Collector - July/Aug 2021 - 55

ACA is particularly concerned that
definitions for " debt " and " debt collector "
in the legislation conflict with definitions
the CFPB recently finalized for those terms
in Regulation F. The FDCPA also already
requires that fees and interest can only be
charged if expressly authorized by the agreement
creating the debt or permitted by law.
THE DEBT
COLLECTION PRACTICES
HARMONIZATION ACT
The stated purpose of this bill is to extend
the FDCPA to cover debt owed to a state
or local government, with specific requirements
for national disasters. ACA does not
support extending the FDCPA to debts
owed to the federal government, and it
also does not support extending it to local
governments. Collecting government-owed
debt is an important part of a functioning
economy and there may be a unique need
for consumers to be able to efficiently
resolve debts owed to a local government-for
example, maintaining a valid
driver's license. Allowing professionals in
the ARM industry to help local and federal
government in collection efforts benefits
both consumers and the economy. This bill
also allows the damages amounts under the
FDCPA to be tied to inflation.
THE PLIGHT OF LEGISLATION IN
THE SENATE
When the bill passed out of the House
in May, it was amended on the House
floor with several changes, making it
even worse for the industry. However, it
is not yet fully clear whether these bills
will advance in the U.S. Senate. With the
close 50-50 margin in the divided Senate,
and Vice President Kamala Harris as the
tiebreaker, it is difficult to move such
partisan legislation.
However, Senate Banking Committee
Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and
other strong voices, including U.S. Sen.
Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have expressed
support for the type of legislation impacting
the ARM industry we are seeing coming
out of the House. As such, it is critical that
as an industry we engage with Congress
about these and other bills and how they
impact not only the industry but consumers,
clients and the economy.
With still more than a year left in the
117th Congress, there is plenty of time to
advance bills through various procedures
in the Senate. ACA and its members must
continue to have a seat at the table to stop
bad policymaking and to tell our side of the
story. ACA will continue to lead efforts in
Washington, D.C., and will rely on the support
of ACA members during this eventful
session of Congress.
Leah Dempsey is ACA International's
vice president and senior counsel,
federal advocacy.
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55
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Collector - July/Aug 2021

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