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Colorado Latest State to Define Debt Buyers as Debt Collectors; Will Others Soon Follow?

On June 1, 2017, just two weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc., Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the revised Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to specifically include debt buyers in the statute's definition of debt collectors. Colorado is now one of a small number of states that specifically include debt buyers under the law (including New York, California, and Washington). However, other states may follow suit. For instance, Oregon and Maine both have introduced bills to extend the definition of debt collector to include debt buyers. Considering that nearly two dozen state Attorneys General submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in Santander in favor of including debt buyers in the definition of debt collector under the FDCPA, it is possible that more states may follow the lead of Colorado. Ultimately, the various legislatures will decide whether debt buyers should fall within the scope of the state-enacted versions of the FDCPA; but, debt buyers should note, it is likely that Colorado will not be the last state to enact such legislation. Just as Justice Gorsuch noted in his Opinion that these are matters for the legislature and not the Supreme Court to resolve, it appears that at least some states may just take Justice Gorsuch up on his offer and include debt buyers in the scope of their regulatory framework. Ironically, Justice Gorsuch’s home state of Colorado leads the way.

Does the FDCPA Apply to Debt Buyers? U.S. Supreme Court Will Soon Decide

On April 18, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument on the issue of whether the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") extends beyond traditional "debt collectors" to those entities that purchase debts from the original lender after a consumer account is in default, commonly known as "debt buyers." The case, Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc., No. 16-349, on appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, touches upon the original purpose of the FDCPA in eliminating abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors. The key inquiry for the Court then was to determine whether the Congressional intent behind the Act was indeed to regulate all groups of entities in the debt collection marketplace or, in fact, more limited in scope to just those companies that collect directly or indirectly on behalf of another entity. More ›

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