U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) Thursday introduced another bill that would amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to specifically exempt debt collectors from liability when using approved language in voice mails and messages.

The bill’s (H.R. 5794) purpose, as officially stated, is to “amend the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to exempt a debt collector from liability when leaving certain voice mail messages for a consumer with respect to a debt as long as the debt collector follows regulations prescribed by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection on the appropriate manner in which to leave such a message, and for other purposes.”

Rep. Frank, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Financial Services, introduced a nearly-identical bill in February, HR 4101. At introduction, HR 4101 was referred to Frank’s committee. The only additional action taken on the bill was a subsequent referral on April 26 to the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

The title language for H.R. 4101 and H.R. 5794 is identical. The full text of the new bill introduced last week is not yet publicly available, so comparisons between the two are difficult right now.

But like with HR 4101, the intent of the bill seems to be to exempt debt collectors from liability under the FDCPA when leaving phone messages for consumers, provided that the collectors use processes and language that has been approved by the CFPB.

Rep. Frank’s office did not respond to a request for clarification Monday.

We will be monitoring this development closely and will report back once we know the key differences between the two bills.

 


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