Bill Introduced in Congress to Amend FDCPA to Protect Servicemembers

A bill that passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last session has been reintroduced seeking to amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to provide additional protections for servicemembers.

The bill, H.R. 1491, the Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act, was introduced last week by Rep. Madeleine Dean [D-Penn.]. She introduced the same piece of legislation during the most recent Congressional session and it passed in the House by a vote of 355-0.

The bill would amend Section 1692c of the FDCPA to prohibit collectors from threatening to have a covered member reduced in rank, to have his or her security clearance revoked, or to have the covered member prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. As well, the bill would amend Section 1692f of the FDCPA to make it an unfair practice if a collector makes a representation to a covered member that failure to cooperate will result in a reduction of rank, a revocation of a security clearance, or prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Finally, the General Accountability Office would be tasked with creating a report that details the impact of the bill on:

  • the timely delivery of information to a covered member (as defined in section 805(e) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as added by this Act);
  • military readiness; and
  • national security, including the extent to which covered members with security clearances would be impacted by uncollected debt.

“Our servicemen and servicewomen make extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf. The last thing they need is harassment from manipulative debt collectors who take advantage of their service,” said Rep. Dean, in a statement. “This legislation will put a stop to those practices.”

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