Massachusetts AG Promises Enforcement against Unlawful Debt Collection with Increase in Funding

massachusetts-attorney-general-debt-collectorAttorney General Maura Healey is hoping for an increase in next year’s budget to go after, among other things, unlawful debt collectors.

The $3.5 million she is asking for, in addition to the proposed budget, would assist the Attorney General’s Office in investigations, enforcement actions and counseling experts on complex debt collection issues.

Debt collection abuses are illegal under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, called Chapter 93A. The Attorney General’s regulations of creditors and debt collectors are issued at Title 940, Section 7, of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations.

Despite the proposed $1 million to create the Civil Penalties Retained Revenue Revolving Fund for the Office of the Attorney General in fiscal 2017, Attorney General Healey is seeking $3.5 million to prioritize “issues affecting families across the state.” The $1 million in the fund is “revenue neutral” and expected to return “$18 for every dollar invested,” but Healey believes a new fund can help to “make consumers and residents whole” while putting every dollar to good use, including against illegal debt collection.

This request is in response to a substantial number of complaints claiming victimization related to consumer debt by banks and credit card companies. Enforcement actions by the Office of Attorney General would combat the abuse, scams and fraud. Additionally, all civil penalties recovered would go back into the fund and “any additional money over the $3.5 million would go to the state’s general fund.”

The Attorney General believes her office is responsible for protecting individuals, particularly seniors and students, from abuse and scams by debt collectors. According to Healey, without the resources, bringing enforcement actions and consulting experts is going to be difficult simply on the current proposed budget for her office.

This increased fund would provide the necessary assistance in combatting debt-collection issues and should produce both an economic return and a societal return.

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