Consumer Rights Law

What should I do when I see an error on my credit report? (NY)

Errors on a consumer¡¦s credit report should be immediately reported to all three credit reporting agencies in a formal letter identifying the credit issue at fault and requesting an investigation into the matter. Federal law requires the credit reporting agency to conduct an investigation and take action within 30 days of receipt of the credit issue. The agency will then require the entity reporting the information to provide verification of its findings. Unverified information is removed from the report.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I live in an apartment in New York and frequently receive telephone calls asking for prior residents. What do I do, as a consumer, if I receive a letter or phone call from a creditor (or collection agency) regarding a debt that is not mine? (NY)

Phone calls from creditors or other credit issues can be easily dealt with by consumers, whether in New York or anywhere else, by the same procedure. A letter disputing the validity of the debt should be sent by the consumer to the creditor. The creditor is thereby required to cease all collection activity until they are able provide written verification of the debt by the consumer.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I am being harassed and threatened by debt collectors. Are they allowed to do that? (NY)

It is illegal in every state including New York to verbally abuse a debtor or consumer on the phone or falsely threaten a consumer in order to collect money for a debt. Consumer-debtors have certain notice rights under federal law that a creditor is required to complete with respect to these credit issues. A consumer is within their right to sue the debt collector or creditor for a statutory penalty of up to $1000 for a violation of this federal law.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I co-signed on a loan contract for a car for my sister. She defaulted on the loan. Am I liable for with the debt? (NY)

Generally, yes. A consumer who co-signs a loan contract is also liable for a defaulted loan, whether a family member, friend or another consumer. However, there are certain notice requirements relating to this credit issue that can provide strong defense to any lawsuit brought by the creditor against the consumer co-signing the loan.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I contracted a home improvement contractor to do work on my home in New York. I paid the contract price in full then the contractor walked off the job. What are my consumer rights? (NY)

An estimate by a second contractor should be obtained for the cost to complete the unfinished work. A consumer has the right to sue the contractor to specifically perform the contract under which the consumer paid all or part of the contract price. Alternatively the first contractor can be sued for the amount for responsible to the second contractor that exceeds the price of the original contract between the consumer and first contractor.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

What factors are important for a lawyer to consider in handling consumer class action lawsuits? (NY)

Experienced lawyers will consider the following in consumer class action lawsuits:
Was there a practice or policy committed by a company that may be considered wrong or improper?
Was this practice limited to one company or did more than one company commit these acts?
What is the practice or policy?
Was this practice or policy applied to one person, or was more than one person a victim of these actions (i.e. does the possibility exist to initiate a class action)?
Did a financial loss ensue due to the practice or policy?
Is it possible that other people may have suffered the same kind of damages because of the practice or policy, even though the amounts suffered may not be equal?
Is the average damage per person relatively small?
Was the client(s) ever sued by the company?
Multiply the number of people wronged by the practice or policy by the average amount of damages. Is the value of the total damages in excess of one million dollars?
In class action lawsuits, the ratio of people wronged to the amount of damage each person is wronged is very important. The greater the number of people wronged, the smaller each person's damages will need to be to successfully implement class action procedures. However, in cases where the number of people wronged is small, the required damages per person must be greater. For example, if there 10,000 people wronged and each person suffered damages of $200, the total damages would be $2,000,000. If there were 1,000,000 people damaged, each person would only have to suffer $2 to reach a total damage of $2,000,000.

(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

What are some examples of situations that may result in a class action? (NY)

There are many possible situations that may warrant a class action lawsuit. The following are but a small sample:
The company changed the fee being charged without a request for approval.
A product was purchased which offered a mail-in rebate. The request for a rebate was rejected because the small print on the rebate form, which was smaller than other print on the form, was not noticed and the requirements listed within were not followed accordingly. Computer or video equipment was damaged soon after being purchased. It is discovered that this was not an isolated incident. The same problem occurred to many others and the company neglected to notify potential customers of the problem. A fee was charged in violation of a state or federal law.
Any of the above offers the possibility of a successful class action lawsuit. One should consult a competent class action lawyer about the particulars of a case to discover the options that may be available to pursue.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I just learned that someone has a default judgment against me. Is there anything I can do? (NY)

There are possible recourses to a default judgment. To vacate (remove) a default judgment, one needs to make a motion and persuade a judge to issue an order in their favor. Generally, two actions must be proven: (1) a reasonable excuse must be forwarded on why there was a default. For example, papers were not received on time or were not received at all. (2) A defense to the claims must be established. To provide a viable defense it is recommended to go to the court where the case was decided. The court file is open to the public, and copies of its contents can be made. These are available at the clerk¡¦s office. Once the file is obtained, try to find and to copy the following papers: the judgment; the order, the decision on which the default judgment is based (if it exists); the notice of motion or order to show cause that asked for the default judgment; and last, but not least, the ¡§affidavit of service¡¨ of the summons issued against the defendant. There may be more than one of the latter. Once in possession of these documents, it is recommended to consult a New York lawyer.
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