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Attorney General Josh Stein to Congress: Don’t Give Lawyers a License to Use Abusive Debt Collection Practices

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(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged Congress to oppose legislation that would strip protections against debt collection attorneys who take unfair advantage of state courts to intimidate, harass and deceive customers.

“Debt collectors use all sorts of tricks to take advantage of vulnerable people,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “They don’t need the government’s help. Instead of using the judicial system to shield unethical debt collectors, we need to use it to hold them accountable.”

If enacted, the Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act would amend the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to exclude law firms and licensed attorneys engaged in “litigation activities,” shielding them from liability for abusive practices and preventing state attorneys general from using the FDCPA to bring enforcement actions against them. The amendment would also bar people from suing debt collection lawyers for damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

State attorneys general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have brought numerous actions against the practices of abusive debt collection law firms, which include falsely threatening to garnish the income and social security benefits of elderly and disabled consumers, threatening consumers with arrest and imprisonment for failure to pay debts, improperly suing consumers in courthouses miles from their homes, and filing lawsuits without meaningfully reviewing pleadings and without proof that consumers owe the debt at issue.

Today’s letter comes in response to the House Financial Services Committee’s decision to vote the Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act out of committee.

Joining Attorney General Stein in sending this letter is a bipartisan group of 19 attorneys general, including those from California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Washington D.C.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484


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