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Emergency Access to Surviving Debt and Other Resources from NCLC

NCLC’s Surviving Debt is available to all for free during the COVID-19 emergency. While coronavirus (COVID-19) is primarily creating a health emergency, it is also causing financial havoc for the most vulnerable American families. The National Consumer Law Center remains focused on advocating for consumers and their financial welfare, and helping you do the same. By offering free resources and discounts on new subscriptions, the NCLC Publications team hopes to help facilitate your advocacy on behalf of consumers. Read more about the resources here.

All 25 FDCPA Appellate Decisions from 2019 in a Nutshell

This article reviews all 25 published Fair Debt Collection Practices Act appellate court decisions from 2019 broken down by category. FDCPA rulings were published by the Supreme Court and the Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits.

Just Published: Consumer Class Actions

Consumer Class Actions (10th ed. March 2020) (820 pp.) is now available, both in print and digital formats: a how-to manual for handling every aspect of a class action, with contributions from over 20 experienced class action litigators. Subscribe now for instant access, or learn more and read Chapter One for free.

Checklist to Defend Enforcement of Criminal Justice Debt

As states increasingly assess criminal defendants with fines, surcharges, costs, and fees, draconian actions to collect that debt are on the rise. This checklist sets out tools to help consumers avoid the worst of these collection actions that can lead to incarceration, loss of driver’s licenses, wage garnishment, seizure of bank accounts, or other drastic measures.

Essential Reading for FDCPA Practitioners

Almost every FDCPA (as well as TCPA, FCRA, and TILA) case these days faces a Spokeo challenge. All consumer litigant in federal court must understand the latest Spokeo rulings. This article provides a survey of all circuit court FDCPA Spokeo rulings, as well as setting out key strategic decisions in bringing federal court consumer claims.

Sup. Ct. Sets Standard for Consumer Relief for Collection on Debt Discharged in Bankruptcy

On June 3, the Supreme Court set the standard for consumer recovery of damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees for collection of debts discharged in bankruptcy. This article also explains that judgments on discharged debts are void, describes the advantages of FDCPA remedies, and provides a comparison between remedies for automatic stay violations and discharge violations.

Supreme Court: Class & Federal Claims Can Stay in State Court

A Supreme Court May 28 ruling supports the right of consumers sued in state court to avoid removal to federal court when they bring class or federal claims in that state court action, even against third parties. As examined in this article, the ruling gives consumers some control over the decision whether to litigate in state or federal court.

Supreme Court May 13 Ruling Underscores Advantages of False Claims Act Litigation

A recent Supreme Court decision in Cochise Consultancy is favorable for private litigation under the federal False Claims Act (FCA). This article explains how the decision also underscores that FCA litigation has a number of advantages to challenge consumer abuses compared with class actions under traditional consumer causes of action.

Increase of Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions, Other Dollar Amounts: April 1, 2019

Effective April 1, consumers filing bankruptcy will be able to exempt more of their equity in their homes, cars, household goods, and even retirement accounts. This article describes all the bankruptcy dollar amount changes going into effect April 1.

Major Consumer Protections Announced in Response to COVID-19

UPDATED with CARES Act: This article lists a growing number of actions Congress, governors, federal and state agencies, and companies are taking to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic: suspensions on foreclosures, evictions, and terminations on telecommunications and utility service, elimination of interest and forbearance on student loan payments and home mortgages, and more.

March 21 Deadline for Servicers to Assign to HUD Certain Reverse Mortgages to Protect Surviving Spouses

HUD created a March 21st deadline for reverse mortgage servicers to assign the reverse mortgage to HUD without financial penalty in order to protect certain surviving non-borrower spouses from foreclosure. This article explains the meaning of the deadline and what actions non-borrowing surviving spouses should take so that they can remain in their homes. For a certain category of surviving spouses, it is important to act before March 21.

Sup. Ct.: Bankruptcy Stay Relief Determination Is a Final, Appealable Order

A new January Supreme Court decision affects the automatic stay a consumer receives upon filing bankruptcy. As discussed in this article, creditors now must file any appeal to a denial of stay relief within fourteen days. In other bankruptcy news, a new option for chapter 11 small business and individual filers became effective February 20.

Guide to Reducing Hospital Bills for Lower-Income Patients

This article sets out nine steps for reducing or eliminating hospital debt for lower-income patients. Federal law provides rights for debt owed to nonprofit hospitals and state law offers relief for debt owed to both for-profit and nonprofit hospitals. The article includes a number of practice pointers in guiding patients through the process.

Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness Exclusion Revived and Extended

Congress has just revived and extended the QPRI exclusion, an important protection for struggling homeowners. As discussed in this article, now a homeowner with a short sale or other modification of their home mortgage loan principal can avoid tax liability on debt forgiven during tax years 2018, 2019, and 2020, despite receiving a 1099 indicating the forgiven debt as income.

Consumer Law Changes Taking Effect in 2020

This article lists federal and state consumer law changes that already are scheduled to go into effect in 2020. The article also lists several changes that were effective in December of 2019. Of course, other consumer law changes will be enacted later this year and go into effect this year; this article lists those changes whose effective dates have already been scheduled for this year.

Supreme Court Clarifies FDCPA Statute of Limitations

The Supreme Court this December clarified when the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s one-year statute of limitations begins to run. This article explains the practical import of the Court’s decision and considers other issues concerning the FDCPA’s limitations period, as well as alternative approaches where the period has run.

Fertile Ground for FCRA Claims: Employee & Tenant Background Checks

About 94% of employers and 90% of landlords contract for criminal background checks to evaluate prospective employees and tenants, but these reports are riddled with errors, including erroneous reports of criminal convictions. This article describes widespread errors in criminal background check reports and examines applicable FCRA claims and remedies for these errors.

How to Successfully Arbitrate a Case

This article provides step-by-step advice on how to successfully proceed in arbitration. When a challenge to an arbitration requirement fails, proper client representation may require resorting to arbitration as the only available avenue for relief. Every consumer attorney should be prepared to arbitrate a case—the right case before the right arbitrator will produce excellent results.

Bankruptcy News: Added Veterans’ Protections; New Rules; Student Loan Dischargeability

This article describes important new legislation providing added protections for veterans, servicemembers, and their dependents in bankruptcy cases. It also analyzes new bankruptcy rules, effective December 1, 2019, and a must-read Fifth Circuit decision on the ability to discharge private student loans.

Federal Remedies for Used Car Fraud Just Got Even More Powerful

This article explains the implications for private litigation of a significant change, effective January 1, 2020, to the federal statute providing remedies for odometer and vehicle titling fraud. Older vehicles formerly exempt will now be covered by strict requirements whose violation will lead to powerful consumer remedies, including $10,000 minimum damages, treble damages, and attorney fees.