Nearly all families who are behind on their bills paid until they faced a financial catastrophe. Recognizing this, federal and many states’ laws require that financially distressed consumers not be abused, deceived, lose their privacy, or be treated unfairly. Many resources exist to help consumers understand their rights or find an attorney.
NCLC is recognized nationally as an expert in fair debt collection issues, including the Fair Debt Collection Act. NCLC provides information, legal research, policy analysis, and technical and legal support to federal and state legislatures, government consumer protection officials, administrative agencies, the courts, reporters, community groups, and consumer attorneys.
- Model Medical Debt Protection Act, August 2017
- Model Consumer Amendments to Uniform Wage Garnishment Act, January 2017
- Model Family Financial Protection Act, November 2015
- Statute of Limitations Reform Act, November 2015
- NCLC/Consumers Union model state law for debt settlement, January 2011
Policy Briefs, Reports & Press Releases
- Memo: The Effect of ACA International: What Does it Vacate, What Does it Undermine, What Rules Remain?, April 2, 2018 PDF || MS Word
- Issue Brief: U.S. House Bill Would Allow Lawyers to Abuse Consumers in Debt Collection Lawsuits, March 2018
- Press release: Texas Lawyers and Law Professors Urge Representative Gonzalez to Withdraw Support of Bill that Would Harm Texas Consumers, Feb. 26, 2018
- Issue Brief: Consumer Debt Collection Facts, Feb. 2018
- Press release: Tens of Millions of Consumers Will Benefit from New Rules for Medical Debt on Credit Reports, Sept. 7, 2017
- Issue Brief: The Uniform Wage Garnishment Act: Benefits and Dangers for Wage Earners, April 2017
- Press Release: New CFPB Research Highlights Need for Strong Regulations to Protect Consumers from Collection Abuses, Jan. 12, 2017
- Press Release: Advocates Disappointed Private Debt Collectors Will Begin Collecting Federal Tax Debts, Sept. 29, 2016
- Press Release: Advocates Applaud CFPB Proposed Debt Collection Rules but Additional Provisions Are Needed, July 28,2016
- Report: Defusing Debt: A Survey of Debt-Related Civil Legal Aid Programs in the United States, June 2016
- Group Letter & Press Release Opposing Section 52106 in Senate Highway Trust Fund Bill Mandating IRS to Use Private Debt Collectors, July 24, 2015
- Report and Press Release: Debt Collection Communications: Protecting Consumers in the Digital Age, June 2015
- Report and Press Release: Why the CFPB Should Ban Zombie Debt, January 2015
Debt Collection Comments and Testimony
- Testimony of NCLC attorney April Kuehnhoff for the Vermont House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development re: H.482, an act relating to consumer protection, February 22, 2018
- Testimony of NCLC attorney April Kuehnhoff before Joint Financial Services Committee In support of S.120/H.2811, An act relative to fairness in debt collection, Sept. 25, 2017
- Testimony responding to the proposed amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure regarding credit card debts, Feb. 28, 2017
- Testimony of NCLC, NACA, and MLRI to the Mass. Division of Banks and the Mass. Attorney General re: debt collection and regulation in Mass. (licensing of debt buyers and law firms), Oct. 18, 2016
- Letter to Rep. Gonzalez from Texas attorneys and law professors opposing HR 4055, Feb. 26, 2018
- Consumer opposition letter to H.R. 4550 (Gonzalez-Mooney) (previously filed as H.R. 1849 (Trott)), Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act of 2017, Jan. 12, 2018
- Group letter opposing H.R. 1849 – Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act of 2017, May 5, 2017 || Issue Brief: U.S. House Bill Would Allow Lawyers to Abuse Consumers in Debt Collection Lawsuits, Sept. 2017
- Letter supporting H.R. 5664 (Cummings), Wage and Garnishment Equity Act, July 6, 2016
- Group letter urging U.S. Senators to support the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls (HANGUP) bill, Nov. 2, 2015
- "Legal Basics - Debt Collection Protections for Older Consumers" by April Kuehnhoff (NCLC), February 13, 2018
- "Medical Debt Strategies for Older Adults" by Jenifer Bosco (NCLC), October 18, 2017
- “The Color of Debt: Racial Disparity in Debt Collection Lawsuits” by Paul Kiel (Pro Publica), April Kuehnhoff (NCLC), December 1, 2015
- “Debt Relief Services Aren’t Just for Kids Anymore” by Andrew Pizor (NCLC), May 21, 2015
- “Medical Debt: Overview of New IRS Regulations and Industry Best Practices” by Jessica Curtis (Senior Advisor, Hospital Accountability Project, Community Catalyst); Mark Rukavina (Principal, Community Health Advisors, LLC); Chad Mulvany (Director of Healthcare Finance Policy, Strategy and Development, Healthcare Financial Management Association), March 4, 2015
- “Debt and Democracy: How the Collection of Civil Fees and Fines Contributed to the Unrest in Ferguson” by Karin Martin, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY), Thomas Harvey (Executive Director, Arch City); Odette Williamson (Staff Attorney, National Consumer Law Center), January 29, 2015
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- Submit a debt collection complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Read sample letters for responding to debt collectors.
- Read consumer information on dealing with debt from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.
- Find an attorney through the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
- Read “Eight Different Ways to Stop Debt Collection Harassment,” excerpted from National Consumer Law Center’s Guide to Surviving Debt.