Governor Gavin Newson approved SB 531 on October 4, 2021. The bill sponsored by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) allows consumers to request verification that debt collectors collecting on delinquent debts have the authority to collect a debt and also prohibits a debt collector from making any written statements to a debtor in an attempt to collect a debt unless the debt collector has access to documentation of the debt.
Effect July 1, 2022, SB 531 requires a debt collector to which delinquent debt, as defined and specified, has been assigned to provide to the debtor, upon the debtor’s request, a written statement that includes certain information, including the date the debt became delinquent or the date of the last payment, within 30 calendar days of receipt of a debtor’s written request for information regarding the debt or proof of the debt, as specified. SB 531 requires a debt collector to which delinquent debt has been assigned to include in its first written communication with the debtor a specified notice, and would require a debt collector to provide a debtor an active postal address to which a debtor may send a request for the information. SB 531 provides that a debt buyer who complies with the written statement requirements under the Debt Collection Licensing Act is deemed to comply with this new requirement on a debt collector, to which a delinquent debt has been assigned, to provide a written statement to the debtor upon the debtor’s request. SB 531 prohibits a debt collector to which a delinquent debt has been assigned from making a written statement to a debtor in an attempt to collect a delinquent consumer debt, except if the debt collector has access to a copy of a contract or other document evidencing the debtor’s agreement to the debt, unless the obligation did not arise from a written agreement or if, under circumstances of a revolving account, the most recent monthly statement would suffice.
The new law requires that a debt collector provide, in its first communication to a debtor, an active postal address to which a debtor may request the information mandated for disclosure upon debtor’s request. The information to be provided upon request includes: (1) that the debt collector has the right to collect the debt; (2) the debt balance with an explanation of all interest and fees; (3) the date the debt became delinquent and/or the date of the last payment; (4) the name and address of the creditor and the creditor’s account number associated with the debt; (5) the name and last known address of the debtor as they appeared in the creditor’s records before the assignment of the debt to the debt collector; (6) the names and addresses of all persons or entities other than the debt collector to which the debt was assigned; and (7) the California license number of the debt collector. Such information, including the contract or other document evidencing the debtor’s agreement to the debt, must be provided within 30 calendar days of receipt of debtor’s written request.