Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 15

FEATURE
was about to expire, Bill 24-0357 sought to modernize the District's
outdated debt collection law and substantially expand its consumer protections.
D.C. consumers facing the economic consequences of the
pandemic needed immediate protection, however, so Mendelson concurrently
introduced emergency legislation that made the provisions of
Bill 24-0357 effective immediately.
The emergency legislation (D.C. Act 24-165) became applicable on
September 23, 2021, and extensions of that legislation will remain in
effect until January 1, 2023, when the permanent version applies. (There
are some important differences between the emergency version and the
permanent act.)
Unlike its 1972 predecessor, the District's new debt collection law will
apply to almost all forms of modern
consumer debt, including credit card,
medical bill, and condominium or
homeowner's association fee debt.
It will also apply to both original
creditors (such as a bank issuing a
credit card) and entities that purchase
overdue debt for collection purposes
(like debt buyers). The new act uses
the term " debt collector " to refer to
all such persons and entities.
TARGETING ABUSIVE, DECEPTIVE PRACTICES
Consumers often suffer from unfair and abusive practices when debt
collectors interact with them outside of the judicial process. Subsections
(c) to (e) of amended section 3814 offer an array of protections against
threats, coercion, harassment, or abuse, including the following actions:
n Threats that nonpayment of a debt may result in arrest;
n Threats that the debt collector will take some action that cannot
legally be taken or that the collector does not intend to take;
n Use of abusive language;
n Making phone calls without disclosing the caller's identity;
The District now has one
of the most progressive debt
collection laws in the nation,
just in time to protect D.C.
DOCUMENTATION AND
NOTICE REQUIREMENTS
Debt collectors often attempt to
collect consumer debts without either
having or providing to the consumer
even the most basic information about
the account in arrears. Although this
problem is universal, it is particularly acute with debt buyers.
To address this issue, subsection (m)(1) of amended D.C. Code § 28-3814
will require debt collectors (other than the original creditor collecting
its own debt) to possess (or have immediate access to) key documents
and information about a debt before they attempt to collect it. The
required information, sometimes referred to as debt substantiation,
includes the name of the original creditor, the consumer's account
number, documents that prove the consumer's liability for the debt,
the date the debt was incurred, the date and amount of the last
payment, and an itemized accounting of the amount claimed to
be owed.
consumers from an expected wave
of new debt collection lawsuits.
n Making calls at unreasonable
hours or with unreasonable frequency
(as defined in the act);
n Sending texts, emails, and social
media messages without the
consumer's consent and, after
consent, sending more than the
number of messages allowed in
any seven-day period;
n Communicating information
relating to an alleged debt to the
consumer's employer, relatives,
or family members; and
n Visiting a consumer's home or
place of employment except to
serve process in a lawsuit.
Subsections (f) to (g) of the updated
law also safeguard against debt collectors' use of fraudulent, deceptive,
or misleading representations or unconscionable means to collect a consumer
debt. Specific prohibited practices include:
n A false representation about the nature, extent, or amount of the
debt or its status in a legal proceeding;
n Any representation that the debt collector can add attorney's fees
or other fees or charges when, in fact, such fees cannot legally be
added to the existing debt;
In addition, under subsection (m)(2), a debt collector (other than the
original creditor) attempting to collect a charged-off debt (a debt that
the original creditor has written off its books) must notify the consumer
in its first written communication with the consumer that they have the
right to request all the specific information and documents identified in
subsection (m)(1). The notice must include a warning that the consumer
might have protected (exempt) income or resources that cannot be
taken by a debt collector, and that a consumer with protected property
may wish to obtain legal advice before paying the debt.
The debt collector must provide the required documents and information
to the consumer within 15 days of a request and cease collection
efforts until the information is provided.
n Negotiating a settlement agreement on a consumer debt when the
debt collector knows or should know that the consumer's funds are
exempt from attachment or garnishment without telling the consumer
in writing that their funds may be exempt;
n Attempting to collect from the consumer part of the debt collector's
fee or charges for its own services; and
n Communicating directly with a consumer known to be represented
by an attorney.
In addition, the new law contains provisions designed to prohibit or
regulate other unfair practices by debt collectors. Under subsection (i)(2),
for example, a debt collector cannot take an assignment of consumer
debt without having evidence that the consumer received written
notice of the assignment. Debt collectors are also barred, under
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
* WASHINGTON LAWYER 15

Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022

Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Planting the Seeds: Pro Bono Helps Nonprofits Flourish
A Primer on D.C.’s New Debt Collection Law
Eviction Writ Quashing: Last Line of Defense for Tenants
Employment Law Implications of Dobbs
How Immigration Can Help Solve the U.S. Pilot Shortage
Ten Things You Might Have Forgotten Since the Pandemic
SPECIAL SECTION Young Lawyers Bring Passion to Public Interest Work
Attorney Briefs
Taking the Stand
Disciplinary Summaries
On Further Review
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Speaking of Ethics
The Learning Curve
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 4
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 6
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Planting the Seeds: Pro Bono Helps Nonprofits Flourish
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - A Primer on D.C.’s New Debt Collection Law
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Eviction Writ Quashing: Last Line of Defense for Tenants
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Employment Law Implications of Dobbs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - How Immigration Can Help Solve the U.S. Pilot Shortage
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Ten Things You Might Have Forgotten Since the Pandemic
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - SPECIAL SECTION Young Lawyers Bring Passion to Public Interest Work
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 32
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 43
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 45
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 48
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 51
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover4
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