Bill Prevents Consumers from Being Hounded for Debts Not Owed

An unusual coalition is backing a bill in Olympia that’s designed to make it harder for unscrupulous bill collectors to hound people for decades over bills they might not even owe.  Dan Frizzell from the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

WALEN: Good business people that most of our debt collectors are understand that this is a practice that lacks integrity and they don’t want any part of it, so they were glad to get rid of some of the bad actors in their industry.”

That how state Representative Amy Walen explains why the state’s largest association of debt collectors as well as anti-poverty activists endorsed her bill to limit the statute of limitations on debt collections to six years. Right now it extends by six years every time someone has almost any interaction with a collector. Those bad actors that Walen refers to know this, and can keep families on the hook seemingly forever. The Kirkland Democrat owns a retail business herself and says her legislation isn’t intended to help deadbeats avoid legitimate debts.

WALEN: “No, I think most people pay their bills, right? And sometimes what’s happened is that a debt in our state can currently be sold and then resold, and there can be very little evidence that the debt is actually owed.  We don’t want our families to have to go back seven years and prove that they paid something.  So this will help them, I’m hoping.”

Walen’s bill passed out of the House without a single no vote and was quickly taken up by the state Senate, where a key committee vote Thursday could send it on to a vote of the full chamber. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.