As an advocate for the working poor, a primary focus for SC Appleseed has always been to protect individuals and their assets from abusive loan practices.
Major Consumer Protection Wins:
2008 – 2011: Foreclosure Assistance – Early in the foreclosure crisis, SC Appleseed assumed a leadership role, training pro bono attorneys around the state, preparing them to defend cases. In so doing, we developed a comprehensive practice manual and sample pleadings. We also authored materials for the SC Bar Association to train attorneys and judges to handle the flood of foreclosure cases.
2010: Property Exemption Laws – SC Appleseed was instrumental in increasing property exemptions for people facing financial ruin, helping them to save their homes, cars and other personal properties that are critical to fiscal recovery. As with many of our state laws, no updates had been made in almost 30 years. This legislation has been of special benefit to elderly people on fixed incomes and people who have fallen into medical debt.
2009: Predatory Lending – SC Appleseed helped bring national attention to the usurious practices of payday lenders in South Carolina through its participation in an episode of the public-interest television program NOW on PBS, which aired in January 2009. Following its broadcast, SC Appleseed worked with legislators to develop and adopt legislation reining in the payday lenders at the end of that year. The reforms included allowing only one loan at a time per borrower and establishing a database to enforce this provision. While this legislation has not solved all problems caused by payday lending, it takes significant steps towards eradicating the debt trap the industry relies on to profit.
2009: Mortgage Lenders Reform – SC Appleseed participated in the licensing of all mortgage lenders in South Carolina, an effort that began in May 2009. That participation included establishing a database to identify discriminatory lenders who would deny borrowers on the basis of race and zip code. This data also will help to eliminate the unseemly practice of “reverse redlining,” which was used to target the poor for predatory lending and led us into the Great Recession.
2008: Identity Theft Law – SC Appleseed helped draft South Carolina’s ID theft law and assisted in its passage through the legislature in March 2008. This law has teeth, provides protections and means to restitution at the state level, sparing wrong consumers the slow, complicated slog to justice that had been afforded when the federal ID theft law stood along.
2003: High Cost Mortgage and Consumer Loan Act – SC Appleseed helped draft this law and assisted in its passage through the legislature.