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Booker Bipartisan Debt Collection Bill Passes House Financial Services Committee

Cleaver’s House companion to protect consumers from predatory debt collectors

November 15, 2019
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan bill authored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to help safeguard American consumers by strengthening consumer protections against predatory debt collection practices passed the House Financial Services Committee last night. The bicameral Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act of 2019 would make it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when collecting debts from consumers. Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and French Hill (R-AR) led the companion efforts in the House.

 

“The passage of this bill is an important step towards ensuring American consumers are protected from predatory and nefarious debt collectors,” Senator Booker said. “Over the past several years, we’ve seen a significant rise in harassment and aggression at the hands of government-contracted debt collectors and no consumer should endure this unacceptable treatment. This legislation would curb those abuses and require all federal agencies to abide by the same high standards of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act.”

The Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act of 2019 would:

·         Amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to make clear that protections from overly aggressive debt collection practices also apply to debt collection agents contracted by the federal government

·         Amend the FDCPA to make clear that overpayment, fines, penalties, and fees owed by private individuals to federal government entities should be considered “consumer debts” that fall under the FDCPA’s protections

·         Prevent private debt collectors from charging exorbitant and unfair fees

·         Ensure that fees from debt collectors working on behalf of the federal government cannot be greater than 10% of the amount collected and must be reasonable

·         Confirm that debt buyers are debt collectors for the purposes of the FDCPA

·         Set forth requirements that prevent debt collectors from taking aggressive action unnecessarily quickly after a debt has allegedly gone unpaid

·         Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study into the use of third party debt collectors by state and local government