Professional Language Translation Services and Consumer Protection

Language barriers often create confusion in the minds of non-English-speaking consumers. Professional translation services ensure effective communication across language and cultural barriers. Take document translation in the context of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, for instance. It was enacted, in part, to provide protection to consumers in such areas as electronic fund transfers (See Part 205).

According to FDIC regulations, various corporations are required to disclose specified information to consumers. For example, the purpose of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act is to protect individual consumers engaging in electronic fund transfers (Sec. 205.1). When it comes to required disclosures, the FDIC requires all disclosures to be “clear and readily understandable, in writing, and in a form the consumer may keep”. This requirement seems straightforward until the issue of foreign language becomes involved.

When a non-English-speaking consumer is involved, the FDIC still requires all disclosures to be made in a manner that is both clear and understandable to the consumer. If the consumer cannot speak or read English, a general disclosure will not satisfy this requirement. Hence, according to FDIC section 205.4(a)(2), disclosures can be made in any other language, as long as a foreign language translation of the disclosure is also made available upon the consumer’s request.

At the same time, this requirement also protects foreign financial and lending corporations, allowing them to make the required disclosures in a foreign language. However, they must be prepared to offer a foreign language translation upon a consumer’s request.

To read our earlier legal translation blog entry “Professional Translation Services & Legal Issues When Marketing to a Foreign Language-Speaking Consumer”, click here. To read our legal translation blog post “Legal Language Services, Legal Translation of Consumer Contracts and Online Legal Translation for Attorneys and Law Firms”, click here.

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