I am happy to report that on October 6, 2017, Oregonians who are victimized by debt collectors with mystery lawsuits achieved a substantial victory. House Bill 2356 which was signed into law this summer became effective. This new law enacts requirements on debt collectors who sue debtors in Oregon County courts.
Specifically the law calls for collectors who sue to provide the following information in the initial pleading that they file with the court.
First, the pleading must include the original creditor’s name as the debtor would have known it. Second, it must provide the relevant contact information of the person that now owns the debt and specify whether the holder of the debt is a debt buyer. Third, it must give the last four digits of the original creditor’s account number for the debt, if the original creditor’s account number for the debt had four or more digits;
Finally, the pleading must provide a detailed statement that depicts the following:
1. The amount the debtor last paid and the date, if any, of the payment, the amount and date of the debtor’s last payment on the debt before default or before the debt was charged-off.
2. The balance due on the debt on the date on which the debt was charged off debt.
3. The amount and rate of interest, any fees and any charges that the debt buyer or any previous owner of the debt imposed, if the debt buyer or debt collector knows the amount, rate, fee or charge.
4. The attorney fees, cost or charge that the debt buyer or collector seeks to recover;
5. The date on which the debt buyer purchased the debt.
What happens if the debt buyer or collector does not provide the information above? Ultimately, an Oregon court may not enter a judgment for a debt buyer or debt collector that has not
complied with the requirements. Why is this stuff so important? Because I can’t count how many Oregon debtors have contacted me after getting sued and been completely unable to identify who sued them.
Even when they have been able to figure out what the debt was actually for, it is often difficult to figure out whether they are liable for the amount stated or what the basis for coming up with the total might have been. Finally, although many debt collections actions are barred by the Statute of Limitations, it has been impossible to determine whether the Statute might apply based on the complaints filed.
The new law really levels the playing field for Oregon defendants in collections actions. Ultimately, this is probably a good thing for creditors as well. By being forced to front load the research prior to filing and show their work, there are fewer issues to bad back and forth after filing. This should lead less time wasted for everyone and quicker resolutions.
If you have been sued in Oregon set an appointment at one of our Bankruptcy Law offices in Salem, Sandy, Portland or Vancouver. Bankruptcy isn’t always the solution but chances are we will be able to come up with one that works for you.