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October 11, 2019

Rep. Pressley Introduces Legislation to Protect Consumers from Abusive Debt Collection

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) introduced H.R. 5021, the Ending Debt Collection Harassment Act, legislation that requires the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate the debt collection industry.

Nearly one in three Americans say they were contacted by at least one creditor or collector trying to collect one or more debts during the last year. A 2017 survey of debt collection organizations found that 1 in 4 frontline staff reported having spoken to at least one customer in the past year who seemed serious about committing suicide – a shocking trend referred to as debt despair. Earlier this year, the CFPB issued a proposed debt collection rule that violates the CFPB’s responsibility to protect consumers, investors, and the economy. 

Specifically, Congresswoman Pressley’s bill would:

  1. Prevent debt collectors from harassing consumers with unlimited electronic communication, including texts and emails.
  2. Require collectors provide consumers with clear disclosures of their rights and a simple way of opting out of communication.
  3. Improve reporting around debt collection consumer complaints including a breakdown of complaints by states and a specific reporting on the use of electronic communication.
“My mother took pride in paying her bills on time, but after several life disrupting events, there came a point where she no longer could afford it,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “No matter how hard she worked, we owed everybody – the utility company, the landlord, the bank, the car company – and we were frequently harassed by debt collectors. Our story is the story of millions of families, who go through life with feelings of fear, vulnerability, judgement, and shame thanks to abusive debt collectors. My bill, the Ending Debt Collection Harassment Act, works to actively curb the aggressive tactics and psychological harassment that debt collectors are all too quick to employ.”

Since the beginning of the Trump Administration, more than 62,000 Americans submitted unfair debt collection complaints to the CFPB. Aggressive debt collection practices can contribute to heightened feelings of hopelessness, shame and despair commonly associated with high levels of indebtedness.

Congresswoman Pressley is committed to protecting borrowers and stopping abusive debt collection practices. Last month, she sent a letter to CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger slamming the Bureau’s decision to roll back protections that prevent debt collectors from harassing Americans. In July, she introduced the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act, legislation to provide much needed support to private student loan borrowers with a pathway to credit rehabilitation and financial recovery.


To view the bill, click here.

To view the one pager, click here.


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