A New York licensed attorney may commence an action in NY regardless of whether a debt collector is licensed. Debt Collectors must be licensed in NYC and you can verify information on the NYC website.
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The creditor (the person or company owed the money) often hires a lawyer to pursue the case. The lawyer has to be licensed in New York.
The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.
All debt collection agencies that seek to collect personal or household debts from New York City residents must have a DCA license no matter where the agency is located. To verify if a debt collection agency is licensed, call 311 or search DCA’s Instant License Check online at nyc.gov/consumers.