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Consumer Rights Newsletter on Coerced Debt

October 25, 2018

Consumer Rights for Domestic & Sexual Violence Survivors Initiative

Newsletter on Coerced Debt

Also available here.

CSAJ’s Consumer Rights Newsletters share multi-level strategies by and for the field to enhance survivors’ economic security. In this edition, we feature strategies for advocacy, partnership building, and systems change that address Coerced Debt facing survivors.

Interested in additional technical assistance, training, or to collaborate more closely with CSAJ’s Consumer Rights Initiative? Contact Us!

Consumer Issues Facing Survivors: Why They’re More Common Than You Think!

Survivors of violence face profound and long-term economic harms from both abuse and poverty. There is no safety without economic security.©

Many of these economic harms are known as “consumer rights issues,” and are things like: credit reporting and repair, debt collection defense, credit discrimination, student loans, economic relief in family law, bankruptcy and foreclosure prevention and defense, and tax relief (including innocent spouse relief). And they often overlap with economic barriers in civil court, economic barriers to housing and employment, and addressing barriers to accessing other economic opportunities.

Consumer Rights Advocacy includes a range of legal and nonlegal advocacy strategies that can equip survivors with critical information and tools to address these economic harms and thus increase their options for safety.

Read more about the “Economic Ripple Effect of Domestic Violence” and the power of consumer law and survivor centered advocacy.

What is Coerced Debt?

Definitions: Coerced Debt occurs in the context of coercive control, and includes both fraud and coercion.

Key stats: By the Numbers


Enhancing Individual Advocacy

In June, CSAJ hosted a series of webinars on Coerced Debt. View the complete Coerced Debt Training Toolkit online. Below are insights from attendees about some critical strategies for advocacy along with quick tips and more resources:

“Asking the right questions can help determine if the victim is/was financially abused.”

“[I learned] the specifics of the differences between coercion and other types of fraudulent activities with finances” and “advocating in defense of accrued debt for clients is now a little easier.”

Attendees learned other important strategies too, such as, “How to approach reviewing a credit report with a survivor,” “That free credit reports are available,” and finding “alternatives to law enforcement reports for identity theft.

Building Partnerships

Tips for Thinking About Partnership Building:

Review the Partner Mapping Worksheet with notes from discussion between Expert Advisor, Katie VonDeLinde, and webinar attendees. Some other tips:

Spotlighting Innovative Consumer & Economic Justice Work:

Highlighting examples of building partnerships within our organizations and between domestic violence and consumer rights advocates.

Planning for Systems Change

Tips for Addressing Big Issues:

Webinar attendees brought up some important issues and barriers to addressing coerced debt. Our Consumer Rights Working Group members weigh in:

Models, Tools & Resources for Change:

CSAJ’s Consumer Rights Working Group

Comprised of Organizational Partners and Expert Advisors from across disciplines and across sectors, the working group meets quarterly to discuss and disseminate best practices in survivor centered economic advocacy.

National Consumer Law Center, Center for Court Innovation, Adrienne Adams (Michigan State University), Prosperity Now, Indiana Legal Services, Inc. Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, The Legal Aid Society, Angela Adams (University of Texas, School of Law), Legal Aid of Western Michigan, Futures Without Violence, Katie VonDeLinde (Washington University, Brown School of Social Work)