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Supporting Clients Through Debt Collection Issues

The DC Bar Foundation is proud to fund legal services organizations in DC that help residents during times of crisis. DC Bar grantee partner Tzedek DC is an extraordinary organization with a mission to safeguard the legal rights and financial health of DC residents with low incomes, dealing with the often devastating consequences of abusive debt collection practices and other consumer-related issues. 


In this story, we highlight one of the clients Tzedek DC was able to assist during a debt collection crisis that would have cost her thousands of dollars and taken her years to pay off.  


Janelle is a 77-year-old Black resident of Ward 7 who is a semi-retired WMATA employee and survives mainly on her pension and Social Security Administration benefits. In 2010, before legal services providers covered the debt collection docket, she was sued by a debt buyer for a debt that she had incurred while helping a friend.


Unrepresented at the time, Janelle consented to a judgment of more than $16,000 plus interest. She sought Tzedek’s help in 2023 after the debt buyer requested that the Court extend the life of the judgment. Janelle had been paying on the judgment since 2010, but its high-interest rate left Janelle with an unsatisfied remaining balance of nearly $28,000. Tzedek DC contacted opposing counsel, threatening to challenge the debt buyer’s motion to revive the judgment by arguing that the debt buyer was not in compliance with the new amendments to DC’s Consumer Protection Act [that Tzedek DC helped enact in the DC Council]. Janelle’s Tzedek DC attorney convinced the debt buyer to consider the matter resolved if Janelle would pay another $75 per month for two years, which amounts to $1,800 in total, a significant difference from the $28,000 the debt collector demanded that she pay.


Tzedek DC was able to resolve the issue and save Janelle almost $27,000, which she now does not have to pay out on this debt.


Please visit the DCBF website to learn more about how the DC Bar Foundation supports grantee partners like Tzedek DC.

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