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Debt buyers helped by Tennessee legislation

Jun 10, 2013 Phil Burgess

One of the latest bills to be signed into law in Tennessee will aid both lenders and debt buyers that have often been left out to dry when attempting to collect debt in a proper manner.

According to Kelly Dicken, a Tennessee attorney who spoke with insideARM, the new law prevents consumers from deflecting payments that resulted from the state's courts being inconsistent on whether or not acquired business documents were admissible as evidence. This meant that many legitimate debt collection entities were unable to receive payments, despite acquiring the proper documentation necessary to conduct investigations.

Dicken noted that the new law redefines 'business records" to encompass documents that are acquired, not just created, by an enterprise. These includes purchased records.

Debt collectors and banks will benefit from the change, she noted, as the value of debtor information has increased due to it now being more reliable as evidence in the courtroom. However, she also made it clear that it does not harm Tennessee citizens, as the law doesn't infringe on consumer rights. Rather, it erases the disadvantage debt agencies found themselves at before the bill was signed.

Essentially, the new law enables creditors to establish how much a debtor owes based on documents relating to billing statements and information kept by an issuing party that was gathered through normal business operations.

The approval process was a long one for the latest law in the state. Filed on January 30 of this year, the bill took nearly four months to navigate the Tennessee Senate before being signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam. It was met with opposition from some Tennessee consumer agencies, however, lawmakers eventually realized the value of the proposal and ratified it.

The regulation is set to go into effect on July 1.