Consumer Rights

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Mobilization for Justice’s consumer advocacy resulted in a new city law to combat “sewer service” in debt cases.

Tens of thousands of low-income New Yorkers are faced with consumer problems each year –credit card debt, medical debt, identity theft, student loans and financial scams. Mobilization for Justice provides advice, counsel, education and representation to low-income individuals on a range of consumer issues, prioritizing direct services to people living on fixed incomes and people with disabilities.

Equally important are our efforts to reform the laws and regulations governing the collection of debt in New York. In 2008, Mobilization for Justice released Justice Disserved, a groundbreaking report demonstrating the connection between improper service (often called “sewer service”) and the escalating number of default judgments in consumer debt cases. We testified before the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, advocated for greater enforcement of existing laws with the New York State Attorney General, and worked with City Councilmember Daniel J. Garodnick to craft new city legislation to rein in shoddy process servers.

In November 2015 MFJ settled a class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 300,000 victims of abusive debt collections practices in New York State for $59 million. In addition to the fund, some 190,000 default judgments were vacated. The settlement marked an important victory in efforts to end the practice of sewer service, in which lawsuits against consumers are filed in court but consumers are never served with papers, therefore being denied the opportunity to defend themselves.

Click here to watch a short video about CLARO, the Civil Legal Advice and Referral Office, which provides court-based legal assistance to New Yorkers who are sued in debt collection cases.

CALL OUR INTAKE LINE FOR  HELP: 212-417-3881, Thursdays, 10 am – 2 pm

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