Debt collection complaints are prevalent at the state and national level, and range from harassment and wrongful threats of criminal charges to persistent efforts to collect debts not owed by the consumer. Many Texans are impacted by debt collection issues. According to the Urban Institute, more than 44 percent of Texans with credit files had non-mortgage debt in debt collection; and from September 2013 until August 2014, more than 147,000 cases were filed in Texas trial courts to collect some form of debt. Texas Appleseed is focused on curbing unfair practices in the debt collection process and working to ensure Texans know their rights under federal and state law.
- New State Law: In 2019, advocated for passage of HB 996 that closes a loophole in order to protect Texans against “zombie debts.” The new protections include stopping lawsuits when the statute of limitations has expired (typically debts more than four years old in Texas) and prohibiting a person’s payment for an old debt from re-starting the litigation clock.
- Debt Collection Rights Toolkit: Published My Debt Collection Rights in Texas to inform Texans of their rights in the debt collection process. The toolkit features videos, forms and interative information to help Texans through all aspects of the debt collection process — from spotting scams and other deceptive practices to guidance to how to engage in the court process if they are sued.
- State Law Victory: In 2017, Texas Appleseed helped lead efforts to pass SB 1911, which expands access to self-help resources in all state and county courts for Texans who don't have legal representation.
- White Paper: Improving Access to Justice in Texas Courts (Feb. 2017). A study of 87 justice court websites across the state by Texas Appleseed and the SMU Dedman School of Law Consumer Advocacy Clinic found that what resources do exist for people in the court system without an attorney are aimed at plaintiffs, leaving defendants of debt claim suits with little to no information on the legal process.