Washington, D.C. – Today, an amendment offered by Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) passed the House as part of H.R. 2547, the Comprehensive Debt Collection Improvement Act, legislation that will provide important protections for small businesses, servicemembers, students, and other consumers against mistreatment and harassment by certain debt collectors.

Specifically, Rep. Ross’ amendment directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate communications by debt collectors and provide specific recommendations to Congress to reduce the harassment and abuse of individuals with debt. Congresswoman Ross spoke on the House floor in support of the bill yesterday.

“Since my time in the North Carolina state legislature, I have sponsored legislation to protect North Carolinians from abusive debt collection tactics,” said Congresswoman Ross. “In Congress, I’m pleased to support this legislation to bolster financial protections for students, servicemembers, small businesses, and consumers. It’s past time to stop debt collectors from operating with impunity, threatening servicemen and women, and denying small business owners due process. I also appreciate the bipartisan support for my amendment. A thorough investigation is urgently needed to determine how we can stop debt collectors from inundating consumers and homeowners with incessant calls, texts, and emails.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, many consumers and small businesses have struggled to keep up with their bills, through no fault of their own, while debt collectors have seen record profits. Meanwhile, recent CFPB reporting reveals that its consumer complaint database received 82,700 consumer complaints regarding debt collection issues in 2020, a 10% increase from the previous year. Research has demonstrated that abusive debt collection practices disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. Debt collection communications affect nearly one in three Americans with a credit record.