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WHAT ARE ATTORNEYS’ FEES AND HOW ARE THEY AWARDED?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on January 12, 2016

 

We have talked a lot in other articles about how your attorneys’ fees can be awarded for successful prosecutions of actions under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act. Sometimes people ask what this means and how are they awarded by the court.

It is not every case that allows for the court to award attorneys’ fees, because typically the court only rules upon a motion for attorneys’ fees after the consumer (our client) wins on the merits. The majority of cases settle for a specific lump sum of money, from which the attorneys will normally take a percentage on a contingency fee basis as their fees. However, if your case goes to trial and you win a verdict in your favor, or if your case is won pre-trial on motion for summary judgment, then the law requires that the creditor or collector who violated your rights to pay your attorneys’ fees by order of the court (unless they decide to settle for a specific amount of fees).

In some cases, and more rarely, the creditor or debt collector against whom the lawsuit was brought might agree to a settlement whereby the consumer (our client) is awarded a specific amount of damages and then our attorneys’ fees and costs are to be decided by the court.

In the attached example that you can read here, the defendants Western Dental Services and their debt collector Herbert P. Sears Company, Inc. did exactly that. They agreed that our client would be awarded a specific, but confidential, sum of money with our attorneys’ fees and costs being decided by motion to the court.

The total amount awarded by the court was $65,277.28 for attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation. This was based on what is called the “lodestar” calculation, which requires the court to simply calculate a reasonable hourly rate by a reasonable number of hours expended by the attorneys in order to come up with the total amount to be awarded.

However, it is often not clear how the attorneys are awarded a certain hourly rate. The lodestar method typically requires the court to look at what is an average hourly rate for other attorneys in the same jurisdiction as the court where the case was filed with similar experience as the attorney whose motion is pending. It is common in the consumer rights area for the courts to rely on the U.S. Consumer Law Attorney Fee Survey Report that is prepared every couple of years in order to document the average salary for consumer attorneys in each region and territory within the United States, mostly based on experience level and years of practice. The 2013-2014 version of this survey was prepared by Ronald L. Burdge, Esq., and can be found on the National Consumer Law Center’s website at https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/litigation/fee-survey-report-2013-2014.pdf.

The court ruling got to the total amount of $65,277.28 by adding the reasonable costs of litigation to the total hourly amounts awarded to Jared M. Hartman at $349.00 per hour and Babak Semnar at $425.00 per hour in connection with their prosecution of claims under the Federal and Rosenthal FDCPA and California credit reporting act.

If you or a loved one are concerned about whether your rights have been violated by a debt collector, creditor, bank, or credit reporting agency, please do not hesitate to call us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss whether your case might fall within one of the areas of law that allow us to pursue our attorneys’ fees in a similar manner.

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BEEN SUED BY MOUNTAIN LION ACQUISITIONS, INC.?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on February 10, 2015

 

Mountain Lion Acquisitions, Inc. is known as a “debt buyer” under California law, as it is an entity that purchases charged-off consumer debts for less than the value of the outstanding debt, and then attempts to collect the outstanding amount for the full or near full value in order to reap profits. Mountain Lion Acquisitions, Inc. regularly uses the Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers as its debt collection attorney, who sends threatening letters to the alleged debtor in an effort to collect for Mountain Lion Acquisitions. It is believed that Mountain Lion Acquisitions and Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers are both owned and operated by the same person—D. Scott Carruthers—as the secretary of state business search shows D. Scott Carruthers as the agent for service of process and his law office address as the same physical entity address for both companies.

The Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers has been the subject of multiple lawsuits for what have alleged to be unfair and unscrupulous debt collection tactics, including misrepresenting the amount of the alleged debt, false threats regarding lawsuits and criminal prosecution, misrepresentations as to the alleged debtors’ rights under the FDCPA, among others.

It has come to light that Mountain Lion Acquisitions, Inc. is now also violating the California Fair Debt Buyer’s Practices Act (FDBPA)—Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.50-1788.64. The FDBPA requires that a debt buyer who files a debt collection lawsuit upon an allegedly outstanding consumer debt include certain required disclosures within the complaint, so long as the debt was purchased on or after January 1, 2014. These disclosures are required to protect the consumer, so that the consumer can make an informed decision about what the alleged debt is, where it came from, how much is actually owed, and can also allow the consumer to research the details of the alleged debt for security purposes.

In one particular example, a class action lawsuit recently filed by Hartman Law Office, Inc., Semnar Law Firm, Inc., Hyde & Swigart, and Kazerouni Law Group, APC alleges that Mountain Lion filed a complaint against the consumer on an alleged consumer debt—charged off but then purchased by Mountain Lion after January 1, 2014—and the complaint fails to include the name and address of the charge-off creditor, fails to state that it has complied with 1785.52, fails to provide the name and address of all purchasers after charge-off, and fails to state the nature of the debt and the transaction from which it was derived. All of this information, among others, are required to be included in the complaint pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.58. By failing to include these disclosures, the consumer is harmed because the complaint would not give sufficient information for the consumer to know why and for what purpose he or she is being sued by a company with whom the consumer never entered into any transactional relationship. Read the class action complaint here.

Violations of these laws entitles the consumer to recover any actual damages pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.62(a)(1); statutory damages in the amount up to $1,000.00 pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.62(a)(2); and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 1788.62(c)(1).

If you or a loved one have been contacted by the Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers for purposes of debt collection, or if you have been sued by the Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers on behalf of Mountain Lion Acquisitions, Inc., it is imperative you contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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FEDERAL FAIR TRADE COMMISSION PUBLISHES LIST OF BANNED DEBT COLLECTORS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on February 4, 2015

 

The FTC has legal enforcement powers to pursue action against companies that violate the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for engaging in conduct that amounts to harassment under the FDCPA. The FTC recently published a list on its website of many debt collectors against whom they have been successful obtaining federal court orders prohibiting them from engaging in further debt collection activities. Read the list here http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/banned-debt-collectors.

Additionally, the FTC website above has a link to view other entities against whom it has pursued enforcement actions, but did not obtain an injunction to prohibit further collection activities.

If you or a loved one have been contacted by any of the people or entities named in that list, then you or the loved one may have been the subject of a scam and should discontinue any further communications with the “debt collector” immediately. You should also contact the FTC to report them, and also contact us to see what your rights may be in seeking recovery by way of private lawsuit.

The FDCPA is designed to protect consumers. There are over 40 ways the FDCPA can be violated. If you or a loved one are being contacted by a debt collector, be sure to keep all letters, regularly check your credit report for inaccuracies, and write a journal about every phone call. See our webpage discussing the FDCPA for more information. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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HAVE YOU BEEN CONTACTED BY THE LAW OFFICES OF D. SCOTT CARRUTHERS FOR DEBT COLLECTION?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on December 8, 2014

 

If you or a loved one have been contacted by The Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers and they are claiming to be collecting on an old debt, then you should contact us immediately to discuss whether your consumer rights have been violated.

The law firm of Semnar & Hartman, LLP recently filed an FDCPA lawsuit against The Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit alleges that an employee named Cheryl of The Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers called the plaintiff at work multiple times and threatened him with a lawsuit on a debt from which the plaintiff was relieved years ago by the creditor. When the plaintiff protested, Cheryl began to threaten the plaintiff with having him served with the summons at work so as to embarrass and humiliate him and also claimed that he will lose the lawsuit if he tries to fight it. She also began to make very derogatory remarks such as asking how it is he can properly treat his patients as a nurse if he goes into default on his financial obligations, and also laughed at him when he said he was going to hire a lawyer. Cheryl also continued to call him at work despite his insistence that they not call him at work. Cheryl’s threats of having him served with a lawsuit at work were also in direct contradiction to a collection letter sent by Carruthers’ office that promised no litigation within the next 30 days. All of this conduct by Cheryl has resulted in the filing of a Complaint that can be read here

Further investigation into the debt collection practices of The Law Offices of D. Scott Carruthers have revealed a very disturbing pattern of violating consumer rights. Carruthers’ office has been sued multiple times in various District Courts for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for conduct that includes lies, improper threats, and false representations in connection with debt collection activity, such as collecting much more than the debt actually was, collecting on debts that have been stayed by order of a Bankruptcy court, contacting consumers directly despite knowing that the consumer was represented by an attorney, and for conduct very similar to that suffered by the plaintiff above. This disturbing patterns shows that Carruthers’ office either does not care to follow the law or does not properly train his employees despite being sued numerous times.

As a result, if you have been contacted by Carruthers’ office for collection of a consumer debt, then it is reasonable to suspect that your rights may have been violated. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss what your rights are.

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LAWSUITS ALLEGE WELLS FARGO BANK HAS ENGAGED IN MULTIPLE ACTS OF HARASSMENT, MISREPRESENTATIONS, AND DECEPTION TOWARDS ITS OWN CUSTOMERS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 25, 2014

 

Multiple lawsuits have been filed recently against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. alleging various violations of consumer rights.

In one case, the customers allege that they had a home mortgage loan with Wells Fargo in the State of Kansas that resulted in a short-sale, through which Wells Fargo received the benefit of approximately $9,000.00 more than the debt actually owed on the loan. Unfortunately, however, Wells Fargo did not properly update their records, as they suddenly started calling the customers repeatedly and demanding that the customers still owed them approximately $111,780.35 on the loan. When the customers tried to explain that Wells Fargo had already been paid that amount plus an additional $9,000.00 more, the representatives refused to listen to the customers and argued with them about how the customers were wrong.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Wells Fargo reported to the State of California Franchise Tax Board that the customers earned income within the State of California in tax year 2010, which prompted the Tax Board to issue notices of levies upon one of the customer’s wages for back taxes. However, the customers did not reside in the State of California in the year 2010, and the home mortgage loan dealt with property located in the State of Kansas. This lawsuit has alleged multiple violations of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to seek compensation for the emotional distress caused by Wells Fargo’s multiple incidents of deception, misrepresentation, and attempting to collect unlawful amounts. This complaint can be read here. WF Complaint 1

In another case, the customer had a student loan account with Wells Fargo. The lawsuit alleges that the customer transferred a payment from his Wells Fargo checking account into his student loan account in order to make a payment on his student loan obligation. Thereafter, Wells Fargo’s checking department reversed the payment without informing the client, which caused him to go into default on his student loan account without knowledge and without any fault of his own. The lawsuit further alleges that the student loan department began placing an unreasonable and obscene amount of calls to the customer and demanding that his acceleration clause kicked in to the point where he now owed the full amount of the loan, and the collection agents refused to listen to his explanation of how the default was no fault of his own.

After a Wells Fargo representative finally agreed that the default was no fault of the customer and reversed the default status on the account, Wells Fargo failed to properly update the customer’s consumer credit report and maintained that he was in default status, and even reported two derogatory accounts for the customer even though he only had one student loan account. The lawsuit therefore seeks redress for multiple violations of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the State and Federal Fair Credit Reporting Acts for Wells Fargo’s unfairness at reversing the student loan transfer, misrepresentations as to the acceleration clause being triggered, attempting to collect improper amounts, and failing to properly report accurate information upon the customer’s consumer credit report. This complaint can be read here. WF Complaint 2

Another lawsuit alleges that Wells Fargo unfairly harassed the customer’s elderly mother during a time when she could not be subjected to undue stress in her life. The lawsuit alleges that the customer had not even defaulted upon his home mortgage loan, but for some reason Wells Fargo placed at least 35 calls to his mother between November 4, 2014 and November 21, 2014 and claimed that they were looking for her son. The mother repeatedly told the agents that the son does not live with her and she has nothing to do with the son’s home mortgage loan, and repeatedly insisted that they stop calling her. However, Wells Fargo refused to honor her request and maintained their persistence in calling her. The mother was recovering from a recent cardiac procedure and had been advised by her doctor to avoid all stress, and she was also grieving from the recent passing of her mother-in-law. The lawsuit alleges that Wells Fargo’s persistent placement of harassing calls to her increased the stress inflicted upon her at a time when she should not have had to be bothered by Wells Fargo. This lawsuit seeks redress for multiple violations of the California Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for unfair and harassing phone calls to both the customer and his mother. This complaint can be read here. WF Complaint 3

If you or a loved one are having to suffer harassment inflicted by Wells Fargo similar to the above lawsuits, please do not hesitate to call us for further information as to what your rights are and how you can stand up for yourself. The playing field does not have to be one-sided in the industry of consumer credit. Our nation’s financial super powers should NOT be permitted to treat their own customers in such a fashion and should be taught that they have to uphold and respect consumer rights! As always, any consultation about consumer rights is done free of charge and maintains confidentiality.

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LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST WESTSTAR MORTGAGE INC. ALLEGES THE COMPANY DOES NOT PROTECT CALIFORNIA’S DEPLOYED MILITARY

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 11, 2014

 

On November 5, 2014, Semnar & Hartman, LLP filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California against Weststar Mortgage, Inc. alleging multiple violations of the law, including violations of the California Military and Veterans’ Code and the California Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The lawsuit is based on Weststar Mortgage’s failure to recognize and honor certain protections to which deployed military members are entitled.

Unfortunately, however, Weststar Mortgage treated the Plaintiffs as being in default during the very time period that the payments were supposed to have been deferred, and also threatened foreclosure and imposed late fees and penalties upon the account. Weststar even took the egregious step of insisting that the Plaintiffs pay a lump sum in excess of $6,000.00 in order to extend the maturity of the mortgage loan despite the fact that the military law requires such extension upon the maturity to match the time period of deferment. Bottom line, a deployed military member should NOT have to pay a lump sum of over $6,000.00 in order to be provided protections to which the military member and his family is ENTITLED BY LAW.

For more detailed information, Read the Complaint here.

Anyone who has information about similar or other illegal conduct by Weststar Mortage, Inc. please call us to discuss the details.

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UNLAWFUL THREATS OF REPOSSESSION BY “SKIPBUSTERS”

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on October 22, 2014

 

It is often a misconception that repossession agents are not liable for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because they are not actually collecting a “debt” according to the common perception of what a “debt” is. However, the courts do recognize that the FDCPA applies to companies that are purportedly invoking their rights to recover collateral security (property used to secure a monetary debt) as a recourse for failing to pay monetary obligations. For instance, when an auto title loan lists title to the vehicle as being property securing the loan, and the consumer defaults on re-payments to the loan, the creditor usually invokes its right under the contract to take possession of the vehicle itself as collateral. However, it is not uncommon for the repossession company to be incorrect as to when and how it can invoke its rights to repossession.

Many courts have ruled that repossession agents’ conduct can be a violation of the FDCPA, most especially when repossession efforts are not actually permitted under the law. Some of these court rulings are: Rawlinson v. Law Office of William M. Rudow, LLC, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 173 (4th Cir. Md. Jan. 5, 2012); and Williams v. Republic Recovery Services, Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54827 (N.D. Ill. May 27, 2010); and Kaltenbach v. Richards, 464 F. 3d 524 (5th Cir. Sept. 11, 2006); and Shannon v Windsor Equity Group, Inc. (Southern District of California March 12, 2014)m Case No. 12-cv-1124-W(JMA).

For instance, Hartman Law Office, Inc. and Semnar Law Firm, Inc. have teamed up to file a lawsuit against two companies for many violations of consumer rights, including violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the California Military Families Financial Relief Act. This lawsuit alleges that one company known as “Skipbusters”-which is an affiliate entity of “Patrick K. Willis Company” -was retained by Alphera BMW Financial Services to undertake repossession of a Chrysler vehicle that should have been subjected to deferred payments during the husband’s military deployment. The husband properly invoked his right to deferment of the vehicle’s payments in accordance with the Calif. Military Families Financial Relief Act, but Alphera BMW Financial Services unfortunately refused to recognize and honor the deferment that is required by law. Alphera eventually retained the services of Skipbusters to undertake repossession, who then proceeded to threaten the wife with repossession and also threatened that she should not drive the vehicle to the grocery store because they will find her and take it while she is out. These threats of repossession amount to FDCPA violations because repossession could not be invoked during the time that the payments should have been deferred. For more detailed information, Read the Complaint here.

If you or someone you know have been threatened with unlawful repossession by Skipbusters, please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information.

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LAW FIRMS FILING LAWSUITS FOR OUTSTANDING DEBTS ARE SUBJECT TO THE FDCPA!

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on August 4, 2014

 

If you have been sued for an outstanding debt, you MUST contact us immediately for a FREE, CONFIDENTIAL consultation to discuss the circumstances of whether the law firm has violated your rights under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the California Rosenthal Act.

Many people mistakenly believe that, because they are being sued by a law firm, the FDCPA does not protect them for the unfair and oppressive actions taken by the law firm. However, courts all across the country recognize that law firms whose practice primarily engage in the collection of debts on behalf of others—including whose primary practice is to file lawsuits for many of these firms operate like a mill and they do not engage in any meaningful review of the case provided to them by the creditor on whose behalf they are pursuing suit (if they engage in any review at all). Instead, their primary operation is to simply accept the creditor’s claim that the debt is owed, that the particular person being sought after is the right person, the amount sought is proper, and that the lawsuit is not barred by statute of limitations. They will then send a few letters and place a few phone calls to the claimed debtor, and upon receiving no response they will file hundreds of lawsuits in bulk and then seek default judgment on bogus proofs of service. This in turn results in judgment liens being placed upon the unfortunate debtor’s home, bank accounts, or vehicles, and may also result in a garnishment of the unfortunate debtor’s wages directly from his or her paycheck.

Many violations that are committed by these law firm mills include the following:

  1. Threatening to file a lawsuit or seek judgment on a debt that is barred by statute of limitations
  2. Filing a lawsuit that is barred by applicable statute of limitations
  3. Discussing the debt with friends, neighbors, or family of the actual debtor
  4. Seeking default judgment on fraudulent proofs of service when the debtor was not actually served properly
  5. Asking for more money in the lawsuit than what they are entitled to collect
  6. Filing suit in a county other than where the debtor currently resides or where the debt was actually incurred

Most people are misinformed when they believe that such violations by law firms in connection with a lawsuit are not able to prosecuted because of a state law litigation privilege. However, the courts have repeatedly denied such arguments in finding that the Federal Pre-emption Clause prohibits any state law litigation privilege from barring a lawsuit for violations of Federal Laws. Depending on the violation involved, it is also possible that their conduct could give rise to a charge for abuse of process or malicious prosecution and result in punitive damages against them.

The law offices of Semnar Law Firm, Inc. and Hartman Law Office, Inc. have teamed up with the firms of Kazerouni Law Group, APC and Hyde & Swigart to file a federal lawsuit against Mandarich Law Group, LLP and CACH, LLC because the client entered into payment arrangements with Mandarich, then made every monthly payment as agreed, but Mandarich still filed a lawsuit against her, told her not to worry about the lawsuit and advised her she did not have to appear in court, but thereafter sought default judgment against her for the full amount of the debt without crediting any of the payments she had made. This atrocious violation of the client’s rights resulted in a lawsuit for Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Abuse of Process. The lawsuit can be found under case number 5:14-cv-01496 in the Central District of California.

DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONE. Let us help you stand up for your rights!!!

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OREGAN WOMAN AWARDED $18.6 MILLION JURY VERDICT AGAINST EQUIFAX FOR FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT VIOLATIONS.

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 22, 2013

 

For two years an Oregon woman tried and tried and tried to ask Equifax to correct the mistakes on her credit report. She discovered in 2009 that information belonging to someone else with the same name was being mixed into her credit report (known as a “mixed credit report”), including the other woman’s birthdate, social security number, negative credit information, among other wrong information. She only discovered the inaccuracies when she was denied a line of credit. The unfortunate woman tried many times to have these mistakes corrected and to have her credit report cleaned up. All credit reporting agencies other than Equifax followed through with their responsibilities. Because Equifax repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly failed to correct their mistakes, they were sued for violations that included 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681i(a)(1)(A) & (a)(5)(A) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

These Sections of the FCRA require the credit reporting agency to conduct a reasonable investigation into a dispute lodged by a consumer within 30 days, and to either delete the information if they fail to conduct the dispute within 30 days, delete the information if they cannot verify its accuracy, or modify the information if they discover the correct information.

Failure to comply with these requirements could result in damages owed to the consumer for any actual damages sustained as compensation for any financial harm or physical or emotional injury arising out of the violation, or statutory damages of $100-$1,000 for every willful violation, and any punitive damages that the court may allow. Also, a successful lawsuit guarantees that the offender will pay your attorney’s fees and costs of litigation, which means you will not have to pay any money in connection with filing the lawsuit.

Because Equifax repeatedly ignored the woman’s efforts to correct her credit report and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, the jury found them in violation of the FCRA and awarded her $180,000 in actual damages plus $18.4 Million in punitive damages!

Read the news reports at the links below:

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DOES YOUR CREDIT SCORE CONTAIN INACCURATE INFORMATION?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 16th, 2013

 

Debt collectors and creditors often furnish inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies. Even if the inaccuracy is something so simple as putting the wrong date of default, it may still have serious consequences when you apply for a new loan, line of credit, or even for certain professional licenses. Also, the date of default is what dictates how long the negative item will stay on your credit report, and if the date of default is being reported as more recently than what the default actually was, then the negative item will stay on your credit report for longer than it actually should.

DO NOT JUST IGNORE IT—ignoring the inaccuracies means they will be able to continue to mis-report the information, which may eventually hurt you in the future. Taking care of the inaccuracy now will help prevent future harm to you.

Both the Federal and California laws allow a consumer to sue the furnisher of information, and you may be entitled to receive any actual damages suffered from their inaccurate reporting, or up to $1,000.00 per violation under the Federal law or up to $5,000.00 per violation under the California laws, depending on what type of violation they have committed.

HOWEVER, it is not as easy as you might think to sue the furnisher of information under the Federal laws for inaccurate reporting. One of the ways the U.S. Legislature has tried to help the business industry from frivolous lawsuits is that they only permit a private lawsuit if the furnisher of the information fails to conduct a reasonable investigation into disputed information after being notified by the credit reporting agency that you are disputing the inaccurate information.

YOU LODGING THE DISPUTE WITH THE FURNISHER ONLY DOES NOT TRIGGER CIVIL LIABILITY UNDER THE FEDERAL LAWS. Only if the furnisher receives a notice of dispute from a credit reporting agency does their failure to conduct a reasonable investigation into the dispute trigger liability for a civil lawsuit. If you only send the dispute to the furnisher and you do not dispute the inaccurate reporting with the credit reporting agency, then you cannot sue the furnisher under Federal law. See 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(b).

You are also not able to sue the furnisher under Federal laws simply for supplying the inaccurate information to the credit reporting agency. You can only sue for their failure to conduct a reasonable investigation, as explained above. However, 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(c) and (d) permit State and Federal officials to enforce the furnisher’s obligation to supply accurate information, and you should report any such inaccuracies to the Federal Trade Commission, the State Attorney General, and also lodge a dispute with the credit reporting agency to begin the process for triggering a civil lawsuit.

On the other hand, California laws are more favorable to the consumer. There is no obligation at all for the consumer to lodge a dispute with the credit reporting agency or the furnisher in order to trigger liability in a civil lawsuit for furnishing inaccurate information! See California Civil Code 1785.25(a). However, California laws could entitle you to receive punitive damages of up to $5,000 per violation if their violation was committed willfully (if they either knew or should have known of the inaccuracy of the information).

Although there are some hoops to jump through, here is the bottom line if any inaccurate information is being reported on your credit report:

  1. File a complaint with State and Federal officials to enforce their authority upon the violator.
  2. Lodge a dispute with the credit reporting agencies in order to trigger the civil lawsuit process under the Federal laws. If they fail to amend or remove the inaccurate information, then you may have a lawsuit under the Federal laws for their failure to conduct a reasonable investigation after being notified of a dispute. THIS DISPUTE MUST BE LODGED WITH THE CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES.
  3. Also lodge the dispute with the furnisher of the inaccurate information, because if they fail to amend or remove the inaccurate information then you may be entitled to punitive damages under the California laws for their willful violations.
  4. KEEP COPIES OF ALL CORRESPONDENCE AS PROOF, AND SEND LETTERS VIA CERTIFIED MAIL AS PROOF OF THEIR RECEIPT, AND TAKE DETAILED NOTES OF EVERY EVENT.
  5. Call us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss how we can assist you in asserting your rights!