Washington, DC, Public Health Emergency Expires: Debt Collection …


Debt collection restrictions in Washington, DC, will continue for 60 days, as ordered by Mayor Muriel Bowser’s executive order to establish a public health emergency last spring.

The decree and the public health emergency were lifted on Saturday, July 24, but the decree stipulates that restrictions on debt collection communications will continue for 60 days.

According to Attorney General Karl Racine’s Frequently Asked Debt Collection Questions, “the emergency law covers any debt that is 30 days past due and was contracted for the purchase of goods, services or goods for personal use. , family or domestic. This includes auto loans, but does not include real estate mortgages or other real estate loans (Section 202 of the Emergency Law includes separate mortgage relief measures). For the duration of the declared coronavirus emergency, and for 60 days after its conclusion, the emergency law prohibits creditors and debt collectors from threatening or taking any further legal action to collect a debt, visit the home or workplace of a debtor, or to confront the debtor with the debt in a public place. It also prohibits debtors, but not original creditors or entities that obtain debt before it defaults, from communicating with debtors, including by phone call, email, or text message. However, communications relating to postponement of hearing dates are exempt, and if a debtor initiates the communication, the debt collector can still respond to the request.

To provide consumers with additional debt collection protections after the 60-day period ends, the Washington, D.C. city council introduced and approved emergency debt collection legislation on July 13, reported ACA International previously.

Legislation introduced by city council chairman Phil Mendelson and Racine aims to modernize the district’s debt collection act – written in 1971 – and to establish temporary updates to debt collection laws before the end of the year. COVID-19 public health emergency.

Emergency and temporary laws on protecting consumers from unfair debt collection practices, according to a press release from the Attorney General, would update Washington, DC’s debt collection laws by expanding protections to cover medical and credit card debts and prohibit “excessive communications that constitute harassment”, including making more than three phone calls in a seven-day period.

“The law would also be broadened to clearly apply to modern forms of communication, such as texting and e-mail. This legislation would protect consumers from harassment in all forms of communication, ”according to the press release.

The legislation also specifies that it applies to debt buyers and would require them to provide detailed statements and account numbers for debts owed in order to prevent attempts to collect inaccurate or expired debts.

The emergency legislation has been sent to the mayor for approval, and she is due to render her decision by August 6.

Here is the timeline:

  • If the mayor approves the emergency legislation, it will come into effect immediately and will be in effect for a maximum of 90 days.
  • The temporary legislation, which would implement a bill identical to the emergency legislation for a longer period, will be heard later this fall.
  • The temporary legislation would also require the mayor’s approval and expire 225 days after signing.

The Attorney General’s office also reports that Mendelson and Racine “plan to introduce legislation in the near future with ongoing updates to modernize Washington, DC’s long-term debt collection laws, in addition to this legislation with urgent temporary fixes before COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

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