Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact The Consumer Law Group, P.C.. The questions below can address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find the answers here, you may contact us for answers to more complex questions or questions specific to your case.
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How can a consumer determine if his vehicle was wrecked prior to being sold to him?
There are several ways to determine if a vehicle has a salvage history or has been wrecked prior to being sold to a consumer. The consumer can obtain a Carfax report, a DMV title history, or contact his insurance provider to locate salvage or wreck history, but the best way for a consumer to know for sure, and to have the requisite expert that will be required in a court of law, is for the consumer to have the vehicle inspected by a licensed body shop expert.
What can a consumer do if she pays a mechanic to fix her car, and they replace the wrong part, while charging her for a different part?
Some mechanic shops charge a consumer to replace a part in their vehicle, while just repairing the part, or not even touching that part, and attempting to repair a problem through other means, without disclosing this to the consumer. It is fraudulent to charge for a part that is not replaced. The consumer should first ask for a written estimate that describes what you have asked the mechanic to repair. The estimate should include a price for parts and labor. Ideally, it will list the parts to be replaced. Then the consumer should be in the habit of asking the mechanic to give him back the old parts before paying for the repair, and taking back the vehicle. Also, if the consumer states that he/she is going to want the old parts back after work is performed before authorizing the work, it may prevent this fraud from occurring. In the event that a repair is conducted, and the mechanic cannot produce the old part(s), and then an expert mechanic acknowledges the fraud, the consumer should contact The Consumer Law Group at 804-282-7900 immediately.
What can a consumer do if a mechanic is negligent in repairing the vehicle, and this negligence leads to a future problem or an accident?
In the event that the consumer has reason to suspect that a repair facility performed a repair negligently, and has thus caused further damage to the vehicle as a consequence, the consumer has the burden of proof and must obtain a expert mechanic to inspect the vehicle and testify that the previous mechanic was negligent, and specifically, that their negligence was the exact cause of the current problem(s), or that their negligence created a condition that was the direct cause of an accident.
What can a consumer do if there is an error on his credit report?
As a safety precaution, a consumer should randomly obtain a copy of his credit report to insure it is accurate, about once every 6 months or at least once a year. When a consumer finds an error on his report, he needs to send a certified letter formally disputing the error with each of the three major credit bureaus, listed on this site, with a copy of the current report attached with the error highlighted. The credit reporting agencies must comply within 30 days either with notice of removal of the error, or with an explanation of the entry. If the consumer does not receive correspondence from the agencies within this 30 day period, the agencies may be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the consumer should contact The Consumer Law Group immediately.
What should a consumer do if his identity has been stolen and used to obtain credit?
The consumer should first be aware that identity theft is a crime that must be reported to the police authorities. A stumbling block is that, often, this crime is perpetrated by a family member, and the victim does not want to get his family member in trouble; in which case, there is not much we can do. But once the victim does press charges and the state is successful in prosecuting the criminal, the consumer then must formally dispute the items on his credit report. The consumer should obtain a current report from all three credit agencies and highlight the disputed items. The credit agencies are required to respond within 30 days. The agencies must notify you of removal of the item(s) or notify you of the validity of the item(s). If not, then the agency may be in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the consumer should contact The Consumer Law Group immediately.
What should a consumer do when a warranty company rejects honoring the warranty because they claim the consumer did not maintain the vehicle, or that the consumer abused the vehicle?
When the warranty company rejects a claim based on the consumer’s improper maintenance, or because the consumer abused the vehicle, the consumer has the burden of proof to show that the vehicle’s problem is a result of a factory defect as opposed to the consumer's lack of maintenance. This will require the consumer to hire an expert mechanic to conduct an inspection of the vehicle, prepare a report, and be willing to testify if he/she discovers that the vehicle is defective, and that the consumer is not the cause of the vehicle’s mechanical problems.
What should a consumer do once he knows that the vehicle was wrecked prior to being sold to him?
Upon discovery that the vehicle has been wrecked prior to ownership, the consumer needs to have the vehicle inspected by an expert body shop and have a report completed, and then contact The Consumer Law Group at 804-282-7900 so the remaining investigation can be conducted and the case can be evaluated.
What are some ways to avoid Credit Fraud Identity Theft?
1. The next time you order checks, have your initials (instead of your first name) and last name put on the checks. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks. 2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put “PHOTO ID REQUIRED.” 3. When your are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, do not put the complete account number on the “For” line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won’t have access to your credit card number. 4. Put your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a Post Office Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a Post Office Box, use your work address. Never have your Social Security number printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary, but if you have it printed, anyone can get it. 5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. You should also carry a photocopy of your passport with you when you travel either here or abroad. 6. If your credit cards are stolen, file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where they were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). 7. If your credit cards are stolen, call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. The numbers to the three credit reporting organizations are: A. Equifax: 1-888-766-0008 B. Experian: 1-888-397-3742 C. Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289 The number to the Social Security Administration fraud line is 1-800-269-0271.
How do I get my annual free credit report?
Visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also call 1-877-322-8228, or write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105821, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.