Texas Funders Support Pilot Program Aimed at Helping Survivors of Domestic Violence Resolve Coerced Debt

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2023

Media Contact:
Laura Felix
Texas Appleseed
lfelix@texasappleseed.org, (512) 473-2800 ext.106


AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Appleseed has received funding from five Texas-based funders to launch a pilot program, in partnership with members of the Texas Coalition on Coerced Debt, aimed at helping survivors of domestic violence resolve coerced debt — debt incurred by an abuser in the name of their victim, through threat, force or fraud.

The program is funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Texas Women’s Foundation, the HLH Family Foundation, the Texas Bar Foundation, and Verizon. Together, their support will help connect survivors with pro bono attorneys who can help them obtain identity theft relief from coerced debts. Texas Appleseed plans to begin recruiting pro bono attorneys in early 2024 to assist in this program. The pilot will be implemented in Dallas and Tarrant counties, with the goal of creating a model that can be replicated to offer similar support for survivors in other parts of the state.

A 2022 survey of survivors of domestic violence who were clients of service providers in Texas and Louisiana found that over half (51%) had coerced debt incurred by their abuser. When an abusive partner takes out a coerced debt in their victim’s name, the victim is often either unaware that the debt has been taken out or is unable to stop the abuser due to coercive control. 

"Often, victims of coerced debt need a lawyer to be successful in obtaining relief, but so many do not have that luxury,” said Ann Baddour, Director of Fair Financial Services at Texas Appleseed. “We are grateful to our funders for making this work possible. In the end, we can ensure that many more Texans have the knowledge and resources to rebuild their financial lives.”

Current state law extends identity theft protections to survivors of domestic violence who are victims of coerced debt. However, because the process to access these protections can be complicated and technical, many survivors are unable to take advantage of them. This pilot program will connect survivors with attorneys who can assist them to obtain a court order declaring them to be a victim of identity theft. The order can help eliminate barriers to accessing employment, housing, credit, and educational opportunities caused by bad credit and credit burdens due to coerced debt. 

More information will be available in January of 2024 for attorneys interested in participating in training to represent clients in the pilot program. There are also instructions forthcoming for victims of coerced debt to obtain pro bono representation. 


About Texas Appleseed
As one of the most trusted resources for data-driven policy analysis and solutions, Texas Appleseed advocates at the state and local level for fair, just, and equitable laws. Our work has shaped hundreds of laws and positively affected millions of Texans by breaking down barriers through transformative policy solutions. Visit www.TexasAppleseed.org for more information.

About the Texas Coalition on Coerced Debt (TCCD)
TCCD is a coalition of Texas-based attorneys, advocates, policymakers, financial professionals, and law enforcement who are interested in promoting identity theft protections for survivors of family violence.  The Coalition is jointly coordinated by Lone Star Legal Aid, Texas Advocacy Project, Texas Appleseed, the Texas Council on Family Violence, and the Texas Legal Services Center.

About JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

About Texas Women's Foundation
As Texas Women’s Foundation (TXWF) nears its 40th year, it is clear that now more than ever is the time to elevate Texas women. By working with women, families and communities, they are building a stronger, more equitable Texas. TXWF raises funding from a broad base of donors, including individuals, foundations and corporations. These resources support more than $7.1 million in investments that advance economic security and leadership for Texas women and girls through timely research, advocacy, grants and strategic initiatives. Since its inception in 1985, TXWF has invested $78.9 million in women and girls. Their statewide research on issues affecting women and girls provides decision-makers and lawmakers with critical data to inform policies, practices and programs in the state. Its advocacy, grantmaking and leadership initiatives support solutions that help Texas women and girls thrive. In addition, Texas Women’s Foundation is an acknowledged leader and advocate in the gender lens investing movement and has deployed 100 percent of its invested assets – endowments, operating investments and donor-advised funds – in a gendered impact portfolio that yields strong financial returns and social benefits to women and girls. For more information, visit www.txwf.org, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram or donate now.

About HLH Family Foundation
HLH Family Foundation is a private foundation committed to funding organizations who are passionate about ending the cycles of poverty and fighting for equity, justice, and inclusion for underserved populations.

About Texas Bar Foundation
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $26 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation.

About Verizon
Verizon has a proud history of supporting organizations dealing with domestic violence issues through our grant programs.  We are dedicated to bringing economic, environmental and social change to the communities we serve.