Why was HELPS Founded?
HELPS(Help Eliminate Legal Problems for Seniors and Disabled) was founded by Eric Olsen, senior partner of OlsenDaines, one of the United States’ largest consumer bankruptcy firms. Eric became an attorney in 1978, helping thousands of people with financial problems during his nearly forty years of practice. In 2005, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Reform Act, making bankruptcy much more complicated and expensive. With the knowledge that seniors’ income: social security, retirement, disability and VA benefits had always been protected from collectors by law, Eric knew that many seniors did not need to use their valuable funds on these expensive and stressful bankruptcy filings.
But Eric also knew that debt collectors were often merciless. He understood endless harassing calls and letters caused seniors to suffer terribly. Fortunately, as a bankruptcy attorney, Eric was very familiar with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, federal law that protected consumers from debt collectors. He knew that debt collectors could not directly communicate with a person represented by an attorney. Calls and letters must go to the attorney instead.
Consequently, HELPS was founded to provide seniors with an attorney who communicates with the collectors. By providing this service, seniors are able to gain relief from collector harassment without the need to file an expensive and unneeded bankruptcy. HELPS is a 501 c nonprofit law firm formed specifically to receive communication from collectors. HELPS does not provide legal advice. However HELPS does educate and provides information to seniors how they can maintain their financial independence. HELPS also assists persons working with seniors about seniors’ financial rights. HELPS can provide information and help regarding tax, student loan and housing issues. As a nonprofit law firm, HELPS was designed to be extremely affordable and ultimately available to every eligible senior in need, regardless of ability to pay. Here is an article, “Lending a Hand,” in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, which talks about Eric and the founding of HELPS: https://www.osbar.org/bulletin/issues/2016/2016October/html5/index.html?page=30&noflash