The Russian cabinet has reportedly approved a bill that would impose restrictions on collection agencies, including banning "psychological pressure" and the disclosure of debtors' personal information to a third party.
The bill was drafted in the Russian parliament in February by speakers of Russia’s two parliamentary chambers. If passed, it would ban debt collectors from using physical force or threats, deceit or damages to property, according to business online newspaper RBC. Collectors also wouldn’t be allowed to disclose information about debtors – either through personal contacts with relatives or co-workers or through various media such as the internet or outdoor advertising. Collectors would be allowed only two phone calls and one personal meeting with one debtor per week and phone calls and meetings wouldn’t be allowed to take place at nighttime.The bill also allows debtors to officially refuse to interact with certain collection agencies or choose a representative for such activities.
The work of collection agencies in Russia currently is regulated by the Law on Consumer Credit. That act has some provisions aimed at protecting debtors but is generally considered to be weak.
Conflicts between debtors and collectors intensified as economic growth in Russia slowed and more people lost the ability to repay their loans. According to the state consumer rights agency Rospotrebnadzor, the total amount of overdue debts sold by banks to collection agencies is currently more than $5.7 billion (400 billion rubles) and is expected to remain at that level through this year.
In January, Russian media reported that a tax collector allegedly petrol bombed a home in the city of Ulyanovsk, injuring an elderly man and a boy. A few days later, upper house Speaker Valentina Matviyenko urged the parliament to impose a temporary ban on collectors’ activities until it could pass a special law.
Last month, the legislature of the Crimean Republic addressed the federal parliament with a request to quickly pass the new bill regulating collection agencies, complaining that existing laws were so imperfect that they effectively turned debt collecting into a criminal business.