A bill has been introduced in Congress that seeks to amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to require collectors to require more information be included in validation notices and when filing lawsuits against individuals to collect on unpaid debts.
The bill, H.R. 5934, was introduced last Friday by Rep. Susan Bonamici [D-Ore.] and was co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen [D-Tenn.] and Rep. Bill Foster [D-Ill.]. It has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee for consideration. The bill is called the “Securing Consumers Against Misrepresented Debt Act of 2020” or the “SCAM Debt Act.”
When sending validation notices, along with what is currently required by the FDCPA, the bill would also compel collectors to include the following additional information:
- The total amount of the debt owed on the date of the notice
- The most recent date of default on the debt
- The amount owed on the most recent date of default, the amount of any payments made since such date, and the amount of any interest or fees accrued on the debt since such date
- The name of the original creditor and, if different, the name of the creditor on the most recent date of default and the name of the current creditor to whom the debt is owed
When filing lawsuits against individuals in an attempt to recover unpaid debts, collectors would be required to furnish the following information at least 30 days before commencing any legal action:
- All methods that the consumer can use to contact the debt collector
- All information contained in the notice required under section 809(a), updated to ensure correctness.
In the initial pleading, collectors would be required to include:
- All information contained in the notice required under section 809(a), except any account numbers and any personally identifiable information, updated to ensure correctness
- The last four digits of the account number of the original debt
- Admissible documentary evidence of the written agreement, contract, or instrument creating the debt, if any, or other documents showing that the consumer agreed to the agreement, contract, or instrument creating the debt; any terms and conditions relevant to the debt; that the consumer incurred the debt and the amount owed; and that there is a chain of title of the ownership of debt and the right to collect the debt, including documents showing the date of each transfer of ownership of the debt and the identity of each owner of the debt
Collectors would also have to include a sworn affidavit attesting to the fact that the statute of limitations has not expired and that the collector has reviewed all applicable records and documents related to the debt being collected.