Letters to Congress: Letter Urging the House to Pass the Comprehensive Debt Collection Improvement Act

May 13, 2021

Representative Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
1236 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Representative Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader of the House of
2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

RE: H.R. 2547, the “Comprehensive Debt Collection Improvement Act” (Waters), which

HR 2540, the “Small Business Fairness Lending Act” (Velazquez)
HR 1491, the “Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act” (Dean)
HR 2498, the “Private Loan Disability Discharge Act” (Dean)
HR 2537, the “Consumer Protection for Medical Debt Collections Act” (Tlaib)
HR 1657, the “Ending Debt Collection Harassment Act” (Pressley)
HR 2572, the “Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act” (Cleaver)
HR 2628, the “Debt Collection Practices Harmonization Act” (Meeks)
HR 2458, the “Non-Judicial Foreclosure Debt Collection Clarification Act” (Auchincloss)

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy:

The 88 undersigned public interest, legal services, consumer, labor, and civil rights
organizations write in support of HR 2547 and urge you to support this legislation when it comes up for a vote on May 13th.

Prior to the pandemic, the Urban Institute reported that more than 68 million adults in the U.S. had one or more debts in collection on their credit report, and consumer debt has continued to grow during the pandemic, reaching $14.56 trillion at the end of 2020.

Debt in collection can wreak havoc on consumers, subjecting them to harassing debt collection calls and potential lawsuits. Despite the enactment of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) in 1977, debt collection remains a frequent source of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, and other state and federal agencies.

Data from the Urban Institute also show racial disparities in debt collection, with 39 percent of residents in communities of color with debt in collection compared to 24 percent of residents in white communities. These statistics highlight the fact that consumer protections for consumers with alleged debts in collection are also a racial justice issue.

Additionally, other groups may be particularly vulnerable to abusive debt collection practices including servicemembers, older consumers, and consumers with limited English proficiency.

To better protect vulnerable consumers, this bill would enact a wide variety of critical reforms, including:

● Prohibiting the use of confessions of judgment as an unfair credit practice that eliminate
notice and the right to be heard;
● Prohibiting certain abusive collection practices directed at servicemembers, including
threats to reduce rank or revoke security clearance;
● Requiring discharge of private student loans due to total and permanent disability; ●
Prohibiting collection of medical debt for the first two years and credit reporting of debt
arising from any medically necessary procedures;
● Requiring debt collectors to obtain consent before using electronic communications and
provide written validation notices;
● Amending the FDCPA to expand and clarify coverage, including extending coverage for
all federal, state, and local debts collected by debt collectors;
● Adjusting statutory damages in the FDCPA for inflation and indexing them to index for
inflation in the future; and
● Clarifying FDCPA coverage for non-judicial foreclosures.

Enactment of H.R. 2547 will protect vulnerable consumers from abusive debt collection
practices, and we thank the House of Representatives for considering legislation to address
these important issues.

Please feel free to contact April Kuehnhoff at the National Consumer Law Center,
akuehnhoff@nclc.org regarding this legislation.

View or download a PDF of the letter here.