State News

Perdue signs consumer protection law

Posted September 9, 2009 4:03 a.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2009 1:56 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina consumers soon will have new protections from foreclosures and intimidating debt collection practices.

Gov. Beverly Perdue Wednesday signed into law Wednesday a bill approved by the Legislature last month and backed by Attorney General Roy Cooper.

The Consumer Economic Protection Act allows a clerk of court to continue a foreclosure hearing for up to 60 days. The delay would give a homeowner more time to work out a payment plan with the mortgage holder or service so the debtor can remain in the home.

“When a home is foreclosed, it’s bad for our families, it’s bad for our communities, it’s bad for our businesses, and it’s bad for North Carolina,” Perdue said. “This bill makes it easier for homeowners to work out a deal with their lenders and avoid foreclosure.”

The law also standardizes the amount of bond required from those fighting foreclosure in the courts. The bond it set at one percent of the balance due on the loan. Previously, some homeowners were asked to put up a bond equal to the entire loan balance, said Chrissy Pearson, a spokeswoman for Perdue.

“Everybody loses when a foreclosure happens,” Cooper said. “Giving homeowners and lenders more time to find solutions can save homes, neighborhoods and money.”

The law also sets out new rules for debt buyers, a new type of debt collector buys up collectable debt such as unpaid credit card bills. Cooper has said some debt buyers have gone too far in browbeating people to collect money.

Debt buyers must be able to prove they have the right to collect the debt and be able to verify the amount owed. They are also prohibited from filing or threatening to file suit once the statute of limitations is passed on debts.