On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5003, also known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act, in an effort to provide stronger protections for servicemembers from debt collectors. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), passed with a unanimous vote, 355-0. The bill is now being reviewed by the Senate.
H.R. 5003 would, among other things, would prohibit debt collectors from communicating with the servicemember's chain of command to locate the servicemember and threatening to have the servicemember's rank reduced or security clearance revoked. The bill also prohibits threats of prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The text of the bill can be found here.
H.R. 5003 was among several recent House Financial Services Committee bills proposed to amend and strengthen consumer protections under the FDCPA.
I think everyone can applaud the House's passing of this bill. Its prohibitions are reasonable and, most importantly, they protect servicemembers from unscrupulous conduct. The good news is that legitimate debt collectors, like members of the Consumer Relations Consortium, will not have to change anything if this bill becomes law—they already refrain from the prohibited conduct. The only debt collectors impacted would be the bad actors or fraudulent debt collectors. Considering that all sides of the aisle, consumer advocates and industry alike, support these added protections, it's very likely that this piece of legislation will make it through the Senate and onto the President's desk.