Consumer Law Links
National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys – advocacy group for consumer bankruptcy attorneys and their clients. Site contains useful links to other bankruptcy websites.
United States Bankruptcy Court Official Forms – official bankruptcy forms for the US Bankruptcy Courts.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania – official website for the US Bankruptcy Court which covers the western region of Pennsylvania.
Main Office: 5414 U.S. Steel Tower
600 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Erie Office: U.S. Courthouse, Room B160
17 South Park Row
Erie, PA 16501
Hours of Operation: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Johnstown Office: Penn Traffic Building
319 Washington Street
Johnstown, PA 15901
CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Filing) for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania – system which allows attorneys to electronically file bankruptcy petitions and forms and provides access over the Internet to bankruptcy case dockets and documents.
PACER – Federal Judiciary’s centralized registration, billing, and technical support center for electronic access to U.S. District, Bankruptcy, and Appellate court records.
13Network – electronic access to trustee information on Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.
Other Consumer Links
Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership’s Real Estate Project – NLS is now making referrals to the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership’s Real Estate Project for clients who need to have a deed transferred to their names from the name of a deceased relative in order to obtain financial assistance or to negotiate with a mortgage company or taxing body. To determine your eligibility for this program, call our intake number at 412-255-6700.
Consumer.gov – FTC website covering all things consumer-related
Verizon’s Lifeline Discount Program – Verizon offers telephone discounts to qualified low-income customers on either wired or wireless service.
Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program – Comcast now offers a program for low cost internet service to households with children who receive free or reduced price lunches at school. The program provides internet service for $9.95 per month plus tax with no activation fee, a computer for $149.99 plus tax, and free internet training. Call toll-free at 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) to enroll or visit www.InternetEssentials.com for more information.
Free Tax Preparation Help Available – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free tax help to low-income persons who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Many of these sites also offer electronic filing which can have the refund in your bank account within a week without having to pay for a rapid refund or instant loan. You can also contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to locate VITA sites.
Taxpayer Advocate Service – If you’re experiencing problems with the Internal Revenue Service, you may be able to get help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Call the toll-free case intake line at 1-877-ASK-TAS1. You can also visit TAS online at www.IRS.gov/advocate. The number for the Pittsburgh office is 412-395-5987.
Earned Income Tax Credit – The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal income tax credit for low-income individuals and families. This credit is applied toward the federal income tax owed. Any amount in excess of the federal income tax owed is returned to the taxpayer as a refund. To see if you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, you can go to the IRS website at www.irs.gov/eitc and either view or order Publication 596. You can also see if you are eligible by answering a few questions on the IRS website. Go to www.irs.gov/eitc. Then click on “EITC Assistant ” to find out if you qualify.
Child Tax Credit (CTC) – The CTC is a federal tax credit worth up to $1000 per child for families with children under age 17. The CTC is refundable for families earning more than $11,750. Eligible persons can receive the CTC by filing federal income tax form 8812. For more information on the CTC call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Child-Tax-Credit.
PA Tax Forgiveness Program – Low to moderate-income Pennsylvanians may owe no state income taxes or only partial tax. Through the PA Tax Forgiveness program, workers below a certain income level (varies based on number in household) could get tax money back from the state or have their tax liabilities forgiven if no PA tax was withheld. To apply, you must file the state income tax form (PA-40) and include PA Schedule SP.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinic – Southwestern PA Legal Services (SPLS) provides legal advice and representation in a variety of federal tax matters.
Free Income Tax Help – University of Pittsburgh School of Law Tax Clinic offers free legal help to income-eligible clients on income tax problems.
HEMAP Help Center – reopened by Regional Housing Legal Services in October of 2012 to assist homeowners who are applying for help from HEMAP, the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, through the Pennsylvania Housing Financial Agency (PHFA). RHLS created the HEMAP Help Center in response to the low number of people being approved for HEMAP, which was believed to be due in part to the difficulty homeowners had understanding and responding to the essay sections of the HEMAP application.
Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh – repairs and renovates the homes of low-income, elderly homeowners, military veterans, and individuals with permanent physical disabilities. It unites people of all walks of life in an effort to rebuild homes and repair lives. All home repair services are provided free of charge to qualifying homeowners. Qualified candidates are at least 60 years of age, or have a documented disability, or a military veteran; the homeowner of record for an Allegheny County property; current on all real estate taxes; and earning less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
7800 Susquehanna Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Federal and Pennsylvania “Do Not Call” Websites – allows user to register telephone numbers, including cell phone numbers, for the “Do Not Call” lists for telemarketers. Registration remains in effect for five years, so if you signed up when the lists first began five years ago, you will need to register your phone numbers again to remain on the lists.
Federal List – www.donotcall.gov
Pennsylvania List – www.attorneygeneral.gov/Consumers/Do_Not_Call_List/
National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) – advocate for low-income consumer justice and expert on low-income consumer issues.
Advantage Credit Counseling Services – assists people
to live within their income. Also assists people to apply for Act 91/HEMAP
(Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program).
2403 Sidney Street, Suite 225
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Credit Reporting Agencies – agencies that prepare credit reports. These agencies may charge a fee
to obtain a copy of your credit report. As of September 1, 2005, everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year through www.annualcreditreport.com. To request a free copy of your credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You can either make the request over the internet or print out a form to make the request by mail. You can also make the request via telephone at 1-877-322-8228.
Equifax – 1 (888) 548-7878
TransUnion – 1 (800) 916-8800
Experian – 1 (888) 397-3742
National Student Clearinghouse – verifies student degree and enrollment information. Can assist in locating a student loan.
Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection –
promotes consumer education and publicizes matters relating to consumer fraud, deception and misrepresentation. Based upon patterns identified through consumer complaints or investigations, the Bureau is authorized to take formal legal action against persons and organizations who engage in unfair and deceptive conduct in the advertisement or sale of goods or services within the Commonwealth.
14th Floor Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - Protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and takes action against companies that break the law. Helps people with information, steps and tools that they need to make smart financial decisions.
Phone: (855) 411-2372