New Legislation Could Expand the Scope of the FDCPA
Legislation sponsored by Utah Representative Mia Love aims to restrict the collection practices debt collectors have available to them. H.R. 864 would classify those who buy debt as debt collectors. The legislation would also limit to 10% the fees debt collectors working for the federal government can collect. The law also requires the Government Accountability Office to expand their oversight of debt collection practices in America at the local, state, and federal level.
The House Subcommittee on Financial Services and Consumer Credit met on July 14th to discuss HR 864 – The Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act. The legislation has received considerable bipartisan support from legislators including U.S. Representatives Keith Ellison from Minnesota, Emmanuel Cleaver from Texas, and French Hill from Arkansas.
Part of a Wider Effort
FDCPA violation attorneys are noticing considerable momentum building within Washington to update the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act. In the Senate, S. 575 which is a parallel bill to HR 864, is under debate in the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Should either of these pass through all stages of the legislative process, they would be the first changes made to the 40-year-old FDCPA in more than a decade. The last change to the law was made in 2006. Among these changes were amendments that allowed for limited collection activity while consumers seek to verify their debts.
The changes under debate by legislators were initiated following complaints and concerns from consumers who are eager to see ethical business practices enforced within the debt collection industry. In particular, there are growing concerns about the government’s use of private, third-party collection agencies to collect taxes, student loans, medical reimbursements. etc. The proposed changes would strengthen the standards of conduct debt collectors must adhere to and grant consumers relief from unfair and usurious debt collection practices.
Changes to Come
The legislation is in the very early stages. As a stand alone measure, it has little chance of making its way through the House or Senate without significant changes. In fact, it may take years before the legislation makes its way through both chambers and onto the president’s desk. For now, the law is making its way slowly through congress and the measures that are proposed and debated are being eagerly watched by debt collectors and FDCPA violation attorneys across the country.