Fighting debt and our exploitative economic system will require both individual and collective action. Here are some immediate steps you can take to shift the balance of power, apply pressure to creditors, and help the debt movement keep rolling.
- Fight back against debt buyers
- Hold a debt assembly
- Save houses and whole communities using Eminent Domain
- Work together against student debt
- Organize a citizen debt audit
- Start a reading group
- Organize a know-your-rights training
Check this page often. We’ll be updating it regularly with new projects.
One in seven Americans is being hounded by a debt collector. But what rights do those collectors have to demand payment? It turns out it might not be much. A recent study suggested that as much as 95% of collection debts might not stand up to a dispute. You don’t need expensive lawyers – filing a dispute only costs as much as the postage for a certified letter.
If you have an account in debt collection, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t dispute that debt before paying a single penny. More often than not, collectors are unable to prove that you owe them anything.
A debt assembly is when a group of people of any size gather in a public place to talk about how debt is affecting their lives and communities. These assemblies have functioned as incredible organizing tools for Strike Debt in NYC – the very act of speaking in public about our debt helps us forge a common identity as debtors and begin to build a movement together.
3. Save houses and whole communities using Eminent Domain
Submitted by Strike Debt Bay Area
More than ten million foreclosures have piled up nationwide since the beginning of the mortgage crisis, forcing untold millions of people out of their homes. Direct action, lawsuits, and government settlements have only helped a small fraction of those affected. We need a better solution in the short term: local principal reduction and eminent domain. Here’s an explanation. And here’s a letter in support of using this tactic that you can share with your neighbors and send to your City Council.
We stand by the founding principles of the Occupy Student Debt Campaign. They are widely shared and we believe they are crucial to any effort to end the debt-financing of education. We encourage student debtors to find and talk to other debtors and learn everything you can about student debt, from the banks and policies involved, to your own personal loan situation (Who owns your loans? Who services them? What policies do they have? etc). An excellent resource is the chapter on student debt in our Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual.
To truly solve the problem of a broken higher education system, we need to build collective power at the student level, as was done so effectively in Quebec. Student unions are popping up all over the USA – find one near you, or start one: http://www.studentunionism.org/find-a-union/
5. Organize a citizen debt audit
Municipalities, states, and even the federal government spend large amounts of tax dollars paying interest on loans that Wall Street snookered them into. These political entities–which are supposed to represent us–have the power to bargain to renegotiate the terms of their loans or even to refuse to pay the usurious interest rates. But politicians need to be pushed if they are going to do anything about it. That is why citizens from around the world have started to join together to look over the ledgers of their governments to separate out legitimate from illegitimate debts and demand that their representatives pay only those that are of some benefit to the people. Most of these citizen debt audits have been performed by ordinary citizens–not financial experts. You can start one in your community.
6. Start a reading group
One of the ways that the financial class exerts its power is by misleading the rest of us as to how that power works. The best way to combat this form of oppression is to educate yourself. There are a large number of great sources on how money, finance, and corporations work and on possible alternatives.
7. Organize a know-your-rights training
Knowing your rights is one of the strongest forms of empowerment. Reaching out to a local consumer finance law expert and building a relationship is probably the best way to gain a deep understanding of what the law does and doesn’t say about how debt works and it’s also a good relationship to have if you plan on engaging in more confrontational forms of debt resistance. If you can’t find a local lawyer or would rather start educating yourself and your neighbors on your own, you might find this resource from our friends at the East Bay Community Law Center helpful. It’s also available in Spanish if you scroll down on the site that that link goes to.