A trio of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are working on proposed legislation that would remove an exemption allowing debt collectors working on behalf of the federal government to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
For Sen. Edward Markey [D-Mass.], Sen. Mike Lee [R-Utah], and Rep. Anna Eshoo [D-Calif.], this is not their first attempt at undoing changes that were put into place when the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 became law.
The three are re-introducing the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls, or HANGUP Act. The full text of the bill is not yet available online, but it will likely hew closely to previous versions of the bill, which seeks to close a loophole allowing debt collectors working on behalf of the federal government — collecting student loans and mortgages, for example — to use automated telephone dialing systems when attempting to collect on those debts. The newest version of the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Similar legislation has been introduced in 2015 and 2017 and never made any significant progress. Whether the fact that Democrats now control the House of Representatives changes the likelihood that this time the bill will become law remains to be seen.
The Federal Communications Commission is supposed to be working on guidelines that would place restrictions on how collectors could operate under the exemption, and actually issued a set of provisions, which were subsequently withdrawn.