JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced reforms last week aimed at mitigating abusive debt collection practices, which have increased nationwide (and in Missouri) in the last few years in most categories.
These changes would include requiring debt collectors to provide documentary proof at the outset of litigation, preclude debt collectors from stalling in court with repeated court appearances to prevent them from asking for a default judgment when the consumer first misses a court date and strengthen the proof needed before creditors can recover for attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.
“These proposed changes would provide important protections for consumers from the Wild West world of debt-collection by forestalling abusive litigation practices, including frivolous litigation. I believe these reforms would also serve as an important step toward eliminating the disparate impact of debt-collection litigation on minorities who become targets of such litigation,” Koster said in a statement.
“These proposed regulations would expose these types of debt-collection practices for what they truly are – unfair and deceptive,” he continued.
Koster further argued these changes would bolster the efforts of the Court Commission as well as respond to some of the calls for action in the Ferguson Report.
However, the Missouri Collectors Association is cautioning Koster on possible overreach. While they generally support Koster’s intentions and methods, they believe that increased regulation at both the state and federal level on all collectors can harm the ability of legitimate debt collectors to perform their duties. The ACA also argues that increased regulation itself may correlate to the increase in debt collection litigation.
Still, Nick Jarman, a board member of the ACA, noted that shady collection practices should be punished.
“The Missouri Collectors Association agrees that unlawful, deceptive or abusive practices should not be tolerated in the industry,” Jarman said. “We will continue to review the attorney general’s proposal in the coming weeks and proactively seek opportunities to work with his office to improve upon the ideas already put forward.”