Consumer Protection

Consumer protection covers a variety of areas including rental agreements for housing, furniture and car leases.  Mortgages, pawnshop loans, payday lending, credit cards, pre-paid cards, and cell phones, are also areas where consumer protections are necessary.

When people enter into agreements for services, money or property, they generally believe they will meet their obligations and don’t expect to have problems.  Unfortunately, circumstances often change and the person may be unable to continue meeting some of those obligations.  When financial problems occur, it is important to develop a plan for how to proceed in order for you to keep as much control as possible in a difficult situation.

Special attention is needed when you have to deal with creditor claims that may or not be valid.  Many times telephone debt collector calls create long-term problems in a variety of areas.  The information below should help you protect yourself.

Debt Collectors

When you consider how often you or someone you know has experienced problems with debt collectors, it is important to consider the possibility that the creditor may be violating at least one consumer protection law.

Sometimes the violation may be continuing to call you when you have asked them not to call any more.  Other times the debt collector may call your neighbors or your employer and cross the line of what they are allowed to say to someone else concerning your financial information.

There may be times when a debt collector continues trying to have you pay a debt after you have made it clear that the debt does not belong to you. They may also threaten to have you arrested or send someone to your home to collect the debt.

These actions and others as well as other actions by debt collectors may violate the Fair Debt Credit Protection Act (FDCPA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

What should you do?

  1. Do read letters from debt collectors.  The letters may explain your rights and include important timelines.
  2. Do remember not to agree to a payment plan that you cannot afford.
  3. Do remember to have the debt collector send you the agreement in writing before you agree to share any of your financial information.
  4. Do remember to respond to a notice to appear in court.  This may be your chance to tell your side of the story.

Whether you believe you owe the debt or not, it is important to make sure that everything connected with the debt is in writing.   A debt repayment plan will include interest, attorney fees and other costs added to the debt.  Be sure you know what you are agreeing to before you sign any document provided by the debt collector.

When you are contacted by a debt collector, it is important for you to remember that their only job is to persuade you to pay the debt.

Our job is to help you make your way through the stress of debt collection challenges.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

There are debt collectors who are so determined to connect with you that they will use automatic dialing systems to call your cell phone number and any other telephone numbers you included in your application.  Most of us know these debt collectors are also known as “Robo Callers.”   You know it’s them calling when you answer the phone, no one is on the other end of the call because it may take a while for the calling system to recognize that a “human voice” is on the phone and the caller scrambles to get to the phone before you hang up the phone and disconnect the call.

Credit Reporting Agencies (Credit Bureaus)

The information in your credit report impacts nearly every aspect of your life.  The reports include details of your financial history.  They may be used to determine whether you qualify for a mortgage, car loan and may even determine whether you are able to rent a place to live.  Even when you are able to get a loan you may pay a higher interest rate because of negative information in credit report.

Monitoring your credit report is the first step in the process of you or taking control of your credit and financial history.  You don’t need to pay someone to do for you something you can do for yourself.

The best way to begin is to order your credit report from each of the three main Credit Reporting Agencies, better known as credit bureaus.  The credit bureaus don’t gather or report the same information or accounts so it is important for you to have all available information to establish your financial baseline.  Also, you don’t know which creditor uses which credit bureau when they are considering your application for credit.

There is no reason to pay for a copy of your credit report.  Each credit reporting agency is required to give you a free copy of your report each year. You can request the copy directly from the credit reporting agency or from the  only official government site required to provide the report to you.  If you decide to request your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency you are not required to pay for the many other “services” they offer on their website.  Depending upon the laws of your state you may also be entitled to additional copies each year or when there have been a certain number of negative entries to your report.

Equifax                800-525-6285

Trans Union        800-680-7289

Experian              888-397-3742

When you receive your report it is important to review the details.  Be sure the information is correct.  There may be account and contact information that does not belong to you.  Always write a letter with the information you want to dispute and include specific details on why the reported information is incorrect.  It is a good idea to send the dispute letters via certified mail with return receipt requested. Feel free to contact us to assist you in working though consumer protection challenges.