The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was a huge win for consumers in America faced with escalating debt. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors, or individuals that collect debts owed to others, are prohibited from using unfair or abusive tactics to collect money owed. This week, the House Financial Services Committee announced that it is considering a new piece of legislation entitled the Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act of 2017 (H.R. 864). This legislation was one of eight other proposals presented to the subcommittee hearing that took place this week. The subcommittee’s hearing was held to examine the legislative proposals that are aimed at providing targeted regulator relief to community financial institutions.
The Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act of 2017 would add an amendment that classifies debt buyers as “debt collectors” and thus add them to the fold of the FDCPA requirements and rules. In addition, HR 864 would call for a study of debt collection practices at the federal level down to the local levels by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). An additional guideline of the bill would require debt collectors working for the federal government to cap their fees at 10% of the amount collected. This last piece was most likely aimed at the fact that the IRS has begun using private debt collection agencies to go after back taxes.
For those interested in reading this bill and others like it, they can be viewed at Congress.gov. While this bill may or may not make it into law, it is important to know that the government gives consumers the power to report unfair or abusive collection tactics and enlists the help of everyday Americans to come forward with complaints. This can be done in the Compliant Assistant section of the Federal Trade Commission’s website.