About The Consumer Law Office of Steve Hofer

Steve Hofer has been practicing consumer law in Indiana for more than 20 years. He is the Indiana State Chairperson of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, a national organization of attorneys striving for fairness in the consumer marketplace. Contact me by phone at 317-662-4529 or via email at hoferlawindyATgmail.com. You can also leave a message through my website at www.hoferlawindy.com.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Have You Been Sued by LVNV Funding, LLC in Indiana

Have you been sued by LVNV Funding, LLC, This company buys a lot of old debt, and they file a lot of lawsuits. I am looking into some issues that I've noticed in LVNV's documentation  If you have been sued by them in Indiana, please call me at 317-662-4529.

Old Spice Deodorant - Is Old Spice Deodorant Safe to Use?

This morning I got up, and I put on Old Spice deodorant.  This afternoon I handled an intake from a person who claimed fairly serious injuries relating to Old Spice deodorant.  I wondered whether this is an isolated occurrance, so I googled "old-spice deodorant (injured or injuries) and came up with 1.47 million hits.

Proctor and Gamble, makers of Old Spice, maintain their deodorant is seafe, and the injuries claimed are not chemical burns, they are imune reactions unique to the individuals claiming the injury - freak occurances in other words.

In my mind, it doesn't matter if the injuries are chemical burns or not. If there are enough of them, even if they are the product of allergic reactions, the product is not reasonably safe.  If you are injured by Old Spice or any other product, you should save the prroduct and report the injury both to the manufacturer and the Food and Drug Administration. DO NOT GIVE THE PRODUCT BACK TO THE MANUFACTURER.  At most give them a small sample to test.

If you have injuries that require medical treatment, you should consider contacting an attorney who handles personal injury cases. If you are in Indiana, I would like to hear from you, call me at 317-662-4529.

There are various law firms that are advertising for these cases, and at least one class action has been filed. I suggest anyone affected find a LOCAL attorney to represent you. Your local attorney can team up with other attorneys to take on P&G on more equal terms.  If you rely on a national law firm only, it is easy to fall between the cracks and not get the kind of individual attention that you might expect.

I have nothing to do with the production of the video below that I found on Youtube.




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Is Credit One Bank on your credit report? Have they been calling you?

We are investigating practices by Credit One Bank relating to their telemarketing (robocalls) and their credit reporting and possibly accessing the credit information of those who do not have accounts with them.  If you have a credit report with Credit One on it, and you didn't have an account with them, I would love to see it and talk to you.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The New UAW Legal Services Plan is open

About a year behind schedule, the new UAW Legal Services Plan is open and taking cases as of January 25, 2015.  The following paragraph is take directly from their websit at www.uawlsp.com.
A new Legal Services Plan opened on January 25, 2017 for eligible FCA, Ford, and General Motors members. It is called UAW-FCA-Ford-General Motors Legal Services Plan. An eligible member can open a new case by calling 1-800-482-7700. Under this new Plan, an eligible UAW member can receive "office work" legal services for a variety of legal matters including wills, deeds, powers of attorney, credit reporting, consumer contract questions, real estate advice relating to buys and sales and advice on uncontested divorces and family matters. In addition low cost referrals will be provided on some other types of cases such as bankruptcy, probate, guardianship and litigation matters. The old Legal Services Plan (which has not been able to open new cases since January 1, 2014) is continuing to work to conclude those cases that remain open. It is important to understand that the new Legal Services Plan has a new name and different benefits. 
I appreciated the opportunity to serve UAW members and retirees as a staff attorney for UAW Legal Services Plan for 16 years, and for another 2+ years as a private attorney after the Plan closed to new cases.  Even though I might be losing some business for things where the UAW families can use the new plan, I'm glad that they have some prepaid legal services available.   I don't have any official relationship with the new plan ,but I wish them well.

Fighting Telecheck and Chexsystems

There are a number of "special purpose" credit reporting agencies that people may run into from time to time. There are agencies that specialize in reporting to landlords about tenants. There are business credit reporting agencies. Finally, there are Telecheck and Chexsystems.  

These last two are the ones I want to talk about.  Telecheck provides info to merchants at point of service regarding taking a patron's check.  As far as I can tell, with actual paper checks going the way of the dodo bird, Telecheck seems to also be fading into the background.  I had gone years without a complaint about Chexsystems also until recently.  Banks use Chexsystems to screen applicants for new checking accounts. Banks report on history with checking accounts much like merchants report on the history of a consumer using credit.  

Understand these key points about special purpose credit reporting agencies. When you are turned down for writing a check (Telecheck) or opening a bank account "Chexsystems", the party that turns you down has to give you written notice of the reason you were turned down, and give you information on the party they got the information from and the address where to get a copy of the report and how to dispute it.   Firms that turn you down are not very good about giving you this notice, and when they don't, you may be able to sue them under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  You aren't going to break the bank. ($1000 or less in most cases),  but you can sue.  If this happens to you, and you are in Indiana, feel free to give me a call at 317-662-4529 or If you are out of Indiana, go to the NACA find an attorney page, at http://www.consumeradvocates.org/find-an-attorney

You can get a free copy of your Chexsystems report from Chexsystems' dedicated site,  You should NOT file your dispute online though. You should file it by certified mail with confirmation of delivery.  

I strongly suggest that you get your report and review it before you submit your dispute. If you don't you're guessing about what is on the report, and there is no need for that.  

When I have time, I will try to supplement this post.  In the meantime I'm going to give you some links to outside sites.  

Here's the consumeraffairs.com for general information on Chexsystems.

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/chexsystems-news


Stikedebt.org has some letter sthat you can send to Telecheck and Chexsystems. I haven't vetted these letters, but they might be useful

http://strikedebt.org/drom/appendix-b/


You can complain about the special purpose credit bureaus, and the companies that turn you down without notice or the opportunity to challenge the decision to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Here's the CFPB's complaint page.

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

Here's a link to a page that touts 9 banks that don't use Chexsystems.  These pages come and go, and the lists seem to go out of date quickly. If this list ends up being inaccurate, go on Google and look for another one.  

https://www.gobankingrates.com/banking/9-banks-dont-use-chexsystems/

Do not pay for a list of non-chexsystems banks!  Even the paid lists have a reputation for being inaccurate.  

Here's a local Television Story on Chexsystems



Third Indystar/NACA/Call-For-Action "Ask a lawyer" Night was a success

Last Thursday, Indiana's NACA members teamed up with The Indianapolis Star and Call-for-Action, and had a "ask a lawyer" call in night.  Six NACA volunteer lawyers spent over three hours answering questions for free on all legal topics from people who called in.  I want to thank Tim Evans of the Indianapolis Star and Call-For-Action for working with me to set this up as all the Call-for-action volunteers plus my fellow Indianapolis-area consumer Lawyers

Robert Duff
Crystal Francis
Keith Hagan
Cherl Koch Martinez
Jerry Smith

We hope to continue doing this on approximately a quarterly basis, with the next one in April or May.

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2017/01/30/lawyers-help-hoosiers-questions/97182402/

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ten Year Old Used Cars are NOT Lemons

I have virtually stopped taking used car cases, and I have stopped advertising for them. Why? It's the 10-year-old vehicle problem.  In short, a lot of people are buying 10 year old vehicles from used car lots, sometimes paying half what the vehicles cost new, and expecting them to be as problem-free as new cars.  In short: they aren't, and the law doesn't expect them to be.

I think part of the problem is that 10 year old vehicles of today are in better shape than they were 10 years ago, and they look a LOT better.  People tend to have bigger appitites than they have budgets. A lot of people want a fancy luxury vehicle or SUV. These vehicles cost $40,000 or more new, and people don't make wages to pay that much.  A salesman shows them a 10 year old SUV that looks spotless, but has 150,000 miles but costs less than half as much as a new model, and it's an easy sale. The problem is that these vehicles have used up a lot of their of their problem-free life.  They can be nursed to last quite a few more years, but only with maintenance and replacement of quite a few worn out parts, and the buyers of these vehicles haven't budgeted for the ongoing maintenance cost.

These cars aren't lemons. A lemon is a car that is bad from the beginning. A typical state lemon law labels a car a lemon if with 18 months or 18,000 miles after it is delivered to its FIRST buyer, the vehicle has the same problem subject to three or more repair attempts or is out of service 30 days or more within that first 18 months.  That's a lemon. A vehicle that has gone 150,000 miles but now has problems is just an old car.  (By the way, in Indiana, the mileage adjustment on vehicles that you give back to the manufacturer under the lemon law is based on depreciating the entire vehicle price over 100,000 miles.  Under lemon law standards all of these 10 year old vehicles have been fully depreciated.)

Buying a 10 year old vehicle is a form of gambling. Perhaps in the majority of cases, especially if you don't put a lot of miles on the vehicle, driving a 10 year old car can be very inexpensive. You might go several years with just normal maintenance. On the other hand, You could have five or more things go wrong in a year that each costs $1,000 or more to fix. You could have engine or transmission problems that cost $5,000 to $10,000 to fix - and much more for a lot of foreign and luxury vehicles.

Guessing wrong on a 10 year old vehicle can ruin your financial life for years. A new engine for a Chevrolet Tahoe can cost $6,000 before installation.  Somebody who put a 10 year old Tahoe on 4 year payment at 15% interest, not only doesn't have $10,000 for a repair bill; he/she doesn't have the credit to finance a 10,000 repair bill.  The vehicle ends up being repo'd and sold at auction for $1000  The finance company adds finance charges, repossession charges, court costs and attorney fees and sues the buyer for over $20,000.  In most states, if you are employed, you can get garnished for 25% of your wages.  That's bad, but that's the price of the dice and taking the risk on an old car that you can't afford to repair.  (Warranties on these old cars arent' that helpful. They cost more than the likely repairs. They exclude more than they cover, and they have deductibles that sometimes still renders the repairs unaffordable.) You are likely to be stuck in subprime credit for 7 years. In Indiana, judgments can be collected for 20 years, and more in some cases.  For some people guessing wrong on a used car leads to a bankruptcy.  

Sometimes car dealers engage in fraudulent or illegal conduct, but most of the time they don't, or if they do the violations are minor and technical, and don't justify undoing a car deal.  I used to review all the documents for anyone who called me for a car case at no charge. I found that over 90% of the time there was nothing to sue on.  Now I charge for case reviews and get a lot less of that business.

The bottom line is that you are considering buying a 8 to 12 year old vehicles that cost $15,000 or more, you ought to  either have a financial reserve to cover repairs or you should rethink your plan and buy a new or nearly new (under manufactuer's warranty) vehicle for the same money.   Your vewhicle may be smaller and have less frills, but you will be the beneficiary of the problem-free period of the vehicle's useful life.