The Council for the District of Columbia approved an emergency relief bill yesterday aimed at helping its residents deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, and implemented a number of prohibitions and restrictions related to debt collection in the process.
A copy of the legislation, which is expected to be signed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, can be accessed by clicking here. The legislation would be in effect for a period of 90 days from when it becomes law.
Among the collection-related provisions of the legislation are:
- Prohibiting the initiation, filing, or threatening to file a new collection lawsuit
- Prohibiting the initiation, threatening to initiate, or acting upon any statutory remedy for the garnishment, seizure, attachment, or withholding of wages, earnings, property, or funds for the payment of a debt to a creditor
- Collectors are not allowed to visit or threaten to visit the household of a debtor or the debtor’s place of employment or confront or communicate in person with a debtor regarding the collection of a debt
- Debt collectors are not allowed to initiate any communication with any debtor via any written or electronic communication, including email or text message, or telephone, provided that a debt collector shall not be deemed to have initiated a communication with a debtor if the communication by the debt collector is in response to a request made by the debtor for said communication
The anti-communication provisions do not apply to communications initiated solely for the purpose of informing a debtor of a rescheduled court appearance date or discussing a mutually convenient date for a rescheduled court appearance. It also does not apply to original creditors collecting or attempting to collect their own debt, nor does it apply to collecting or attempting to collect a debt which is secured by a mortgage or real property.
Karl Racine, the Attorney General of Washington, D.C., vowed to “immediately begin enforcing these new protections to keep residents safe.”