Minnesota Senator Al Franken recently announced that he plans on introducing additional protections for consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Franken’s actions were prompted by a newspaper’s investigative reporting which uncovered some of debt collectors’ shadier tactics, including seizures of bank accounts and paychecks, and the use of arrest warrants to collect consumer debts.
Under Franken’s changes to the law, it would be considered an unfair practice for private firms to use arrest warrants in debt collections, and consumers would be able to sue debt collectors who used those tactics. The amendment would also require debt collectors to give consumers more information about their debts, including a summary of fees and interest.
Under the bill, penalties for violations of the FDCPA would be increased, and enforcement of the law would be left up to consumers through lawsuits against the offenders. Judges would be allowed under the bill to issue injunctions to stop violations of the FDCPA. The bill would not call for an increase in the FTC’s budget or staff members.
Currently, Franken is discussing the bill with an unnamed Republican senator in the hopes of obtaining bipartisan support for the bill. According to Franken’s office, a wide range of consumer groups have been supportive of the bill.