H. R. 5794
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 17, 2012
Mr. Frank of Massachusetts introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services
To amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to exempt a debt collector from liability when leaving certain voice mail messages for a consumer with respect to a debt as long as the debt collector follows regulations prescribed by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection on the appropriate manner in which to leave such a message, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Fair Debt Collection Practices
Clarification Act of 2012.
Exemption from liability
Subsection (e) of section 813 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. 1692k) is amended to read as follows:
No provision of this section imposing liability shall apply to any act done or omitted in good faith in conformity with any rule, regulation, interpretation, or advisory opinion of the Bureau or in conformity with any interpretation or approval by an official or employee of the Bureau duly authorized by the Bureau to issue such interpretations or approvals under procedures prescribed by the Bureau, notwithstanding that after such act or omission has occurred, such rule, regulation, interpretation, or advisory opinion, is amended, rescinded, or determined by judicial or other authority to be invalid for any reason. Nothing in the previous sentence shall be construed as providing an exemption from liability based on any rule, regulation, interpretation, advisory opinion, or approval made by any entity other than the Bureau or an official or employee of the Bureau.
Authority to leave messages for a consumer while protecting consumer privacy
Section 805 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. 1692c) is amended—
by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (e); and
by inserting after subsection (c) the following:
Authority To leave messages for a consumer
A debt collector may leave messages for a consumer in connection with the collection of a debt on the consumer’s answering machine, voice messaging system, or other similar device, including in an initial communication with the consumer, so long as the message complies with regulations prescribed by the Bureau to ensure the preservation of the privacy and other rights granted to the consumer, including the restrictions on communications with third parties under subsection (b).
Not later than the end of the 6-month period beginning on the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Bureau shall prescribe regulations to carry out paragraph (1). Such regulations shall—
specify the content or text of a permissible message allowed under paragraph (1);
provide that a consumer has a right to cease further communication with a debt collector; and
include any other such matters as the Bureau determines appropriate to carry out this subsection.
Paragraph (1) of section 805(d) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act shall take effect on the date that regulations are issued pursuant to paragraph (2) of such section 805(d).
Limitation on arbitration
Section 811 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. 1692i) is amended by adding at the end the following:
Limitation on arbitration
No person serving as a debt collector with respect to a particular debt may initiate a legal action on that debt in an arbitration setting, or require the consumer to resolve any collection-related dispute on such a debt by means of arbitration, unless the consumer has agreed, in writing, with that debt collection, after collections activities are initiated and a legal action or dispute arises, to resolve such legal action or dispute by arbitration.