West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill Saturday to make changes to the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act concerning collecting debts, including the codification of abusive call volume.

The push to update the legislation, passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates, was supported by financial services representatives, including the Community Banks of West Virginia. It doubles the amount creditors can charge consumers on a delinquent account and details the number of debt collection calls and contacts allowed per week.

SB 542 passed the House by a strong 61-34 vote, which fell largely along party lines. Republicans generally supported the reform effort; Democrats opposed. The action was taken Satruday, the last legislative day of the current session. The bill will now be sent to the state’s governor and, if signed, the law will go into effect on September 1.

Debt collectors in West Virginia will get no more than 30 calls to a person in a week and 10 telephone conversations per week and the bill removes "repeatedly or continuously" from present law. A late amendment offered by House Democrats would have reduced those allowances to five calls per week and two conversations, but that was withdrawn a day before the vote.

The bill also changes the definition of a communication in some places by replacing “The placement of telephone calls” with “Engaging any person in telephone conversation.” It further allows creditors to charge consumers a $30 late fee for delinquencies on an account, double from the previous $15.

The push behind the bill and changes in the language is to help bring West Virginia law into closer agreement with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  

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