NCLC reports feature our advocates’ expert analysis of current consumer law topics and recommendations for reform. Read some of our most recent reports below, and view more NCLC reports here.
Community Solar: Expanding Access and Safeguarding Low-Income Families
This report provides states with model community solar consumer protections to ensure equitable outcomes for low-income participants.Read Report
New Federal Student Loan Servicing Contracts, New Promises
January 29, 2024
This report discusses the ins and outs of the USDS contract and focuses on the contract provisions that are most relevant to student loan borrowers’ rights and experiences.
Keeping it in the Family: Legal Strategies to Address the Challenge of Heirs Property and Prevent Home Loss
January 29, 2024
Increasing home costs, economic crises, and persistent structural barriers to fair housing have contributed to a widening homeownership gap between white and Black households. This report highlights and evaluates the efficacy of various laws and policies aimed at helping owners of heirs property.
No Fresh Start 2023: Will States Let Debt Collectors Push Families Into Poverty as the Cost of Necessities Soars?
December 11, 2023
Every state has a set of exemption laws, intended to prevent creditors from pushing families into destitution. This report finds that few states’ exemption laws meet even the most basic standards.
Predatory Installment Lending in the States: How Well Do the States Protect Consumers Against High-Cost Installment Loans?
November 21, 2023
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia (DC) currently cap interest rates and loan fees for at least some consumer installment loans, depending on the size of the loan. However, the caps vary greatly from state to state, and a few states do not cap interest rates at all.
Delivering Distress to Borrowers in Default
October 11, 2023
This paper starts by grounding readers in the consequences of student loan default, who is in default and why, and why so many borrowers remain in default for years. It then identifies legal authority, under existing regulations, that empowers the Secretary of Education to compromise student loan debts and so end collection from defaulted borrowers where such efforts would be futile or unreasonable. Now—before the suspension of federally-held student loan collection ends next year—is the time to act on that authority.
Digital Denials: How Abuse, Bias, and Lack of Transparency in Tenant Screening Harm Renters
September 26, 2023
Each of the components of tenant screening reports is highly problematic and also creates a disparate impact on Black and Latino/Hispanic renters. The manner in which tenant screening CRAs combine these components to generate scores or recommendations also harms renters.
An Ounce of Prevention: A Review of Hospital Financial Assistance Policies in the States
August 25, 2023
More than 27 million Americans do not have health insurance of any kind. A further 43% of non-elderly adults have inadequate insurance, which may have high deductibles or other significant out-of-pocket costs. In the meantime, health care costs and rates of medical debt continue to rise. It is more important than ever for states to require that all hospitals provide comprehensive financial assistance for hospital care.
Property Tax Foreclosures on Heirs Property: The Devastating Consequences and Recommendations for Prevention
August 22, 2023
Heirs property owners are at heightened risk of losing the family home to property tax foreclosure and a range of other threats. This report examines this problem and recommends policy solutions to address it.
Overly Impacted & Rarely Heard: Incorporating Community Voices Into Massachusetts Energy Regulatory Process
May 4, 2023
This report includes recommendations that the DPU and EFSB can implement in the short-term, as well as recommended changes that will take longer to implement. These can help address the existing inequitable decision-making processes.
The LIBOR Is Ending: What Consumer Advocates Should Know
May 3, 2023
This report describes issues facing consumers and industry in the United States as well as legislative and regulatory changes adopted to prepare for the end of the LIBOR.
Health Care Plastic: The Risks of Medical Credit Cards
April 27, 2023
This report discusses these medical credit cards in depth, beginning with a brief background section and then presenting the results of a survey of legal services attorneys, private attorneys, and other advocates regarding their clients’ experiences with medical credit cards. The report concludes with recommendations.
Too Damn High: How Junk Fees Add to Skyrocketing Rents
March 13, 2023
This report discusses the survey results and analyzes each type of rental junk fee in depth. It is based on a regulatory comment filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in response to that agency’s call for information on junk fees. The report also makes recommendations to the FTC, as well as state legislatures.
Unmet Promise: Reverse Mortgage Servicing Challenges and How to Preserve Housing Stability for Older Adults
February 6, 2023
The FHA reverse mortgage program has not lived up to its full potential. Based on the information uncovered in this report, we call on FHA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to act quickly to prevent any additional home losses for this vulnerable population.
How GSE Note Sales Undermine Homeownership
January 30, 2023
Congress has charged the housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored enterprises or GSEs) with the goals of supporting and expanding homeownership. Yet, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie and Freddie have undercut—and continue to undercut—these goals through bulk sales of hundreds of thousands of home loans to investors, thereby ending these borrowers’ access to the streamlined loss mitigation programs the agencies created to help financially struggling homeowners save their homes.
Evaluating Regulation F: A Six-month Check-up on New Federal Debt Collection Regulations
November 4, 2022
This report first provides background about the FDCPA, Regulation F, and the research methodology. It then breaks the two focus areas—debt collectors’ communications with consumers and debt collection disclosures—into subtopics. Each subtopic reports findings and makes detailed recommendations for the CFPB. The report concludes with an overview of the key policy recommendations the CFPB should implement to use its authority to enforce and improve Regulation F.
Unfair Debts With No Way Out: Consumers Share Their Experiences With Rental Debt Collectors
October 7, 2022
This report first provides background about the FDCPA, Regulation F, and the research methodology. It then breaks the two focus areas—This report discusses common problems faced by consumers experiencing debt collection for alleged rental debts as reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) via consumer complaints. It concludes with suggested actions that the CFPB, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), state attorneys general, and state legislatures can take to assist consumers with alleged rental debts.
Mission Creep: a Primer on Use of Credit Reports & Scores for Non-Credit Purposes
August 3, 2022
This report provides an overview of the most significant uses of credit reports and credit scores for purposes other than credit underwriting. These non-credit uses include: Employment, Rental housing, Insurance, and others.
Collection At All Costs: Examining the Intersection of Mass Incarceration and the Student Debt Crisis
July 12, 2022
Incarceration-related default not only hurts the borrower’s credit, making it even more difficult to secure housing, jobs, and transportation after release, but it also increases their debt and puts them at risk of wage garnishment and benefit offset upon release—right at the moment when they may be most financially insecure.
Disproportionately Impacted: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap through Student Loan Cancellation, Payment Reforms, and Investment in College Affordability
June 8, 2022
President Biden ran on an agenda that included student debt relief for the more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe over $1.6 trillion. This would be in line with the Biden Administration’s racial equity goals, as it would include relief for the millions of Black borrowers who are disproportionately affected by the student loan crisis. While the administration has made progress in providing limited cancellation to a small percentage of borrowers, most are still waiting for relief as the president considers potential models for broader cancellation.
Scam Robocalls: Telecom Providers Profit
June 1, 2022
This report explains the depth of the problem, the reasons for the problem, and how the Federal Communications Commission has responded. We recommend several simple strategies that would stop most, if not all, of these fraudulent robocalls.
Predatory Lenders TAB Bank & Easypay Finance Harm Veterans & Military Servicemembers
May 24, 2022
Whether facing an expensive car repair, trying to purchase furniture, or even purchasing a pet for their family, many servicemembers, veterans and their families may be subject to outrageously high interest rates and deceptive practices. Too many repair shops and stores are steering people toward EasyPay Finance, which offers high-cost loans, has generated extensive complaints about deceptive and abusive practices, and charges up to 189% interest, even in states where that rate is illegal. Many shops that offer these loans are near military bases.
The Racial Health and Wealth Gap: Impact of Medical Debt on Black Families
March 9, 2022
Whether facing an expensive car repair, trying to purchase furniture, This report discusses the intersections between the racial health gap and racial wealth gap, “charity care” or hospital financial assistance programs, and the harms of aggressive medical debt collection. This report proposes policy solutions that have come from healthcare advocates, legal aid attorneys, racial justice organizations, academic researchers, and financial protection advocates.