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Astoria legislators try to clamp down on aggressive debt collectors

Aravella Simotas

June 4, 2014 By Michael Florio

Astoria’s state assembly woman has got one step closer to putting the breaks on aggressive debt collectors.

Aravella Simotas who introduced a bill last year that aims to protect residents from improper debt collection tactics was able to pass the bill on May 30.  The bill, A06654, was passed as part of a raft of legislation that aims to rein in debt collectors.

Simotas said she sponsored the bill to stop debt creditors’ scare tactics. These tactics include bombarding people with phone calls at work or at home.

“Those working to pay off their debts are being unfairly harassed and targeted with intimidating scare tactics by collectors,” Simotas said. “These practices target debtors at their workplaces and via family members—even their children—and are unacceptable.”

While creditors cannot expressly notify an employer that a worker has fallen behind on his or her bills, the tactic of constantly calling can tip off an employer that an employee has money problems. It can also make it difficult for the victim to work.

However, this bill does not specifically prevent unsavory tactics. For instance, it does not place a defined limit on the number of times a creditor can call or expressly prevent them from being able to call a place of work.

Instead the bill provides victims with a greater ability to sue if they believe the debt collectors have gotten out of hand. Currently, there is no state stature that explicitly permits debtors to sue for improper collection procedures.

A companion bill has been introduced in the state senate by Mike Gianaris.

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