The New York State Assembly passed the Consumer Credit Fairness Act, a bill designed to protect low-income and elderly New Yorkers from aggressive debt collection practitioners.
According to a report by the Post Star News, the primary purpose of the Consumer Credit Fairness Act, introduced by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, is to curb abusive debt collection lawsuits by the following means:
Requiring notice of a pending consumer credit action to be mailed to the defendants by the clerk of the court;
Requiring court filings to include more information about the debt targeted in a lawsuit, such as identifying the debt or account and providing proof that the debt is owed to the plaintiff;
Lowering the statute of limitations for consumer credit transactions from six years to three years, and eliminating the right to collect the debt once the statute of limitations is expired; and
Terminating the ability of debt buyers to sue on expired debt.
Weinstein explained the importance of the legislation as well as its impact on domestic violence victims.
“Abusive debt collection lawsuits exploit gaps in our state’s laws. This bill takes important steps to close these loopholes to protect consumers and helps to address the long-term impact of economic abuse, including identity theft, which is often suffered by domestic violence victims at the hands of their abusers.”
Weinstein’s work on the bill received high praise from Claudia Wilner, an attorney at NEDAP (Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project) who expressed hopes that it will be passed in the New York State Senate.
“We now call upon the Senate to pass the CCFA this legislative session to put an end to abusive debt collection practices. New Yorkers, particularly those who are low-income, elderly, disabled or domestic violence survivors, have been harassed by these unscrupulous debt collectors for far too long.”
The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) stopped hauling away large debris and garbage resulting from Superstorm Sandy on March 18, roughly five months after the storm paralyzed the East Coast. Despite the extra months of work, valiant Sanitation workers put in by trucking away huge pieces of junk from people’s battered homes, residents in the area are still in need of their services, according to Brooklyn Daily.
So far, DSNY has carted away a staggering 430,000 tons of Sandy-related debris. According to Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and Councilman Lew Fidler, residents are still in desperate need of pickups because they cannot afford expensive private garbage haulers to take away their debris as construction continues.
Sheepshead Bay resident Kathleen Flynn expressed her frustration at the situation.
“We don’t own anything anymore, only the garbage we’re trying to throw out, and now they’re telling us we have to pay to get rid of it.”
Michael Taylor, the founder of Gerritsen Beach Cares, spoke of the consequences of debris that doesn’t get collected.
“I have friends who have stuff in their basement that’s full of mold, and but [sic] he won’t get rid of because he doesn’t have the money to afford a dumpster [sic].”
Fidler promised residents that he and Weinstein will do everything they can to get the DSNY to initiate another round of debris pickups.
“My office and assemblywoman Weinstein’s office reached out to [Sanitation] to continue extra pick-up services. We do not view the rebuilding to be done, the demolition to be done, nor the crisis to be over,” Fidler told Brooklyn Daily.
The following is a press release received yesterday from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:
For years now, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has been bringing MTA personnel and the MTA reduced-fare program to her District office at 3520 Nostrand Avenue on the 3rd Thursday of every month. During today’s visit, although MTA staff was on hand to process new and lost/damaged card applications, the reduced-fare program van broke down and those who came to refill cards or check balance were unable to do so.
In order to accommodate people who were inconvenienced, the MTA has arranged for the van to park in front of the Assemblywoman’s district office this Sunday, the 21st of April, from 11am to 2pm. In addition to being able to refill and check balances, those who missed today’s visit will also be able to file new card applications and register their cards lost or damaged.
For more info please call the Assemblywoman’s office at (718) 648-4700.
Yes, it’s last minute, but we’re passing it along anyway…
State Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Kevin A. Cahill will be holding a roundtable today at 2:00 p.m. at the Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton – Manhattan Beach (3300 Coney Island Avenue) to discuss the claims settlement practices of insurers related to Superstorm Sandy. He will be joined by Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz, Helene Weinstein and Alec Brook-Krasny.
Cahill has been making the rounds to Sandy-afflicted areas to discuss the topic, and it may result in proposed legislative changes in the case of future disasters.
“The damage caused by Sandy left hundreds of thousands of homes and commercial properties without power and caused an extraordinary amount of property damage,” said Cahill. “This roundtable will help us determine if insurance companies adequately responded to claims from families and businesses that rely on their insurance policies to recover from such a disaster.”
The committee will also hear testimony from representatives of the Department of Financial Services, insurance agents and brokers, consumers, adjusters and major insurance companies.
Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein put forward a bill that would protect people from unfair insurance practices administered during a time when the governor has declared a disaster emergency, according to a report by Insurance Journal.
The language of the bill (A05780) states that it “would establish a private right of action for the insured for unfair insurance settlement practices when the claim relates to loss or injury in an area where the governor has declared a disaster emergency.”
The new legislation doesn’t prevent insurance companies from denying claims. Rather, it reintroduces an element of common sense and fairness in situations where disaster victims have lost everything and are left with the maddening process of fighting insurance companies over the technicalities of what they are owed.
The “private right of action” would grant insureds the power to fight their insurance companies over blatantly unfair practices in the face of a storm’s devastation.
The extra cherry on the bill allows for people to seek punitive damages from insurance companies that screw over their customers the next time a huge disaster like Superstorm Sandy comes and wipes them out.
Elected officials and library administrators gathered at the Kings Bay branch of the Brooklyn Public Library last Friday to celebrate the launch of a new laptop loaner program.
The program kicked off in Brooklyn Public Library branches in Kings Bay (3650 Nostrand Avenue) and Kings Highway (2215 Ocean Avenue), where 18 brand new laptops and charging carts are now available thanks to $50,000 in funding allocated by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.
“Whether you’re a student using the internet as a research aid or a senior citizen wanting to know your rights, this program will have a positive impact on all library patrons,” said Weinstein in a press release.
The laptops will help busy branches like Kings Bay by allowing people to use the laptops for two hours anywhere in the building – a departure from the policy for current desktop computers, which can only be used for 30 minutes.
Now… we’re on our way over to make sure every browser’s homepage is set to Sheepshead Bites.
After a decade of construction, numerous stumbles and some lessons learned about environmental infrastructure, the Carmine Carro Community Center is now open to the public. Elected officials and the Carro family snipped the ribbon Friday morning, and park officials gave tours of the facility throughout the afternoon.
“The jewel of this community, Marine Park, now has its crown,” declared Charles D’Alessandro, Carmine Carro’s son-in-law who spoke on behalf of the family.
With a few friendly jibes about the long delays, D’Alessandro and the numerous elected officials who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony lauded the Parks Department for completing the first city building certified as LEED – an ambitious environmental standard.
“Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.
Councilman Fidler Lays Out Green Vision For Coastal Protection: If anyone thinks a seawall will protect Southern Brooklyn from future Sandy-like tidal surges, they need look no further than Sea Gate to put that false theory to rest, Councilman Lew Fidler told Community Board 15 at their meeting last night.
“A lot of people think that you can just build a wall and that will solve all the problems. I suppose if you know people in Sea Gate, you can ask them whether or not that solved their problems,” he said.
Fidler added that the cost of erecting a seawall around the southern end of New York City would be around $5 billion, a hefty price tag for an uncertain solution.
Instead, Councilman Fidler, who said he has held and attended numerous City Council committee hearings on Superstorm Sandy and preparations for future threats, said the city should fight nature with nature.
Pera Cafe Loses Bid For Sidewalk Cafe: Community Board 15 denied an application for a sidewalk cafe at Pera Cafe, a new Turkish restaurant and lounge at 2255 Emmons Avenue, in a near-split vote after members raised questions about pedestrian safety and the restaurant’s own track record.