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Tips on Handling Attorney Fee Hearings

September 14, 2022

This article provides practice pointers for attorney fee hearings, based on the author’s 44 years of trial experience handling exclusively consumer law cases. The article focuses on time records and other steps to take well before the hearing, use of a 50-state survey of consumer attorney fee rates, getting ready for the hearing, and tips for conduct of the hearing itself.

Twelve Dramatic Changes Offering Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

September 6, 2022

This article describes new major relief for student loan borrowers: $10,000 or $20,000 for millions of borrowers, and added relief for those in public service, in default, with disabilities, attending specific schools, with private loans, or with IDR plans. New loan servicers and no more private debt collectors. The article links to more detail and sets out steps borrowers should take now to make the most of the offered relief.

Advising Clients When an Abusive Partner Coerces Debt

August 10, 2022

This article provides practical tips for advising clients with debt incurred by an abusive partner through coercion and fraud—developing a safety plan, documenting the coerced debt, protecting bank accounts, dealing with unauthorized credit card use, preventing an abuser from opening new accounts in the victimized partner’s name, addressing coerced debt on a credit report, and dealing with home mortgages.

CFPB Issues Three FCRA Interpretations with Widespread Implications

August 2, 2022

This article examines practice implications of three recent CFPB interpretations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, including: tenant and background screening companies’ use of name-only matching violates the FCRA; users are strictly liable for permissible use violations; and state law can limit when medical debt, evictions, rental arrears, and criminal records can first be reported.

HUD Removes Significant Obstacle to FHA Mortgage Loan Modifications

July 22, 2022

This article explains that a June 29 HUD policy change eases the path for FHA borrowers to seek a loan modification even where a co-borrower cannot execute the modification because of death, divorce, separation, domestic violence, or other life events. Also covered are similar Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies, and borrower tactics when servicers require participation of unavailable co-borrowers.

Impact of Supreme Court’s “Major Question Doctrine” on Consumer Litigation

July 14, 2022

The Supreme Court’s June 30 decision in West Virginia v. EPA is significant in its application of the “major question doctrine” to agency rulemaking, and consumer lawyers can expect to see this doctrine raised as a defense in their cases. This article explains the doctrine, why it is inapplicable to almost all consumer litigation, and provides five tips to show that it is inapplicable.

CFPB Clarifies Limits on Pay-to-Pay, Other Debt Collector Charges

July 7, 2022

A new CFPB advisory opinion not only clarifies when “pay-to-pay” fees are prohibited, but also whether a wide array of other debt collector charges violate the FDCPA. This article provides numerous examples of potentially illegal debt collector charges under the just-announced standards. A Truth in Lending Act provision provides even stronger remedies for fees added to automated payments for credit card debt.

FDCPA Litigation Using New Reg. F: Pleading Tips & Recently Alleged Violations

June 15, 2022

This article provides ten pleading tips when bringing Fair Debt Collection Practices Act claims based on the new requirements found in CFPB Regulation F. The article then surveys recent federal court complaints alleging Regulation F violations as indicative of the violation patterns emerging in the six months since the Regulation’s effective date. The article links to the full text of complaints illustrating the types of violations being alleged.

Groundbreaking Ruling: No FTC Holder Rule Cap on Attorney Fee Awards

June 2, 2022

A May 26 California Supreme Court decision is the most important interpretation of the FTC Holder Rule in 45 years, setting out in detail reasons why the rule does not cap a consumer’s attorney fee award against the creditor. This article describes the decision’s significance to consumer litigation, explains how the ruling applies in other states, and lists twelve other important features of the FTC Holder Rule.

Shocker: Supreme Court Limits Policy Favoring Arbitration

May 27, 2022

On May 22, the Supreme Court overruled nine circuits in holding that a defendant’s waiver of arbitration must be treated like any other contractual right. No showing of prejudice to the plaintiff need be shown. This article examines the decision and arbitration waiver law generally. Importantly, also considered are the decision’s implications to assist a broad array of challenges to arbitration requirements.

Supreme Court Supports Equitable Tolling to Extend Legal Deadlines

April 26, 2022

This article examines an April 21, 2022, Supreme Court decision with important application to the equitable tolling of limitations periods found in federal consumer statutes. The article explains when equitable tolling should be available, lists actions justifying equitable tolling, and considers other approaches to extending limitations periods, including the fraud discovery rule.

New Federal Benefit Provides Affordable Broadband Access

April 18, 2022

This article examines the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) access to broadband for low-income household. The article explains what the ACP offers, who can obtain benefits, and how to apply. With over 11.5 million households already enrolled in ACP, consumer practitioners need to know how to help clients with enrollment and to advise those already enrolled as to their rights. As the COVID...

LIBOR’s Death Will Soon Impact $1.4 Trillion in Consumer Contracts

March 29, 2022

The most widely used index for adjustable-rate consumer contracts, the LIBOR, will soon cease to exist. This article explains new legal requirements that will apply when creditors are forced to change the index and margin on $1.4 trillion of adjustable-rate consumer contracts—millions of home mortgages, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), credit cards, and private student loans. March 15 federal...

12 Ways to Fight Foreclosure of Zombie Second Mortgages

March 28, 2022

As the name suggests, zombie mortgages can be terrifying. They rise from the dead, appear without warning, and seize homes. And they are appearing now more than ever. This article explains what they are, why they are now such a problem, and twelve ways homeowners can stop foreclosures of zombie mortgages. For even more detail, see a new Chapter 11a in NCLC’s Home Foreclosures. What Are Zombie...

Bringing Federal Consumer Claims in State Court: A 50-State Analysis of Standing Rules

March 27, 2022

The Supreme Court’s decision in TransUnion L.L.C. v. Ramirez, 141 S. Ct. 2190 (2021), creates serious constitutional standing obstacles for consumer litigation in federal court, particularly for class actions and claims seeking statutory damages. As explained in another NCLC article, Ramirez held that a credit reporting agency’s false identification of class members as terrorists did not cause...

Holding Off Foreclosures While Homeowners Await Billions in HAF Payments

March 8, 2022

Only about half the states are now accepting homeowner applications for payments from the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), and few funds so far have been distributed. At the same time, because of the end of many COVID-19 related homeowner protections, large numbers of homeowners may soon face foreclosure. This article explains which homeowners are eligible for HAF payments and explores solutions...

Congressional, First Circuit, CFPB, and VA Actions Affecting Fair Credit Reporting

February 18, 2022

A Congressional amendment, a First Circuit decision, two CFPB administrative issuances, a CFPB report, and a Veterans Administration rule all will have significant consequences for consumer reporting under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This article provides the highlights of these recent developments and their implications for consumers, advocates, and FCRA practitioners.