Consumer Protection Lawyer in Kansas City
When consumers are treated poorly by businesses, they often don’t know where to turn.
There are a wide variety of state and federal laws that protect consumers, but to most folks all of the different statutes are either unknown or too confusing. That is where I can help. I can help you sort out the “alphabet soup” of statues that can help, and evaluate your particular case to see if you have legal recourse.
Consumer problems that I have assisted prior clients with include:
Debt Collector Harassment
Have you been contacted by a debt collector recently? Do you feel like the debt collectors have been abusive or harassing? Do you feel like the debt collectors are saying things to you that are false regarding you or your finances?
A federal law passed in 1978 regulates debt collectors’ actions and is designed to prevent bad behavior by debt collectors. It is called the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). You have numerous rights under the FDCPA and debt collectors are obligated to follow certain rules. For instance:
- debt collectors cannot contact you at odd hours of the day
- they cannot contact you at work if you have told them not to
- they cannot discuss the details of your debt with third parties (except for your spouse or attorney)
- they cannot harass you, make false statements, or threaten you with legal action that they cannot legally undertake
- they cannot garnish your wages unless they take you to court and get a judgment against you
- most importantly, if you tell the debt collector in writing to stop contacting you, they must comply (with certain exceptions)
If a debt collector has violated any of these or other FDCPA rules, you may be able to collect up to $1,000, actual damages, and your attorney’s fees. You can go directly to the FTC’s website to learn more about the FDCPA. If you think you may have a good claim against a debt collector, contact us for legal help.
Breach of Warranty
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law enacted in 1975 that covers any written warranty given by a merchant in connection with the sale of any consumer product. The Act requires many things if a merchant provides a written warranty, including but not limited to:
- The warranty must specify clearly whether it is a “full” or “limited” warranty
- The warranty must be written in clear, simple language that the average consumer can understand
- The warranty, if offered, must be available to the consumer before the purchase
- The warranty must include: what it covers, how long it lasts, what the merchant will do to correct problems, how the consumer can get service, and how state law affects the warranty
In addition to these requirements, the Act also prohibits certain things from the warranty including but not limited to:
- Deceptive or misleading terms
- In general, a warranty cannot require the use of certain ancillary products (so called “tie-in” sales) for the warranty to remain in effect, though some exceptions exist
- Perhaps most importantly, a written warranty cannot disclaim certain “implied warranties” that exist under state law, however some exceptions do exist
If you think you have a valid claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you may be able to collect actual damages plus attorney’s fees and court costs. If you would like more information, check out this website by the FTC. If you feel you have a good claim, contact us at Lawson Law Center.
Other consumer problems where I would like to help you:
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does more than guarantee you a free credit score report every year. The FCRA also protects your credit report and the information it contains from reporting errors and other common problems. The FCRA mandates many things including:
- If you find inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report, you have the right to dispute those inaccuracies
- The agencies that put information on your credit report have a duty to include accurate information, and to fix or remove any inaccurate or unverifiable information
- You have a right to know if information in your credit report is used against you
- An employer cannot get access to your credit report without your written consent
- Some debt collectors will purchase a debt and list a new age for the debt. This causes a “re-aging” of the debt, which prevents the debt from be removed from your credit report when it should have
- Victims of ID theft and people whose credit reports have inadvertently been mixed up with others have certain rights under the FCRA as well
If you think one of these rules has been violated in connection with you or your credit report, take a look at the FTC’s helpful list of your rights. Or contact us to arrange an appointment.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
You may not know that the Fair Credit Reporting Act was amended to include something called the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). FACTA not only enhances some of the provisions of the FCRA, but includes several new provisions including:
- a provision that any credit card receipt (except those written by hand or imprint) you get from a business can only list up to the last five digits of your credit card number
- Businesses are also prohibited from including your card’s expiration date
- credit card issuers are required to take certain steps to verify address change requests to prevent identity theft
- credit reporting agencies are required to give identity theft victims a notice of their rights
If you would like more information, check out this non-profit website. If you think you have a claim relating to one of the provisions listed above, contact us.
The Electronic Funds Transfer Act
The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (ETFA) affects many of the things you do every day. Did you know that ATMs are required by law to give notice of any service fee they charge for a transaction. The EFTA also says that you cannot be forced to repay credit via direct deposit. In addition, if you are paid via direct deposit, you cannot be forced to choose a particular financial institution to use. If you think you have an EFTA issue, contact us.
The Fair Credit Billing Act
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) covers any type of credit card account and contains settlement procedures for common billing errors. Some of the more common things the FCBA covers:
- unauthorized charges (you are only liable for up to $50)
- incorrect charge dates or amounts
- failure to post payments or other credits to your account
- math errors on your bill
- failure to respond to proper requests by you for an explanation or written proof of purchase
- failure to send bills to your current address IF you have provided the company with your new address within 20 days before that billing period ended.
If you believe one of these errors has occurred in connection with your account, check the FTC’s website for much more information. It can explain how to prepare a letter to the credit card company, and what you need to do to trigger the protections of the law. If you think you have a valid claim, you may be able to collect your damages, plus twice the amount of the finance charges (between $100 to $1,000) and attorneys fees and costs. If you need help with such a dispute, please contact us.
The Credit Repair Organizations Act
The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) covers dealings between consumers and credit repair organizations. Several things the act prohibits include:
Advance payments for credit repair services
Deceptive practices by credit repair services
In addition, CROA requires several things as well, including but not limited to:
- written contracts between the consumer and the credit repair service
- certain disclosures are required to be included in the contract
- you have a right to cancel your contract within three (3) days of the beginning
- the contract must come with a notification of your right to cancel
If your rights have been violated you can collect actual damages and possibly punitive damages. If you think you have a good claim under CROA, contact us.
If you want help with your consumer law problem, please tell me about it and see if I can help.