Governor Hochul is setting sights on changing New York’s consumer protection laws in her 2024 State of the State address. The changes focus in part on regulating 'buy now, pay later' providers.
“We did not fight for better wages, better jobs, and better pay just to let unscrupulous companies make a buck off of misleading New Yorkers,” she said Tuesday.
Hochul previewed legislation that would to require loan providers offering installment plans to get a license to legally operate in New York.
It would also mandate disclosure requirements, limit late fees, and provide ways to dispute resolution and credit reporting standards, while improving consumer data privacy.
“If we didn’t fight for New Yorkers, the swindlers would just get through all kinds of loopholes like vultures descending on their prey,” she said.
Senator Kevin Thomas leads the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection. He says he likes what he has seen so far of the Governor's initiatives.
“I applaud the governor and what she is proposing in her State of the State, and I’m looking forward to working with her on the budget,” he said.
He says he can’t comment on specifics until he’s seen the entire proposal but emphasizes the need for fair business practices.
“A lot of companies out there have been taking advantage of consumers and targeting these consumers with different fees and we want to make sure there is a balance,” he said.
Consumer Protection Committee ranking member, Republican Patricia Canzoneri Fitzpatrick says balance is key to any legislation dealing with consumer protection. The balance, that is, between protecting consumers while not hurting businesses, and getting input from everyone involved.
“We need to talk to the business advocates to make sure that we don’t push business out of New York State,” she said.
Another aspect of that balance she says, is teaching consumers how to avoid exposing themselves to scams.
“In my role as a senator, I held a scam prevention seminar recently to educate people about scams that are out there and what to be aware of,” she said. “I do think education is the key for consumers to know what scams are out there and what the problems are.”
While Russ Haven, General Counsel for good government group NYPIRG says it’s important to make sure that businesses aren’t given too much leeway.
“As time goes on, businesses find ways to find cracks in the laws and so it needs to be updated and modernized,” he said. “It’s been around for 40 years, we pale in comparison to 40 or more other states.”
The Governor also mentioned increasing the Attorney General’s power to enforce these new protections, and Haven says he would like to see litigation powers for consumers themselves expanded as well.