Bill Seeks to Exclude Attorneys as “Debt Collectors”

By Robert Jacovetti

There is a bill that is currently sitting in Congress that would exclude attorneys from being defined as “debt collectors” when representing creditors and free them from all liability in debt collection proceedings.

The Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act of 2018 amends the existing Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by providing special protections for debt collection attorneys. This piece of bipartisan legislation — sponsored by U.S. Representative Vincente Gonzalez of Texas, Democrat, and co-sponsored by his Republican counterpart, Alexander X. Mooney of West Virginia — would exclude lawyers who practice debt collection from being defined as a “debt collector.”

Further, the bill would strip the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection from overseeing attorneys’ actions “related to legal proceedings, and for other purposes,” holding attorneys harmless. Although the American Bar Association (ABA) has shown its support for this legislation, the ABA’s own Consumer Financial Services Committee has come out against the proposed law, stating that allowing the attorneys to enter into debt collections proceedings without any oversight or accountability will result in abuse of the judicial process and greater burdening of the trial courts.

According to the Committee, the bill is very unpopular. Seventy-five professors and attorneys wrote letters to Mr. Gonzalez, urging him to withdraw the legislation. The Act has also received opposition from 20 state Attorneys General and more than 40 consumer rights organizations.

Steve Sharpe, one of the consumer fellows to the ABA’s Consumer Financial Services Committee, said the bill “side[s] with debt collection attorneys over attorneys that represent consumers. The ABA chose to support the bill without consulting the consumer advocates it appointed as fellows. Had they reached out, we would have explained how this bill will harm consumers.”

If you have incurred a large amount of debt and are unable to pay, you still have rights. If debt collectors have threatened you or a loved one with the seizure of assets or are making harassing phone calls, contact an experienced attorney who can assist you. Robert Jacovetti is an experience debt attorney who has helped countless residents of Long Island and the boroughs of New York City, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island, when they have been in over their heads financially. For more information or to schedule a consultation, you can call Jacovetti Law, P.C. at (516) 217-4488 or schedule an appointment in our Mineola office.