New publications help consumers protect rights and privacy

‘Debtors’ Rights’ and ‘Privacy and Control for Social Media Users’ added to free online consumer resource library

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Consumer Action has just published two new guides to help consumers understand their rights when facing a potential debt collection lawsuit and enable social media users to protect their privacy.

What to know when a debt goes from collections to court

Consumer Action’s 16-page Debtors’ Rights: Protecting yourself from debt collection lawsuits helps consumers who owe money understand how to avoid a debt collection lawsuit, what the legal process is if they can’t avoid being sued, where to find free or low-cost legal help, the process of responding to a suit, their rights if they lose the case, and how to file a complaint against a debt collector if their rights have been violated.

Most debt collection defendants can barely make ends meet, so hiring a private attorney to defend them is out of the question. While a debtor might have a perfectly solid defense, he or she won’t know how to use it, making it extremely easy for aggressive debt collectors to prey on self-representing litigants. Consumers at risk of being sued for an unpaid debt or already facing a debt collection lawsuit must know their rights and options if they have any hope of retaining the income and assets that are exempt from garnishment or levy under the law.

“As consumer advocates, we campaign for changes in laws and business practices. But it's equally critical to empower consumers to protect themselves via knowledge,” said Linda Sherry, Consumer Action’s director of national priorities. “We’ve seen an alarming increase nationwide in aggressive debt collectors who prevail in court not because they were in the right but because the consumers they sued weren’t aware of their rights or didn’t know how to preserve them."

Keeping posts, tweets safe from prying eyes

Privacy and Control for Social Media Users: How much do you want to share? presents the potential privacy risks in social networking and prepares social media users to make wise choices about what they share and who they share it with. It includes information about how to use the privacy controls on social networking websites and apps and offers tips for enjoying social media while still protecting their personal privacy.

As of January, 74% of online adults use social networking sites (Pew), yet a recent survey found that eighty-one percent of people do not feel secure using social media to share private information with another trusted person or organization. These concerns are largely justified for social media users who don’t exercise reasonable caution, learn the data-use policies of each social network they participate in or take advantage of available privacy controls.

"Social media is fun and helpful for staying in touch and combating isolation, especially for older adults," said Sherry. "But oversharing and loose privacy settings on social media platforms can have fallout. Our guide offers practical tips on how to have a good experience on social media while understanding the settings that control what you share and with whom."

Free downloads

Each of the new publications is available in English as a free PDF download on the organization’s website and can be freely reproduced by consumer educators to distribute to their individual clients and throughout their communities.

Dozens of other Consumer Action educational materials are available at, also at no charge to consumers and community-based organizations. Many are available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese as well as English.


About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.

By providing consumer education materials in multiple languages, a free national hotline, a comprehensive website ( and annual surveys of financial and consumer services, Consumer Action helps consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. Nearly 7,500 community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials and support.




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