D.C. City Council Passes Final Debt Collection Legislation Taking Effect in 2023

ACA is reviewing the changes to the district’s 1971 law and will provide more updates for members leading up to its January 2023 effective date. In the meantime, identical temporary debt collection legislation will remain in effect.

06/07/2022 4:15 P.M.

2 minute read

The Washington, D.C., City Council has approved a law to address gaps in the district’s debt collection regulations.

The council unanimously approved the “Protecting Consumers from Unjust Debt Collection Practices Amendment Act of 2022,” sponsored by City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Tuesday.

It’s important to note that while there was action on a “permanent” bill Tuesday, it won’t take effect until next year and the council essentially extended the current “temporary” legislation the industry has already been working under by passing a new temporary bill to bridge the gap until the new legislation takes effect in January.

The original “temporary” legislation was enacted in response to consumers’ hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. It, and the legislation taking effect next year, allow extra consumer protections if a public health emergency is declared by the mayor.

One significant amendment in the bill passed Tuesday clarifies that a debt collector or debt buyer may only send text messages, emails or private messages on social media after sending the required written notice to consumers. It also clarifies that a debt collector or debt buyer may send one text message, email or private message in any seven-day period for the purposes of acquiring consent from the consumer to communicate via one or more of these methods.

Another amendment moved the effective date of the law to Jan. 1, 2023, to provide creditors and debt collectors with more time to bring their operations and procedures into compliance with the provisions of the law.

In the same meeting, the city council extended a temporary version of the legislation that has been in place since last fall—meaning agencies should continue to operate as they have been to follow the council’s requirements.

The legislation will now be sent to Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser for a signature. The legislation is also subject to a 30-day congressional review, which could extend into the fall.

ACA is reviewing the final legislation and amendments. Join the ACA Huddle on Wednesday for more initial details during the compliance and state government affairs update and subscribe to ACA Daily for continued news on the law.

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