North Carolina debt collection laws get a boost as Governor Bev Perdue signed Senate Bill 974, The Consumer Economic Protection Act Of 2009 (CEPA), on September 9, 2009. In addition to helping homeowners who are in foreclosure, the law helps protect residents from unfair debt collection practices.
The new North Carolina debt collection law regulates “debt buyers” - debt collectors who purchase debts that are often very old and aggressively try to collect from debtors. These debts have sometimes already been paid or settled, yet unscrupulous debt collectors harass consumers in an attempt to collect. In some cases they also file lawsuits against consumers over debts that are “time barred,” or outside the statute of limitations.
Under the new law, debt buyers must now prove that they have the right to enforce the debt, and must also be able to verify the amount owed. Collectors are also prohibited from filing or threatening to file suit on older debts that are barred by the statute of limitations.
In addition to state law, consumers are also protected under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibits harassment and unfair practices. Under the FDCPA, collection agencies may not misrepresent the "character" or "status" of a debt, which may include making the consumer believe he or she can still be sued, even though the statute of limitations has expired.