CERTIFICATION OF ENROLLMENT
SENATE BILL 5331
2001 Regular Session
Passed by the Senate March 12, 2001
YEAS 44 NAYS 0
President of the Senate
Passed by the House April 4, 2001
YEAS 91 NAYS 2
I, Tony M. Cook, Secretary of the Senate of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is SENATE BILL 5331 as passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on the dates hereon set forth.
Speaker of the
House of Representatives
Speaker of the
House of Representatives
Governor of the State of Washington
Secretary of State
State of Washington
SENATE BILL 5331
Passed Legislature - 2001 Regular Session
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2001 Regular Session
By Senators Kline, McCaslin, Johnson and Long
Read first time 01/19/2001. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
AN ACT Relating to collection of business to business debts; and amending RCW 19.16.100 and 19.16.250.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1. RCW 19.16.100 and 1994 c 195 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
Unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, the following words and phrases as hereinafter used in this chapter shall have the following meanings:
(1) "Person" includes individual, firm, partnership, trust, joint venture, association, or corporation.
(2) "Collection agency" means and includes:
(a) Any person directly or indirectly engaged in soliciting claims for collection, or collecting or attempting to collect claims owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another person;
(b) Any person who directly or indirectly furnishes or attempts to furnish, sells, or offers to sell forms represented to be a collection system or scheme intended or calculated to be used to collect claims even though the forms direct the debtor to make payment to the creditor and even though the forms may be or are actually used by the creditor himself in his own name;
(c) Any person who in attempting to collect or in collecting his own claim uses a fictitious name or any name other than his own which would indicate to the debtor that a third person is collecting or attempting to collect such claim.
(3) "Collection agency" does not mean and does not include:
(a) Any individual engaged in soliciting claims for collection, or collecting or attempting to collect claims on behalf of a licensee under this chapter, if said individual is an employee of the licensee;
(b) Any individual collecting or attempting to collect claims for not more than one employer, if all the collection efforts are carried on in the name of the employer and if the individual is an employee of the employer;
(c) Any person whose collection activities are carried on in his or its true name and are confined and are directly related to the operation of a business other than that of a collection agency, such as but not limited to trust companies, savings and loan associations, building and loan associations, abstract companies doing an escrow business, real estate brokers, public officers acting in their official capacities, persons acting under court order, lawyers, insurance companies, credit unions, loan or finance companies, mortgage banks, and banks;
(d) Any person who on behalf of another person prepares or mails monthly or periodic statements of accounts due if all payments are made to that other person and no other collection efforts are made by the person preparing the statements of account; or
(e) An "out-of-state collection agency" as defined in this chapter.
(4) "Out-of-state collection agency" means a person whose activities within this state are limited to collecting debts from debtors located in this state by means of interstate communications, including telephone, mail, or facsimile transmission, from the person's location in another state on behalf of clients located outside of this state.
(5) "Claim" means any obligation for the payment of money or thing of value arising out of any agreement or contract, express or implied.
(6) "Statement of account" means a report setting forth only amounts billed, invoices, credits allowed, or aged balance due.
(7) "Director" means the director of licensing.
(8) "Client" or "customer" means any person authorizing or employing a collection agency to collect a claim.
(9) "Licensee" means any person licensed under this chapter.
(10) "Board" means the Washington state collection agency board.
(11) "Debtor" means any person owing or alleged to owe a claim.
(12) "Commercial claim" means any obligation for payment of money or thing of value arising out of any agreement or contract, express or implied, where the transaction which is the subject of the agreement or contract is not primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
Sec. 2. RCW 19.16.250 and 1983 c 107 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
No licensee or employee of a licensee shall:
(1) Directly or indirectly aid or abet any unlicensed person to engage in business as a collection agency in this state or receive compensation from such unlicensed person: PROVIDED, That nothing in this chapter shall prevent a licensee from accepting, as forwardee, claims for collection from a collection agency or attorney whose place of business is outside the state.
(2) Collect or attempt to collect a claim by the use of any means contrary to the postal laws and regulations of the United States postal department.
(3) Publish or post or cause to be published or posted, any list of debtors commonly known as "bad debt lists" or threaten to do so. For purposes of this chapter, a "bad debt list" means any list of natural persons alleged to fail to honor their lawful debts. However, nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit a licensee from communicating to its customers or clients by means of a coded list, the existence of a check dishonored because of insufficient funds, not sufficient funds or closed account by the financial institution servicing the debtor's checking account: PROVIDED, That the debtor's identity is not readily apparent: PROVIDED FURTHER, That the licensee complies with the requirements of subsection (9)(e) of this section.
(4) Have in his possession or make use of any badge, use a uniform of any law enforcement agency or any simulation thereof, or make any statements which might be construed as indicating an official connection with any federal, state, county, or city law enforcement agency, or any other governmental agency, while engaged in collection agency business.
(5) Perform any act or acts, either directly or indirectly, constituting the practice of law.
(6) Advertise for sale or threaten to advertise for sale any claim as a means of endeavoring to enforce payment thereof or agreeing to do so for the purpose of soliciting claims, except where the licensee has acquired claims as an assignee for the benefit of creditors or where the licensee is acting under court order.
(7) Use any name while engaged in the making of a demand for any claim other than the name set forth on his or its current license issued hereunder.
(8) Give or send to any debtor or cause to be given or sent to any debtor, any notice, letter, message, or form which represents or implies that a claim exists unless it shall indicate in clear and legible type:
(a) The name of the licensee and the city, street, and number at which he is licensed to do business;
(b) The name of the original creditor to whom the debtor owed the claim if such name is known to the licensee or employee: PROVIDED, That upon written request of the debtor, the licensee shall make a reasonable effort to obtain the name of such person and provide this name to the debtor;
(c) If the notice, letter, message, or form is the first notice to the debtor or if the licensee is attempting to collect a different amount than indicated in his or its first notice to the debtor, an itemization of the claim asserted must be made including:
(i) Amount owing on the original obligation at the time it was received by the licensee for collection or by assignment;
(ii) Interest or service charge, collection costs, or late payment charges, if any, added to the original obligation by the original creditor, customer or assignor before it was received by the licensee for collection, if such information is known by the licensee or employee: PROVIDED, That upon written request of the debtor, the licensee shall make a reasonable effort to obtain information on such items and provide this information to the debtor;
(iii) Interest or service charge, if any, added by the licensee or customer or assignor after the obligation was received by the licensee for collection;
(iv) Collection costs, if any, that the licensee is attempting to collect;
(v) Attorneys' fees, if any, that the licensee is attempting to collect on his or its behalf or on the behalf of a customer or assignor;
(vi) Any other charge or fee that the licensee is attempting to collect on his or its own behalf or on the behalf of a customer or assignor.
(9) Communicate or threaten to communicate, the existence of a claim to a person other than one who might be reasonably expected to be liable on the claim in any manner other than through proper legal action, process, or proceedings except under the following conditions:
(a) A licensee or employee of a licensee may inform a credit reporting bureau of the existence of a claim: PROVIDED, That if the licensee or employee of a licensee reports a claim to a credit reporting bureau, the licensee shall upon receipt of written notice from the debtor that any part of the claim is disputed, forward a copy of such written notice to the credit reporting bureau;
(b) A licensee or employee in collecting or attempting to collect a claim may communicate the existence of a claim to a debtor's employer if the claim has been reduced to a judgment;
(c) A licensee or employee in collecting or attempting to collect a claim that has not been reduced to judgment, may communicate the existence of a claim to a debtor's employer if:
(i) The licensee or employee has notified or attempted to notify the debtor in writing at his last known address or place of employment concerning the claim and the debtor after a reasonable time has failed to pay the claim or has failed to agree to make payments on the claim in a manner acceptable to the licensee, and
(ii) The debtor has not in writing to the licensee disputed any part of the claim: PROVIDED, That the licensee or employee may only communicate the existence of a claim which has not been reduced to judgment to the debtor's employer once unless the debtor's employer has agreed to additional communications.
(d) A licensee may for the purpose of locating the debtor or locating assets of the debtor communicate the existence of a claim to any person who might reasonably be expected to have knowledge of the whereabouts of a debtor or the location of assets of the debtor if the claim is reduced to judgment, or if not reduced to judgment, when:
(i) The licensee or employee has notified or attempted to notify the debtor in writing at his last known address or last known place of employment concerning the claim and the debtor after a reasonable time has failed to pay the claim or has failed to agree to make payments on the claim in a manner acceptable to the licensee, and
(ii) The debtor has not in writing disputed any part of the claim.
(e) A licensee may communicate the existence of a claim to its customers or clients if the claim is reduced to judgment, or if not reduced to judgment, when:
(i) The licensee has notified or attempted to notify the debtor in writing at his last known address or last known place of employment concerning the claim and the debtor after a reasonable time has failed to pay the claim or has failed to agree to make payments on the claim in a manner acceptable to the licensee, and
(ii) The debtor has not in writing disputed any part of the claim.
(10) Threaten the debtor with impairment of his credit rating if a claim is not paid.
(11) Communicate with the debtor after notification in writing from an attorney representing such debtor that all further communications relative to a claim should be addressed to the attorney: PROVIDED, That if a licensee requests in writing information from an attorney regarding such claim and the attorney does not respond within a reasonable time, the licensee may communicate directly with the debtor until he or it again receives notification in writing that an attorney is representing the debtor.
(12) Communicate with a debtor or anyone else in such a manner as to harass, intimidate, threaten, or embarrass a debtor, including but not limited to communication at an unreasonable hour, with unreasonable frequency, by threats of force or violence, by threats of criminal prosecution, and by use of offensive language. A communication shall be presumed to have been made for the purposes of harassment if:
(a) It is made with a debtor or spouse in any form, manner, or place, more than three times in a single week;
(b) It is made with a debtor at his or her place of employment more than one time in a single week;
(c) It is made with the debtor or spouse at his or her place of residence between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
(13) Communicate with the debtor through use of forms or instruments that simulate the form or appearance of judicial process, the form or appearance of government documents, or the simulation of a form or appearance of a telegraphic or emergency message.
(14) Communicate with the debtor and represent or imply that the existing obligation of the debtor may be or has been increased by the addition of attorney fees, investigation fees, service fees, or any other fees or charges when in fact such fees or charges may not legally be added to the existing obligation of such debtor.
(15) Threaten to take any action against the debtor which the licensee cannot legally take at the time the threat is made.
(16) Send any telegram or make any telephone calls to a debtor or concerning a debt or for the purpose of demanding payment of a claim or seeking information about a debtor, for which the charges are payable by the addressee or by the person to whom the call is made.
(17) In any manner convey the impression that the licensee is vouched for, bonded to or by, or is an instrumentality of the state of Washington or any agency or department thereof.
(18) Collect or attempt to collect in addition to the principal amount of a claim any sum other than allowable interest, collection costs or handling fees expressly authorized by statute, and, in the case of suit, attorney's fees and taxable court costs. A licensee may collect or attempt to collect collection costs and fees, including contingent collection fees, as authorized by a written agreement or contract, between the licensee's client and the debtor, in the collection of a commercial claim. The amount charged to the debtor for collection services shall not exceed thirty-five percent of the commercial claim.
(19) Procure from a debtor or collect or attempt to collect on any written note, contract, stipulation, promise or acknowledgment under which a debtor may be required to pay any sum other than principal, allowable interest, except as noted in subsection (18) of this section, and, in the case of suit, attorney's fees and taxable court costs.
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