CONSUMER PROTECTION SERVICES
We provide aggressive, effective representation to consumers whose rights have been violated or are being sued. This includes defending debt collection actions (such as credit card lawsuits), filing lawsuits under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, various state and federal consumer protection laws, and for consumer fraud.
The laws have been developed to protect individuals and small business owners from the abuses of big business, banks, and insurance companies in the marketplace.
Below, are some of the most common types of consumer rights violations and how we can help you navigate and defend yourself against wrongdoing, getting you the settlement you deserve.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that limits the behaviors and actions of debt collectors who are attempting to collect debts on behalf of another person or business entity.
This act is designed to protect individuals from abuse, deception, and unfair debt collection practice. It prohibits debt collectors from using misleading, false, or deceptive representations in the pursuit of debt collection. Furthermore, it prohibits the use of unfair or unconscionable means to collect debts. This includes the attempt to collect on debts that the debt collector is not legally entitled to collect.
COMMON FDCPA VIOLATIONS INCLUDE:
- Calling you before 8 in the morning or after 9 at night.
- Calling third parties more than once in an attempt to locate you.
- Telling third parties that they are attempting to collect a debt from you.
- Attempting to collect on a debt that is not valid (g. one that you previously paid or has been barred by the statute of limitations).
- Making threats or implying jail time or other legal actions for reluctance to pay
An FDCPA claim can be opened by an individual or it can be brought as a class action suit. Damages under an individual lawsuit can include actual damages, statutory damages up to $1,000.00, and attorney’s fees. The damages for class actions can include actual damages, statutory damages up to $500,000.00 or 1% of the net worth of the debt collector, and the attorney’s fees.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that governs credit reports and background checks. Potential and current employers, landlords, and creditors may, in some circumstances, obtain credit reports. The information in those reports, therefore, must accurate. Creditors who report negative, inaccurate, or misleading information can be liable under the FCRA. If you were rejected for a job or an apartment, denied credit, or offered unfavorable credit terms because of an error on your credit report, you may have a claim for damages against the credit reporting agency. Contact us to discuss your options with an attorney.
In addition, companies that contract with credit reporting agencies may only make hard inquiries of consumers in certain circumstances “and no other.” The circumstances authorized by the FCRA include:
When the consumer has given written consent;
When the company making the credit inquiry “intends to use the information in connection with a credit transaction involving the consumer on whom the information is to be furnished and involving the extension of credit to, or review or collection of an account of, the consumer,” and
When the company making the credit inquiry has a legitimate business need for the information “in connection with a business transaction that is initiated by the consumer” or “to review an account to determine whether the consumer continues to meet the terms of the account.”
However, a creditor or potential creditor is not allowed to make a hard inquiry of prospective litigants to assess whether and when to file a lawsuit or whether they are collectible. If a potential creditor, such as your HOA, has made a hard inquiry into your credit, you may be entitled to damages for the resulting harm to your credit score. This is true whether or not the creditor actually followed through with a lawsuit against you. And even if your credit score was not affected, or minimally affected, you may still be entitled to statutory damages.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), unsolicited telemarketing calls using an automated telephone dialing system or artificial or prerecorded messages without the recipients’ prior express written consent are unlawful. Ringless voicemails and automated text messages with unsolicited telemarketing are considered “calls” for purposes of the TCPA and are also unlawful.
Before a telemarketer can start calling you using an automated dialing system with an artificial voice or prerecorded voice (also known as “robocalls”), it must first obtain your signature in a form that provides you with clear and conspicuous disclosure of what you are consenting to and that you unambiguously agree to receive such calls. Telemarketers are also limited to robocall only the number you expressly consented to receive such calls. Even if you provided written consent to receive robocalls, you may revoke your consent at any time and it can be revoked orally. Once the consent to receive robocalls is revoked, any subsequent robocalls from that telemarketer are considered a violation under the TCPA.
Unless you have given express written consent, the TCPA also states that telemarketers may not :
- Call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Call you if you have opted out of calls from that specific caller or if you have added your name to the Do Not Call List.
- Send unsolicited fax messages to your home or office with telemarketing materials.
- Refuse to provide their name, the name of the person or organization on whose behalf they are calling, or contact information for that person or organization.
HOW CAN YOU STOP TELEMARKETERS & ROBOCALLS FROM CALLING YOU?
One way to reduce the number of robocalls is to register your cellphone and/or residential number on the Federal Trade Commission’s do not call registry. The TCPA prohibits any solicitation calls once the number is registered. However, not all telemarketers follow the law, and you may still get robocalls from the same telemarketer even after registering on the do not call list.
If you receive multiple calls, voicemails, or voicemails in one week from the same caller, even if it may be from a different phone number, that may be a violation of the TCPA. Identical voicemails from the same person are also an indication of a robocall.
A consumer can recover up to $500 for each violation of the do not call registry, up to $500 per phone call that violates the TCPA, and up to $1,500 per phone call if the consumer can show that the TCPA was violated knowingly and willfully.