On March 2, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) introduced a bill, the Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act (H.R. 1491), proposing to amend two sections of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA or the Act) — namely Section 805 of the FDCPA (15 U.S.C. § 1692c) and Section 808 of the FDCPA (15 U.S.C. § 1692f) — to afford additional protection to servicemembers from certain debt collecting practices.
Proposed Amendment to 1692c: Communication Involving Debt Collection
The proposed amendment would add a Subsection (e) at the end of the Section 805 of the Act to prohibit a debt collector from threatening a “covered member” to have him/her reduced in rank, to have his/her security clearance revoked, or to have him/her prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Here, “covered member” means a member or former member of the armed forces and/or uniformed services, including the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and of the Public Health Service.
Proposed Amendment to 1692f: Unfair Practices
Further, the bill would amend Section 808 of the Act by adding a Subsection (9) at the end to make it illegal for a debt collector to tell a “covered member” that failure to cooperate will result in a reduction of rank, a revocation of a security clearance, or prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Such acts by the debt collector would be considered “unfair or unconscionable” practice. Here, the definition of a “covered member” follows the definition of the proposed amendment to Section 805 of the Act detailed, supra.
Since the bill’s introduction, it has been referred to the Committee on Financial Services and to the Committee on the Budget. Watch this space to see whether the Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act is ultimately passed by Congress and signed into law.