Jul 30, 2020

Rights of the Disabled to Remain Silent When Applying For Aid


Only confidential conversations allowed
Don't speak to anyone but a lawyer

In November of 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") launched a bulletin asking people to take notice and cease certain disallowed practices by people who lend money to others, aka, lenders. The problem is that some lenders have been asking disabled loan applicants illegal, irrelevant questions before offering them the loan that they should not be asking.

At the outset, it remains quite a common fact that when applying for a loan, you will have to face a lot of questions. Obviously, questions related to your finances must be honestly answered before you can borrow the loan proceeds. Income information is the most important part of this information.

How Does Social Security Law Income Come Into Play?

But in cases of income-related questions about people who receive social security disability income, lenders must tread softly. An issue that has been recently asked of borrowers who were on disability is if they know how long their disability income will continue to be paid out. This is the question that CFPB has explicitly not allowed lenders to ask from their borrowers. In addition to that, researchers have found that many banks contact the doctors of the disabled person to learn about their disability condition and how long it might continue.

It gives rise to some serious concerns about the transaction if the lender insists on these questions. Such questions are not permissible. At the same time, the borrower must not bother to arrange for any documents containing information about the condition of the disability or its duration.

It has been said by the officials from the governing authorities that asking for such documents and information from people with disabilities is discrimination and against the law. This concern might sound new. But this concern has been around for quite some time.

Example Of A Recent Bank Asking Illegal Questions Problem.

We see this in a recent example. A bank asked similar questions about activities that were synonymous with asking the terms of disability. Furthermore, the bank asked the borrower whether he will continue to receive his disability income for another three years. The bank did this before offering him refinancing on his mortgage. Besides, the bank also approached the doctor of the borrower about the status of his disability.

The bank grasped the situation well and ended up settling the matter by offering a significant sum to the plaintiff before entering into lengthy court procedures. A borrower with a disability is only required to disclose he receives disability income. And the victim gets the amount of revenue coming to him. Any questions and inquiries from the lender that go beyond this are not permissible.

Related Issue - Attorneys and Clients In Dealing With Online Communications.

So let's take a realistic look at the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and their recommendations for communications. These are tips for attorneys new to the field or more experience. Regardless of your years in law, we have a few ideas for you to explain to clients trying to apply online for loans or dealing with lawyers.

Not every single bit of communication is the same but offers an insight into some general rules. For the most part, attorneys and customers should consider their messages, and:

  • The content of the message itself, including sensitive or private information. How are these communiques organized?
  • What is the practicality of improving or introducing new email security standards and understanding its downsides - super important?
  • What is the overall risk of these communications being intercepted or read by someone you did not authorize?
  • What is the impact your communications with all of your clients: large and small, routine, and more involved.

As you can imagine, all of this put together is a bit of a puzzle for an attorney not specialized in web or comm security. In some instances, this means that the lawyer's office hires outside help to forensically find who fished, or hacked your client's email. So as you can see, it's not just that a bank can't ask questions about a disability, the client should be careful about providing an SSN, or any other unique info like universal passwords. However, in others, there are several vital steps your firm acts on internally. Each one makes a fundamental difference.

Taking Plaintive Steps.

This is why the ABA and other organizations ask about the way data is handled. Also, many attorneys have no or just cursory training in these matters. However, you only have so much time or money.

Consider the following:

  • Who handles your information? What is their info security training?
  • What is your email routing method? Does your site use https protocol?
  • Is sensitive data labeled or treated as such? Consider means of securing this type of data separately.
  • Is this in line with your communications and privacy policy? Every firm worth its salt has one making your files more secure and inspires confidence in your clients. They notice.
  • Each attorney should read and digest the new Model Rules of Professional Conduct. This provides an essential backdrop for lawyers in just about any field to prepare themselves for recent and upcoming changes.

Also, changing to a uniform, secure email or communications network allows for less juggling between different systems and less to consider for each client. Often, firms utilize a reliable cloud-based solution for their needs. Besides, even for those without a lot of cash on hand, have options. You may want to research Google Drive and Dropbox as their primary or secondary mode of such use. Each is free usage. But how secure they are would be something to ask a lawyer and a tech expert.

Furthermore, keep each in mind as you proceed. This list isn't comprehensive. However, it allows firms of all sizes a jumping-off point in making their communications ones that can and should be above reproach or worry. In time, this pays for itself many times over. One less thing on your plate. Furthermore, each bit of security is critical for your firm.

Moreover, the fact that the Social Security Administration ("SSA") does not give any written proof to disability income receivers by duration. Disabled lenders beware of such tricks from banks. And if this story sounds familiar, contact a skilled attorney. The Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC, is here to help.

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