Collector - July/Aug 2021 - 54

PERSPECTIVES
Government Affairs
Combating Misguided Legislation
The problematic policymaking ACA International is addressing in the House and Senate.
By Leah Dempsey
This past spring, House Financial
Services Committee Democrats, led by
Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif.,
introduced and advanced several pieces of
legislation aimed at limiting the operations
of the accounts receivable management
(ARM) industry. ACA International has
been leading efforts in Washington, D.C.,
to combat this misguided legislation and
stop it from becoming law. There is no
shortage of challenges when it comes to
this legislation and other problematic
policymaking under consideration in our
nation's capital.
DEBT COLLECTION LEGISLATION
IN THE HOUSE
The Comprehensive Debt Collection
Improvement Act package of bills, including
several proposals recycled from last
Congress, could have a far-reaching impact
on ACA members' ability to operate. The
bill passed out of the House in May, mostly
along party lines. Here's a snapshot of
some of the legislation in H.R. 2547 we're
up against and insights on how it would
impact the ARM industry.
CONSUMER PROTECTION
FOR MEDICAL DEBT
COLLECTIONS ACT
ACA has several concerns about this bill,
in particular about delaying medical debt
collection for a two-year period beginning
on the date the first payment on a medical
debt is due; the yearlong delay in credit
reporting a medical debt and the lack of
clarity surrounding what is a " medically
necessary procedure. "
Delaying the ability to collect medical
debt for two years will crush medical
providers throughout the country, many of
whom have been on the front lines of the
pandemic for the past year. This nonsensical
legislation harms consumers by delaying,
but not stopping, the need to pay legally
owed debt in a way that will push off obli54
acainternational.org
gations
and potentially cause consumers to
take on credit they cannot afford. Moreover,
delaying the need to pay a certain type
of debt for two years could have a serious
impact on certain parts of the economy and
could harm the ability to provide medical
care in the U.S.
ENDING DEBT COLLECTION
HARASSMENT ACT OF 2021
This bill would amend the Consumer
Financial Protection Act of 2010 to require
the director of the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau to issue a quarterly report on
debt collection complaints and enforcement
actions and prohibit the director from issuing
rules that would allow a debt collector
to send unlimited email and text messages
to a consumer.
ACA would be interested in additional
reporting on the complaint database
if it more accurately portrayed what the
raw complaint data means for the ARM
industry. The most troubling aspects of the
complaint database are:
* The bureau's broad definition of
a complaint,
* The bureau's failure to verify the accuracy
of the complaints it receives, and
* Not contextualizing the number of
complaints versus the number of
contacts that are made.
Regarding the proposal in the bill to
prohibit " allowing a debt collector to send
unlimited email and text messages to a
consumer, " we disagree with this interpretation
of the final rule and believe this
legislation is misguided. The bill would
add onerous new requirements, beyond
what is in the CFPB debt collection rules,
to opt-in to sending emails.
THE STOP DEBT COLLECTION
ABUSE ACT
The stated purpose of this bill is to extend
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to
collectors of debt owed to a federal agency
and limit any interest, fee, charge or expense
incidental to the principal obligation. The bill
also mandates that debt buyers are subject to
FDCPA, and it requires a Government Accountability
Office study on the use of debt
collectors by local state and federal agencies.
http://www.acainternational.org

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