Senator Franken ain’t laughin’ about amending the FDCPA

I loved Sentator Al Franken when played Stuart Smalley on SNL. He was funny. But…I am not laughing now.
Senator Franken has introduced a Senate Bill 3888 just recently that proposes to amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. As a debt collector, I can appreciate the need to amend an older law that was created many years ago. But from what I have been reading, I am uncertain about some of the provisions that it intends to modify about the FDCPA. I will tell you, up front, that I have not seen the text of this bill as it is not yet posted on the internet. But, from what I have read about it, it may pose a few issues that we all ought to consider:
1. SM 3888 proposes to do away with arresting debtors who don’t pay their bills. Courts have done away with debtors’ prison over hundred years ago. Debtors don’t get thrown into prison for not paying their bills. They get arrested and tossed into the clink when they fail to appear in court pursuant to a subpoena. This happens with a great deal of frequency. After serving a debtor with a subpoena for a creditors examination, a debtor might think that he has an excuse good enough to completely ignore the subpoena or call the court to ask for an adjournment. Instead of calling the court, he simply ignores the subpoena and then I am left standing in the court room asking for a bench warrant for the debtor’s arrest. The debtor subsequently gets stopped for a traffic offense and is then carted off to jail.
Does Sen. Franken propose to give debtors a pass for failing to abide by a state court subpoena? Ignoring a subpoena is a criminal offense. I don’t know how Sen. Franken plans to affect state criminal law when Congress does not have the power to do do.
2. Debt purchasers are required to provide a breakdown of principal and interest when pursuing a debt. I appreciate the desire and need for this kind of information, but as a practical matter, such a requirement may cold cock the entire debt purchasing industry. Paper can be passed around from owner to agency like a can of beer in a high school parking lot on Saturday night. Supporting records for such paper have a tendency to either disappear or not follow the paper. As a debt collector, I like having this breakdown between principal and interest because it gives me a stronger foundation to the debts that I pursue. However, the debt buying industry is going to be faced with a particularly difficult standard.
I will report more on this Senate Bill as I learn more and will certainly post a link to the text when I get it.
I would love to hear your thoughts.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 and is filed under Debt Collection Laws - Federal . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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