Media Center

NCLC in the News

Select media clips. Journalists interested in speaking with an expert at the National Consumer Law Center should contact Jan Kruse (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 617.542,8010).

Press Releases

Statement of National Consumer Law Center’s Persis Yu Regarding Report on U.S. Department of Education’s Sweetheart Deal for Loan Servicers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2019
National Consumer Law Center Contact: Jan Kruse (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or (617) 542-8010

BOSTON – The following statement is by Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project in response to the new report by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, Federal Student Aid: Additional Actions Needed to Mitigate the Risk of Servicer Noncompliance with Requirements for Servicing Federally Held Student Loans.

“The U.S. Department of Education's Inspector General report released today reveals a massive failure by the Department of Education to oversee its student loan servicers. As 44 million student loan borrowers work hard to feed their families, pay their rent, or get by from paycheck to paycheck, this Administration has given hundreds of millions of dollars to servicers while turning a blind eye to their costly and abusive practices.
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Statement on CFPB Sandbox Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2019
Contact: Lauren Saunders (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Statement on CFPB Sandbox Proposal

A group of 80 consumer, civil rights, legal services, labor, environmental, and community groups today expressed their strong opposition to the proposed changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s no-action letter policy and its proposed product sandbox.

A copy of the coalition letter can be found here. Several national groups also submitted a longer set of comments found here.

"The CFPB cannot simply deputize an employee to hand out letters or approvals that exempt companies offering risky new products from complying with consumer protection laws," said Lauren Saunders, associate director at the National Consumer Law Center.
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The Dark Side of Payroll Withholding to Repay Student Loans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2019 || Contact: Persis Yu (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), (617) 542-8010

BOSTON - Last week, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Lamar Alexander proposed a program that would require student loan borrowers to repay their loans through mandatory automatic deductions from their paychecks. The National Consumer Law Center released a policy brief, The Dark Side of Payroll Withholding to Repay Student Loans, today explaining why forcing borrowers to pay their student loans through their employers will harm the very borrowers these programs are hoping to help.

“While the student loan repayment system is in desperate need of overhaul, forced automatic payroll withholding misses the mark,” said Persis Yu, director of National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrowers Assistance Project.

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Report: Unpublished FTC Data about Debt Collection Complaints Shed Light on Reported Law Violations by Collectors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2019
National Consumer Law Center Contacts: April Kuehnhoff (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Jan Kruse (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.),
(617) 542-8010

National Consumer Law Center Report Analyzes Nearly 700,000 Consumer Complaints from 2017 for 50 States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico

Download the full report and access debt collection fact sheets (national, state, and District of Columbia) a map of the number of complaints per capita in each state, and information about the companies that received the most complaints: bit.ly/a-dc-ftc

BOSTON – Every year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) collects consumer complaints through its Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN). However, the annual CSN Data Book analyzing this data publishes relatively little data about its top complaint category – debt collection. The National Consumer Law Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request to access unpublished information about these debt collection complaints. This data, together with other public information, is discussed in this report analyzing the 620,800 debt collector complaints in 2017 from consumers throughout the United States.

“The FTC is currently compiling data on consumer complaints from 2018 and we call on them to use this opportunity to release more data, such as information about the number and types of debt collection complaints, the names of companies who are receiving those complaints, and an analysis of the metropolitan areas and regions where debt collection complaints are most common,” said April Kuehnhoff, National Consumer Law Center attorney and co-author of Consumer Complaints about Debt Collection: Analysis of Unpublished Data from the FTC.

“FTC data helps regulators understand what types of problems consumers are experiencing with debt collectors, identify actors who may be violating the law, and also identify the states and regions where consumers report more abusive debt collection practices,” added Kuehnhoff. “And, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed rules regarding debt collection expected this spring, the FTC’s complaint data offers another opportunity to learn about consumer experiences with debt collection and help inform regulation to rein in bad actors.”

Key Findings

  • Nationwide, consumers make hundreds of thousands of complaints about debt collection practices every year.

  • Since 2015, debt collection complaints have been the most common type of consumer complaint reported in the CSN Data Book. From 2008 to 2014, it was the second most common type of complaint.

  • Seven out of the ten states with the highest per capita number of debt collection complaints in 2017 are in the South (Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Louisiana)), one is in the mid-Atlantic (District of Columbia), one is in the Midwest (Michigan), and one is in the West (Nevada).

  • Eight out of the ten states with the highest per capita number of debt collection complaints in 2017 had a higher percentage of residents with debts in collection reported on their credit reports than the 33 percent share for the nation as a whole.

  • In 2017, top categories of reported law violations included “Calls After Getting ‘Stop Calling’ Notice” (227,917 complaints), “Calls Repeatedly” (210,238 complaints), “Makes False Representation about Debt” (192,704 complaints), “Fails to Identify as Debt Collector” (84,364), “Tells Someone Else About Consumer’s Debt” (39,760 complaints), and “Falsely Threatens Illegal or Unintended Act” (31,519 complaints).

  • Nationally, the three companies receiving the most debt collection complaints were Enhanced Recovery Associates, Portfolio Recovery Associates, and Credit One Bank – each receiving more than 10,000 consumer complaints in 2017.

Key Recommendations

The FTC should do more to make the debt collection complaint data that it collects annually in the CSN widely available to the public by:

  • Publishing all debt collection complaints; and

  • Reporting more information about debt collection complaints.

The FTC should also take steps to improve collection of CSN debt collection complaint data by:

  • Standardizing data collection;

  • Facilitating complaints via apps;

  • Facilitating complaints by consumers with limited English proficiency; and

  • Conducting outreach in communities that are underreporting.

The FTC and other federal and state regulators should use the CSN debt collection complaint data to guide continued enforcement and strengthen consumer protections against abusive debt collection.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Guts Rule to Rein in High-Cost Short-Term Loans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 6, 2019
National Consumer Law Center contacts: Lauren Saunders (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Jan Kruse (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

New Rule Proposal, If Finalized, Will Likely Face a Legal Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the leadership of new director Kathy Kraninger has proposed to largely repeal a common-sense rule that was scheduled to go into effect later this year that would impose limits on payday lenders that entrap borrowers in unaffordable loans.

“The CFPB has proposed to eviscerate protections against predatory lending by cutting out the heart of the payday rule, which requires that lenders only make loans that borrowers have the ability to repay without re-borrowing,” said Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). “Payday lenders have a predatory business model where they profit while families are plunged into an unaffordable debt trap of loans at rates that reach 400% APR or higher.” 

“The sudden reversal by the CFPB, which is charged with protecting consumers, flies in the face of extensive evidence of the harm of payday loans. The agency’s proposal is arbitrary and capricious and will certainly face a legal challenge if it is finalized,” Saunders added.
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Legislation to Shut Down Unwanted Robocalls Reintroduced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 4, 2019

National Consumer Law Center contacts: Margot Saunders (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.); Jan Kruse (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), (617) 542-8010

The “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act” would reinforce decades-old consumer protections from robocalls

WASHINGTON - Consumer advocates at the National Consumer Law Center applaud Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) for reintroducing the “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act,” a bill to clarify significant sections of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Congressman Pallone is Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, tasked with overseeing telecommunications, protections from robocalls, and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) enforcement of the TCPA.

The Act would address key questions raised by the FCC regarding TCPA enforcement. Most notably, the Act clarifies the law’s definition of an “autodialer,” which the statute prohibits callers from using to dial cell phone numbers without the called party’s consent, and maintains consumers’ right to revoke consent and stop unwanted robocalls. The FCC has opened these and other aspects of the TCPA up for public comment, soliciting input from banks, lenders, debt collectors, and retailers responsible for many of the calls, as well as consumers and consumer advocates.

“The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would bolster consumer protections from all unwanted robocalls if the FCC should fail to rein in unwanted calls from businesses, including telemarketing calls and collection calls from debt collectors, cable companies, credit card companies, and student loan servicers,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.
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Insurance Companies Conspired to Inflate Bail Bond Premiums Contends Lawsuit Brought by Lieff Cabraser, National Consumer Law Center and Other Public Interest Groups

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2019
Contacts: National Consumer Law Center: Jan Kruse (jThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or (617) 542-8010
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP: Dean M. Harvey (415) 956-1000 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Suit filed on behalf of thousands of Californians alleges conspiracy in the bail industry to fix prices and inflate bail bond premiums, making it more difficult for people to afford bail

SAN FRANCISCO — In a first-of-its-kind class action lawsuit filed yesterday in California Superior Court, the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, the National Consumer Law Center, Justice Catalyst, Public Counsel, and Towards Justice allege that an antitrust conspiracy has fixed the prices of the premiums paid for commercial bail bonds since at least 2004. Bail bonds are sold by thousands of bail agents to arrested Californians and their families. But these agents, and the premiums they charge, are ultimately controlled by a small number of businesses called “sureties,” which function largely like insurance companies. According to the complaint, the surety co-conspirators, through the bail agents they control, have demanded an inflated percentage of the bond—generally as much as 10%—as a non-refundable premium, refusing to compete to lower prices. The prices have stayed fixed even though discounting is permitted, pursuant to an agreement they have maintained for years.
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2019 Tax Filing Season: More Questions than Answers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2019

National Consumer Law Center Contact: Jan Kruse (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or (617) 542-8010

BOSTON ― As the potentially chaotic tax filing season officially begins today after a protracted government shutdown, advocates from the National Consumer Law Center issued their annual consumer advisory on taxpayer consumer protection issues. These include:

Refund delays likely to be exacerbated by the shutdown. Low-income taxpayers were already facing delays on refunds if they claim certain refundable credits. But the possible aftereffects of the 35-day government shutdown inject more uncertainty into the timetable.

Tax time financial products. Lenders and tax return preparers again team up to sell refund-related products and services to taxpayers. This year brings a new twist on “no fee” refund anticipation loans (RALs), as preparers and lenders entice consumers with much larger loans, but for a price.

Inability to comparison shop. With one notable exception, tax preparers continue to ignore consumers’ preference for up-front pricing for tax preparation services. This secrecy stifles competition and results in higher fees all around.

Private debt collection: Dirty deeds, but not dirt cheap. The IRS private debt collection program delivers vulnerable, elderly, and low-income taxpayers into the hands of private debt collectors. A large percentage of collections in 2018 came from taxpayers whose incomes were below the poverty level or who did not earn enough to pay their basic living expenses—taxpayers who could not have been collected against if IRS were doing the collecting itself.

Taxpayer ID number renewals halted. Although another wave of two million Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) expired at the end of 2018, renewal requests were not being processed during the shutdown. Those taxpayers can expect even longer delays after the protracted shutdown.
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