Pennsylvania Bill Would Drastically Limit Telephone Calls to Debtors

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Eric Rosenkoetter

Eric Rosenkoetter

On Nov. 20, Pennsylvania Senators Greenleaf, Tartaglione, Rafferty and Pileggi introduced SB 1072,which was referred to the Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee.  The legislation, if enacted, would the limit the number of telephone communications that a creditor or debt collector may have with a debtor to three, total.

The legislation amends the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act by adding the following as an unfair act or deceptive practice:

(b.1) Limitation on telephone contacts with consumers.

(1) It shall constitute an unfair or deceptive debt collection act or practice under this act if a debt collector or creditor communicates with a consumer regarding a debt more than three times by telephone.

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit a debt collector or creditor from communicating with a consumer regarding a debt on a fourth or subsequent time by another form of communication, other than telephone.

One obvious problem with the bill, apart from the drastic limitation, is that it makes no provision for debtors who actually want to continue the conversation beyond three calls to resolve their debt, or for calls initiated by debtors.  Presumably, voicemail left for a debtor would count toward the total.

SB 1072 goes far beyond the Massachusetts regulation, frequently lauded by consumer advocates, that prohibits calls “in excess of two such communications in each seven-day period to a consumer’s residence or cellular telephone and two such communications in each 30-day period other than at a consumer’s residence, or cellular telephone for each debt. . .” 209 CMR 18.1418.14(1)(d).

In a Memorandum to his fellow Senators, Senator Greenleaf explains that the legislation is necessary due to the volume of debt collection complaints received by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  He concludes that the bill “will further protect consumers from harassment or abuse in connection with debt collection, while still allowing businesses to collect debts owed to them.”

This article is re-published with permission from Eric Rosenkoetter and Maurice Wutscher.

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Posted in Collection Laws and Regulations, Featured Post, Pennsylvania .

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  • avatar mike kaufmann says:

    What the Senators did not consider is the consequences for their constituents when a collection agency makes its 3 calls and cannot come to a resolution or possibly even contact the consumer.

  • avatar Raymond says:

    Limit the calls due to number of complaints? How many calls were made versus number of complaints? How many broken promises by a debtor over the course of payment of balance? Who asked the debt collection industry for input? Typical air ball solution without knowing the facts. If this bill passes someone in the State government may want to start tracking the increases in lawsuits filed against consumers or file a lawsuit immediately if the consumer is one day late on his, her, their due date or promise to pay date. Better idea is to tighten current lending or credit extension policies going forward across the board for unsecured and secured credit loans.

    Regretfully I am a resident of PA and served on a former Governor’s two task forces to help consumers in financial difficulties and to increase awareness of financial education. I don’t recall seeing Senator Greenleaf or any of those who sponsored this bill at any of the meeting sessions with consumers, consumer protection agencies, attorneys, agencies and other state/federal regulators who contributed to each task force agenda.

  • avatar Just That says:

    Well if you live in PA, and you know that a debt is yours and that it can be proven, then you can expect to be sued. Calling someone 3 times maximum is going to force the hand of Creditors and Debt Collectors. This is such a stupid bonehead move by politicians who are CLUELESS to what goes on. You can bet that Delaware and New Jersey will see an uptick in new agencies opening up in their states if this bill passes. You’d have to be stupid to stay in the collections business in PA if this passes. Thousands of people will be without jobs all because people don’t want to pay their bills and also want to dictate how many times you can contact them. Such a stupid move. But lets see how often the IRS contacts someone in PA who owes them money…….

  • avatar Bill Lindala says:

    To echo the other responses, collecting in Pennsylvania becomes more difficult, but also unfortunately simplified; 1, 2, 3 and then look to a lawsuit. I think the consumers at the receiving end of this legislation should be (and will be) outraged.

  • avatar Sisko says:

    The way I’m reading (1) the debt collector would be in violation of the law if the debt collector called the debtor 3 times, then stopped, and the consumer then called the debt collector. In other words, the debtor could trigger a violation by successfully placing a call to the collector!

  • avatar Bob Pugh says:

    Attention Lawmakers – It would behoove you to, prior to shooting yourself in the foot, make sure that you have first removed your foot from your mouth… Sisko brings up an interesting point, what if the fourth “communication” is initiated by the consumer? The language suggests that the consumer then has caused the debt collector to be in violation. Can it then be considered entrapment of the debt collector by the consumer? Suit, countersuit…

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