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Bonamici, Foster, Cohen Lead Effort to Combat Predatory Debt Collection

March 15, 2021
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON, DC [03/15/2021] – Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Bill Foster (IL-11), and Steve Cohen (TN-09) re-introduced legislation to protect consumers from predatory debt collectors.

The Securing Consumers Against Misrepresented (SCAM) Debt Act would require that consumers receive crucial information that could protect them from debt collectors that are using misleading or incomplete allegations to try to convince people to pay debts they do not legally owe. The legislation also spells out specific requirements that debt collectors must meet before taking legal action.

More than 125,000 people have filed complaints about debt collection fraud with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2020, and it was the top complaint in both 2015 and 2017. Each year, “lawsuit mills” file millions of debt collection lawsuits against consumers. In some cases, in a single day they have filed thousands of affidavits that include inaccurate information about the alleged debt and the alleged debtors. 

“Predatory debt collection is a pervasive problem that threatens consumers, their livelihoods, and their well-being,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “The aggressive and unscrupulous tactics these predatory debt collectors take can trail consumers from their homes to their workplace, causing disruption and stress. And frequently, the debt they are seeking to collect does not exist or cannot be verified. The SCAM Debt Act will help consumers by providing them with the information they need to recognize predatory debt collectors and their tactics, and by finally holding these unscrupulous collectors accountable for their harmful practices. I’m glad to continue working on this important effort with Representatives Foster and Cohen.”

“Predatory and unscrupulous debt collection is a problem for families across the country and consumers deserve to be protected from it,” said Congressman Bill Foster. “This legislation would crack down on debt collection scams and hold debt collectors accountable for using misleading or unreliable information to intimidate consumers. I’m proud to join Rep. Bonamici and Rep. Cohen to introduce this common sense legislation to protect consumers.”

“Debt collectors often use predatory tactics that undermine consumers’ rights, using misleading, confusing or outdated information,” said Congressman Steve Cohen. “These predatory debt collection tactics affect communities and families in Memphis and across our country. The SCAM Debt Act will make sure that consumers have access to the information they need to exercise their rights while requiring debt collectors to present verifiable evidence for the fair collection of legitimate debts. I’m pleased to be working with Representatives Bonamici and Foster on this important legislation.”

The full text of the SCAM Debt Act can be found here, and a summary is available here. You can also find it on Congress.gov.

Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-at-Large), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), and James P. McGovern (MA-02) joined as original cosponsors.

The SCAM Debt Act is endorsed by the National Consumer Law Center – on behalf of its low-income clients, Consumer Reports, Consumer Action, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Consumer Federation of America, Americans for Financial Reform, and National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

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