A bill sponsored by Assembly members John Burzichelli and Celeste Riley to bolster consumer protection against manipulative debt buyers and unfair debt collection practices has been approved today by the Consumer Affairs Committee. The measure establishes the “Consumer Credit Fairness Act” to curb abusive tactics used by companies that purchase consumer debt with the intention to regain their investment from collection.

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“Scheming debt collection agencies that purchase outstanding consumer debt are finagling their way into the pockets of consumers by way of intimidation,” says Burzichelli. “Most of the time, the burden of proof is left to the consumer to prove it’s not their debt or the debt is paid. If you have no regard for NJ consumers, then you are an insult to the industry.”

Under the bill, no debt buyer shall collect any debt by use of any unfair, false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices. As defined in the bill, “debt buyer” means a person that is engaged in the business of purchasing delinquent or charging-off consumer debt for collection purposes, whether it collects the debt itself, hires a third collection, or engages an attorney for litigation in order to collect the debt.

Riley says, “Debt buyers are preying on New Jersey Consumers. Acquiring consumer debt to go after already financially stressed consumers by using their information against them is unacceptable. This bill goes after those debt buyers by requiring accountability for their shady practices and rightly so.”

The legislation now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.