In 1997, Sears, Roebuck and Company entered into judgments with the Attorneys General of all 50 states to resolve complaints concerning Sears’s unlawful consumer bankruptcy and debt-collection practices. The multistate settlement established a $5 million fund (“Sears Fund”), the earnings from which could be used to underwrite grants for consumer-protection and education efforts, particularly focused in the areas of consumer bankruptcy, debt collection, and consumer credit. The Sears Fund is also used to support multistate investigations and cases in these and other consumer-related areas. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office is the custodian of the Sears Fund.
The Sears Fund makes grants on an annual basis to state attorneys general and non-profit organizations. Grant requests from non-profit organization must be supported by letters from at least two attorneys general. Grant requests are reviewed by a special committee composed of three members, one each from the California and Massachusetts Attorney General's Offices, and one rotating member from a third Attorney General's Office.