Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, signed two pieces of collection-related legislation into law yesterday, one aimed at ending the practice of pocket service of collection-related lawsuits and the other aimed at how collection agencies handle medical debts.
The two bills were part of a flurry of collection-related activity undertaken by the state Senate earlier this month.
Senate Bill 1066 eliminates the practice of pocket service, which allowed collection agencies to serve an individual with a lawsuit before filing the suit in state court. The summons served to the individual would not have a court date or case number, which led many to think it was not legitimate and therefore not show up for his or her court date. The measure was aggressively endorsed by Bob Ferguson, the attorney general of Washington.
Now that the bill has been signed, collection agencies must now file a complaint in Washington Superior Court before serving an individual with a summons.
Gov. Inslee also signed Senate Bill 1531 into law yesterday. That legislation alters how collection agencies handle medical debts, including waiting 180 days before reporting an unpaid medical debt to a credit bureau, and including a notice in an initial collection letter that the individual may be eligible to receive charity care, among other provisions.