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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Why is a debt collector calling me?
If you have past-due medical bills, piles of credit card debt, or owe the furnace guy for a repair he made last winter, you may not be surprised to get a call from a debt collection agency. Companies often contract out collection of past-due payments because they don’t have the resources to keep requesting payment from a delinquent customer. However, you may be contacted by a debt collector when you don’t think you owe anybody. This may be a legitimate call, or it may not.
Why a Debt Collector May Call
The most obvious reason a debt collector calls is because they believe you owe money. The first time a debt collector calls, you should hear him out to make sure it is not, in fact, a debt you owe. Never provide the caller with any personal information; if it is a legitimate call, he will have the information he needs. Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and phone number, and then request a written validation notice. If he is unable to provide this information, he may not be a legitimate debt collector. Other reasons you may be contacted by a debt collection agency include the following:
To locate a friend or family member. If a debt collector is trying to track down someone you may know, they may call you one time—any more than this is considered harassment and is illegal—but may not reveal that the person owes a debt. You are under no obligation to reveal any information and the collector may not call you again.
Your debt has been sold. Debt buyers are companies that purchase debt from creditors and then attempt to collect on it. You may be contacted by one of these companies. You should not give the caller any personal information and should request a validation notice. You cannot be sued for old debt, so it is important to ask for transaction dates.
You are being scammed. Criminals often randomly call people claiming to be a collection agency and accusing them of owing money in an attempt to get a credit card number or cash transfer. Never give information over the phone and always ask them to verify their identity.
There are strict laws in place that prohibit debt collectors from harassing people by phone or in person. If you believe you are being harassed by a debt collection agency, contact The Consumer Law Group, P.C. for assistance. Once you have hired a lawyer, the debt collector will be required by law to only communicate with your attorney.
How can I register a complaint with the FTC?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has heard it all. They know that crooks are cooking up new scams every day and that vulnerable people fall for them and lose billions of dollars each year. Consumer Reports revealed that 27 million people lost nearly $8 billion to telemarketing scams alone in 2015, the most common being a phony call from the Internal Revenue Service demanding immediate payment of taxes and fees. So what can you do when this happens to you?
File a Complaint
Once you have been duped, it may be very difficult to get your money back, but it is still important that you report the problem to the FTC. By doing so, you will help the agency track common scams so that they can investigate and warn others. The FTC has made it very easy to report problems—from an annoyance complaint to an outright crime—through its interactive website, the FTC Complaint Assistant. There, you will be asked to choose one of the following categories and a sub-category for your complaint:
Scams and rip-offs: counterfeit checks; imposter scams; prizes, sweepstakes, or lotteries; and romance scams.
Telemarketing: unwanted telemarketing phone calls, texts, or emails.
Mobile devices and telephones: devices, services, plans and contracts, and billing.
Internet services, online shopping, computers: internet service providers, online auctions, internet gaming, children’s online privacy, social networking, online retailers, malicious computer viruses, and general hardware/software concerns.
Education and jobs: for-profit schools, online classes, scholarship programs, multi-level marketing plans, pyramid schemes, and fake employment opportunities.
Credit and debt: credit cards, loans, mortgages, payday loans, credit reporting, and debt collection agencies.
Once you have chosen the best category for your complaint, you will be asked to provide information about the product or service, how much money you lost, and give a detailed account of what happened. While the FTC does not resolve individual complaints, by reporting the problems, you will receive information on what your next steps should be to try to resolve the issue. There may be another agency to contact—including the police—and they may advise you to contact a consumer attorney to assist you in your fight to resolve the issue and get your money back. If you are in need of a consumer attorney in Virginia, contact The Consumer Law Group, P.C.
How do I know if the issue with my vehicle is covered under a limited written warranty?
Federal law requires that every warranty be labeled as either full or limited. The minimum standards to be labeled "full" are:
- It cannot restrict the warranty rights of a subsequent owner during its stated duration;
- It must promise to remedy defects within a reasonable time without charge;
- It cannot limit the duration of any implied warranty;
- It cannot limit consequential damages unless such exclusion or limitation conspicuously appears on the face of the warranty;
- It must permit the consumer, after a reasonable number of attempts by the warrantor to remedy the defect, to elect a refund or replacement of the defective product or part; and
- In most cases, it must require no duty of the consumer other than notification of the defect.
Very few warranties these days are "full," thus these requirements have not had much impact.
Limited warranties, on the other hand, which are what most warranties are these days, can be restricted in any number of ways, including who may enforce the warranty, the duration of the warranty, what parts of the vehicle are covered, as well as requiring the buyer to take certain steps as a precondition's duties.
To decide if your vehicle or the problem you are experiencing is covered, you will need to review your warranty to detemine if it has expired, or, if the defective part is covered by the warranty, what duties you must perform to obtain covereage, and if the warrranty has any exclusions or disclaimers that would give the warrantor the right to deny the claim. For example, many warranties do not cover "pre-existing problems." This means that if the defect existed at the time of purchase, the warranty is not going to cover it. Therefore purchasing a limited warranty with such an exclusion is of no benefit for mechanical or prior accident damage problems that exist at the time of purchase that could be claimed to be the result of those pre-existing problems.
If your defect is excluded, all hope is not lost. State laws generally imply certain warranties, such as the warranty of merchantability, and if you are given a written warranty, the warranty of merchantability applies for the duration of the written warranty.
It is for this reason that we strongly encourage a detailed inspection by a qualified mechanic and body shop prior to purchase to detemine if the vehicle has prior accident damage or existing mechanical problems that will provide an excuse for the warrantor to disclaim responsibility for a claim you may have.
If the seller of your vehicle failed to provide you with this information or is failing to live up to its terms, you may have a claim for breach of warranty, and sometimes attorney fees are recoverable. We encourage you to contact us for more information about protecting your legal rights. Call us today at 804-282-7900.
How do I find the VIN on my vehicle?
So, where can you find the VIN on your vehicle in order to order a vehicle history report from AutoCheck? The VIN can often be found on the lower-left corner of the dashboard, in front of the steering wheel. You can read the number by looking through the windshield. The VIN may also appear in a number of other locations. Here is a list of some of the possible places to look:
- At the front of the engine block. This should be easy to spot b popping open the hood, and looking at the front of the engine.
- At the front of the car frame, near the container that holds windshield washer fluid.
- At a rear wheel well. Try looking up direction above the tire.
- Inside the driver-side doorjamb. Open the door, and look underneath where the side-view mirror would be located if the door was shut.
- At the driver-side door post. Open the door, and look near the spot where the door latches, not too far from the seat belt return.
- Underneath the spare tire.
What is the Virginia Consumer Protection Act?
The Virginia Consumer Protection Act is a statute similar to statutes in almost all other 50 states, called Uniform Deceptive Acts and Practices statutes. These statutes vary from state to state. Generally, they prohibit any misreprentation, fraud, false promises or unfair acts in a consumer transaction. Generally these statutes apply to any transaction involving products or services to be used primarily for personal, family or household purposes, and they apply to any "supplier", which may be the immediate seller, or even a remote seller or manufacturer, that uses a dealer to supply it's goods or services. These statutes usually provide the possible recovery of legal fees for willful or unintenional violations, and the recovery of punitive damages (damages to punish the worngdoer).
What legal action can I take against a debt collector?
If you believe a debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act you may sue the collector. To see if this is the case, look at the FDCPA here. Call us at (804)282-7900.
Is it worth it for me to look into debt settlement for just one card?
Debt settlement can work for multiple unsecured debts or just one or two unsecured debts. We need to review your information before determining what can be done as every situation is different. The review of your financial situation is FREE. Call us at 804-282-7900.