Staten Island residents subject to lawsuits from debt collection firms can now receive free help from the Staten Island Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office, according to the Staten Island Advance. The free service is a joint program from the Richmond County Bar Association, the Staten Island Women's Bar Association and Wagner College.

Beginning January 20, those in need of help can visit the CLARO offices to meet with attorneys that will help individuals further understand their debts, the financial costs of their debts and how the lawsuit and loss of wealth can affect their consumer credit reports.

"Often debtors first learn of a lawsuit after creditors have taken other action such as garnishing wages or freezing bank accounts in order to secure a debt. CLARO will provide critical legal assistance to unrepresented debtors," Patricia Anne Taylor, president of the Women's Bar Association, told the Advance.

According to the New York State Unified Court System, there were 15,269 consumer credit cases heard in New York Civil Court, but only 179 debtors had attorney support.