The House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at amending the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to provide additional protections to servicemembers.
The bill, H.R. 1491, the Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act, was introduced in March by Rep, Madeleine Dean [D-Penn.]. This was the second time Dean had introduced the legislation. It passed unanimously in the House during the most recent Congressional session as well. This version of the bill was cosponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson, [R-Ohio], Rep. Nikema Williams, [D-Ohio], Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, [R-Penn.], Rep. Karen Bass, [D-Calif.], and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, [D-N.J.].
“Congress took an important step last night in ensuring our service members are not harassed by debt collectors,” Rep. Dean said, in a statement. “Our servicemen and servicewomen make extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf, they should not be forced to face harassment from manipulative debt collectors who take advantage of their service.”
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.