Sending Office: Honorable Suzanne Bonamici
Protect People From Predatory Debt Collectors,
H.R. 5934, the SCAM Debt Act
Predatory debt collection affects communities and families across the country. Nearly
500,000 people filed complaints about debt collection fraud with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year, and it was their top complaint in both 2015 and
2017. Consumers and their families face threats, harassment at home and the workplace, and abusive litigation from unscrupulous debt collectors.
We invite you to join us as a cosponsor of the Securing Consumers Against Misrepresented (SCAM) Debt Act to make sure people can protect themselves against coercion and unlawful litigation.
Debt collectors use predatory tactics that undermine consumers’ rights with misleading and confusing information. Each year, millions of lawsuits are filed by “lawsuit mills,” and in some cases, thousands of affidavits are filed in a single day that have
inaccurate information about the debt and the debtors. Consumers are often not even given the chance to defend themselves because collectors hire process servers that falsely certify documents have been delivered.
Debt collectors should not use unreliable or out-of-date records to trick consumers
into wrongfully paying debts that are not legally due — or may not even be theirs.
Most consumers are not represented by an attorney and debt collectors overwhelmingly seek default judgments against them in these cases.
SCAM Debt Act will update the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to provide consumers with the crucial information they need and expand the requirements for legal action taken by debt collectors. The SCAM Debt Act would:
- Improve transparency by requiring debt collectors to provide consumers an itemization, including: the name of the original creditor, the account number of the debt, the amount owed, interest accrued, and total fees charged on the debt, and the most recent
date of default. Consumers would be able to dispute the debt in the contact method of their choosing, expanding opportunities to exercise their FDCPA rights.
- Define legal action to make sure consumers are also protected in arbitration, enforcement of security interests, garnishment, liens, and mediation.
- Expand the requirements that debt collectors must meet to take legal action, including: providing 30-day written notice of the intent to take legal action, proving the consumer agreed to the contact, confirming that the applicable statute of limitations
has not expired, making sure that debt buyers have verifiable information when they go to collect, and restricting the practices of lawsuit mills by requiring collectors to submit sworn statements of their personal review of relevant documents.
This legislation will make sure that consumers have access to the information they need to exercise their rights and require debt collectors to present verifiable evidence in these cases.
Endorsing Organizations: National Consumer Law Center – on behalf of its low-income clients, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Oregon Food Bank, Americans for Financial Reform, the Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Federation
of America, Consumer Reports, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Consumers League, and Consumer Action.
Suzanne Bonamici Bill Foster Steve Cohen
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0