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McHenry Introduces New Bill to Help Victims of Human Trafficking Regain their Financial Freedom


McHenry Introduces New Bill to Help Victims of Human Trafficking Regain their Financial Freedom




Washington,
April 1, 2021 
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Today, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry (NC-10), introduced the Debt Bondage Repair Act (DBRA) to help the victims of human trafficking regain their livelihood and recover from the financial harm inflicted by traffickers.

“Survivors of human trafficking and debt bondage already face unimaginable hurdles on their journey to recovery. A bad credit score shouldn’t be one of them,” said Ranking Member McHenry. “We know that financial fraud and identity theft is a major component in a trafficking survivor’s exploitation. Traffickers will take out loans, open businesses, and destroy a victim’s credit. The Debt Bondage Repair Act will give victims the ability to have debts resulting from human trafficking and debt bondage removed from their consumer report. While this does not erase the abhorrent crimes committed against them, it will help victims to regain their financial freedom and begin to rebuild their lives.”

What does the Debt Bondage Repair Act (DBRA) do?

·    The DBRA prohibits consumer reporting agencies from furnishing a consumer report containing any adverse item of information about a consumer if the consumer is a victim of trafficking.

·    The DBRA directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to carry out rulemaking to establish a method for trafficking victims to submit documents to reporting agencies, including:

    • Proper documentation by court of competent jurisdiction that the individual is a victim of trafficking. 
    • Documentation will also outline which debts were a result of trafficking or debt bondage.

Why is the DBRA needed right now?

·    As we learned during the Committee’s March 25th hearing on Human Trafficking, picking up the pieces of one’s life after being trafficked is a difficult journey.

·    The International Labour Organization estimates that human trafficking is a $150 billion global industry. 

·    The United Nations reported that Debt Bondage “remains the most prevalent form of forced labor worldwide.”

·    Despite being banned in international law and most domestic jurisdictions, debt bondage remains one of the most prevalent forms of modern slavery in all regions of the world. 

·    People in debt bondage end up working for no—or below the minimum—wage in order to repay the debts contracted or advances received, even though the value of the work they carry out exceeds the amount of their debts. Additionally, bonded laborers are often subjected to different forms of abuse, including long working hours, physical and psychological abuse, and violence.

·    Banks and credit card companies have sophisticated systems in place to preemptively identify human trafficking and debt bondage, but more can and should be done to alleviate the financial burden placed on victims by their traffickers.



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