If not for NCLC’s history of advocacy Americans would not enjoy many of the basic consumer protections we now take for granted.
- The Credit Card Reform Law is bringing consumers real relief from years of abusive, confusing fine print, junk fees, and penalty charges from the credit card industry. NCLC played a key role in advising lawmakers and pushing important reforms that have eliminated many of the worst credit card abuses, especially on retroactive interest rates, fee harvester charges, interest on payment balances, and reasonable penalty fees.
- After years of advocacy by NCLC and a widely circulated NCLC investigative report that brought national attention to financial scams aimed at military personnel and veterans, Congress passed a law placing a 36 percent interest rate cap on certain loans made to active duty members of the armed forces and their dependents.
- NCLC and a team of attorneys obtained injunctive relief settlements that essentially reversed the presumption of non-dischargeability that the three major credit reporting agencies had been applying to debts that were almost always automatically discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- As co-counsel in a series of national class action lawsuits brought under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, NCLC helped to transform car financing practices across the car financing industry. The suits charged some of the country’s largest auto finance companies and banks with maintaining policies that permitted car dealers to mark-up loan finance rates based on subjective criteria unrelated to credit-worthiness, a policy that had a disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic customers. The lawsuits put an end to discriminatory loan practices that had operated secretly for over 75 years that had resulted in higher-interest rate car loans for minorities.
- The 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act contained significant amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act on a broad range of topics. NCLC focused, in particular, on important gains for consumers in advancing the accuracy of furnisher reports, ensuring the meaningfulness of risk-based pricing notice, and ensuring that debt collectors were not permitted to avoid requirements of the Act.
- We take special pride in our leadership role in the development of consumer law as an area of legal expertise - and in the increasing numbers of attorneys who practice in this field. The National Association of Consumer Attorneys, for example, was conceived at one of NCLC’s national conferences. We look with much satisfaction at the increasing legal resources NCLC has helped to make available on behalf of low-income consumers.
- We made certain that the Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z were there for consumers by defending them from numerous attempts to undercut their effectiveness.
- NCLC’s design and evaluation of affordable energy programs for low-income consumers were critical to making them a reality. We were the primary advocate for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and pioneered the Percentage of Payment Plan (PIPP) that targeted LIHEAP funds to those households most in need.
- Our leadership and shocking report on home improvement and second mortgage abuses led to the enactment of the Home Ownership & Equity Protection Act of 1994 and legal remedies for thousands of unsophisticated homeowners who risked losing their homes because of equity skimming scams.
- Our expert testimony was crucial to the court’s decision that a loan is unconscionable where repeated financings are structured for the benefit of the lender in Besta v. Beneficial Loan Co.
- We set the standard for third party debt collection with our Model Consumer Credit Code that was the foundation for the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and the credit codes of Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Iowa.
- NCLC led the way in training attorneys in the practice of consumer law by publishing our NCLC Consumer Law Manual in 1971, and now publishes an 18-volume Consumer Credit and Sales Legal Practice Series for attorneys, and numerous consumer books for consumers and advocates. Since our first National Consumer Law Specialist Conference in 1976, thousands of attorneys have attended our trainings, workshops, and at what is now the largest annual consumer law conference in the country.
- NCLC made sure the FTC’s Credit Practice Rules abolished many of the most outrageous, commonplace creditor abuses consumers were experiencing.
- We led the fight for the FTC’s Holder in Due Course Rule that removed many of the obstructions consumers faced when seeking relief from creditors and forced financiers to take responsibility for policing the market.
- The most fundamental of protections - due process - has not always been available to consumers. NCLC played a key role in the courts’ recognition of due process in consumer cases. Our participation in Swarb v. Lennox, Fuentes v. Shevin, and Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division v. Craft was critical to the development of consumer due process.
Although NCLC’s achievements are many, there is much yet to be done. We must both guard those rights consumers already have and seek new marketplace protections for emerging problems.