulnerable debtors: the elderly, the sick, and young
children -- were not spared these abuses. Families had their home
lives disrupted, their employment jeopardized, have been forced to
disclose unlisted telephone numbers, declare bankruptcy and even
relocate to avoid the daily harassment.

Under current State law, none of these people had the statutory right
to sue for damages. In addition, a major loophole in current State
law contains no provision to protect non-debtors from harassment. The
proposed bill closes this gap by prohibiting the harassment of any
person. In 1982, firms were charged with posing as law firms in their
efforts to collect debts from consumers, as well as illegally
charging interest The state is currently forced to rely on the more
specific provisions of the federal debt collection law to bar these
practices.

In 1983, the State sued the nation's largest collection agency
charging that it had engaged in repeated abusive and harassing
collection practices. That suit shows that current debt collection
laws are insufficient to deter such practices; the current State debt
collection law does not allow for the recovery of fines in such
actions. Under the proposed bill, collection agencies would be
subject to monetary penalties for engaging in these activities. This
would carry a strong deterrent effect. With skyrocketing interest
rates, unemployment, inflation, and increasing consumer debt, such
abuses are likely to increase, absent effective and consistent
statutory protections.

Current State law does not adequately address the problem of debt
collection abuse. Its terms are vague, overly broad and inconsistent
with current federal and New York City laws. As a result,


consumers are not fully protected and businesses are not clearly
informed as to which collection practices are prohibited.

Creditors and collection agencies are protected under the bill against
liability for mere technical violations; a good faith defense may be
interposed. Moreover, the criminal penalty in the current law is
eliminated by the bill and realistic civil remedies are substituted.
Twenty-five other states have enacted laws which provide debtors with
a private right of action against debt collectors.

Enactment of the proposed bill would help restore New York's position
as a leader in consumer protection. Until this comprehensive debt
collection statute is enacted consumer debtors will continue to
suffer violations of fundamental rights to privacy, dignity and
freedom from unwarranted intrusions into their daily lives.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011-12: S.131
2010: S.7309/A.4237
2007-08: A.4032 (Lafayette) - Referred to Consumer Affairs & Protection

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
1st of September next succeeding the date it shall have become law.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                   83

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen. PERALTA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Consumer Protection

AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to  regulation  of
  debt collection; and to repeal article 29-H of such law relating ther-
  eto

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Article 29-H of the general business law is REPEALED and  a
new article 29-H is added to read as follows:
                               ARTICLE 29-H
                   FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT
SECTION 600.   DEFINITIONS.
        601.   PROHIBITED PRACTICES.
        602.   CREDITORS AND DEBT COLLECTORS.
        603.   ENFORCEMENT.
        603-A. SEPARABILITY CLAUSE.
  S  600.  DEFINITIONS.  AS  USED  IN  THIS  ARTICLE  UNLESS THE CONTEXT
REQUIRES OTHERWISE THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE  THE  FOLLOWING  MEAN-
INGS:
  1.  "PERSON"  MEANS  ANY NATURAL PERSON, CORPORATION, SOLE PROPRIETOR-
SHIP, BUSINESS, TRUST, PARTNERSHIP, INCORPORATED OR UNINCORPORATED ASSO-
CIATION, ESTATE, CO-OPERATIVE OR ANY OTHER LEGAL ENTITY EXCEPT ANY OFFI-
CER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES OR ANY STATE  TO  THE  EXTENT  THAT
COLLECTING OR ATTEMPTING TO COLLECT ANY DEBT CONSTITUTES THE PERFORMANCE
OF OFFICIAL DUTIES.
  2.  "DEBT" MEANS ANY OBLIGATION OR ALLEGED OBLIGATION OF A CONSUMER TO
PAY MONEY ARISING OUT OF A TRANSACTION IN  WHICH  THE  MONEY,  PROPERTY,
INSURANCE OR SERVICES WHICH ARE THE RESULT OF THE TRANSACTION ARE PRIMA-
RILY  FOR  PERSONAL,  FAMILY  OR HOUSEHOLD PURPOSES, WHETHER OR NOT SUCH
OBLIGATION HAS BEEN REDUCED TO JUDGMENT.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD01102-01-3

S. 83                               2

  3. "CONSUMER" MEANS ANY NATURAL PERSON OBLIGATED  OR  ALLEGEDLY  OBLI-
GATED TO PAY ANY DEBT.
  4.  "DEBT  COLLECTOR" MEANS ANY PERSON, FIRM, CORPORATION OR ORGANIZA-
TION OR ANY EMPLOYEE THEREOF ENGAGED IN ANY BUSINESS A PURPOSE OF  WHICH
IS  THE  COLLECTION  OF  DEBTS, OR WHO REGULARLY COLLECTS OR ATTEMPTS TO
COLLECT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, DEBTS OWED OR DUE OR ALLEGED TO BE OWED
OR DUE ANOTHER, OR ANY PERSON, FIRM, CORPORATION OR ORGANIZATION OR  ANY
EMPLOYEE  THEREOF ENGAGED IN ANY BUSINESS A PURPOSE OF WHICH IS LOCATING
OR ATTEMPTING TO LOCATE CONSUMERS.
  5. "CREDITOR" MEANS ANY PERSON, FIRM, CORPORATION OR  ORGANIZATION  OR
ANY  EMPLOYEE  THEREOF TO WHOM A DEBT IS OWED, DUE OR ALLEGED TO BE OWED
OR DUE, OR ANY ASSIGNEE FOR VALUE OF SAID PERSON, FIRM,  CORPORATION  OR
ORGANIZATION.
  6.  "DEBT  COLLECTION"  MEANS  ANY  ACTION,  CONDUCT  OR  PRACTICE  IN
CONNECTION WITH THE COLLECTION OF A DEBT.
  7. "LOCATION INFORMATION" MEANS A DEBTOR'S  PLACE  OF  ABODE  AND  HIS
LISTED TELEPHONE NUMBER AT SUCH PLACE, OR HIS PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT.
  8.  "VERIFICATION"  MEANS  A  CONTRACT,  RECEIPT,  ORDER,  WRITING  OR
DOCUMENTATION WHICH EVIDENCES THE EXISTENCE OF A DEBT.
  9. "COMMUNICATION" MEANS THE CONVEYING OF INFORMATION REGARDING A DEBT
DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TO ANY PERSON THROUGH ANY MEDIUM.
  S 601. PROHIBITED PRACTICES. 1. NO DEBT COLLECTOR  OR  CREDITOR  SHALL
COLLECT  OR ATTEMPT TO COLLECT ANY DEBT BY MEANS OF ANY THREAT, COERCION
OR ATTEMPTED COERCION. THIS INCLUDES BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING
ACTIVITIES:
  A. USING OR THREATENING TO USE VIOLENCE OR ANY ILLEGAL MEANS TO  CAUSE
HARM TO THE PERSON, REPUTATION OR PROPERTY OF ANY PERSON; OR
  B.  ACCUSING  OR  THREATENING TO ACCUSE FALSELY ANY PERSON OF FRAUD OR
ANY CRIME, OR ANY CONDUCT WHICH CAN REASONABLY BE EXPECTED  TO  DISGRACE
SUCH  OTHER  PERSON  OR  IN  ANY  WAY  SUBJECT HIM OR HER TO RIDICULE OR
CONTEMPT OF SOCIETY; OR
  C. MAKING OR THREATENING TO MAKE  ANY  FALSE  ACCUSATIONS  TO  ANOTHER
PERSON,  INCLUDING  ANY CREDIT REPORTING AGENCY, THAT A CONSUMER HAS NOT
PAID A JUST DEBT; OR
  D. THREATENING TO SELL OR ASSIGN A DEBT WITH  AN  ATTENDING  REPRESEN-
TATION  OR  IMPLICATION  THAT AS A RESULT OF SUCH SALE OR ASSIGNMENT THE
CONSUMER WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO  ANY  ACTION  WHICH  COULD  CONSTITUTE  A
VIOLATION OF THIS ARTICLE; OR
  E.  THREATENING THE NON-PAYMENT OF A DEBT WILL RESULT IN THE ARREST OR
CRIMINAL PROSECUTION OF ANY PERSON; OR
  F. DISCLOSING OR THREATENING TO  DISCLOSE  INFORMATION  AFFECTING  THE
CONSUMER'S  REPUTATION FOR CREDIT WORTHINESS WITH KNOWLEDGE OR REASON TO
KNOW THAT SUCH INFORMATION IS FALSE; OR
  G. THREATENING ANY ACTION WHICH THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR IN  THE
USUAL COURSE OF ITS BUSINESS DOES NOT IN FACT TAKE; OR
  H.  CLAIMING,  ATTEMPTING OR THREATENING TO ENFORCE A RIGHT WITH KNOW-
LEDGE OR REASON TO KNOW THAT THE RIGHT DOES NOT EXIST.
  2. NO DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR SHALL OPPRESS, HARASS  OR  ABUSE  ANY
PERSON  IN CONNECTION WITH THE COLLECTION OF OR THE ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A
DEBT. THIS INCLUDES BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES:
  A. USING ANY OBSCENE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE OR  ANY  LANGUAGE  WHICH  CAN
REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO ABUSE THE HEARER OR READER; OR
  B.  MAKING  TELEPHONE  CALLS  WITHOUT THE MEANINGFUL DISCLOSURE OF THE
DEBT COLLECTOR'S IDENTITY EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY THIS  ARTICLE;
OR

S. 83                               3

  C. CAUSING ANY EXPENSE TO ANY PERSON FOR TELEPHONE CALLS, TELEGRAMS OR
OTHER  CHARGES INCURRED THROUGH A MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION BY CONCEALMENT
OF THE IDENTITY OF THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR OR THE PURPOSES OF THE
COMMUNICATION; OR
  D.  CAUSING A TELEPHONE TO RING REPEATEDLY OR CONTINUOUSLY IN A MANNER
THAT CAN REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO ANNOY, HARASS OR  NEEDLESSLY  DISTURB
ANY PERSON; OR
  E.  COMMUNICATING  WITH  ANY  PERSON  WITH SUCH FREQUENCY OR IN SUCH A
MANNER AS CAN REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO CONSTITUTE AN  ANNOYANCE  OR  AN
UNWARRANTED DISTURBANCE OF SUCH PERSON; OR
  F.  COMMUNICATING  OR ATTEMPTING TO COMMUNICATE WITH ANY PERSON AT ANY
UNUSUAL TIME OR PLACE, OR AT ANY TIME OR PLACE WHICH CAN  REASONABLY  BE
EXPECTED  TO BE INCONVENIENT FOR SUCH PERSON. IN THE ABSENCE OF AN INDI-
CATION TO THE CONTRARY, IT SHALL BE  PRESUMED  THAT  TELEPHONE  COMMUNI-
CATIONS  RECEIVED  BEFORE EIGHT O'CLOCK A.M. AND AFTER NINE O'CLOCK P.M.
ARE INCONVENIENT.
  3. NO DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR SHALL UNLAWFULLY  PUBLICIZE  INFORMA-
TION  RELATING TO ANY ALLEGED DEBT OR CONSUMER. THIS INCLUDES BUT IS NOT
LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES:
  A. COMMUNICATING WITH THE CONSUMER'S EMPLOYER OR ANYONE ELSE  EMPLOYED
BY  THAT EMPLOYER REGARDING THE DEBT WITH THE EXCEPTION THAT THE FOLLOW-
ING COMMUNICATION SHALL BE PERMISSIBLE:
  (I) BY THE CREDITOR OR HIS OR HER ATTORNEY WHEN THE  COMMUNICATION  IS
FOR  THE SOLE PURPOSE OF EXECUTING A WAGE GARNISHMENT AFTER THE DEBT HAS
BEEN REDUCED TO JUDGMENT AND TO THE EXTENT IT IS REASONABLY NECESSARY TO
ACTUALLY EXECUTE SUCH WAGE GARNISHMENT;
  (II) BY THE CREDITOR OR HIS OR HER ATTORNEY WHEN THE COMMUNICATION  IS
FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF EXECUTING A WAGE ASSIGNMENT OBTAINED PURSUANT TO
ARTICLE  THREE-A  OF  THE  PERSONAL PROPERTY LAW AND TO THE EXTENT IT IS
REASONABLY NECESSARY TO EXECUTE SUCH WAGE ASSIGNMENT;
  (III) FOR THE  SOLE  PURPOSE  OF  OBTAINING  LOCATION  INFORMATION  AS
DEFINED BY SUBDIVISION SIX OF THIS SECTION; AND
  (IV)  WHERE  THE CONSUMER OR HIS OR HER ATTORNEY HAS CONSENTED TO SUCH
COMMUNICATION IN WRITING AFTER THE DEBT HAS BEEN INCURRED;
  B. DISCLOSING ANY INFORMATION REGARDING A CONSUMER'S DEBT BY  PUBLISH-
ING  OR  POSTING ANY LIST OF CONSUMERS EXCEPT AS PERMITTED BY THE ACT OF
CONGRESS KNOWN AS THE "FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT" OR BY ADVERTISING  FOR
SALE  ANY  CLAIM TO ENFORCE PAYMENT THEREOF OR IN ANY OTHER MANNER OTHER
THAN THROUGH PROPER LEGAL PROCESS;
  C. COMMUNICATING FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEBT COLLECTION WITH A CONSUMER BY
POSTCARD; OR
  D. USE OF ANY LANGUAGE OR SYMBOL BY A DEBT COLLECTOR, OTHER  THAN  HIS
OR  HER  ADDRESS, ON ANY ENVELOPE WHEN COMMUNICATING WITH ANY PERSON FOR
THE PURPOSE OF DEBT COLLECTION BY USE OF THE MAILS OR BY TELEGRAM EXCEPT
THAT HE MAY USE HIS BUSINESS NAME IF SUCH NAME DOES NOT SPECIFY THAT  HE
OR SHE IS IN THE DEBT COLLECTION BUSINESS.
  4. NO DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR SHALL COLLECT OR ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A
DEBT OR OBTAIN OR ATTEMPT TO OBTAIN INFORMATION CONCERNING A CONSUMER BY
ANY FRAUDULENT, DECEPTIVE, FALSE, OR MISLEADING REPRESENTATION OR MEANS.
THIS INCLUDES BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES:
  A.  THE  USE,  BY  ANY DEBT COLLECTOR, CREDITOR OR ANY EMPLOYEE OF ANY
DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR IN ANY COMMUNICATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF  DEBT
COLLECTION  OF  ANY NAME THAT IS NOT SUCH PERSON'S ACTUAL NAME; PROVIDED
THAT SUCH PERSON MAY USE A NAME OTHER THAN HIS OR HER ACTUAL NAME IF  HE
OR  SHE USES THE SAME NAME IN ALL COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEBT
COLLECTION AND IF SUCH PERSON OR HIS OR HER EMPLOYER HAS  THAT  NAME  ON

S. 83                               4

FILE SO THAT THE TRUE IDENTITY OF THE DEBT COLLECTOR CAN BE ASCERTAINED;
OR
  B.  EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY SUBDIVISION SIX OF THIS SECTION TO
OBTAIN LOCATION INFORMATION, FAILING TO DISCLOSE IN ALL WRITTEN COMMUNI-
CATIONS THAT THE DEBT COLLECTOR IS ATTEMPTING TO COLLECT A DEBT AND THAT
ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE; OR
  C. FALSELY REPRESENTING THAT THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR HAS IN HIS
OR HER POSSESSION INFORMATION OR SOMETHING OF VALUE FOR THE CONSUMER; OR
  D. FAILING TO DISCLOSE THE NAME OF THE PERSON TO WHOM THE DEBT IS OWED
AT THE TIME OF MAKING ANY DEMAND FOR MONEY; OR
  E. FALSELY REPRESENTING THE CHARACTER, EXTENT, AMOUNT OR LEGAL  STATUS
OF A DEBT; OR
  F.  FALSELY REPRESENTING OR IMPLYING THAT ANY DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDI-
TOR IS VOUCHED FOR, BONDED BY, AFFILIATED WITH, OR  AN  INSTRUMENTALITY,
AGENT  OR  OFFICIAL OF ANY AGENCY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OR ANY STATE
OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT; OR
  G. USING, DISTRIBUTING OR  SELLING  ANY  WRITTEN  COMMUNICATION  WHICH
IMPLIES,  SIMULATES,  OR IS FALSELY REPRESENTED TO BE AUTHORIZED, ISSUED
OR APPROVED BY A COURT, A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, A GOVERNMENT OR AN ATTOR-
NEY AT LAW; OR
  H. FALSELY REPRESENTING THAT A DEBT OR AN ALLEGED DEBT HAS BEEN OR MAY
BE INCREASED BY THE ADDITION OF ATTORNEY'S  FEES,  INTEREST,  COLLECTION
FEES, OR ANY OTHER FEES OR CHARGES; OR
  I.  FALSELY  REPRESENTING  THE  STATUS  OR TRUE NATURE OF THE SERVICES
RENDERED OR THE COMPENSATION WHICH MAY BE LAWFULLY RECEIVED BY THE  DEBT
COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR FOR THE COLLECTION OF A DEBT; OR
  J. COMMUNICATING WITH ANY PERSON IN CONNECTION WITH DEBT COLLECTION OR
IN  AN  EFFORT TO OBTAIN INFORMATION ABOUT A CONSUMER IN THE NAME OF, OR
IN A MANNER WHICH CAN REASONABLY BE IMPLIED TO BE FROM, AN  ATTORNEY  AT
LAW WHEN IT IS NOT; OR
  K.  FALSELY  REPRESENTING  THAT  THE  DEBT  COLLECTOR  OR  CREDITOR IS
EMPLOYED BY, OR IS AFFILIATED WITH, A CREDIT BUREAU OR A CREDIT  REPORT-
ING AGENCY AS DEFINED BY 15 U.S.C., S 1681A(F); OR
  L.  FALSELY STATING, REPRESENTING OR IMPLYING THAT THE SALE OR ASSIGN-
MENT OF A DEBT SHALL CAUSE THE CONSUMER TO LOSE ANY CLAIM OR DEFENSE  TO
PAYMENT OF THE DEBT.
  5.  NO  DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR SHALL COLLECT OR ATTEMPT TO COLLECT
ANY DEBT IN ANY OF THE FOLLOWING WAYS:
  A. COLLECTING OR ATTEMPTING TO COLLECT FROM THE CONSUMER  ALL  OR  ANY
PART  OF  THE  DEBT COLLECTOR'S OR CREDITOR'S FEE OR CHARGE FOR SERVICES
RENDERED, OR COLLECTING OR ATTEMPTING TO COLLECT ANY INTEREST  OR  OTHER
CHARGE,  FEE  OR  EXPENSE  INCIDENTAL TO THE PRINCIPAL DEBT, UNLESS SUCH
EXPENSE IS EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZED BY CONTRACT OR LAW; OR
  B. COMMUNICATING FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEBT COLLECTION WITH ANYONE  OTHER
THAN THE CONSUMER'S ATTORNEY, EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY THIS ARTI-
CLE, IF THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR KNOWS THE CONSUMER IS REPRESENTED
BY  SUCH  ATTORNEY WITH RESPECT TO SUCH DEBT AND HAS KNOWLEDGE OF OR CAN
READILY ASCERTAIN SUCH ATTORNEY'S NAME AND ADDRESS, UNLESS THE  ATTORNEY
FAILS  TO  RESPOND  WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME TO A COMMUNICATION FROM THE
DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR, OR  THE  ATTORNEY  CONSENTS  IN  WRITING  TO
DIRECT  COMMUNICATION  WITH  THE  CONSUMER.  THIS  SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT
PROHIBIT SERVICE OF PROCESS ON A CONSUMER AS PERMITTED BY ARTICLE  THREE
OF THE CIVIL PRACTICE LAW AND RULES; OR
  C.  USING,  DISTRIBUTING,  SELLING,  OR  PREPARING FOR USE ANY WRITTEN
COMMUNICATION THAT VIOLATES OR FAILS TO CONFORM TO THE POSTAL  LAWS  AND
REGULATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES; OR

S. 83                               5

  D. COMMUNICATING OR ATTEMPTING TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE CONSUMER AT HIS
OR  HER PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT AFTER THE CONSUMER HAS REQUESTED THAT HE NOT
BE CONTACTED AT HIS OR HER PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT; OR
  E.  EXCEPT  AS  OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY SUBDIVISION SIX OF THIS SECTION,
COMMUNICATING IN CONNECTION WITH DEBT COLLECTION WITH ANY  PERSON  AFTER
SUCH  PERSON HAS NOTIFIED THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR IN WRITING THAT
HE OR SHE WISHES THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR  TO  CEASE  ALL  FURTHER
COMMUNICATIONS  WITH HIM OR HER OR COMMUNICATING WITH THE CONSUMER AFTER
SUCH CONSUMER HAS NOTIFIED THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR THAT HE OR SHE
REFUSES TO PAY THE DEBT. THIS SUBDIVISION  SHALL  NOT  PROHIBIT  A  DEBT
COLLECTOR  OR  CREDITOR  FROM  COMMUNICATING  WITH THE CONSUMER ONCE, IN
WRITING, TO ADVISE HIM OR HER THAT  CERTAIN  SPECIFIED  ACTION  WILL  BE
TAKEN  OR  TO  ADVISE  THE  CONSUMER THAT FURTHER COLLECTION ACTIVITY IS
BEING TERMINATED. THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT PROHIBIT ANY COMMUNICATIONS
REQUIRED BY LAW; OR
  F. COMMUNICATION BY A DEBT COLLECTOR WITH A CONSUMER BY  TELEPHONE  OR
IN  PERSON  PRIOR TO THREE BUSINESS DAYS AFTER A DEBT COLLECTOR HAS SENT
ITS INITIAL WRITTEN COMMUNICATION TO THE CONSUMER, WHICH WRITTEN  COMMU-
NICATION SHALL COMPLY WITH SUBDIVISION SEVEN OF THIS SECTION.
  6.  ANY DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR COMMUNICATING WITH ANY PERSON OTHER
THAN THE CONSUMER FOR THE  PURPOSE  OF  ACQUIRING  LOCATION  INFORMATION
ABOUT THE CONSUMER SHALL:
  A.  IDENTIFY HIMSELF OR HERSELF, STATE THAT HE OR SHE IS CONFIRMING OR
CORRECTING LOCATION INFORMATION CONCERNING THE CONSUMER,  AND,  ONLY  IF
EXPRESSLY REQUESTED, IDENTIFY HIS OR HER EMPLOYER; AND
  B. NOT STATE THAT THE CONSUMER OWES ANY DEBT; AND
  C.  NOT  COMMUNICATE  WITH  ANY  SUCH  PERSON  MORE  THAN  ONCE UNLESS
REQUESTED TO DO SO BY SUCH PERSON OR UNLESS THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDI-
TOR REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT THE EARLIER  RESPONSE  OF  SUCH  PERSON  IS
ERRONEOUS OR INCOMPLETE AND THAT SUCH PERSON NOW HAS CORRECT OR COMPLETE
LOCATION INFORMATION; AND
  D.  NOT  USE ANY LANGUAGE OR SYMBOL ON ANY ENVELOPE OR IN THE CONTENTS
OF ANY COMMUNICATION EFFECTED BY THE MAILS OR TELEGRAPH  THAT  INDICATES
THAT  THE SENDER IS IN THE DEBT COLLECTION BUSINESS OR THAT THE COMMUNI-
CATION RELATES TO THE COLLECTION OF A DEBT; AND
  E. AFTER THE DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR KNOWS THE CONSUMER IS  REPRES-
ENTED  BY  AN ATTORNEY WITH REGARD TO THE SUBJECT DEBT AND HAS KNOWLEDGE
OF OR CAN READILY ASCERTAIN SUCH ATTORNEY'S NAME AND ADDRESS, NOT COMMU-
NICATE WITH ANY PERSON OTHER THAN THAT  ATTORNEY,  UNLESS  THE  ATTORNEY
FAILS TO RESPOND WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME TO COMMUNICATION FROM THE DEBT
COLLECTOR.
  7.  THE  INITIAL  WRITTEN  COMMUNICATION  FROM  A  DEBT COLLECTOR TO A
CONSUMER FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEBT COLLECTION SHALL, UNLESS  THE  CONSUMER
HAS PAID THE DEBT, INCLUDE ON THE FACE OF THE COMMUNICATION:
  A. THE AMOUNT OF THE DEBT; AND
  B.  THE  NAME OF THE CREDITOR TO WHOM THE DEBT IS OWED IF NOT THE SAME
AS THE DEBT COLLECTOR; AND
  C. A STATEMENT THAT UNLESS THE  CONSUMER,  WITHIN  THIRTY  DAYS  AFTER
RECEIPT OF THE NOTICE, DISPUTES THE VALIDITY OF THE DEBT, OR ANY PORTION
THEREOF, THE DEBT WILL BE ASSUMED TO BE VALID BY THE DEBT COLLECTOR; AND
  D.  A  STATEMENT  THAT  IF THE CONSUMER NOTIFIES THE DEBT COLLECTOR IN
WRITING WITHIN THE THIRTY-DAY PERIOD THAT THE DEBT, OR ANY PORTION THER-
EOF, IS DISPUTED, THE DEBT COLLECTOR WILL  OBTAIN  VERIFICATION  OF  THE
DEBT  OR  A  COPY  OF A JUDGMENT AGAINST THE CONSUMER IF ONE HAS IN FACT
BEEN RENDERED AND A COPY OF SUCH VERIFICATION OR JUDGMENT WILL BE MAILED
TO THE CONSUMER BY THE DEBT COLLECTOR; AND

S. 83                               6

  E. A STATEMENT THAT, UPON THE CONSUMER'S WRITTEN  REQUEST  WITHIN  THE
THIRTY-DAY  PERIOD, THE DEBT COLLECTOR WILL MAIL HIM OR HER THE NAME AND
ADDRESS OF THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR, IF DIFFERENT FROM THE  CURRENT  CREDI-
TOR; AND
  F.  THE AUTHORITY, IF ANY, OF THE DEBT COLLECTOR TO INITIATE A LAWSUIT
TO COLLECT THE DEBT ON BEHALF OF THE CREDITOR.
  8. IF THE CONSUMER NOTIFIES THE DEBT COLLECTOR WITHIN  THE  THIRTY-DAY
PERIOD  DESCRIBED IN SUBDIVISION SEVEN OF THIS SECTION THAT THE DEBT, OR
ANY PORTION THEREOF, IS DISPUTED, OR THAT THE CONSUMER REQUESTS THE NAME
AND ADDRESS OF THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR, THE  DEBT  COLLECTOR  SHALL  CEASE
COLLECTION  OF THE DEBT, OR ANY DISPUTED PORTION THEREOF, UNTIL THE DEBT
COLLECTOR OBTAINS VERIFICATION OF THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR AND  A  COPY  OF
SUCH VERIFICATION OR JUDGMENT OR NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE ORIGINAL CREDI-
TOR IS PROVIDED TO THE CONSUMER BY THE DEBT COLLECTOR.
  9.  THE INITIAL WRITTEN COMMUNICATION FROM A CREDITOR TO A CONSUMER IN
CONNECTION WITH THE COLLECTION OF ANY DEBT NOT WITHIN THE  SCOPE  OF  15
U.S.C.  S  1666 (ET SEQ.) OR ARTICLE THIRTY-FOUR OF THIS CHAPTER FOR THE
PURPOSE OF DEBT COLLECTION, SHALL, UNLESS  THE  CONSUMER  HAS  PAID  THE
DEBT, INCLUDE:
  A. THE AMOUNT OF THE DEBT; AND
  B.  THE  NAME  OF THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR IF NOT THE SAME AS THE CURRENT
CREDITOR; AND
  C. A STATEMENT THAT IF THE CONSUMER NOTIFIES THE CREDITOR WITHIN THIR-
TY DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF THE NOTICE THAT THE DEBT, OR ANY PORTION THERE-
OF, IS DISPUTED, THE CREDITOR WILL PROVIDE THE CONSUMER  WITH  VERIFICA-
TION  OF  THE  DEBT OR A COPY OF A JUDGMENT AGAINST THE CONSUMER, IF ONE
HAS IN FACT BEEN RENDERED.
  10. IF THE CONSUMER NOTIFIES THE CREDITOR WITHIN THE THIRTY-DAY PERIOD
DESCRIBED IN SUBDIVISION NINE OF THIS SECTION  THAT  THE  DEBT,  OR  ANY
PORTION  THEREOF,  IS  DISPUTED THE CREDITOR SHALL CEASE DEBT COLLECTION
WITH RESPECT TO THE DEBT, OR ANY DISPUTED  PORTION  THEREOF,  UNTIL  THE
CREDITOR  PROVIDES  THE CONSUMER VERIFICATION OF THE DEBT OR A COPY OF A
JUDGMENT.
  11. THE FAILURE OF A CONSUMER TO DISPUTE THE VALIDITY OF A DEBT  UNDER
THIS  SECTION  SHALL  NOT  BE  CONSTRUED BY ANY COURT AS AN ADMISSION OF
LIABILITY BY THE CONSUMER.
  12. THE INITIAL COMMUNICATION FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR OR A CREDITOR TO A
CONSUMER IN CONNECTION WITH THE COLLECTION OF ANY DEBT SHALL INCLUDE THE
FOLLOWING IN AT LEAST TEN POINT TYPE EITHER ON THE FACE OF SUCH COMMUNI-
CATION OR ON A SEPARATE PIECE OF PAPER PROVIDED AT THE SAME TIME AS SUCH
COMMUNICATION:
  "YOUR RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER DEBTOR. THE NEW YORK 'FAIR DEBT  COLLECTION
PRACTICES  ACT'  PROVIDES  PROTECTION TO DEBTORS FROM ABUSIVE OR ILLEGAL
DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES."
  SOME OF THESE PROTECTIONS INCLUDE:
  A. CALLING YOU BEFORE 8 O'CLOCK A.M.  OR AFTER 9 O'CLOCK  P.M.  UNLESS
THE DEBT COLLECTOR KNOWS THAT COMMUNICATION AT THAT TIME IS CONVENIENT;
  B.  CALLING  YOU  AT YOUR JOB IF YOU TELL THE DEBT COLLECTOR NOT TO DO
SO;
  C. USING ABUSIVE OR HARASSING OR DECEPTIVE METHODS TO COLLECT A  DEBT;
AND
  D.  CONTINUING  TO  COMMUNICATE  WITH YOU AFTER YOU HAVE TOLD THE DEBT
COLLECTOR IN WRITING TO STOP OR THAT YOU REFUSE  TO  PAY  THE  DEBT.  BY
EXERCISING  THIS  RIGHT, THE DEBT WILL NOT NECESSARILY BE ELIMINATED AND
YOU MAY STILL BE SUED BY THE CREDITOR TO RECOVER THE DEBT.

S. 83                               7

  IF YOU BELIEVE THAT A DEBT COLLECTOR HAS ATTEMPTED TO COLLECT  A  DEBT
IN  AN UNLAWFUL MANNER, CONTACT THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, THE
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, YOUR LOCAL CONSUMER  PROTECTION  AGENCY  OR  A
PRIVATE  ATTORNEY.  YOU  HAVE  THE  RIGHT  TO  SUE A DEBT COLLECTOR THAT
VIOLATES THE LAW AND IF YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL YOU CAN RECOVER MONEY DAMAGES
AND  YOUR  ATTORNEY'S  FEES.  THIS  LAWSUIT  CAN BE BROUGHT IN ANY COURT
INCLUDING SMALL CLAIMS COURT.
  13. ALL WRITTEN NOTICES REQUIRED TO BE PROVIDED BY THIS ARTICLE  SHALL
BE  WRITTEN  IN  BOTH  ENGLISH  AND  SPANISH WHERE THE RECIPIENT OF SUCH
NOTICES RESIDES IN A CITY IN THE STATE WITH A POPULATION OF ONE  MILLION
OR MORE.
  S  602.  CREDITORS  AND  DEBT  COLLECTORS.  1.  MULTIPLE DEBTS. IF ANY
CONSUMER OWES MULTIPLE DEBTS AND MAKES ANY SINGLE PAYMENT  TO  ANY  DEBT
COLLECTOR  OR CREDITOR NOT WITHIN THE SCOPE OF 15 U.S.C. S 1666 OR ARTI-
CLE THIRTY-FOUR OF THIS CHAPTER, WITH RESPECT TO SUCH DEBTS,  SUCH  DEBT
COLLECTOR  OR CREDITOR SHALL NOT APPLY SUCH PAYMENT TO ANY DEBT WHICH IS
DISPUTED BY THE DEBTOR IF THE DEBTOR HAS NOTIFIED THE DEBT COLLECTOR  OR
CREDITOR  OF SUCH DISPUTE AS PROVIDED BY SECTION SIX HUNDRED ONE OF THIS
ARTICLE AND WHERE APPLICABLE SHALL APPLY SUCH PAYMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH
THE CONSUMER'S DIRECTIONS.
  2. VENUE. ANY CREDITOR WHO BRINGS ANY LEGAL ACTION ON A DEBT AGAINST A
CONSUMER SHALL DO SO IN THE COUNTY IN WHICH  SUCH  CONSUMER  SIGNED  THE
CONTRACT SUED UPON OR IN THE COUNTY IN WHICH THE CONSUMER RESIDES AT THE
COMMENCEMENT OF THE ACTION.
  3.  BONA FIDE ERROR. NO PERSON SHALL BE GUILTY OF A VIOLATION OF PARA-
GRAPH B OR D OF SUBDIVISION FIVE OR PARAGRAPH C OR E OF SUBDIVISION  SIX
OF  SECTION  SIX  HUNDRED ONE OF THIS ARTICLE OR SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS
SECTION IF THE ACTION COMPLAINED OF RESULTED  FROM  A  BONA  FIDE  ERROR
NOTWITHSTANDING  THE  USE OF REASONABLE PROCEDURES ADOPTED TO AVOID SUCH
ERROR AND ANY EVIDENCE OF SUCH BONA FIDE ERROR SHALL ONLY BE  RAISED  AS
AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE IN ANY ACTION BROUGHT TO ENFORCE THIS ARTICLE.
  S  603.  ENFORCEMENT.  1. ATTORNEY GENERAL ENFORCEMENT. WHENEVER THERE
SHALL BE A VIOLATION OF THIS ARTICLE AN APPLICATION MAY BE MADE  BY  THE
ATTORNEY GENERAL IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK TO A
COURT  OR  JUSTICE  HAVING JURISDICTION TO ISSUE AN INJUNCTION, AND UPON
NOTICE TO THE DEFENDANT OF NOT  LESS  THAN  FIVE  DAYS,  TO  ENJOIN  AND
RESTRAIN  THE  CONTINUANCE  OF SUCH VIOLATION; AND IF IT SHALL APPEAR TO
THE SATISFACTION OF THE COURT OR JUSTICE  THAT  THE  DEFENDANT  HAS,  IN
FACT,  VIOLATED  THIS ARTICLE, AN INJUNCTION MAY BE ISSUED BY SUCH COURT
OR JUSTICE, ENJOINING AND RESTRAINING  ANY  FURTHER  VIOLATION,  WITHOUT
REQUIRING  PROOF  THAT  ANY PERSON HAS, IN FACT, BEEN INJURED OR DAMAGED
THEREBY. IN SUCH ACTION OR PROCEEDING, THE ATTORNEY  GENERAL  MAY  APPLY
FOR  A  CIVIL  PENALTY  OF NOT LESS THAN FIFTY DOLLARS AND NOT MORE THAN
FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS PER VIOLATION, AND, WHERE APPROPRIATE, FOR  RESTI-
TUTION AND DAMAGES TO AGGRIEVED CONSUMERS; AND THE COURT MAY MAKE ALLOW-
ANCES  TO  THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH SIX OF SUBDIVI-
SION (A) OF SECTION EIGHTY-THREE HUNDRED THREE OF THE CIVIL PRACTICE LAW
AND RULES. IN CONNECTION WITH ANY SUCH PROPOSED APPLICATION, THE  ATTOR-
NEY  GENERAL IS AUTHORIZED TO TAKE PROOF AND MAKE A DETERMINATION OF THE
RELEVANT FACTS AND TO ISSUE SUBPOENAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CIVIL PRAC-
TICE LAW AND RULES.
  2. PRIVATE RIGHT  OF  ACTION.  ANY  DEBT  COLLECTOR  OR  CREDITOR  WHO
VIOLATES  ANY  PROVISION  OF THIS ARTICLE WITH RESPECT TO ANY INDIVIDUAL
SHALL BE LIABLE IN ANY COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION, INCLUDING  SMALL
CLAIMS COURT, TO SUCH INDIVIDUAL IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO:

S. 83                               8

  A.  SUCH  PERSON'S  DAMAGES SUSTAINED AS A RESULT OF SUCH VIOLATION OR
FIFTY DOLLARS WHICHEVER IS GREATER, FOR EACH VIOLATION; AND
  B. SUCH ADDITIONAL PUNITIVE DAMAGES AS THE COURT MAY ALLOW; AND
  C. SUCH PERSON'S COSTS AND ATTORNEY'S FEES.
  IN  AN ACTION BROUGHT BY ANY PERSON TO ENFORCE THIS ARTICLE, THE COURT
MAY, SUBJECT TO ITS JURISDICTION, ISSUE AN  INJUNCTION  TO  RESTRAIN  OR
PREVENT  ANY  VIOLATION  OF  THIS ARTICLE OR ANY CONTINUANCE OF ANY SUCH
VIOLATION.
  3. OTHER REMEDIES. THIS ARTICLE SHALL  NOT  ANNUL,  ALTER,  AFFECT  OR
EXEMPT ANY PERSON SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE FROM COMPLY-
ING  WITH  THE LAWS, ORDINANCES, RULES OR REGULATIONS OF ANY LOCALITY OR
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL BODY, RELATING TO DEBT COLLECTION  PRACTICES,  EXCEPT
TO  THE  EXTENT  THAT  SUCH  LAWS,  ORDINANCES, RULES OR REGULATIONS ARE
INCONSISTENT WITH ANY PROVISION OF THIS ARTICLE, BUT NO SUCH LAW,  ORDI-
NANCE,  RULE  OR  REGULATION  SHALL  BE  CONSIDERED  INCONSISTENT, IF IT
AFFORDS GREATER PROTECTION TO  THE  CONSUMER.  THIS  ARTICLE  SHALL  NOT
ANNUL,  ALTER OR AFFECT THE RIGHTS OF ANY PERSON AGAINST ANY CREDITOR OR
DEBT COLLECTOR.
  4. LIMITS ON CREDITOR LIABILITY FOR ACTS OF  DEBT  COLLECTOR.  IN  ANY
ACTION  PURSUANT  TO  THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE A CREDITOR SHALL BE
LIABLE FOR THE ACTS OF A DEBT COLLECTOR AUTHORIZED TO OR ENGAGED IN DEBT
COLLECTION WITH RESPECT TO A DEBT OWED OR ALLEGED  TO  BE  OWED  TO  THE
CREDITOR IF:
  A.  THE  CREDITOR  HAS  KNOWLEDGE  OR  REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE DEBT
COLLECTOR ENGAGES IN THOSE ACTS OR PRACTICES WHICH ARE IN  VIOLATION  OF
THIS ARTICLE; OR
  B.  THE  CREDITOR  HAS AUTHORIZED THE DEBT COLLECTOR TO ENGAGE IN DEBT
COLLECTION WITH RESPECT TO THE DEBT WITHOUT TAKING REASONABLE  STEPS  TO
ASCERTAIN  THAT  THERE  IS  NO REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE DEBT COLLECTOR
ENGAGES IN THOSE ACTS OR PRACTICES WHICH ARE IN VIOLATION OF THIS  ARTI-
CLE.  REASONABLE STEPS SHALL INCLUDE REVIEWING THE FORMAL WRITTEN COMMU-
NICATIONS OF THE DEBT  COLLECTOR,  AND  REVIEWING  REPORTS  OF  CONSUMER
COMPLAINTS  AGAINST  THE  DEBT COLLECTOR PREPARED BY THE BETTER BUSINESS
BUREAU OR OTHER CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCIES.
  S 603-A. SEPARABILITY CLAUSE. IF ANY PART OR PROVISION OF THIS ARTICLE
OR THE APPLICATION THEREOF TO ANY PERSON OR  CIRCUMSTANCES  BE  ADJUDGED
INVALID  BY  A  COURT  OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION, SUCH JUDGMENT SHALL BE
CONFINED IN ITS OPERATION TO THE PART, PROVISION OR APPLICATION DIRECTLY
INVOLVED IN THE CONTROVERSY IN  WHICH  SUCH  JUDGMENT  SHALL  HAVE  BEEN
RENDERED AND SHALL NOT AFFECT OR IMPAIR THE VALIDITY OF THE REMAINDER OF
THIS  ARTICLE  OR  THE  APPLICATION  THEREOF TO OTHER PERSONS OR CIRCUM-
STANCES AND THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY DECLARES THAT IT WOULD  HAVE  ENACTED
THIS  ARTICLE  OR  THE  REMAINDER  THEREOF  HAD  THE  INVALIDITY OF SUCH
PROVISION OR APPLICATION THEREOF BEEN APPARENT.
  S 3. This act shall  take  effect  on  the  first  of  September  next
succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.

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