D.C. Mayor Makes the Call on Amended Debt Collection Legislation


The legislation will be in effect for 225 days starting Sept. 23 and replaces emergency legislation that sought to extend debt collection communication requirements past the time set in Washington, D.C.’s state of emergency.

9/2/2021 14:00

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed bill 24-169, the “Protecting Consumers from Unjust Debt Collection Practices Temporary Amendment Act of 2021,” with temporary amendments related to communication with consumers and documentation of debts.

It will take effect Sept. 23, 2021.

The legislation, originally introduced by City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Attorney General Karl Racine, was first approved by the full city council July 13, and the replacement legislation was approved Aug. 3, ACA International previously reported.

The legislation seeks to modernize the district’s debt collection law — written in 1971 — and establish temporary updates to debt collection laws before restrictions on debt collection communications end in late September.

Some requirements of the legislation include:

  • A debt collector cannot call a consumer more than three days in a seven-day period. However, calls initiated by the consumer or made by a debt collector at the request of a consumer do not count toward the call limit of three calls in any seven-day period.
  • Itemized notices of the amount claimed to be owed by the consumer are required. However, if the debt arises from a credit card, the itemized accounting shall be measured from the charge-off balance and shall include copies of the charge-off statement and the most recent monthly statement recording a purchase transaction, last payment, or balance transfer. This amendment strikes the following language from the original legislation: If the debt arises from a credit care, the account shall include the last 24 periodic statements required by the Truth in Lending Act, 15. U.S.C. Section 1637(b), that evidence the transactions, purchases, fees and charges that comprise the debt. Striking this language ensures that consumers receive relevant information regarding their debt obligation, including any fees, etc., without receiving a large volume of statements or paperwork. The additional language is necessary for credit card debt due to limitations on what information banks can feasibly provide to debt collectors.
  • Requiring debt collectors to send a notice to consumers stating information on their account, such as the name of the original creditor as well as the name of the current creditor or owner of the debt, is available—rather than having the debt collector send this information unsolicited after an initial communication.
  • If the consumer is an individual, the court may award an additional penalty in an amount not less than $500 and not to exceed $4,000.

Washington, D.C.’s executive order and public health emergency were lifted on July 24, but the order stated restrictions on debt collection communications will continue for 60 days, ACA previously reported. The emergency legislation sought to continue the debt collection communication restrictions for an additional 90 days. Legislation approved by the city council Aug. 3 replaced that emergency legislation.

Now, the legislation signed by the mayor will be in effect Sept. 23 and will expire after 225 days.

An additional bill similar to 24-169, which would be permanent if enacted, the Protecting Consumers from Unjust Collection Practices Act of 2021, was introduced by the city council in July.