There was a time when consumers in America were essentially helpless when it came to dishonest business practices and defective products.
It was only in the last 40-50 years that we’ve seen the advent of laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Truth in Lending Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act which give a legal voice against the banks and credit bureaus that have the ability to negatively impact a consumer’s credit profile.
And although these laws are designed to help consumers, they aren’t always followed or enforced. That’s where a consumer law attorney can help.
What is a consumer law attorney?
A consumer law attorney is a lawyer who focuses on protecting the rights of ordinary citizens who have been cheated, threatened or otherwise abused in the course of doing business.
Some of these lawyers are attorneys who work for government agencies that handle consumer affairs, or for public interest groups. Others go into private practice to handle individual consumer claims or larger class action suits.
It’s a field that touches virtually everyone in the country. We all interact with banks and credit companies. We all run the risk of being denied a loan due to inaccurate credit reporting, contacted by an abusive debt collector for someone else’s debt, or victimized by a car repossession when payments are misapplied.
But who can we turn to when things go wrong?
Consumer lawyers understand consumer credit law. They know when a consumer’s rights have been violated by the credit bureau, debt collector or bank, and will fight for your rights in court…and in most cases, the “Bad Guys” pay the consumer’s legal bill.
What kind of cases do consumer law attorneys handle?
An attorney who specializes in consumer law might handle all types of cases. Some of the most common practice areas include:
1. Debt collection
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from unscrupulous attempts to collect unpaid bills.
Debt collection companies are not allowed to threaten you with action they can’t/don’t intend to take. Nor can they contact your relatives or co-workers about your debt, give you false information or keep calling you after you send them a written request to stop. And when a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can take them to court.
There are many ways to identify debt collection harassment, but attempting to stop this behavior can be difficult, especially as you try to manage your day-to-day life.
If you don’t feel confident enough to go after a debt collector in court, a consumer law attorney can take up your cause and determine whether the collection agency violated the FDCPA.
2. Car repossession
A bank, credit union or finance company can repossess a vehicle if the borrower has fallen behind on payments.
Yet under the law, lenders and car repossession companies still must operate within the law. There are rules detailing how and when they can begin repossession proceedings, how the repossession must be conducted by the repo agent, what kind of notices they must give after the repossession and how a sale of the car should be handled.
If any of these rules were ignored or overlooked during or after the repossession, you may be able to take legal action, even if you had fallen behind on your payments. A consumer law attorney can help you navigate this complicated legal territory.
3. Credit reports
Your credit history can determine everything from what kind of car you drive, to the job you have, to where you live, which is why it’s important that all the information on your credit report is accurate.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)protects consumers from inaccurate or outdated credit report listings, duplicate listings of the same account, mis-merged files, and other errors.
If you discover any inaccuracies on your report, or that your report was accessed without your permission, you should send a written dispute to the credit bureau in question (Equifax, Experian or Transunion). If they don’t correct the information, or provide you with information about who obtained your report, a consumer law attorney can help you determine whether your rights have been violated and help you dispute errors in your credit report.
4. Unwanted calls
If you’ve been getting unwanted calls to your cell phone from a telemarketer, bank or collection agency, you can write to them to revoke your permission to get calls or texts.
If the auto-dialed calls, or “robocalls”, continue, the caller may be in violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, (TCPA) which allows consumers to receive between $500 and $1,500 for every call they get after revoking their consent. A good consumer lawyer understands your rights under the TCPA and how to effectively defend them in court. Who can I call about a consumer law issue?
If you’ve been the victim of a car repossession, unscrupulous debt collectors, robocalls or an inaccurate credit report, the consumer law attorneys at Flitter Milz can help you seek justice.
Our attorneys understand consumer protection law. Their experience in bringing cases under the FDCPA, FCRA and the TCPA have enabled consumers to standup to abusive collection tactics, credit reporting accuracy and privacy violations, unwanted “robocalls”, and unlawful vehicle repossessions. Contact us for a free legal evaluation and we’ll get to work on making sure you get the protection every consumer deserves.