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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS)

DC 37 helps change Consumer Protection Law

Call MELS at (212) 815-1111 to make your appointment or email for assistance.


After years of hard work by Bob Martin, retired MELS Associate Director, Elizabeth Perez, MELS Staff Attorney and Sybil McPherson, DC 37 Legislative Office, Governor Hochul signed the Consumer Fairness Protection Act (CCFA) into law on Nov. 8, protecting vulnerable New Yorkers from predatory and unscrupulous debt collection practices.

DC 37 and consumer advocates acting together through New Yorkers for Responsible Lending, supported CCFA and met with elected officials to promote the passage of this important legislation.

“State Senator Kevin Thomas and Assembly Member Helene E. Weinstein deserve a special thank you for their dedication to getting this legislation passed,” said William Whalen, Chief Counsel and MELS Director.

“For years, DC 37 members have been harmed by the aggressive tactics of debt collection companies who purchase debts for pennies on the dollar. When challenged in court, these companies often lack the basic proof to win their case.”

However, many consumers are unaware of their legal defenses and, lacking the resources to hire a lawyer, are forced to face expert debt collection attorneys on their own. More often than not, consumers never get notice of the lawsuit, or if they do, they may not understand what to do with it. This can result in a consumer having a judgment entered against them by default.

The Consumer Credit Fairness Act will provide much needed relief from the harm caused by these debt collection lawsuits. It reduces the period in which debt collectors can start a lawsuit to three years. Previously collectors had six years to act.

The new law requires the debt collector to properly identify the debt at the beginning of the lawsuit and provide basic proof of the debt. These new pleading standards, coupled with the plainly worded legal notices that consumers will also receive directly from the court levels the playing field and will empower New Yorkers to defend themselves.

Any DC 37 member facing debt collections can contact the MELS Screening Department at 212.815.1111 to obtain free legal representation and to get answers to consumer debt questions.