Articles – General Consumer Issues
These articles and videos don’t always fit in another category but I think you will find them interesting and helpful.
We have articles on the BP oil spill settlement. VA Pension which can pay a married veteran over $25,000 a year tax free to pay for long term care. (If this interests you, our elder law website has a ton of information about this benefit).
We also talk about recording calls, using certified mail, etc.
The idea of this area is to have a collection of articles that we think you will find helpful. You can also check out our blog (Alabama Consumer Law Blog) which has over 1000 blog posts on it covering a wide variety of issues.
If there are topics you would like to see us cover, let us know and we will be happy to make an article or video on the topics you request.
How to prepare for a Zoom trial Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of court cases are now being handled by Zoom or some other type of video conferencing program. In Alabama, where I practice, almost all of these virtual court meetings are done by Zoom. What are some steps you can take to make sure you are prepared for your upcoming Zoom hearing or Zoom trial? Make sure you have all the information for your Zoom meeting. Zoom… (Read more)
Mental mindset when a debt collector calls you Recently, I mentioned having the mindset that a debt collector is knocking on your door. I wanted to elaborate on this idea some more and give you another way to think about it. Instead of being scared when the debt collector calls you (which is what they want and expect), turn it into an opportunity. My phone rings and I answer. The debt collector confirms who I am, and then says, “This… (Read more)
How to know if Rule of Evidence 106 applies in your state court debt collection case Recently, we made a post discussing Rule of Evidence 106, also known as the Completeness Doctrine. Since making this post, we have received quite a few questions. This rule says that if you introduce part of a document then you are in fairness required to submit the entire document if requested. One of our Youtube viewers commented: “I quoted this rule to the plaintiff’s… (Read more)
Can I take notes with me to my collection trial to help me remember what happened? Can you take notes to your upcoming collection trial? Should you take notes to court? If you take notes to court, what does that mean? In Alabama, where I practice, you can certainly take notes with you to a trial. Anything that you take with you to court can be questioned by the other side. The collection lawyer can ask to see your notes. … (Read more)
What in the world are affirmative defenses? You’ll typically find affirmative defenses in Rule 8 of your Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Most states tend to follow the guidelines in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but be sure to check on your state’s specific rules. For Alabama, the state where we practice, you can find affirmative defenses in Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 8(c). But what are affirmative defenses? I’m the defendant and I say to the plaintiff… (Read more)
How should your lawyer communicate with you as a client? If you hire a lawyer, how should your lawyer communicate with you and how should you communicate with your lawyer? Here’s the bottom line – the communication should be done in a way that is best for you. You need to express that to your lawyer. Your lawyer may not be able to do this exactly how you want, but there should be some conversation and an attempt to come… (Read more)
General breakdown of the 5 categories FICO looks at for your credit score FICO is the dominant credit scoring model in the country used to determine eligibility for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and more. There are 5 categories used by FICO to determine your credit score: Payment History Amount / Utilization of your debt Age of debt Number of inquiries Mix of debt In this article, we will provide a brief overview of these categories and what they mean. … (Read more)
Have to wear a mask in court? Then practice under the same conditions as a trial with a mask on. You have a court date coming up and you understand that either your courthouse or your particular judge requires you to wear a mask. How do you prepare for that? I understand that for some reason a mask is very triggering for some people. This article is not about the effectiveness of masks or anyone’s political views. This article is… (Read more)
Can your credit card company defer payments due to Covid-19? We are all being affected by Covid-19 in some way. Maybe you’re not able to work or you are struggling to pay for childcare when the schools are closed. Perhaps you are dealing with mounting medical bills. For whatever reason, you are struggling to pay the credit card, the car loan, or the mortgage. While going through these uncertain times, be sure to keep the following things in mind. NOTE: … (Read more)
Stupid mistake I made nearly caused me to lose a case I want to tell you about a stupid mistake I made that was almost very costly. I tried to take a shortcut and it almost blew up in my face. One day, I had a very important hearing in a big case about four hours away from my home. The trial was early in the morning and I did not want to wake up at 4:00 AM to drive four… (Read more)
What are before and after witnesses in a lawsuit? You have been asked to provide before and after witnesses for your case. What are they and why are they important? We’ve all seen before and after photos. The person in the before photo is miserable, unhappy, overweight, grumpy or whatever the case may be. After the cleanse, the exercise program, whatever is being advertised, they are glowing, happy, and feeling great. The point is to illustrate a dramatic change resulting… (Read more)
3 questions you must ask before filing any type of lawsuit These three questions apply to any lawsuit – personal injury, consumer lawsuits, etc. These are not all of the questions, but they are the most basic, big picture questions you must answer first. Did the defendant do anything wrong? Are you hurt or damaged? Does the defendant have money or insurance to pay for your damages? Let’s look at each of these in more detail. 1. Did the defendant in this lawsuit do anything… (Read more)
We welcome referrals from lawyers inside or outside of Alabama Many of our cases — and particularly our bigger cases — come from referring lawyers who refer their consumer cases to us. While most people who send us cases are lawyers we have worked with for many years, we wanted to share this information primarily for lawyers we have not worked with so you will understand the process. We want to make any referrals as easy as possible for you.… (Read more)
So the old story goes that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today. This is true of almost all areas of our life. Let’s think through this in several examples. When’s the best time to get in fit and in shape? In the past. But what if we didn’t do that or if we have let ourselves go over the last few months or years or decades? Then today is… (Read more)
What is a removal of my case from state court to federal court? This is where a state case is moved (“removed”) to federal court. So the case literally started in state court and now is transferred to federal court. That’s basically what this means. This is the right of a defendant who is sued in state court if one of two things has happened. The first situation is when there’s a federal claim involved. Let’s say you sue an… (Read more)
“What are mass tort lawsuits on defective drugs and medical devices and why do they matter to me?” Let’s talk about what these cases are, then we’ll talk about why they matter to you and finally we’ll go over some of the more common ones right now we are working on. Mass tort lawsuits are different than class action lawsuits Class action lawsuits are normally where one person brings a lawsuit on behalf of hundreds or thousands of other consumers. … (Read more)
You have questions — make sure before hiring a lawyer that you get all of your questions answered The primary reason you consider hiring a lawyer is because you have questions about the law or how the legal process works. Especially when you are considering being in court — it is natural that you would have questions. So here are some suggestions as you go through the process of finding and hiring a consumer protection lawyer. Make a written list… (Read more)
If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of getting your car totaled in a car wreck, you may wonder, “I can’t be sued for deficiencies on this car, right?” Many people say that you can’t be sued, because you weren’t responsible for your car being totaled. However, the reality of the situation is that you do owe a deficiency on your car. If the loan on the car is $15,000, and the insurance company only covers $12,000, then you still owe… (Read more)
When you’re preparing for your day in court, you may wonder, “What is courthouse security like in a State or Federal courthouse?” For most people, it makes sense to have security. It’s just like going through airport security. However, you may not have been to an airport or courthouse before, or maybe you haven’t thought about it. Today we hope to help you prepare for going to a courthouse. Why they have courthouse security and what it means for you.… (Read more)
This is a little different from our usual posts, however, I believe this story will be beneficial to you as you deal with abusive companies. The Scorpion and the Frog This story has application to debt collectors, credit reporting agencies, car finance companies, mortgage companies, etc. Sometimes we sit and wonder, “Why do these companies do these dumb things where they’ll have to pay a lot of money after we sue them?” Read the story of the scorpion and the… (Read more)
“Why do I need to bring you a timeline and give you info for our consultation?” When we have a consultation we need certain information from you including a timeline of what happened when. Sometimes potential clients don’t want to get us documents — they say, “I have a specific question and I just want you to answer that one question. I don’t need to share any other information with you.” We respectfully decline to consider letting these folks be… (Read more)
(This is our latest version of Consumer Power — our weekly email that goes out to thousands across Alabama and the nation — if you have not yet signed up feel free to do so with the button on the right hand side). I hope that this email finds you having a wonderful Sunday, orMonday if you’re reading this at the beginning of the work week. I’ll keep this email fairly short as I want to share with you a… (Read more)
The dirty secret of hiring a great lawyer The dirty secret is it is very difficult knowing for certain that you have found a good lawyer to represent you in whatever legal matter you have. (At the end of this lengthy article I talk about how my family made the decision on hiring a lawyer as this might be helpful to you). I know this sounds like a crazy thing to say, since I’m a lawyer who clients hire to… (Read more)
Alabama Debt — Should I Hire A Debt Settlement Company To Help Me? My experience has been that most Alabama consumers who hire a debt settlement company end up either scammed out of their money and/or sued by their creditors. So what is a “debt settlement company” anyway? In simple terms it is a company that promises to take your money and then negotiate with the debt collectors and original creditors to pay your debts. The idea is if you… (Read more)
Veteran Pension — What Does “Wartime Veteran” Mean for VA Pension (Aid & Attendance)? We have talked about the “Veteran Pension” or “Non Service Related Disability” or “Aid and Attendance Benefits” and one requirement is the veteran must have served during a time of war. This is also called the “Wartime Veteran” requirement for this veteran pension. Let’s talk about what wartime veteran means and what it doesn’t mean. Wartime Veteran DOES mean that the veteran had to be active… (Read more)
Veteran Benefits — Pension — Aid and Attendance — Little Known Benefit For Veterans Alabama veterans deserve our gratitude and thanks for their service. The Veterans Administration (VA) recognizes this by providing for the VA Pension or what is often known as the “Aid and Attendance” benefit. This remarkable benefit can provide over $25,000 a year in tax free income to a veteran with one dependent — keep in mind a spouse is considered a dependent. A surviving spouse of… (Read more)
“I’m Nervous About Giving A Deposition — Is This Normal?” Yes, it is normal to be concerned when your deposition has been scheduled. Let’s first talk about what a deposition is and then we’ll talk about what to do in one. If you are even thinking about one, it means you are in a lawsuit. Or you are about to be in a lawsuit. What is a deposition? A deposition is when you will be questioned by the lawyers on… (Read more)
“Are Alabama Consumer Lawyers Alchemists?” Alabama consumers search for consumer lawyers because they have a problem that many have told them cannot be fixed — credit report error, sued by a debt collector, facing (or already have) a foreclosure, harassed by a debt collector, etc. The question is can a consumer lawyer really help you? Often the answer is “Yes!” Let me give you two illustrations not from the legal world and then some case studies about how this can… (Read more)
Are You A Hero If You Sue Abusive Debt Collectors? Yes you are. Think about stories that you like or that you tell your children. There is always an ordinary person — or at least it appears that way — and there is a dire threat. Some force or monster or situation that can’t be stopped. Can’t be defeated. Many have opportunities to stand up and fight back. But almost no one does. Except. Except there is one person —… (Read more)
How To Get Your PIN To Find Out About Your Student Loans To go anywhere, you need to know where you are right now. With student loan issues, we need to know “where we are now” with our student loans, particularly if you are dealing with student loan collection issues. Who has them. In default or current? How much do we owe? You need your PIN to get the information. Here’s how to get your PIN for your student loans.… (Read more)
Why We Are Consumer Protection Attorneys (Updated April 19, 2020) Like most people, we get asked “what we do” by people and as we answer that we will usually say that “I am a consumer lawyer.” Which leads to several questions which we thought we would go ahead and address here. What Is A Consumer Lawyer Or A Consumer Protection Attorney? A consumer lawyer or a consumer protection attorney is a lawyer that fights for his or her clients who… (Read more)
Why We Recommend Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested When Dealing With Consumer Protection Issues
Why We Recommend Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested When Dealing With Consumer Protection Issues Introduction Whenever you communicate with a debt collector, credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, etc), or your mortgage company, we always recommend that you do so by certified mail, return receipt requested. Sometimes our clients want to know why is it so important and why is it not good enough to just fax or mail a letter in a cheaper manner. Or send an email.… (Read more)
Two Reasons Why We Recommend You Not Record Phone Calls in Alabama We are often asked if abusive debt collectors should be recorded. The short answer is “No.” The longer answer is, “Not usually.” There is a lot of information on the internet about recording calls. We wrote this free report to help give you our perspective so you can have more information to make the right choice on whether or not to record calls when dealing with an abusive… (Read more)