Skip to main content
Menu Icon

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

North Carolina Law to Increase Requirements for Collection Agencies, Debt Buyers in Foreclosure Actions

State Issues

On September 9, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue signed SB 974, the “North Carolina Consumer Economic Protection Act,” (the Act) which pertains to debt collection and mortgage foreclosure practices. Under the Act, the Clerk of Court who presides over foreclosure hearings has the authority to continue hearings regarding a foreclosure for up to 60 days. In making this determination, the Clerk of Court may consider (i) whether the debtor was offered an opportunity to resolve the foreclosure through forbearance, loan modification, or other commonly accepted resolution plan, (ii) whether there was actual responsive communication with the debtor (e.g., telephone conferences or in-person meetings), (iii) whether the debtor has indicated that he or she has the intent and ability to make payments under a foreclosure resolution plan, and (iv) whether there were “good faith voluntary resolution efforts” to avoid a foreclosure. Further, under the Act, a collection agency that is or is acting on behalf of a “debt buyer,” as defined by the Act, cannot attempt to collect on a debt (e.g., bring suit or initiate an arbitration proceedings) (i) if such actions would be barred by the statute of limitations, (ii) without first giving the debtor written notice of the intent to file a legal action at least 30 days in advance of filing, and (iii) without valid documentation that the debt buyer is the owner of debt and that there has been “reasonable verification” of the amount of the debt. The Act also amends requirements for (i) materials that must be part of and attached to complaints against certain debt collection entities, (ii) prerequisites to entering a default or summary judgment against a debtor, (iii) materials required for setting forth a party’s obligation to pay attorneys’ fees for services rendered to an assignee or a debt buyer, and (iv) the percentage of the principal balance of the loan which must be posted by an appealing party opposing a foreclosure. Finally, the Act increases certain civil penalty amounts that may be imposed against debt collection agencies from $100-$2,000 to $500-$4,000 per incident. The Act becomes effective October 1, 2009 and applies to foreclosures initiated, debt collection activities undertaken, and actions filed on or after October 1, 2009.