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ACA Shares Perspective on Proposed Collection-Related Legislation

ACA International has submitted a letter to the leadership of the House Financial Services Committee, commenting on a number of collection-related bills that have been introduced in Congress, expressing concerns about the expansion of regulation related to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

A copy of the letter, sent by ACA CEO Mark Neeb to Rep. Maxine Waters [D-Calif.], the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Kevin McHenry [R-N.C.], the committee’s ranking member and top Republican, can be accessed by clicking here.

The committee is currently considering a handful of collection-related bills:

  • H.R. 4403, the “Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act”
  • H.R. 3498, the “Debt Collection Practices Harmonization Act”
  • H.R.__, the “Consumer Protections for Medical Debt Collections Act”
  • H.R.__, the “Strengthen Legal Protections on Debt Collections Act”
  • H.R. 3490, the “Small Business Lending Fairness Act”
  • H.R.4664, the “Monitoring and Curbing Abusive Debt Collection Practices Act”

It isn’t exactly clear which of these bills, if any, have enough momentum to be passed out of committee, and then by the entire House of Representatives, and finally approved by the Senate before being signed by the president and becoming law. But the mere introduction of so many collection-related bills does indicate that the industry is on the radar screen of Congress, and could lead to further regulation. The Financial Services Committee is meeting for two days next week for a markup session, but the committee has not released a list of which bills are being discussed.

ACA saved its largest and most pointed comment for last, on the Monitoring and Curbing Abusive Debt Collection Practices Act, which was introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley [D-Mass.]. Among the provisions of the proposed legislation would be to prohibit collectors from sending “unlimited texts and emails” to individuals, which is intended to counter what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau included in its proposed debt collection rule.

“… we disagree with this reading of the proposed rule and believe this legislation is misguided” Neeb wrote in the letter. “Alternatively, the CFPB’s proposal concerning sending email and text messages instead addresses modern forms of communication and gives unprecedented power to consumers to control those modes of communication. Most notably, consumers have the ability to opt-out of receiving messages and also control the contact information that they provide to creditors. In addition to this, there are many compliance requirements for the accounts receivable management industry to be able to send emails and text messages in the proposed rule, which require extensive training and compliance with the FDCPA and other consumer financial protection laws. It is also important to recognize that the FDCPA already imposes a number of requirements on the accounts receivable management industry, for example, the prohibition of engaging in any conduct that is harassing, oppressive, or abusive in connection with the collection of a debt.”

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