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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Washington state amends debt buyer provisions

State Issues State Legislation Debt Buyer Debt Collection Consumer Finance

State Issues

On March 18, the Washington governor signed Substitute HB 2476, which clarifies the definition of a debt buyer and outlines prohibited activities. Among other activities, debt buyers are now (i) prohibited from bringing legal actions without providing evidence that the original debt contains the debtor’s signature, or for claims based on a credit card debt for which a signature does not exist, “a copy of the most recent monthly statement recording a purchase transaction, payment, or other extension of credit” (requirements related to breaches of contracts and electronic transactions are also provided); (ii) prohibited from seeking default judgments without providing evidence of the original debt; and (iii) required to provide certain disclosures when bringing legal action, including “[t]hat the action is being brought by, or for the benefit of, a person or entity engaged in the business of purchasing” debts for collection purposes, the date the claim was purchased, the identity of the debt purchaser, and “[t]hat the action is being commenced within, and is not barred by an applicable statute of limitations.” The amendments take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the session, and are applicable to “delinquent or charged off claims purchased for collection purposes by a debt buyer on or after the effective date of this section.”

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