The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bipartisan bill, H.R. 5003 — also referred to as the Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act — aimed to enhance protections for servicemembers against debt collector harassment. The bill would amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by adding servicemember-specific provisions to Section 805 (covering prohibited communications in connection with debt collection) and 808 (defining unfair practices that constitute a violation of the Act). The bill has now been passed to the Senate and its Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs for review.
The legislation would prohibit debt collectors from making threats of rank reduction, revocation of security clearance or prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. These additional protections are proposed to extend not only to servicemembers and their dependents, but also to those discharged or released from duty for a period of one-year.
Finally, the bill would command the Comptroller General to conduct a study on the FDCPA’s impact, as amended, on the timely delivery of information to servicemembers, military readiness and national security. The study on national security would specifically focus on the extent servicemembers with security clearances would be impacted by uncollected debts.