NYSCADV MEMORANDUM OF SUPPORT

ENSURE FAIR PROCEDURES FOR PERSONS SUED IN CONSUMER CREDIT TRANSACTIONS

(click on memo title above for pdf version)

NYSCADV urges the New York State Legislature to curb the filing of abusive collection lawsuits, which have particularly devastating impacts on victims of domestic violence. 

BACKGROUND 

Financial abuse is powerful tactic frequently used by perpetrators of domestic violence, and its impact is too often overlooked by the broader culture. Abusers often have complete control over their victim’s finances, effectively holding them hostage by leaving them financially dependent and powerless. Tactics used by abusers to maintain financial control over victims include(1): 

• Forbidding the victim to work or obtain education 

• Sabotaging employment or education by stalking and harassing the victim while at work or school 

• Controlling how money is spent, and/or withholding money 

• Forcing the victim to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns 

• Obtaining credit cards in the victim’s name, amassing debt, and refusing to pay bills 

• Stealing the victim’s identity, property or inheritance 

• Selling a victim’s personally identifying information to identity thieves 

• Obtaining access to credit reports illegally 

Victims of domestic violence often end up with considerable debt and ruined credit. Many victims of domestic violence first learn of the economic abuse committed against them by their abusers when they attempt to establish economic self-sufficiency. Ruined credit is particularly dangerous to the well-being of survivors and their children, because credit worthiness has become essential to accessing basic necessities like housing, employment, and insurance. Judgments and delinquencies on their credit reports result in denials of housing and employment applications. Victims may also learn about accounts opened fraudulently in their names when they are sued by creditors and debt buyers. 

THIS LEGISLATION WILL REDRESS SYSTEMATIC PROBLEMS WITH CONSUMER DEBT COLLECTION ACTION 

Current debt collection practices put consumers at a significant and unfair disadvantage. During the past decade, debt collectors and creditors have filed hundreds of thousands of debt collection actions in New York State, obtaining significant numbers of default judgments, often due to systematic problems with service of process, 

which has been documented by local, state, and federal oversight and enforcement agencies. The abuse of the court system has come at an exceedingly high cost to consumers with low incomes as well as vulnerable groups including domestic violence victims and survivors. 

The Consumer Credit Fairness Act will redress systematic problems with consumer debt collection actions by, among other measures, augmenting pleading requirements, strengthening notice provisions, aligning the statute of limitations in consumer credit transactions with many other states, and establishing common sense and fair evidentiary requirements for debt buyers to obtain default judgments. The Consumer Credit Fairness Act will provide stronger, essential protections to domestic violence victims and survivors that are being or have been subjected to economic abuse. 

For victims of domestic violence, fair consumer credit collection can mean the  difference between being forced to stay with an abuser, and the ability to establish and maintain economic self-sufficiency. 

Pass the Consumer Credit Fairness Act now! 

REFERENCES

(1)National Network to End Domestic Violence. Forms of Financial Abuse. Retrieved March 23, 2015 at: http://nnedv.org/resources/ejresources/about-financial-abuse.html