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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Generic Credit Report Dispute Letter with Tips

How to dispute information on your credit report:

You shouldn't have to pay someone or a company to dispute items on your credit report. Anything a third party could dispute for you, you can dispute for yourself.

There is actually more than one way to dispute. the credit bureaus will have you believe that you can dispute the items over the telephone or over their website.  That sometimes works, but when it doesn't, the credit bureaus (which we in the biz call "Credit Reporting Agencies" or "CRA"s) often claim that you never disputed the items in the first place. for that reason, consumer lawyers suggest that you dispute in writing by certified mail.  I have put together a very simple request form with the mailing addresses for the three main CRAs, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.  All you have to do is cut and paste the text below the dashes into a word processing file, then fill in your identifying information and information about your disputed accounts.

----------

Date


Equifax
1550 Peachtree St NW
Atlanta, GA 30309-2468


Experian
701 Experian Pkwy
Allen, TX 75013

Trans Union
555 West Adams
Chicago, IL 60661

            Consumer Dispute:     Name
                                                Address

                                                DOB
                                                ID

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am the above-named consumer. I dispute the  following information on my credit report .Please reinvestigate the following items and send an updated report to my attention at the address above. If applicable, supporting information is attached. 
                       

Creditor                       Account#         Reason for the Dispute
















Sincerely                     



___________________________      __________________________
Consumer Signature                           Date



 ----------

Some tips: 

Make sure your name matches the name as is currently showing on your credit report. If they have your name wrong, you need to list your name as a corrected item. Similarly, if they have your address wrong or your place of employment or other general info, you can dispute that as well.  Don't worry about giving them your social security number. They already have it. Same with your date of birth.

When possible make your description of the basis for the dispute simple. For example, "not my account", "I don't recognize this account", "incorrect balance", "uncredited payments", "incorrect date of last payment", "liability disputed with creditor" (Note, if you have disputed liability with the creditor, send a copy of your dispute letter.), "account is out of date" (Negative items for the most part can only stay on your credit report 7 years from the date the item went in default. There are exceptions. Also, seedy collectors often "re-age" obsolete accounts, changing the date of delinquency or date of last activity to keep the item on your report.)

Some of the most common credit reporting issues include mixed files - where your information is mixed up with that of someone with the same or similar names, including Jr./Sr. mixups, Failure of the information provider to update records when paid, and transposed figures. Identity theft problems are serious, but they are comparatively rare.

If you dispute an item or items with a CRA, but the item is not corrected on your subsequent credit report, you will likely benefit by talking with a consumer lawyer about your options. You can find one at www.consumeradvocates.org, the website for the National Association of Consumer Advocates. If you are in Indiana, you can call me at 317-662-4529 or reach me through my website www.hoferlawindy.com.

Don't make a blanket dispute of every (or virtually every) item on your credit report, at least don't without having a good faith reason why the item should be corrected.  Blanket disputes rarely yield good results

You want to begin the dispute process several months before you expect to be purchasing a home or expensive item on credit. This gives you time for the dispute letter, a reply from the CRA and your follow-up response to the CRA.

In the case of consumer transactions where you have a dispute with the merchant, before you go through the credit report process, you want to have already sent a written dispute to the merchant and to have received a reply.

Copyright 2017 by Steven R. Hofer.  Free redistribution is preauthorized if redistributed with attribution and copyright notice intact.   Linking is expressly permitted.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Are You a Victiim of Wage Theft?

Is your employer making you "work off the clock"? Are you getting hours docked from your pay?  Are you forced to do work when you are clocked out?  Did you go through unpaid training or orientation? Wage theft is especially common in the fast food, trucking and retail industries.  If you are in INDIANA and you have an issue of unpaid wages or overtime, please contact my office.

Have You been Sued by Nextgear Capital, Inc.?

Many car dealers and guarantors of auto floorplan loans are sued in Indiana by Nextgear Capital, Inc.  Most of the people sued don't know how to defend themeselves.  Some think that just because the dealership owes money on the loan, there is nothing they can do. This is not necessarily the case, and this is especially true if the lawsuit alleges fraud.  If you are sued by Automotive Finance Corporation, we urge you to call us. We will talk to you on the phone at no charge.

If you guaranteed an auto floorplan loan you may have defenses that you don't know about. That's why it is very important for you to contact a lawyer as soon as you are sued.

Have You Been Sued by Automotive Finance Corporation?

Many car dealers and guarantors of auto floorplan loans are sued in Indiana by Automotive Finance Corporation (AFC).  Most of the people sued don't know how to defend themeselves.  Some think that just because the dealership owes money on the loan, there is nothing they can do. This is not necessarily the case, and this is especially true if the lawsuit alleges fraud.  If you are sued by Automotive Finance Corporation, we urge you to call us. We will talk to you on the phone at no charge.

If you guaranteed an auto floorplan loan you may have defenses that you don't know about. That's why it is very important for you to contact a lawyer as soon as you are sued.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Accidental Practice Area Representing Out-of-State Dealers against Floorplanning Companies

The vast majority of my practice involves representing consumers bringing claims under consumer protection statutes like he Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Credit Services Organizations Act, Telephone Consumer Privacy Act, and more.  Recently, as it so happens I have been contacted by multiple individuals who have needed help because were alleged to have signed personal guarantees on behalf of car dealers on Floorplanning contracts, and I have built up some experience in this area. As a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, I have pledged not to represent corporations against consumers, but I have no problem representing businesses and individual proprietors in cases where a business is on the other side.

A floorplanning company provides financing to auto dealers for their inventory, taking a lien on the vehicles and releasing the liens as the vehicles are sold. The financing of the lot of cars is called a "floorplan".  As it so happens, two of the most important floorplanning companies in the United States are based immediately to the north of my homebase in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the northern suburbs of Hamilton County. These copanies are Automotive Serices Corporation (AFC) and Nextgear Capital, Inc. (Nextgeer). The floorplan contracts issued by these companies often have provisions that suits are to be brought in Hamilton County, Indiana. This gives the companies the ability to sue dealers and personal guarantors from all over the country in Noblesville, Indiana.

If you are a dealer or a personal  guarantor of a dealership that gets sued by ASC in Indiana, you should be aware that even if you or your dealership legitimately owes money to the floorplanner, you may still find it in your interest to hire a lawyer to contest the suit. For one thing, there may be the opportunity to settle short or to get favorable payment plans.  Another thing is that the lawsuit against you may include a claim that payments owed to the dealer were fraudulently diverted.  Fraud is hard to prove when contested, but it is easy for them to get a default judgment for fraud.  If they get a judgment for fraud, you likely will not be able to discharge that judgment in bankruptcy.

The bottom line is that if you are sued by ASC or Nextgear in Indiana, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney to defend you. For a retainer less than the amount owed on one car, you may be able to protect yourself from much higher liability.

Note that if you are an Indiana dealer sued by ASC or Nextgear, I will probably not personally represent you, I will probably refer you to another attorney; however if you are from out-of-Indiana I can provide you affordable options for defense of floorplanning suits.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A change in Focus in Defective RV Cases - Sending a "Shot Across the Bow" Letter to the Dealer or Manufacturer

I've been listening to what peopel have to say who have problems with defective RVs.  In the past, my approach was to give some initial advice to the RV owners when they call at no charge, advice regarding self help in dealing with the RV dealer or manufacturer. In some cases, that is all the buyer needs to work things out, and they never have to hire the attorney. In other cases, the RV is so bad, the dealer or manufacturer is so nonresponsive, or both that court litigation is required that costs thousands of dollars.

In the past, I have mostly stayed out of these cases until there was no alternative to litigation. This saves the buyers money in the short run in giving the other party multiple chances to avoid litigaiton. It does, however expose the buyer to a lot of headaches in the short run. I have therefore changed my philosophy, and I think that maybe in the average case a "shot across the bow" attorney letter after first repair attempt (or sometimes request) may be most efficient thing over all. Perhaps the client has to pay for an hour of attorney time in sending the letter, but the letter buys better treatment in the follow-up repair attempts that justifies the money. Given the headaches in carting a Defective RV across the country for service, if the shot-across-the-bow eliminates the need for even one fruitless trip, the early attonrey intervention is worthwhile.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Did you get a call from (585) 993-9949 "Secrets of the Wealthy" "Coach Bob"?

I got a call from this number to my business phone. Apparently you are going to make a lot of money if you leave your cell phone number and email address. They don't say what the name of the company is, but you are going to make a lot of money, so trust them, right?  Yeah, uh-huh. These calls to your cell phone likely violate the Telephon Consumer Privacy Act.  This company is so blatant that they are likely so outside US jurisdiction that they don't fear legal action. It appears to me that this is a ploy to get your cell number and email to sell on a "suckers list"  on the dark web. If I am wrong, post in the comments.