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Are Spanish Language Disclosures Required?
by Andy Zavoina, BOL Guru

Question: We have recently opened an office in a Spanish speaking community. The employees of this office speak Spanish fluently. If an account is opened and Spanish is used by both parties are we required to provide disclosures in Spanish? I would also like to know how this would effect loan disclosures.

Answer: Under federal law there is no such requirement. Reg. Z even allows that if you provide initial disclosures in Spanish, subsequent disclosures may be in English.

226.27 Language of disclosures.1. Subsequent disclosures. If a creditor in Puerto Rico provides initial disclosures in Spanish, subsequent disclosures need not be in Spanish. For example, if the creditor gave Spanish-language initial disclosures, periodic statements and change-in-terms notices may be made in English.

Some local laws may cause variations to this. Comments from California bankers in the BOL threads have indicated that there, if you initiate a loan in one language, that language must be used to complete the transaction. I don't disagree with this. Think if you were going to buy a car and the salesman spoke your native English and you got all the sales talk you wanted. Then you went to close the loan and the contract, all the important terms, were in Chinese. If you don't read Chinese you may be enlisting in the service for all you know.

The bottom line is that you'll to look at other than federal laws for the answer. A call to your state banking associations will help as well as some posts in the BOL state forums.

First published on 6/6/05

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