Consumer LawFighting for justice for indigent victims of consumer fraud and abuse is the hallmark of Public Counsel's oldest project, the Consumer Law Project ("CLP"). Since its inception in 1977, CLP's staff of experienced consumer attorneys and paralegals have worked with thousands of pro bono lawyers in the private bar representing low-income consumers who have fallen prey to a variety of scams. Read More
For more information about our services and our intake hours, call:
- Consumer Issues:
The Consumer Law Hotline is currently closed. Please check back for updates.
- Debtor Assistance Project Hotline:
(213) 385-2977 x 704
Monday – Friday
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 2–4 p.m.
- L.A. Bankruptcy Self-Help Desk:
Mondays and Wednesdays
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 2–4 p.m.
Closed on court holidays
Arrive 1/2 hour early for security
- CCJC-ACCE Foreclosure Clinic:
Next Clinic: Tuesday, Dec. 17th
Third Tuesday of each month
6 – 8 p.m.
Click here or call (877) 881-0878.
- CCJC-ELACC Foreclosure Clinic:
First Tuesday of each month
5 – 8 p.m.
Call (323) 604-1973. RSVP required.
- CCJC-KABA Foreclosure Clinic:
Second Tuesday of each month
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Call (323) 801-7933. RSVP required.
- Public Counsel and Elizabeth Dole Celebrate Lifetime of Service and Launch New Project for Military Caregivers at 2013 Douglas Dinner Public Counsel honored Elizabeth Dole with our 2013 William O. Douglas Award and announced a new project for military caregivers to wounded warriors.
- Amazing People, Changing Lives: Meet Public Counsel's 2013 Pro Bono Heroes With more than 5,000 volunteer attorneys and professionals from the nation's top law firms, companies and private practitioners, Public Counsel is the nation's largest not-for-profit law firm of our kind. But it wouldn't happen without our pro bono heroes. Meet our 2013 Pro Bono Award honorees.
- Public Counsel and Healthcare Experts Put Focus on Homeless Care On June 10, representatives from more than 30 major hospitals in Southern California heard from local and national leaders about the opportunities for better care for homeless patients with chronic illnesses.
- Runners Raise Funds to Help Bankruptcy Filers 300 runners and walkers helped support Public Counsel's Debtors Assistance Project at the second Leslie Cohen Law 5K.
- OUR STORIES
- 2012 William J. Lasarow Awards Honor Bankruptcy Pro Bono Volunteers The 2012 William J. Lasarow Awards Ceremony is an annual pro bono awards presentation to recognize the outstanding contributions of bankruptcy pro bono volunteers.
- Shocking Case Puts Patient Dumping Back in the Spotlight Public Counsel helped expose the problem of patient dumping by Los Angeles hospitals and change it. But a new case featured in the Los Angeles Times puts the issue back in the spotlight.
- Public Counsel Finds Representation for Woman After Attorney Abandons Her After paying an attorney $1700 to represent her in a bankruptcy case, a monolingual Spanish speaker found that her attorney had abandoned her.
- Protecting Debtors from Fraud and Abuse Many debtors at Public Counsel's Bankruptcy Self-Help Desk have received incompetent advice from bankruptcy petition preparers.
- >> Our Stories Archive
- Public Counsel Honors Elizabeth Dole with 2013 William O. Douglas Award at Gala Night Public Counsel honored Elizabeth Dole with its William O. Douglas Award on Thursday, September 12, 2013, and announced a new partnership to give legal support to caregivers supporting wounded warriors and military veterans.
- CONSUMER ALERTS
- Health Insurance Fraud Consumers beware! Some people may try to trick you into buying health coverage that doesn't provide all of the required benefits.
- Affordable Care Act Information Gathering Scam If you get a call asking for your information for a national medical card, hang up. It's a scam. Government organizations and the legitimate groups you do business with have the information they need. They'll never call to ask you for it.
- Forged and Fraudulent Deeds In the current economic climate, criminal fraud related to real property deeds appears to be on the rise.
- Banking Information Request Scam Consumers should be extremely wary of telephone calls requesting sensitive banking information. These "robo-calls" asks call recipients to verify sensitive account information. Criminals use this information to take over victims' bank accounts, apply for credit cards or obtain cash.
- Property Reassessment Solicitations Consumers in Los Angeles County are warned to be on the alert for mail solicitations from private companies offering to "assist" homeowners with the filing of property tax reassessment forms for substantial fees of $179 or more. This is a service the County Assessor's Office provides for free.
- Foreclosure Rescue Scams Many consumers are faced with a mortgage they can no longer afford and are facing foreclosure. Unscrupulous opportunists are profiting from this crisis. They promise quick results for a fee but actually provide nothing.
- Home Rental Fraud Many houses have been vacated by homeowners facing foreclosure. Con artists are profiting from this crisis by posing as landlords and renting vacant homes to unsuspecting renters. They offer enticing properties at below-market rental rates. In reality, they are stealing your money and leaving you homeless.
- >> Consumer Alerts Archive
- PRESS RELEASES
- Click, Call To Learn About Keep Your Home California Keep Your Home California is a state-run program with almost $2 billion in federal funds to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
- Statement: Governor's Plan Fails Californians Still Fighting Foreclosure Groups that assist homeowners said Governor Brown should restore money meant to hold banks accountable and prevent foreclosures.
- Update on Countrywide Fair Lending Settlement The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice wants to update you on the process to distribute proceeds from the $335 million victim fund created as part of the Department of Justice’s December 2011 lending discrimination settlement with Countrywide.
- >> Press Releases Archive
- NEWS CLIPS
- NY Times: Last Plea on School Loans: Proving a Hopeless Future It isn't easy to stand up in an open courtroom and bear witness to the abject wretchedness of your financial situation, but by the time Doug Wallace Jr. was 31 years old, he had little to lose by trying.
- Daily Journal: Central District has lion's share of nation's pro se bankruptcy debtors Few experience much -- or any -- success in bankruptcy court when going at it alone.
- LA Times: Latest HARP program for underwater mortgages ramping up "HARP 2.0," the second version of the federal mortgage refinancing program, comes with streamlined processing, but some key issues could hinder borrower participation.
- LA Times: L.A. hospital accused of patient-dumping Public Counsel filed a lawsuit Friday against a hospital on behalf of Jesse Bravo, alleging elder abuse, false imprisonment and hospital negligence.
- Los Angeles Lawyer: The ABCs of California Foreclosure Law The real estate meltdown that began in late 2007 has resulted in an unprecedented number of loans in default and a substantial upsurge in foreclosures across the country. California continues to be one of the states hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.
- ABA Journal: Force for Good: Public Counsel Law Center's New App Connects Lawyers, Clients The American Bar Assn. Journal writes about Public Counsel's new smartphone app, Force for Good, which lets users refer cases, and allows volunteer lawyers to take a case and provide updates.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 'Yo-yoing' practice by car dealers irks customers 'Yo-yoing' is a deceptive practice by used car dealers aimed at getting customers to buy a car other than the one the buyer is interested in, or paying a higher interest rate to get the car s/he wants
- LA Times: A vicious cycle in the used-car business Sign, drive, default, repossess and resell - that's the game at Buy Here Pay Here dealerships.
- Daily Journal: Working to avert bankruptcy crisis Self-help clinics are lifeline for a court deluged with debtors who are unrepresented.
- Daily Journal: Litigators take up the fight for state court funds Public Counsel is part of a major new effort to protect California courts from cuts that hurt the public.
- LA Times: Defendant in numerous Public Counsel lawsuits awaits trial on real estate felony charges Timothy Barnett is charged with 23 felonies for allegedly tricking five people into unknowingly granting him title to their homes. Public Counsel staff attorney Patrick Dunlevy, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of several people who said they had lost their homes to Barnett, is quoted.
- >> News Clips Archive
- All You Need to Know About Identity Theft Identity theft (or ID theft) is when someone else uses your personal information, like your name, Social Security number or address, without your permission.
- Todo Lo Que Necesita Saber Sobre Robo de Identidad Robo de identidad (o robo de ID) es cuando alguien mas usa su informacion personal, como su nombre, numero de Seguro Social o direccion, sin su permiso.
- Bankruptcy Resources These publications will provide you with the information you need to file bankruptcy, or deal with issues that arise in your bankruptcy case.
- Recursos de Bancarrota Estas publicaciones le proporcionan con la informacion que necesite para archivar la bancarrota, or para manejar con asuntos que surgen dentro de su bancarrota.
- Understanding Wage Garnishment and Your Options Wage garnishment is a legal process requiring an employer to withhold a portion of a person's earned wages to repay someone who won a lawsuit against the employee.
- Foreclosure Self Help Desk Flyer
- CCJC Foreclosure Preventuion Clinic at ACCE
- CCJC Foreclosure Prevention Clinic at KABA
- Help for an Elderly Woman Who Lost Home in Sham Foreclosure 86-year-old Juana and her 66-year-old daughter, Francisca, were evicted from their family home of more than 30 years after a foreclosure sale based on a sham loan. Find out what happened when Public Counsel and pro bono attorneys Dan Nabel and Rachel Wilkes Barchie of Greenberg Glusker took on the case.
- Overview of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Alternatives to Bankruptcy Learn about the bankruptcy process, the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and alternatives to bankruptcy.
- How to Apply for an Independent Foreclosure Review Were you in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010? Even if your foreclosure has already been completed, there may be an opportunity to have your loan file reviewed. If the review finds errors in how your foreclosure was handled, you may be eligible to receive compensation.
- Bankruptcy Basics These videos from the U.S. Courts give an overview of the bankruptcy process. Topics covered include types of bankruptcy, limits of bankruptcy, filing for bankruptcy, the creditors' meeting, bankruptcy crime, court hearings, the discharge, and legal assistance.
- Videos from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans -- whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing between credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.
- How To File a Complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs This short tutorial guides viewers through the process of filing a complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Credit Card Debt Assistance This video is from a live forum on credit card debt assistance, filmed on July 24, 2009, in Sacramento, California.
- Helping Victims of Identity Theft This video explains how identity theft (ID theft) can affect you, and how to use Taking Charge and the Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims to resolve problems.
- Next Foreclosure Prevention Clinic Tuesday, December 17th at ACCE New Foreclosure Prevention Clinic on Dec 17th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).
- Foreclosure Self Help Desk Public Counsel's Foreclosure Self Help Desk provides assistance to homeowners with legal questions related to foreclosure. The next Self Help Desk is Wednesday, December 18th from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Services are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
- Bankruptcy Self Help Desk Public Counsel's Bankruptcy Self-Help Desk provides walk-in bankruptcy advice on Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Bankruptcy Pro Se Clinic If you are interested in filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this interactive workshop will discuss bankruptcy and alternatives to bankruptcy, and teach you how to complete the bankruptcy petition and schedules yourself.
- Toberman Legal Clinic Public Counsel's legal clinic at the Toberman Family Source Center provides general intake concerning a broad array of legal issues including consumer scams, landlord-tenant, government benefits and immigration issues. This clinic serves clients of the Toberman Family Source Center.
- Public Counsel CARES: Connecting Angelenos to Resources and Essential Services Public Counsel CARES, formerly known as the General Relief Advocacy Project (GRAP), is a legal advocacy project that takes place in the LA County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) welfare offices. Through the project, volunteer attorneys and students assist impoverished, hungry, and homeless clients with emergency shelter, food, health, transportation, and other social service needs.
- Homeless Youth Legal Clinic at My Friend's Place Public Counsel's homeless youth legal clinic at My Friend's Place provides a broad range of free legal services and educational workshops for homeless and runaway youth.
- PATH Legal Clinic Public Counsel's legal clinic at People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) provides comprehensive legal intake and referrals to homeless individuals.
- Appellate Self Help Clinic Public Counsel's Appellate Self Help Clinic helps pro se litigants represent themselves in civil appellate matters
- Pro Per Guardianship Clinic Public Counsel's Skadden Arps Pro Per Guardianship Clinic assists with legal guardianship petitions for adults caring for children whose parents cannot or will not properly care for them. The clinic also assists with petitions for visitation and termination of guardianship.
- Proskauer Federal Pro Se Clinic Public Counsel's Proskauer Federal Pro Se Clinic assists unrepresented litigants in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
- Banking and Payment Systems Using credit vs. debit cards, cashing checks and opening bank accounts, and shopping for money wire transfers.
- Bankruptcy Find out answers to frequently asked questions about bankruptcy, how to use credit wisely after bankruptcy, and your legal rights during and after bankruptcy, in these publications from the National Consumer Law Center and Nolo Press.
- Benefits Information on food, housing, and medical assistance, as well as other types of benefits and programs to help those in need.
- California Department of Consumer Affairs Links The California Department of Consumer Affairs helps consumers learn how to protect themselves from unscrupulous and unqualified individuals.
- Cell Phones and Phone Bills How to buy a cell phone, dealing with cell phone problems, and what to do about mysterious charges on your phone bill.
- Claim of Exemption from Wage Garnishment Is someone taking part of your paycheck? You may be able to stop this with a claim of exemption. Find out more in this flyer created by Staff Attorney Brian Bilford of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.
- Credit Cards What to think about before taking out a new card, advice on the new credit card protections, and how to legally settle your credit card debt.
- Credit Counseling, Credit Reports, Credit Scores, and Credit Repair Find out the truth about credit counseling, credit reports, credit scores, and credit repair.
- Debt Collection Find out how to get real help with debt problems, and dealing with debt collection harassment.
- Disputes with Attorneys The Los Angeles County Bar Association and California State Bar each offer methods for dealing a dispute you might have with an attorney you have hired.
- Fraud Learn how you can protect yourself and report fraud by using these resources from the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
- Health Care Find information about health care and health insurance, and how to avoid health care scams.
- Homeowners Learn how to save your home from foreclosure, avoid high-cost home loans, and other resources for homeowners.
- Identity Theft Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. It's a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history, and reputation -- and can take time, money, and patience to resolve.
- IRS Information Useful information from the IRS, including offers in compromise, the collection process, and taxes and bankruptcy.
- Immigrants Learn how to avoid dishonest immigration consultants, and about other consumer-related issues for immigrants
- Older Consumers Find out more about issues pertaining to older Americans, including bankruptcy, identity thefty, credit cards and reverse mortgages in these publications from the National Consumer Law Center.
- Payday Loans Payday loans are short-term cash loans based on personal checks held for future deposit or on electronic access to the borrower's bank account.
- Renters & Eviction Issues Help for renters who are about to be evicted, and tenants who are renting properties that have fallen into foreclosure.
- Self-Help Legal Access Centers Located throughout L.A. County, Self-Help Legal Access Centers provide information about court procedures, distribute required court forms, provide trained legal professionals to review court forms after they have been filled out, host workshops, and provide one-on-one assistance.
- Student Loans Find out more about dealing with student loan debt, bankruptcy and student loans, debt forgiveness, deferment, forbearance, and repayment options.
- Useful Websites These links provide information on legal resources, general consumer information, legal services, resource centers, car information, helpful financial tools, retailer and trade associations, and government websites.
- Surviving the Economic Challenge - Useful Materials for Individuals and Families Have you or someone in your family lost your home or job? Are you or your family struggling to stay in your home and meet your financial obligations due to the economic downturn? This document contains helpful information about legal issues that you may be facing, and referrals to social service agencies that can assist with your specific needs.