In order to better understand the work that civil legal aid programs are doing to serve some of the nation’s consumers, the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) developed this survey to gather data about what kind of representation organizations provided to clients who are being contacted or sued by debt collectors, debt buyers, or creditors. Sixty-four civil legal aid organizations completed the comprehensive survey.
Incorporating over 100 interviews as well as relevant literature and empirical data, this Human Rights Watch article develops a comprehensive assessment of practices that fail to serve equal access to justice in debt buying cases. Additionally, it describes potential solutions to alleviate inequality in the courts through reform legislation and increased funding for legal aid programs focused on serving low-income clients.
Runge writes that domestic violence victims present a myriad of legal needs, some of which include needing accommodations at a place of employment, like missing work to attend court or counseling or missing work due to injuries. They may exceed annual leave and be under threat of losing their jobs. Legal aid can help secure accommodations and protect them at the workplace.
In this article, Dranoff identifies how identity theft is particularly harmful for low-income individuals. Because identify theft often brings financial loss, those without a financial cushion are often impacted more negatively.
Debts, Defaults and Details: Exploring the Impact of Debt Collection Litigation on Consumers and Courts
This study investigates the protections in place for consumers when confronted with debt buyers. Spector found that when customers made even minimal effort to protect themselves, it helped considerably. Having an attorney increases the likelihood of dismissal, but less than 10 percent of defendants retained counsel.
Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed 500,000 bankruptcy filings. They find that chapter 13 protection increases earnings, decreases mortality, and decreases foreclosure rates. When individuals are no longer followed by their debt, they experience several positive externalities.
The Federal Trade Commission presents recommendations, which they gathered through public roundtables the year prior. These roundtables brought together representatives from the debt collection industry, consumer advocates, judges, attorneys, and others.
Two investigative journalists for ProPublica analyzed debt in collections by neighborhood tract. They find that debt is concentrated in neighborhoods that are majority black and that the average balance for which a balance was sued varies by race; white residents were sued for higher amounts, suggesting that they are better able to resolve smaller debts.
This report analyzes how disasters have disproportionately struck rural parts of California. These areas often have higher poverty rates than urban ones, and are typically the slowest to recover from disasters. During disaster and recovery, low-and modest-means communities often do not have access to legal remedies, meaning that recovery is often uneven. This report outlines how legal aid and pro bono assistance help residents in areas of housing, consumer issues, employment, insurance, public benefits, replacing vital records and documents, and accessing FEMA benefits.