Call Congress: Protect Families During COVID-19

Call Congress: Protect Families During COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation and the world, it is impossible to know how long we will be feeling its effects: all we know is that no one will be left untouched.

Our frontline workers – doctors, nurses, grocery workers, transit workers, those deemed essential – are risking their safety, as well as the safety of their loved ones, while they work to protect us. People who already struggle to figure out how they’ll pay their rent, or mortgage, or student loans, or medical debt, are overwhelmed with childcare duties and social distancing at best, and at worst are getting laid off without warning.

That’s why we’re asking Congress to pass the Disaster Protection for Workers’ Credit Act – and why you should, too.

Unfortunately, in every crisis, there are those who seek to profit from the confusion and fear that crises breed. Public Justice has witnessed this firsthand. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, predatory lenders reported families who couldn’t make their bills due to the crisis to consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). Those CRAs provide that information – which unfairly blames individuals for mass problems they could not escape – to employers, landlords, and others with the power to sabotage a family’s livelihood.

History is repeating itself: in a repeat of what we saw in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, predatory lenders are preying upon the most vulnerable and working overtime to profit off of the pandemic. Public Justice has worked for decades to curb this unfair and relentless cycle of punishment, from pursuing cases against major credit reporting agencies caught reporting inaccurate information on consumers, to forcing corporations to remove unfair negative credit information about consumers in at least a dozen class actions.

It is imperative that our government remember the lessons of the past and act now to protect those who are vulnerable to the long-term, life-altering consequences of these practices. Making things worse, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, once a strong watchdog that would’ve fought these predatory lenders, is now weakening a key regulation that forces lenders to investigate dubious debts, further enabling these opportunistic and unethical behaviors.

That’s why we’re joining with the National Consumer Law Center, U.S. PIRG and other allies in calling on Congress to pass this important new legislation that addresses one key issue already facing borrowers: negative credit reporting impacting those whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by COVID-19.

The Disaster Protection For Workers’ Credit Act, introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) will provide for an immediate four-month moratorium on all negative credit reporting and longer protections for people who face lasting financial hardship from the outbreak. Read more on our blog.

You can help. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your lawmakers, or find your Representative and Senators online and reach out by email. Ask them to support the Disaster Protection for Workers’ Credit Act so that this already-painful catastrophe doesn’t haunt Americans for years, after the virus itself is hopefully behind us.

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