Depending on your political point of view, Arizona’s House Bill 2664 is either pro-responsibility or pro-collection agency — or at least that’s how Yvonne Wingett Sanchez of azcentral.com seems to be spinning it. (And Yvonne is actually leaning pretty hard on the “too pro-collection agency” side of things.)
Sanchez’s headline reads “House backs giving bill collectors clout.” However, you can read the text of the Arizona bill here: Bill Text: AZ House Bill 2664.
Not to spoil the surprise or anything, but the bill doesn’t mention collection agencies at all explicitly. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeff Dial, described it like this: “What this bill is fundamentally about is people who take out credit cards, use their credit cards and don’t pay their bills.”
It gets its pro-collection agency spin from opposition to the bill. Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, said the proposed measure lowers the standard of proof now required and gives debt collectors a “presumption” that the debt is still owed if the collector has the last generic bill or other vague electronic data.
The two sections that opponents have latched on to are here:
44-7802. Acceptance of credit card agreement
A cardholder’s acceptance of the terms and conditions of a credit card account may be established as binding and enforceable by either of the following:
1. The cardholder’s written or electronic signature or by any other electronic record acceptance as provided by section 44-7007.
2. Following the expiration of time prescribed in 12 code of federal regulations section 202.12(b), without the cardholder’s written or electronic signature or without any other electronic record acceptance as provided by section 44 7007, if both of the following apply:
(a) the credit card agreement provides that any use of the credit card account constitutes acceptance of the terms of the credit card agreement.
(b) cardholder or authorized user uses the credit card account.
44-7804. Establishment of amount owed on a credit card account
A. A creditor may establish a presumption of the amount of the debt that is owed on a credit card account through a copy of the issuer’s final billing statement or by the electronic data that is maintained by the issuer and that represents the amount owed.
B. The cardholder may challenge the presumption with any credible evidence as allowed by law.
The bill isn’t a slam dunk. At its third reading in the house it passed 33 to 26. It’s now on its way to the Arizona Senate.