New Animated Video Series Helps Consumers Facing Debt Collection Lawsuits

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We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Thursday, July 24th, 2014

By Guest Blogger Marc Priester

The debt collection industry has come under fire in recent years for using strong-arm tactics to get people to pay debts – whether they actually owe them or not.  Sometimes it’s the excessive phone calls and illegal threats.  In other cases, debt collectors use the court system to ratchet up the pressure.

Last year, almost 100,000 consumers in New York City were sued by debt collectors. Half of the New York City residents who get sued end up losing “by default” – because they don’t know how to respond or don’t show up at the courthouse to defend themselves. Most consumers don’t have access to a lawyer to help them deal with a lawsuit, putting them at a great disadvantage. Without knowing how the legal process works or the rights they have, consumers feel powerless – even though they might have a good defense!

That’s why a coalition of consumers-rights and legal groups, including The New Media Advocacy Project, Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice with MFY Legal Services, Inc., and Pro Bono Net have joined forces to create a video series that can help consumers facing a debt collection suit.

Each of the 11 animated videos are brief – none of them longer than two minutes – and explain topics such as what happens when you’re served with a lawsuit, how to answer the suit, and what the consumer will encounter in court. Each video makes these key details easy to understand. Consumers can take a short survey that will help guide them to the videos that are right for them. Or, click here to watch all 11 videos.

Better access to information is the first step toward making your rights real.  But it’s not enough to stop abusive debt collection practices.  That’s why we’ve called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to hold debt collectors accountable by writing strong new rules of the road for the debt collection system.

Have you had an experience dealing with a debt collector?  If so, tell us the good, the bad and the ugly and share your story here!

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