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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

New York requires clear and conspicuous consumer notice prior to auto-renewal of contracts

State Issues State Legislation Consumer Finance Contracts

State Issues

On November 11, the New York governor signed S01475, which requires clear and conspicuous consumer notice and consent prior to an auto-renewal of any contract of any term for any subsequent term. Specifically, the act provides that a business will be deemed to have engaged in unlawful practices if it (i) fails to present the renewal offer terms or continuous service offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner before the subscription or purchasing agreement is fulfilled; (ii) charges a consumer’s credit or debit card, or uses a third party to charge a consumer’s account, without first obtaining a consumer’s affirmative consent to the auto-renewal of a contract; (iii) fails to provide an acknowledgement to the consumer that includes the auto-renewal terms and cancellation policy; or (iv) fails to provide a disclosure following the offer of a free gift or service that allows the consumer to cancel before paying for the goods or services. Among other things, the act also provides that consumers who accept an auto-renewal “shall be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online.” The act further stipulates that a “knowing violation” will be punishable by a civil penalty of not more than $500 for a single violation and not more than $1,000 for multiple violations as a result of a single act or incident. The act also outlines exempt entities, which include entities regulated by NYDFS, and “banks, bank holding companies, or the subsidiary or affiliate of either, or credit unions or other financial institutions, licensed under state or federal law.” The act will take effect 90 days after it was signed.

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