Texas Debt Collection Laws

by Collection Agency Information

Texas Debt Collection Laws

In addition to being regulated by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Texas collection agencies are also regulated by Texas debt collection laws. Discover: Texas collection requirements, bad check laws (NSF), statutes of limitations for both debts and judgments, garnishments plus Texas collection agency license and bonding information.

Summary of the Texas fair debt collection practices laws:

TEXAS INTEREST RATE*

Legal: 6% with agreement can charge up to 18%. w/o agreement – statutory interest of 6% begins to run 30th day after becoming due
Judgment: 10%

TEXAS STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS |in years|

Open Accounts: 4
Written Contract: 4
Domestic Judgment: 10 |Renewable|
Foreign Judgment: 10 |Renewable|

TEXAS BAD CHECK LAWS |NSF|

N/A

TEXAS WAGE GARNISHMENT EXEMPTIONS

100% of Wages

TEXAS COLLECTION AGENCY BONDING and LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

Bond: Yes
License: No
Fee: No
Always consult legal counsel about charging interest. Texas has very strong usury laws and penalties.

Below is the Texas debt collection statute:

§ 392.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:

(1) “Consumer” means an individual who has a consumer debt.

(2) “Consumer debt” means an obligation, or an alleged obligation, primarily for personal, family, or household purposes and arising from a transaction or alleged transaction.

(3) “Creditor” means a party, other than a consumer, to a transaction or alleged transaction involving one or more consumers.

(4) “Credit bureau” means a person who, for compensation, gathers, records, and disseminates information relating to the creditworthiness, financial responsibility, and paying habits of, and similar information regarding, a person for the purpose of furnishing that information to another person.

(5) “Debt collection” means an action, conduct, or practice in collecting, or in soliciting for collection, consumer debts that are due or alleged to be due a creditor.

(6) “Debt collector” means a person who directly or indirectly engages in debt collection and includes a person who sells or offers to sell forms represented to be a collection system, device, or scheme intended to be used to collect consumer debts.

(7) “Third-party debt collector” means a debt collector, as defined by 15 U.S.C. Section 1692a(6), but does not include an attorney collecting a debt as an attorney on behalf of and in the name of a client unless the attorney has nonattorney employees who:

(A) are regularly engaged to solicit debts for collection; or

(B) regularly make contact with debtors for the purpose of collection or adjustment of debts.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 7.42, eff. Sept. 1, 1999. SUBCHAPTER B. SURETY BOND

§ 392.101. BOND REQUIREMENT.

(a) A third-party debt collector or credit bureau may not engage in debt collection unless the third-party debt collector or credit bureau has obtained a surety bond issued by a surety company authorized to do business in this state as prescribed by this section. A copy of the bond must be filed with the secretary of state.

(b) The bond must be in favor of:

(1) any person who is damaged by a violation of this chapter; and

(2) this state for the benefit of any person who is damaged by a violation of this chapter.

(c) The bond must be in the amount of $10,000.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.102. CLAIM AGAINST BOND.

A person who claims against a bond for a violation of this chapter may maintain an action against the third-party debt collector or credit bureau and against the surety. The aggregate liability of the surety to all persons damaged by a violation of this chapter may not exceed the amount of the bond.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

SUBCHAPTER C. INFORMATION IN FILES OF CREDIT BUREAU OR DEBT COLLECTOR

§ 392.201. REPORT TO CONSUMER.

Not later than the 45th day after the date of the request, a credit bureau shall provide to a person in its registry a copy of all information contained in its files concerning that person.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.202. CORRECTION OF THIRD-PARTY DEBT COLLECTOR’S OR CREDIT BUREAU’S FILES.

(a) An individual who disputes the accuracy of an item that is in a third-party debt collector’s or credit bureau’s file on the individual and that relates to a debt being collected by the third-party debt collector may notify in writing the third-party debt collector of the inaccuracy. The third-party debt collector shall make a written record of the dispute. If the third-party debt collector does not report information related to the dispute to a credit bureau, the third-party debt collector shall cease collection efforts until an investigation of the dispute described by Subsections (b)-(e) determines the accurate amount of the debt, if any. If the third-party debt collector reports information related to the dispute to a credit bureau, the reporting third-party debt collector shall initiate an investigation of the dispute described by Subsections (b)-(e) and shall cease collection efforts until the investigation determines the accurate amount of the debt, if any. This section does not affect the appcation of Chapter 20, Business & Commerce Code, to a third-party debt collector subject to that chapter.

(b) Not later than the 30th day after the date a notice of inaccuracy is received, a third-party debt collector who initiates an investigation shall send a written statement to the individual:

(1) denying the inaccuracy;

(2) admitting the inaccuracy; or

(3) stating that the third-party debt collector has not had sufficient time to complete an investigation of the inaccuracy.

(c) If the third-party debt collector admits that the item is inaccurate under Subsection (b), the third-party debt collector shall:

(1) not later than the fifth business day after the date of the admission, correct the item in the relevant file; and

(2) immediately cease collection efforts related to the portion of the debt that was found to be inaccurate and on correction of the item send, to each person who has previously received a report from the third-party debt collector containing the inaccurate information, notice of the inaccuracy and a copy of an accurate report.

(d) If the third-party debt collector states that there has not been sufficient time to complete an investigation, the third-party debt collector shall immediately:

(1) change the item in the relevant file as requested by the individual;

(2) send to each person who previously received the report containing the information a notice that is equivalent to a notice under Subsection (c) and a copy of the changed report; and

(3) cease collection efforts.

(e) On completion by the third-party debt collector of the investigation, the third-party debt collector shall inform the individual of the determination of whether the item is accurate or inaccurate. If the third-party debt collector determines that the information was accurate, the third-party debt collector may again report that information and resume collection efforts.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 851, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

SUBCHAPTER D. PROHIBITED DEBT COLLECTION METHODS

§ 392.301. THREATS OR COERCION.

(a) In debt collection, a debt collector may not use threats, coercion, or attempts to coerce that employ any of the following practices:

(1) using or threatening to use violence or other criminal means to cause harm to a person or property of a person;

(2) accusing falsely or threatening to accuse falsely a person of fraud or any other crime;

(3) representing or threatening to represent to any person other than the consumer that a consumer is wilfully refusing to pay a nondisputed consumer debt when the debt is in dispute and the consumer has notified in writing the debt collector of the dispute;

(4) threatening to sell or assign to another the obligation of the consumer and falsely representing that the result of the sale or assignment would be that the consumer would lose a defense to the consumer debt or would be subject to illegal collection attempts;

(5) threatening that the debtor will be arrested for nonpayment of a consumer debt without proper court proceedings;

(6) threatening to file a charge, complaint, or criminal action against a debtor when the debtor has not violated a criminal law;

(7) threatening that nonpayment of a consumer debt will result in the seizure, repossession, or sale of the person’s property without proper court proceedings; or

(8) threatening to take an action prohibited by law.

(b) Subsection (a) does not prevent a debt collector from:

(1) informing a debtor that the debtor may be arrested after proper court proceedings if the debtor has violated a criminal law of this state;

(2) threatening to institute civil lawsuits or other judicial proceedings to collect a consumer debt; or

(3) exercising or threatening to exercise a statutory or contractual right of seizure, repossession, or sale that does not require court proceedings.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.302. HARASSMENT; ABUSE.

In debt collection, a debt collector may not oppress, harass, or abuse a person by:

(1) using profane or obscene language or language intended to abuse unreasonably the hearer or reader;

(2) placing telephone calls without disclosing the name of the individual making the call and with the intent to annoy, harass, or threaten a person at the called number;

(3) causing a person to incur a long distance telephone toll, telegram fee, or other charge by a medium of communication without first disclosing the name of the person making the communication; or

(4) causing a telephone to ring repeatedly or continuously, or making repeated or continuous telephone calls, with the intent to harass a person at the called number.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.303. UNFAIR OR UNCONSCIONABLE MEANS.

(a) In debt collection, a debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means that employ the following practices:

(1) seeking or obtaining a written statement or acknowledgment in any form that specifies that a consumer’s obligation is one incurred for necessaries of life if the obligation was not incurred for those necessaries;

(2) collecting or attempting to collect interest or a charge, fee, or expense incidental to the obligation unless the interest or incidental charge, fee, or expense is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the obligation or legally chargeable to the consumer; or

(3) collecting or attempting to collect an obligation under a check, draft, debit payment, or credit card payment, if:

(A) the check or draft was dishonored or the debit payment or credit card payment was refused because the check or draft was not drawn or the payment was not made by a person authorized to use the applicable account;

(B) the debt collector has received written notice from a person authorized to use the account that the check, draft, or payment was unauthorized; and

(C) the person authorized to use the account has filed a report concerning the unauthorized check, draft, or payment with a law enforcement agency, as defined by Article 59.01, Code of Criminal Procedure, and has provided the debt collector with a copy of the report.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a)(2), a creditor may charge a reasonable reinstatement fee as consideration for renewal of a real property loan or contract of sale, after default, if the additional fee is included in a written contract executed at the time of renewal.

(c) Subsection (a)(3) does not prohibit a debt collector from collecting or attempting to collect an obligation under a check, draft, debit payment, or credit card payment if the debt collector has credible evidence, including a document, video recording, or witness statement, that the report filed with a law enforcement agency, as required by Subsection (a)(3)(C), is fraudulent and that the check, draft, or payment was authorized.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by: Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 505, § 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

§ 392.304. FRAUDULENT, DECEPTIVE, OR MISLEADING REPRESENTATIONS.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, in debt collection or obtaining information concerning a consumer, a debt collector may not use a fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading representation that employs the following practices:

(1) using a name other than the:

(A) true business or professional name or the true personal or legal name of the debt collector while engaged in debt collection; or

(B) name appearing on the face of the credit card while engaged in the collection of a credit card debt;

(2) failing to maintain a list of all business or professional names known to be used or formerly used by persons collecting consumer debts or attempting to collect consumer debts for the debt collector;

(3) representing falsely that the debt collector has information or something of value for the consumer in order to solicit or discover information about the consumer;

(4) failing to disclose clearly in any communication with the debtor the name of the person to whom the debt has been assigned or is owed when making a demand for money;

(5) in the case of a third-party debt collector, failing to disclose, except in a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action:

(A) that the communication is an attempt to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, if the communication is the initial written or oral communication between the third-party debt collector and the debtor; or

(B) that the communication is from a debt collector, if the communication is a subsequent written or oral communication between the third-party debt collector and the debtor;

(6) using a written communication that fails to indicate clearly the name of the debt collector and the debt collector’s street address or post office box and telephone number if the written notice refers to a delinquent consumer debt;

(7) using a written communication that demands a response to a place other than the debt collector’s or creditor’s street address or post office box;

(8) misrepresenting the character, extent, or amount of a consumer debt, or misrepresenting the consumer debt’s status in a judicial or governmental proceeding;

(9) representing falsely that a debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with, or is an instrumentality, agent, or official of, this state or an agency of federal, state, or local government;

(10) using, distributing, or selling a written communication that simulates or is represented falsely to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by a court, an official, a governmental agency, or any other governmental authority or that creates a false impression about the communication’s source, authorization, or approval;

(11) using a seal, insignia, or design that simulates that of a governmental agency;

(12) representing that a consumer debt may be increased by the addition of attorney’s fees, investigation fees, service fees, or other charges if a written contract or statute does not authorize the additional fees or charges;

(13) representing that a consumer debt will definitely be increased by the addition of attorney’s fees, investigation fees, service fees, or other charges if the award of the fees or charges is subject to judicial discretion;

(14) representing falsely the status or nature of the services rendered by the debt collector or the debt collector’s business;

(15) using a written communication that violates the United States postal laws and regulations;

(16) using a communication that purports to be from an attorney or law firm if it is not;

(17) representing that a consumer debt is being collected by an attorney if it is not;

(18) representing that a consumer debt is being collected by an independent, bona fide organization engaged in the business of collecting past due accounts when the debt is being collected by a subterfuge organization under the control and direction of the person who is owed the debt; or

(19) using any other false representation or deceptive means to collect a debt or obtain information concerning a consumer.

(b) Subsection (a)(4) does not apply to a person servicing or collecting real property first lien mortgage loans or credit card debts.

(c) Subsection (a)(6) does not require a debt collector to disclose the names and addresses of employees of the debt collector.

(d) Subsection (a)(7) does not require a response to the address of an employee of a debt collector.

(e) Subsection (a)(18) does not prohibit a creditor from owning or operating a bona fide debt collection agency.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 851, § 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., 3rd C.S., ch. 3, § 28.01, eff. Jan. 11, 2004.

§ 392.305. DECEPTIVE USE OF CREDIT BUREAU NAME.

A person may not use “credit bureau,” “retail merchants,” or “retail merchants association” in the person’s business or trade name unless:

(1) the person is engaged in gathering, recording, and disseminating information, both favorable and unfavorable, relating to the creditworthiness, financial responsibility, and paying habits of, and similar information regarding, persons being considered for credit extension so that a prospective creditor can make a sound decision in the extension of credit; or

(2) the person is a nonprofit retail trade association that:

(A) consists of individual members;

(B) qualifies as a bona fide business league as defined by the United States Internal Revenue Service; and

(C) does not engage in the business of debt collection or credit reporting.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.306. USE OF INDEPENDENT DEBT COLLECTOR.

A creditor may not use an independent debt collector if the creditor has actual knowledge that the independent debt collector repeatedly or continuously engages in acts or practices that are prohibited by this chapter.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

SUBCHAPTER E. DEFENSE, CRIMINAL PENALTY, AND CIVIL REMEDIES

§ 392.401. BONA FIDE ERROR.

A person does not violate this chapter if the action complained of resulted from a bona fide error that occurred notwithstanding the use of reasonable procedures adopted to avoid the error.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.402. CRIMINAL PENALTY.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person violates this chapter.

(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500 for each violation.

(c) A misdemeanor charge under this section must be filed not later than the first anniversary of the date of the alleged violation.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.403. CIVIL REMEDIES. (a) A person may sue for:

(1) injunctive relief to prevent or restrain a violation of this chapter; and

(2) actual damages sustained as a result of a violation of this chapter.

(b) A person who successfully maintains an action under Subsection (a) is entitled to attorney’s fees reasonably related to the amount of work performed and costs.

(c) On a finding by a court that an action under this section was brought in bad faith or for purposes of harassment, the court shall award the defendant attorney’s fees reasonably related to the work performed and costs.

(d) If the attorney general reasonably believes that a person is violating or is about to violate this chapter, the attorney general may bring an action in the name of this state against the person to restrain or enjoin the person from violating this chapter.

(e) A person who successfully maintains an action under this section for violation of Section 392.101, 392.202, or 392.301(a)(3) is entitled to not less than $100 for each violation of this chapter.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 392.404. REMEDIES UNDER OTHER LAW.

(a) A violation of this chapter is a deceptive trade practice under Subchapter E, Chapter 17, Business & Commerce Code, and is actionable under that subchapter.

(b) This chapter does not affect or alter a remedy at law or in equity otherwise available to a debtor, creditor, governmental entity, or other legal entity.

Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1008, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

FINANCE CODE

CHAPTER 396. PRIVATE CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 396.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:

(1) “Child support enforcement” means an action, conduct, or practice in enforcing, or in soliciting for enforcement, a child support obligation, including the collection of an amount owed under a child support obligation.

(2) “Child support obligation” means an obligation for the payment of financial support for a child under an order or writ issued by a court or other tribunal.

(3) “Department” means the Texas Department of Banking.

(4) “Foreign agency” means a private child support enforcement agency that engages in business in this state solely by use of telephone, mail, the Internet, facsimile transmission, or any other means of interstate communication.

(5) “Obligee” means the person identified in an order for child support issued by a court or other tribunal as the payee to whom an obligor’s amounts of ordered child support are due.

(6) “Obligor” means the person identified in an order for child support issued by a court or other tribunal as the individual required to make payment under the terms of a support order for a child.

(7) “Private child support enforcement agency” means an individual or nongovernmental entity who engages in the enforcement of child support ordered by a court or other tribunal for a fee or other consideration. The term does not include:

(A) an attorney enforcing a child support obligation on behalf of, and in the name of, a client unless the attorney has an employee who is not an attorney and who on behalf of the attorney:

(i) regularly solicits for child support enforcement; or

(ii) regularly contacts child support obligees or obligors for the purpose of child support enforcement;

(B) a state agency designated to serve as the state’s Title IV-D agency in accordance with Part D, Title IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 651 et seq.), as amended; or

(C) a contractor awarded a contract to engage in child support enforcement on behalf of a governmental agency, including a contractor awarded a contract:

(i) under Chapter 236, Family Code; or

(ii) by a political subdivision of this or another state that is authorized by law to enforce a child support obligation.

(8) “Registered agency” means a private child support enforcement agency, including a foreign agency, that is registered under this chapter.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

SUBCHAPTER B. POWERS AND DUTIES OF DEPARTMENT

§ 396.051. ADMINISTRATIVE AND RULEMAKING AUTHORITY.

(a) The department shall administer this chapter.

(b) The Finance Commission of Texas shall adopt rules as necessary for the administration of this chapter.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.052. FILING FEE.

(a) The department shall charge each applicant for a certificate of registration, or renewal of a certificate, a nonrefundable fee of $500 for each certificate.

(b) The application fee is due on the date the applicant submits an application for registration. The renewal fee is due on the date a certificate holder submits an application to renew a registration.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.053. COST OF REGULATION.

The department may charge each registered private child support enforcement agency an annual fee not to exceed $500 to cover the cost of enforcing this chapter.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

SUBCHAPTER C. REGISTRATION

§ 396.101. REGISTRATION REQUIRED.

Except as otherwise provided by this chapter, a private child support enforcement agency must register with the department to engage in child support enforcement in this state.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.102. RECOGNITION OF AUTHORIZATION ISSUED BY ANOTHER STATE.

(a) The department may waive any prerequisite to obtaining a registration for a foreign agency:

(1) after reviewing the applicant’s credentials and determining that the applicant holds a valid registration or other authorization from another state whose requirements are substantially equivalent to those imposed under this chapter; or

(2) after determining the applicant has a valid registration or other authorization from another state with which this state has a reciprocity agreement.

(b) The department may enter into an agreement with another state to permit registration by reciprocity.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.103. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS.

(a) An applicant for registration as a private child support enforcement agency must file with the department an application on a form and in the manner prescribed by the department.

(b) The application must state:

(1) the name of the applicant;

(2) the name under which the applicant is doing or intends to do business in this state, if different from the applicant’s name;

(3) the address of the applicant’s principal business office, including the state, municipality, and numeric street address; and

(4) any Internet or other electronic mail address and business telephone number of the applicant.

(c) The chief executive officer of the applicant agency shall state in a notarized statement that the application is accurate and truthful in all respects.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.104. FINANCIAL AND OTHER DISCLOSURES.

The department shall require an applicant for registration or renewal of registration as a private child support enforcement agency to provide:

(1) a certified financial statement demonstrating the financial solvency of the agency for which registration or renewal of registration is sought; and

(2) any other information the department may reasonably require the applicant to provide to establish that the requirements and qualifications for registration or renewal of registration have been fulfilled by the applicant.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.105. SURETY BOND OR OTHER DEPOSIT REQUIRED.

(a) An application for registration must be accompanied by a surety bond approved by the department.

(b) The surety bond must be:

(1) issued by a surety authorized to do business in this state;

(2) in the amount of $50,000;

(3) in favor of the state for the benefit of a person damaged by a violation of this chapter; and

(4) conditioned on the private child support enforcement agency’s compliance with this chapter and the faithful performance of the obligations under the agency’s agreements with its clients.

(c) The surety bond must be filed with and held by the department.

(d) Instead of a surety bond, the department may accept a deposit of money in an amount determined by the department not to exceed $50,000. The department shall deposit any amounts received under this subsection in an insured depository account designated for that purpose.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.106. ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION.

(a) The department shall issue a certificate of registration and mail the certificate to the applicant on receipt of:

(1) a completed application;

(2) evidence of financial solvency;

(3) the surety bond or deposit of money required by Section 396.105; and

(4) the required registration fee.

(b) If a single application is used to register more than one registered location, the department shall:

(1) issue a certificate of registration for each registered location; and

(2) mail all of the certificates to the principal business location stated in the application.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.107. DUTY TO UPDATE APPLICATION INFORMATION.

A certificate holder shall notify the department of any material change in the information provided in an application for registration not later than the 60th day after the date on which the information changes.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.108. TERM OF REGISTRATION; RENEWAL.

(a) A private child support enforcement agency’s certificate of registration expires on the third anniversary of the date of issuance.

(b) A certificate of registration may be renewed for another three-year period as provided by department rule.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

SUBCHAPTER D. AUTHORITY OF FOREIGN AGENCY TO ENGAGE IN BUSINESS IN THIS STATE

§ 396.151. APPLICATION TO OPERATE UNDER OTHER AUTHORIZATION INSTEAD OF REGISTRATION.

(a) To engage in business in this state, a foreign agency that is exempt from registration as prescribed by Section 396.102 may file an application with the department to operate under that authorization by filing:

(1) the information required for an application for registration under Section 396.103;

(2) a surety bond or deposit of money that meets the requirements of Section 396.105 unless the agency provides proof to the satisfaction of the department that the agency maintains in the state in which that agency has its principal office an adequate bond or similar instrument for purposes similar to the purposes required for the filing of a surety bond under Section 396.105; and

(3) a copy of the license or other authorization issued by the state in which that agency is authorized to operate.

(b) The department may charge a single administrative fee in a reasonable amount that is sufficient to cover the costs of the department in processing and acting on the application.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.152. ACCEPTANCE OF OTHER AUTHORIZATION INSTEAD OF REGISTRATION.

The department shall issue a certificate to operate under another state’s authorization in this state to a foreign agency that files an application with the department under Section 396.151 if:

(1) the agency submits all of the information required by Section 396.151(a)(1);

(2) the department determines that the agency has met the requirements of Section 396.151(a)(2);

(3) the agency remits any required administrative fee under Section 396.151(b); and

(4) the department verifies that the registration or other authorization issued by another state is active and in good standing.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.153. NOTIFICATION OF UPDATED INFORMATION OR CHANGE IN STATUS OF OTHER AUTHORIZATION.

Not later than the 30th day after the date on which the change occurs, a foreign private child support enforcement agency that is issued a certificate to operate in this state under this subchapter shall notify the department of any change in:

(1) the information provided in an application submitted under Section 396.152; or

(2) the status of the agency’s authorization in the other state.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.154. WITHDRAWAL OF APPROVAL TO OPERATE UNDER OTHER AUTHORIZATION.

A holder of a certificate issued under this subchapter may not engage in business in this state as a private child support enforcement agency if another state has revoked or withdrawn the person’s authority to operate as a private child support enforcement agency in that state unless the department grants the agency a registration under this chapter.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

SUBCHAPTER E. REQUIRED BUSINESS PRACTICES

§ 396.201. REGISTRATION PREREQUISITE TO SUIT.

A private child support enforcement agency may not bring an action to enforce a child support obligation in this state unless the agency is registered or otherwise authorized to engage in business in this state as provided by this chapter.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.202. RECORDS.

(a) A registered agency shall maintain records of all child support collections made on behalf of, and disbursed to, a client who is an obligee, including:

(1) the name of any obligor who made child support payments collected by the agency;

(2) the amount of support collected by the agency for each client, including:

(A) the date on which the amount was collected; and

(B) the date on which each amount due the client by the obligor was paid to the client;

(3) a copy of the order establishing the child support obligation under which a collection was made by the agency; and

(4) any other pertinent information relating to the child support obligation, including any case, cause, or docket number of the court having jurisdiction over the matter.

(b) The records required under this section must be updated at least monthly and must be maintained by the registered agency for a period of four years from the date of the last support payment collected by the agency on behalf of an obligee.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.203. CONTRACT FOR SERVICES.

(a) A registered agency and foreign agency authorized to engage in business under this chapter shall execute a written contract for the enforcement of child support for each client of the agency that is residing in this state.

(b) The contract required under this section must:

(1) be in writing, dated, and signed by both parties to the contract; and

(2) specify its terms in clear language.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

SUBCHAPTER F. PROHIBITED PRACTICES

§ 396.251. THREATS OR COERCION.

(a) In enforcing a child support obligation, a registered agency may not use threats, coercion, or attempts to coerce that employ any of the following practices:

(1) using or threatening to use violence or other criminal means to cause harm to an obligor or property of the obligor;

(2) accusing falsely or threatening to accuse falsely an obligor of a violation of state or federal child support laws;

(3) taking or threatening to take an enforcement action against an obligor that is not authorized by law; or

(4) intentionally representing to a person that the agency is a governmental agency authorized to enforce a child support obligation.

(b) Subsection (a) does not prevent a registered agency from:

(1) informing an obligor that the obligor may be subject to penalties prescribed by law for failure to pay a child support obligation; or

(2) taking, or threatening to take, an action authorized by law for the enforcement of a child support obligation by the agency.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.252. FRAUDULENT, DECEPTIVE, OR MISLEADING REPRESENTATIONS.

In enforcing a child support obligation, a registered agency or employee of the agency may not:

(1) identify the registered agency by any name other than one by which the agency is registered with the department;

(2) falsely represent the nature of the child support enforcement activities in which the agency is authorized by law to engage; or

(3) falsely represent that an oral or written communication is the communication of an attorney.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

SUBCHAPTER G. ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT

§ 396.301. REVOCATION OF REGISTRATION.

(a) After notice and hearing, the department may revoke the registration of a registered agency that:

(1) fails to comply with this chapter or a rule adopted under this chapter;

(2) does not pay a fee or other charge imposed by the department under this chapter; and

(3) fails to maintain and produce at the request of the department records attesting to the financial solvency of the registered agency or other business records concerning client accounts.

(b) The department may permit a registered agency to take an appropriate action to correct a failure to comply with this chapter and not revoke the registration of the agency.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.302. ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING ON DENIAL, SUSPENSION, OR REVOCATION OF REGISTRATION.

(a) The department may not deny or suspend the registration of a private child support enforcement agency under this chapter without first conducting an administrative hearing.

(b) A hearing under this section or Section 396.301 is subject to Chapter 2001, Government Code.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.303. BONA FIDE ERROR.

A registered agency does not violate this chapter if the action complained of resulted from a bona fide error that occurred notwithstanding the use of reasonable procedures to avoid the error.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.304. ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINT.

(a) A person may file with the department a written complaint against a registered agency for a violation of this chapter.

(b) Not later than the 30th day after the date on which the department receives a complaint under this section, the department shall initiate an investigation into the merits of the complaint.

(c) The department may appoint a hearings officer to conduct the investigation.

(d) A hearings officer appointed by the department to investigate a complaint may arrange for the services of a qualified mediator and attempt to:

(1) resolve the complaint and any differences between the parties; and

(2) reach a settlement without the requirement of further investigation.

(e) The department may delegate to a hearings officer appointed to investigate a complaint under this section the authority to dismiss the complaint, after an initial investigation and after notice to each affected party and an opportunity for hearing, for lack of sufficient evidentiary basis.

(f) An individual aggrieved by a decision of the department or hearings officer under this section may appeal the decision to a district court in Travis County.

(g) The department shall provide for an annual public inspection of an investigation report of a complaint filed under this section.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

SUBCHAPTER H. CIVIL REMEDIES

§ 396.351. CIVIL ACTION.

(a) In addition to any other remedy provided by this chapter, a person may bring an action for:

(1) injunctive relief to enjoin or restrain a violation of this chapter; and

(2) actual damages incurred as a result of a violation of this chapter.

(b) A person who prevails in an action brought under this section is entitled to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

(c) On a finding by a court that an action under this section was brought in bad faith or for purposes of harassment, the court shall award the defendant attorney’s fees reasonably related to the work performed and costs.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.352. SERVICE OF PROCESS OUTSIDE STATE.

(a) A registered agency that is located in another state or a private child support enforcement agency that engages in the business of child support enforcement in this state in violation of this chapter is considered to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state with respect to an action brought under this chapter.

(b) A foreign agency engaging in business in this state in violation of this chapter is considered to have appointed the department as the agency’s agent for service of process in any action, suit, or proceeding arising from a violation of this chapter.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

§ 396.353. REMEDIES UNDER OTHER LAW.

(a) A violation of this chapter is a deceptive trade practice under Subchapter E, Chapter 17, Business & Commerce Code, and is actionable under that subchapter.

(b) This chapter does not affect or alter a remedy at law or in equity otherwise available to an obligor, obligee, governmental entity, or other legal entity.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1023, § 73, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Texas Debt Collection Laws

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Debt Collection Laws

Knowing and abiding to the proper Texas debt collection laws is important for both creditors and collection agencies alike. There are debtor’s rights attorneys who are just waiting for creditors or collection agencies to slip up. If you mistakenly violate the Texas debt collection laws, you could create a liability for your business and even open yourself up to a expensive lawsuit.

Please note: Texas debt collection laws can change over time, and you need to consult with an attorney before you use this information.

Texas Debt Collection Laws

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