New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill requiring debt collectors to temporarily stop collection activity for victims of identity theft if they receive a written notice from the consumer.
The New Jersey bill (S 1344), sponsored by Sen. Robert Singer (R-Ocean/Monmouth) and Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland) creates "a process for a victim of identity theft to notify a debt collector of their status as a victim of fraud and requires the collector to cease collection until a determination is made based on information provided by the consumer as to whether the individual is in fact responsible for the debt."
The bill has been referred to the New Jersey Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee Committee. The New Jersey State Senate approved the bill in August.
"The bill adopts the [Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s] definition of ‘debt,' but strays in its definition of 'debt collector' which includes, in part, ’any person who by any direct or indirect action, conduct, or practice, collects or attempts to collect a debt that is owed or due or asserted to be owed or due from a consumer in this state," according to an article from Lexology.The Senate Commerce Committee eliminated an exemption for attorneys included in the original version of the bill, according to the article.
Consumers who are victims of identity theft have 45 days after receiving initial communication from a debt collector about a debt to provide the written notice. Then debt collectors must inform the consumer in writing about their responsibility for the debt or if the debt was a result of fraud.