Consumer Rights Law
Consumer Rights Law
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The federal government attempted to end historic collection abuses that debt collectors engaged in during the 1970s when Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, or the “FDCPA,” 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. The act specifically prohibits debt collectors from engaging in certain kinds of conduct in an attempt to collect a debt, including, but not limited to engaging in harassing conduct, misrepresenting the facts or law, contacting employers or other third parties to humiliate and embarrass the debtor into paying, attempting to collect a debt passed the statute of limitations or that has been discharged in a bankruptcy, or threatening imprisonment or even hinting at how the debtor’s failure to pay may constitute criminal conduct for which they may be arrested.
The FDCPA allows the debtor to go from being the hunted, to the hunter by granting the debtor the right to bring a private right of action against the debt collector for violating the Act. If a debt collector is found to have violated the Act, the debt collector will be ordered to pay the debtor up to $1,000.00 in statutory damages, along with any actual provable damages that the debtor may be able to establish, which, depending on the circumstances can be considerably higher than the $1000 statutory damage award. The most powerful part of the Act, however, is that it allows for the consumer debtor to recover his or her attorney’s fees and costs of suit from the debt collector. That means you can higher an attorney without having to pay anything down, recovery up to $1000 in statutory damages and any actual damages and have the debt collector pay for your attorney.
If you are considering filing a lawsuit against a debt collector, please take careful note that the statute of limitations is only 1 year from the date of the violation. Therefore, it is critical to document all interactions with debt collectors, including saving all written communications and documenting telephone calls notating the name of the collection agency, the name of the representative you spoke to, employee identification number, date of call, telephone number, and what was discussed. In many instances, the difference between a successful claim and one that cannot even be filed is proper documentation. please take note of the utmost importance of creditor harassment documentation.
If you are being harassed by creditors, please contact the attorneys at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC either on-line, or by telephone at (847) 596-7494 in order to schedule a free initial consultation.
Automobile Sales Fraud
The automobile industry spends a tremendous amount of money on television commercials, radio ads, and even social media targeted advertisements. Many of those ads make us feel good, excited at the prospect of making a large investment and what that investment signifies to our friends and loved ones—that we are moving on up in the world. Unfortunately, the advertisements conveniently leave out the aggravation that many consumers go through during the car buying process. Sometimes, that aggravation can lead to financial calamity through dealer fraud. This happens to more of us than we would like to admit. Millions of sales transactions occur every year across the country, and in a great percentage of those transactions, the dealer engages in car sales involve fraud, deception, or unfair practice.
Car dealerships will often tell the unsuspecting consumer that “they are not making any money on the transaction” or that they are selling the car for “invoice” as a way of convincing the consumer that they are receiving a great deal. The truth is, dealers make most of their money by selling unnecessary add ons, such as third-party service contracts for drivetrain or cosmetic work, GAP insurance, and, of course, they also make a profit through the financing of the transaction. The potential for fraud is greatly increased when the consumer is shopping for a used car, because the dealer still has all of the incentives to drive the consumer into unnecessary options, but because it is often difficult to ascertain the quality and condition of the vehicle, the unsuspecting consumer could find themselves in a vehicle that is in poor condition, in need of substantial repairs, or, is not worth the money the consumer paid for it. In some instances, dealers represent a vehicle to be certified pre-owned, banking on the weight that phrase carries with consumers to drive up the sales price when the car is not actually certifiable, has not gone through the requisite inspection, and the consumer is left with a car of significant diminished value as compared to the value the consumer bought the car for. Undisclosed defects such as prior accident history, odometer discrepancies, and mechanical defects will significantly reduce the resale value of the car.
The fact is, there are thousands of ways in which a dealer can take advantage of a consumer, from the basic bait and switch, to misrepresentation concerning the merchantability of the vehicle. Thankfully, there are legal remedies available for aggrieved consumers to fight back against these unfair practices. These include claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Magnusson Moss Warranty Act, the Equal Credit opportunity Act, and the Truth in Lending Act. Most of these statues allow the prevailing consumer to recover attorney’s fees from the dealership. This means that if you were harmed by a dealership, you could end up not only having the dealer pay you your monetary out of pocket damages, but, with a successful claim, you will also have t he dealer be ordered to pay for your attorney’s fees and litigation costs. This drastically levels the playing field and allows for the every day consumer to fight back against the giant money machine that is the automobile sales industry.
If you or anyone you know has suffered loss from the unfair, dishonest, deceitful or fraudulent practices of car dealership, please have them contact Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC to discuss their legal options.