Bill Would Tighten Regulations for Debt Settlement Companies
KOMO News (WA)
February 5, 2013
In Washington state, the Debt Adjuster Bill proposes to limit the fees that for-profit debt settlement firms can charge customers each month. Non-profit companies may ask for $20 to $40 in monthly fees to defray the cost of running a business; while for-profit operations demand $60, $100, or more each month--but rarely follow through on promises to negotiate borrowers' balances and slash their total debt. Under House Bill 1491, a cap on monthly fees would be put in place. Additionally, debt adjusters would have to be non-profit, provide a copy of the signed contract plus signed statements revealing how much the customer paid each month and how those funds were distributed, and undergo annual audits. Consumer advocates hope the measure will shield thousands of state residents from predators who are more interested in making money than in helping them. "If this passes in some form or another, you're going to see a lot of for-profit debt settlement companies pull up stakes, and leave Washington," speculates Bruce McClary of Clearpoint Credit Counseling.
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