Gulf Coast Legal Services Financial Stability Unit saves residents money
In the first five months of 2019, Gulfcoast Legal Services’ Financial Stability Unit has saved seven Manatee County residents at least $38,176.
The consumer law program began under GLS’s Financial Stability Unit in early 2017 and has since expanded to protect vulnerable individuals from fraud, scams, credit reporting errors, and other unfair and deceptive business practices.
The program also provides debt collection defense, assists with consumer disputes, and negotiates settlements. The clients served are often on fixed budgets, living on supplemental or Social Security income, and, without free civil legal aid, would not have access to justice, according to Tammy Greer, executive director of Gulfcoast Legal Services.
She said a recent example of a financial stability client is Margaret, a senior citizen from Bradenton living on a modest fixed income. Margaret hired an air-conditioning company to install a “new” AC unit at her home and paid for it with a loan. When the unit stopped working, a different AC company informed Margaret that the unit had been previously installed in another home and was no longer under warranty. Margaret was forced to take out yet another loan to install a new unit.
“When she came to GLS, Margaret was making payments on two different loans,” Greer said. “After months with GLS’s help, she received a judgment against the AC company for more than $5,000 to cover the total cost of the unit and repairs, and all interest on both loans.”
Margaret stated, “I met with Nancy Roden in August of 2018, and she started helping me right away. Today, I came to pick up the first lump sum payment of $2,000 in a cashier’s check. The legal service I received was wonderful. I was informed of every step.”
Greer said for many vulnerable seniors, this kind of case outcome can be life-changing.
“The money recovered can provide them with improved nutritional choices, increased access to healthcare services, and many other things,” she said.
For more information about the work GLS does, visit http://gulfcoastlegal.org.