Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection

How to Get Help

Legal Aid Society of San Diego welcomes walk-ins.  For faster service call 1-877-LEGAL AID (1-877-534-2524).
TTY 1-800-735-2929​
If you wish to come to an office, we have 3 locations:
Southeast San Diego Office
Midtown San Diego Office
North County San Diego Office

We have Debt Collection Lawsuit Clinics at the South Bay and Vista Courthouse Law Libraries.  You may get help so you can defend a debt collector lawsuit filed against you.  You must call before your first visit to the clinic:  1-877-LEGAL AID (1-877-534-2524TTY 1-800-735-2929​

We also have a Bankruptcy Self Help Clinic at U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 325 W. F Street, San Diego, on Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m.  The Clinics are located in the Court's Law Library on the 2nd floor.  Simply come to the clinic if you need assistance.

What We Do

The Consumer Protection Division helps low-income people who have disputes with businesses.  There are many types of problems.  Here are some of the things we can help with:

  • Problems with buying a car or making payments
  • Repossession
  • Bad Auto Repairs
  • Identity Theft
  • Student Loans
  • Harassment by Debt Collectors
  • Lawsuits by Debt Collectors
  • Credit Reporting Issues
  • Medical Debt
  • Solar Power Scams
  • Problems with buying from a door to door salesman
  • Foreclosure or home loan problems
  • Contracts negotiated in another language
  • Other Problems with a Business
  • Bankruptcy

Recent Consumer News

  • On September 6, 2016, ITT Tech campuses shut down nationwide in response to a lawsuit brought against it by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”).  The Department of Education previously refused to allow ITT Tech to enroll students receiving financial aid.  To date, 137 campuses in 39 states have closed and it is estimated to impact 43,000 students.  If you were enrolled in ITT Tech when it closed, you have rights.  You may apply for a closed school loan discharge by contacting your loan servicer or you may transfer earned credits to another institution and continue your education in another similar program.  Please see the links below for more information including webinars by the Department of Education to explain your options.  If you were a student at the time of the closure or have further questions, please contact the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc. at 877-534-2524.

  • https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/itt

    http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/08/itt-tech-students-should-take-their-money-and-run-experts-say.html

  • Our Attorney Alysson Snow helps family threatened with loss of home to pay for medical helicopter service for their son.  See channel 10 news.    
  •              
  • Watch out for anything demanding you to send immediate payment through Western Union, MoneyGram, or with prepaid debit cards!  If you get a phone call or email asking you to send money by wire transfer or by prepaid debit cards, take some time to research before you send anything.  Sometimes scammers may pretend to be calling from a government agency such as the IRS or even pretend to be a family member in distress.  Try calling the person, company, or government agency directly to be sure the call was real.  Read more at Fraud.org, a project of the National Consumers League.
  • Students, watch out for the “federal student tax” scam!  Scammers call students and tell them they owe a federal student tax.  There is no such tax.  Students are sometimes asked to send money through Western Union or a similar service.  Sometimes, they may be asked for personal information such as their Social Security numbers.  See the following link for more details: http://www.consumerreports.org/money/beware-of-the-college-student-tax-scam/ 

  • Remember, if you get any unsolicited call, don’t  send money or give out your personal information.  Investigate first!

  • If you are facing foreclosure or seeking assistance with a loan modification, take steps to avoid falling victim to mortgage fraud.  Check this list of 5 tips on how to avoid mortgage fraud from the California Attorney General’s office.  You can also use this page to learn where to file a complaint if you think you may have been scammed or to check if your foreclosure consultant is registered with the State of California. 
  • If you need help, contact a housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who may be able to help you for free. For a referral to a housing counselor near you, contact HUD at (800) 569-4287 (TTY: (800) 877-8339).

Self Help Documents/Pleadings

You can get court forms at the California Court website.  Click here to access the “Forms & Rules” page.  Some forms you made need:

NOTE:  TO OPEN THESE FORMS YOU NEED ADOBE READER.  YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE HERE.

Where to Get More Information

Student Loans

  • Student Loan Borrower Assistance Website – General info on options for federal and private student loans.Topic include the pros and cons of consolidation, rehabilitation, settlement, cancellation, etc.

Consumer Debt

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau –  Learn about rules governing banks, other lenders, and bill collectors.  File complaints against finance lenders, bill collectors, banks and other lending companies. 

Credit Reports

  • By law, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of three nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) every 12 months.

  • AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website set up by United States government and the three major credit reporting agencies to allow you to get your free credit report.

    • To get your free credit report, go to  www.annualcreditreport.com

    • If you do not have access to the internet you can call 1-877-322-8228 OR complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

    • Be careful with other websites that claim to give you free credit reports. Many sites will only give you a free report if you buy other products or services.  Other sites give you a free report and then bill you for services you have to cancel.  The only source for the free credit report authorized by law is AnnualCreditReport.com.

Identity Theft

  • FTC ID Theft Affidavit – Get your copy of a Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Affidavit.  Fill it out.  File it with the police.  It has spaces for everything you need.

Medical Debt

  • Consumer Center for Health Education and Advocacy: (877) SD HEALTH (734-3258 (toll-free))    Consumer Center advocates can assist you.  Learn about your options for healthcare. Find out how and where to get services.  Find out what to do if you have a problem with your health insurance.

Auto Issues

  • California Bureau of Automotive Repair can assist if you have had problems with an auto repair shop.  You can file a complaint with the state at this website.  The state can work with you and the repair shop.  They may help you get the shop to fix your car's problem.  They can help you get a refund or lower the bill.
  • DMVThe DMV can assist with vehicle title problems or licensing issues.

General Resources

Videos

  • Watch the Federal Trade Commission’s video on how to get a free credit report here:  You can also see it in Spanish.
  • Watch the Federal Trade Commission’s video on basic steps to take for identity theft here.  You can also see it in Spanish.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission held a roundtable in October 2014.  It was about “Debt Collection and the Latino Community.”  Consumer advocates, debt collectors, government regulators and professors all came.  They discussed how debt collection and credit reporting affects Latino consumers.  They focused on those who speak or read limited English. The playlist for this event is here.  There is also a Spanish Language Transcript of the event.
  • YOu can watch the panel featuring our Senior Consumer Attorney Alysson Snow, here

Presentations and Training for your Group/Organization

The Consumer Protection Division does outreach and training.  If you have a group that wants to learng more about consumer issues or get a presentation, click here.

Get Involved

Volunteers are always welcome.  We welcome attorneys, post-bar law clerks, law students, paralegals, translators, as well as those willing to offer administrative assistance. If you are interested, click here to apply.