Fair Financial Services - Key Accomplishments

Legislative gains

  • 2023: SB 2105 creates a new requirement for data brokers to register with the state and to implement an information security program with safeguards to protect personal data. Data brokers currently collect and sell individual data with almost no oversight or limitations. By requiring registration, the bill establishes transparency and is an important step towards giving Texans more control over their personal data. This bill helps vulnerable adults and survivors of domestic violence, as it offers a step towards protection from use of this data for financial abuse.
  • 2023: HB 4 establishes the state's first comprehensive data privacy protections. It provides Texas residents the right to know, access, correct, and delete personal data held by covered businesses, as well as opt out of the collection and sale of personal data. Texas Appleseed successfully advocated for enhanced consumer protections in the bill, including stronger enforcement rights and the creation of a guide to assist Texans in understanding and utilizing their data privacy rights.
  • 2021: Supported the successful inclusion in HB 3774 of an expedited process for people to get back protected money or property that was wrongfully taken to repay a debt judgment.
  • 2021: Successfully advocated for HB 3529, which builds on important changes from the 2019 legislative session that updated the criminal definition of identity theft to include debts incurred through coercion. This bill streamlines Texas law to ensure access to remedies under Chapter 521 of the Business and Commerce Code for victims of coerced debt. Chapter 521 enables victims to be declared victims of identity theft in state district court, based on the facts surrounding a particular debt. Once a person has such a declaration from a court, it can be used as a defense in a debt collection lawsuit to remove coerced debts from a credit report and to stop other collection efforts. This expansion is essential for survivors of domestic violence, as they often face pushback from credit bureaus and debt collectors even when they have a police report alleging identity theft. It also helps survivors of domestic violence who may not feel comfortable going to the police because of fear or intimidation.
  • 2019: Successfully advocated to ensure state oversight of online consumer lending through an amendment to Sunset Bill HB 1442, which reauthorized the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC).
  • 2019: Helped lead efforts to ensure the passage of HB 2697, which expands the definition of identity theft to include debts incurred through coercion (coerced debt), creating a pathway to financial recovery for victims of financial abuse.
  • 2019: Advocated for passage of HB 996 that closes a loophole in Texas law to protect people against “zombie debts.” The new protections include stopping lawsuits when the statute of limitations has expired (typically debts more than four years old in Texas) and prohibiting a person’s payment for an old debt from re-starting the litigation clock.
  • 2019: Supported passage of HB 2524, which tightens a loophole in Texas law that allowed rent-to-own businesses to use criminal charges to collect on defaulted debts. These abuses by rent-to-own businesses led to hefty fines and jail time for Texans.
  • 2017: Helped lead efforts to pass SB 1911, which expands access to self-help resources in all state and county courts for Texans who don't have legal representation.
  • 2017: Worked with a group of stakeholders to support passage of HB 3921, creating clearer standards and accountability for financial institutions and securities brokers to identify and report financial abuse of vulnerable adults.
  • 2011: Advocated, as part of a broad coalition, for HB 2594 and HB 2592, which created basic licensing, data reporting standards and consumer disclosures for payday and auto title loan businesses in Texas. 

Payday & auto title lending reform

  • 2011-current: More than 10 million Texas residents now protected from abusive payday and auto title lending through strong laws in 49 Texas cities. Worked with cities, faith and community organizations to support passage of these local ordinances. A 2019 analysis showed that the ordinance has beneficial local impacts, including reducing all of the following: refinances, new loans, vehicle repossessions, and fees. 
  • 2011: Helped secure passage of “first step” reform legislation to license payday and auto title lenders and bring greater transparency to this multi-million dollar industry in Texas.
  • 2012-current: The Texas Fair Lending Alliance, a broad-based coalition, was established in 2012. The Alliance pushes for rate and fee reductions on payday & auto title loans for consumers who often become trapped in a cycle of debt while trying to repay these loans.

Lower-cost consumer loan alternatives

  • 2017: Published a report titled, Fair Loans and Family Finances. Texas Appleseed examined the financial stability and asset building impacts on CLC borrowers of having access to a low-cost, affordable small-dollar loan. To reduce low-income borrowers’ reliance on payday and auto title loans, it required improved access to low-cost responsible loans. The Community Loan Center (CLC) launched in 2011 to help meet those short-term credit needs.
  • 2016: Developed a resource for city governments to build on the important local payday and auto title loan ordinance work. This resource features case studies of successful efforts to expand access to low-cost, small-dollar loan options that enhance the financial wellbeing of communities. 
  • 2012: Published a report on more affordable small-dollar loan alternatives to payday and auto title loans ripe for expansion in Texas.

Preventing financial abuse and upholding consumer rights

  • 2019: Produced Abuse by Credit: The Problem of Coerced Debt in Texas, a first-of-its-kind study examining the growing problem of identity theft within abusive relationships. Following the report, the State of Texas passed HB 2697, which expands the definition of identity theft to include debts incurred through coercion.
  • 2018: Examined the auto insurance market in Texas and produced the report, Out of Alignment: Women & Discrimination in the Texas Auto Insurance Market. The report documents pricing discrimination in Texas based on gender and marital status, revealing that unmarried women and widows often pay the highest average prices for this legally mandated insurance product.
  • 2018: Published a toolkit, My Debt Collection Rights in Texas, to inform Texans of their rights in the debt collection process. The toolkit features videos, forms and interactive information to help Texans through all aspects of the debt collection process — from spotting scams and other deceptive practices to guidance to how to engage in the court process if they are sued.
  • 2017: Launched a comprehensive online and printed toolkit, with partner AARP Texas, consisting of five guides that are tailored to the needs of different fiduciary/supporter capacities who manage money or property for someone who is unable to do so themselves. Available in English and Spanish at www.ProtectTheirMoneyTx.org.

Safeguards on remitting money abroad

  • U.S. families who send money oversees are now protected with remittance rules, assuring they know the true cost of sending the money and have full disclosures.
  • 2013: Texas Appleseed research, in collaboration with the national Appleseed office, helped to inform the final remittance rules adopted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • 2003: Led an initiative to pass Texas’ 2003 landmark law to protect consumers who “remit” or wire funds internationally — providing the model for far-reaching remittance protections contained in federal financial regulatory reform legislation passed in July 2010.

Texas Fair Lending Alliance

  • 2012-current: Helped build a new and expanding broad-based coalition to push for rate and fee reductions on payday & auto title loans for consumers who, all too often, become trapped in a cycle of debt while trying to repay these loans.

Financial literacy

  • 2005-2008: Created and distributed more than 500,000 English and Spanish language financial education brochures to help underserved communities learn how to open a bank account, build credit, and make safe loans.
  • Shared our work around financial literacy for recent immigrants with countries around the world, who learned from our work and replicated our brochures.

FDIC Texas New Alliance Task Force

  • 2004-2005: Partnered with the FDIC and Federal Reserve to launch this Task Force based on a successful FDIC model in Chicago. The Task Force brought together financial institutions, regulators and community organizations to address the banking needs of immigrant communities. This initiative evolved into the Texas Alliance for Economic Inclusion, part of the national FDIC effort to improve financial inclusion of underserved communities.