Maryland Court of Appeals’ Decision is a Victory for Consumers

Maryland Court of Appeals’ Decision is a Victory for Consumers

We often see people who are being sued in district court for debts by creditors or debt buyers. Many times, these people not only have defenses, but they have affirmative claims – meaning that the creditor or debt buyer has done something illegal or unfair and deceptive, and they have a claim against the creditor. Before the Cain decision, these companies got away with suing consumers in court, and keeping its wrongdoing hidden from the legal system by seeking arbitration when the consumer sued the company.  We are hopeful that this decision will prevent companies from using arbitration, the corporate get-out-of-jail-free card, in the future when a consumer is sued first.

CFPB's Report on Debt Collection

CFPB's Report on Debt Collection

A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report found that more than half of consumers who reported being contacted about a debt also reported that the debt was not theirs, was owed by a family member, or was for the wrong amount. Unfortunately, the survey also found that debt collectors continue to use threatening tactics and most people who are sued for a debt do not show up in court.

 

Tenants rights = human rights

Maryland Legal Aid has published a study of rent court proceedings in 2012 for Failure to Pay Rent (FTPR). The random sample of cases provided statistically significant results and found widespread due process problems and procedural deficiencies within cases where judgments for possession and money judgments were entered against tenants.  Study here - http://www.mdlab.org/wp-content/uploads/MDLegalAid_RentCourtStudy_Release-Date-9-8-16.pdf.

Using the sample data, there were an estimated 107,000 judgments against tenants were obtained despite a failure on the part of the landlord to comply with Maryland law. 

1 year. 107,000 judgments.

Full post as published in The Daily Record is found here - http://thedailyrecord.com/2016/09/20/tenants-rights-human-rights/

Wells Fargo's Deception - Tips to avoid being a victim

Wells Fargo's Deception - Tips to avoid being a victim

News went public this week that Wells Fargo employees had opened millions of accounts for consumers without their knowledge or consent. Now consumers not only have to worry about criminal identify thieves, but they also have to protect themselves from profit-driven schemes by their own banks.  Unfortunately, Wells Fargo's wrongdoing is not the first time a large bank has profited at the expense of consumers. In 2013, Chase and JP Morgan Chase were fined for illegal credit card practices (CFPB article here) and a year later, we learned about Bank of America's deceptive and illegal practices (CFPB article here). The worst part is when consumers are sued on accounts they never opened by either the bank or a debt buyer. You could have a judgment entered against you, and have your house and wages threatened! So how can you prevent this from happening to you? Here are a couple of tips:

  1. Get your free annual credit report every year. The Federal Trade Commission provides this form: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0093-annual-report-request-form.pdf. If you see anything unfamiliar or suspicious, SVO may be able to help. 
  2. Freeze or block your credit so that new accounts can't be opened at all in your name. You can then lift the freeze if you want to open an account. You can learn more about that here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs.
  3. Open all mail! This may seem simple, but a lot of times we hear about people who throw away mail from unfamiliar people/companies, when these companies are trying to collect a debt against them. If you receive a strange letter in the mail that is threatening to file suit against you, you should contact an attorney.

If you yourself had a Wells Fargo account, or know someone who did, and believe the bank may have opened an account in your name without your consent, we may be able to help.