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.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Vietnamese Nail Salon owners - are you having a problem with high credit card processing fees?

We have had indications that credit card processing companies are taking advantage of the fact that English language skills are often low among Vietnamese nail salon owners.  There have been stories of vietnamese-speaking salesmen doing cold calls on salons, promising to charge low fees to handle credit card transactions, but instead the salons are charged several times the going rate.  If this applies to you or someone in your family, please go to my website at www.hoferlawindy.com, and fill out the quick intake form.  Thank you. 

Indiana Workers - Have you been cheated out of earned wages?

If you are an Indiana Worker who has been cheated out of earned wages, I'd love to hear from you.  As a general rule under federal wage and hour statutes you need to be paid at least federal minimum wage for every hour you work,  anb by work, that generally means all the time that you aren't free to pursue your daily life routine, so that would include on call time and waiting time.  You should be paid training time, orientation time and travel time from your office or central location to a job site.

Some industries that commonly don't pay their workers

Cable Installers
Security System Installers
Truckers  (special rules apply to the trucking industry, but there are frequent violations)
On-call workers in general

I'll try to update this when time is available. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What's the deal with Capital One and the "Soft Pulls"?

I have a client who's had a problem with "soft pulls" by Capital One showing up regularly on some of his credit reports.  That's great, you say, but "what's a soft pull?"  A soft pull is a credit report inquiry by a third party that doesn't show up when other people pull your credit report, and it isn't reflected in your credit score.  What's the big deal then? you might ask.  Well, regardless of whether it shows up when potential creditors evaluate you for credit, each time there is a soft pull, it means somebody saw some of your credit data. 

There are two primary types of "soft pulls" . The first is an account review inquiry. This is done by a credtior with whom you already have an account, just keeping tabs on your general financial health.  It's pretty much allowed period as long as you actually have an account with the company. If you don't have an account with the company, they shouldn't be doing account reviews.  The other type is trickier. It is the "PRM" or "promotional inquiry".  A promotional inquiry shows on your credit report when the credit bureau sells a targeted list to a prospective creditor based on defined characteristics chosen by the company that wants to sell you credit. The prospective creditor does not get your full information; rather, the creditor simply gets a ping that you are in the group they are looking for.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows these inquiries, but only when, in exchange for the information, the prospective creditor agrees to make you a "firm offer of credit."  The catch with Capital One seems to be how often they are doing it, and whether they are really making firm offers in connection with all of the inquiries.  One thing I found out in my web research, that people have been complaining about the quantity of Capital one promotional inquiries for at least a decade.  Here's a link to an articles at consumeraffairs.org talking about Capital One's promotional inquiries back in 2006. 

If you find out that Capital One has been making a number of promotional inquiries on your credit report that do not correspond with firm offers of credit that you received, please call my office at 317-662-4529. I'd love to hear from you. You can also send me an email inquiry through my website at www.hoferlawindy.com. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Prospective RICO Class Action Filed (by another law firm) against Kevin Mason and Stuart Goldberg

About a year ago, I filed on behalf of clients a lawsuit against National Legal Staffing Support LLC, Kevin Mason and V. Stuart Goldberg regarding a student loan debt settlement operation.  That was an individual law suit which is still pending as I write this. Since then I have received a number of calls from consumers asking if this lawsuit was a class action or was going to be turned into a class action. The answer is no. 

HOWEVER, somebody else has stepped into the breach.  To other attorneys, Daniel Gamez (gamezlawfirm.com)  and Macy Hanson (macyhanson.com) have filed a putative class action lawsuit, Matthew Ali v. Kevin Mason, P.A. et al in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, case 2:18-CCV-01110-CBM-FFM.  A copy of the complaint and a write-up can be found at classaction.org with this link.  Please note that I am not associated with the Ali lawsuit in any fashion.

This lawsuit alleges Racketeering (RICO) on the part of the defendants. RICO is hard to prove and many if not most RICO cases get dismissed early in the proceedings. - Which is not to say that it is a waste to file them, because it often isn't. If nothing else, this lawsuit may extend the statute of limitations for a number of consumers who have potential claims.

Do not call me regarding the class action lawsuit.  Please call either attorney Gamez or Hanson through their websites referenced above.  

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Timeshare Relief Companies - Coming Back

When I worked for UAW Legal Services Plans, very often I would have a client come in with a timeshare that he/she couldn't afford.  That experience made me really hate timeshares. What I hate worse than timeshares are the scammy companies who get money from desperate timeshare owners and generally do nothing. 

Fifteen years ago the scam centered on companies promising to find a buyer for your timeshare, and naturally you had to pay them an up-front fee. Now the scam seems to be a simple problem of "relief" from your timeshare, no promises you will get any cash from the deal, just that you will get out of the timeshare.  Of course, you have to pay them a fee, usually about $3,000. 

What the timeshare relief companies generally won't say int heir advertising  is that to qualify for their program, you have to be completely paid up on your timeshare, with all dues and assessments current as well.  What they also don't tell you is the  more reputable timeshare companies (and I hate saying that), such as Wyndham, will generally take your timeshare back for FREE if it is completely paid for and dues and assessments are current.  When your timeshare is not current, it's just a problem to get rid of period, and there is no easy answer. Sometimes the best thing to do is file bankruptcy. Sometimes the best thing to do is default and try to settle up with the company when they sue you.   None of the alternatives are perfect or costless. 

I am not takng cases from people who are trying to get out of their timeshares.  I will consider cases from people in Indiana  who were defrauded by timeshare relief companies.  If you are from Indiana and are having a problem with a timeshare relief company, please contact me through the "quick contact" form on my website, http://www.hoferlawindy.com/  If you are from another state and have a timeshare problem, I suggest you talk to a NACA consumer attorney in your state.   You can find one with this link

Pension Assignment Problems Are Coming Back

Just when I thought the pension assignment industry was dead, they keep popping back up. The current problem seems to be collection effords driven by the "investors" who purchase the pension assignments.  I have beeen dealing with these cases since 2014.  Below is from a blog entry that I wrote initially in 2015. 

In my opinion, these contracts are illegal not just from the point of view of the seller, but also from the point of view of the buyer as well.  From the seller's point of view, they are disguised loans without required disclosure. From the buyers' point of view, they are illegal securities.  The basic rule of securities law is that, unless an exemption applies, the security must be registered and the seller must be licensed to sell the security.  In most of these cases, the security is not registered and the seller is not licensed to sell the security. 

Many times these pension securities are sold to unsuspecting buyers by their trusted life insurance agents.  These life insurance agents may have a bond and professional liability insurance. This is important because the companies putting these securities together may be practically insolvent or their assets may be out of reach of a reasonable-cost lawsuit.  The sellers' only recourse may be to bring a claim against the life insurance agent or other person who sold them the security. 

Note this applies not just to pension securities but other investments that might be sold by brokers and agents.  I have seen cases involving illegal church bonds, for example. 

If you bought a pension investment that is not performing, or were sold some other type of worthless security from a life insurance agent, including church bonds or unregistered corporate bonds, please call my office at 317-662-4529.

Of course, we still represent consumers who have sold part of their pensions. Here are some of the companies that are involved in the industry

Voyager Financial Group, LLC (also doing business as Pension4Case, Cash out my Pension, Buy Your Pension)
Veterans Benefit League
Cash Flow Investment Partners
LumpSum Pension Advance
Pension Funding, LLC
Pensions Annuities & Settlements LLC
Pension Income LLC
DFR Pension Funding
Veterans Benefit Leverage
First American Finance Corporation
Investing Forward (Termbrokers LLC)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Great Seneca's Ghost is continuing to try to collect judgments

I received two calls last week from people in different states who are facing renewed collection activty on Great Seneca Financial Corporation judgments dating from as far back as 2003.  I have written about Great Seneca before. The thing to remember is that Great Seneca and a numbrer of associated companies are defunct, dead, ceased to be, toes-up, shuffled this mortal coil and gone to join the choir invisible, breft of life, they rest in peace, they are ex-companies. 

Here is a list of the dead companies that shouldn't be collecting from you. 

Great Seneca Financial Corporation
Platinum Financial Services Corporation
Monarch Capital Corporation
Colonial Credit Corporation
Centurion Capital Corporation
Sage Financial Corporation
Hawker Financial Corporation

A company named Stone Creek Financial, Inc. has claimed to be the assignee of some of these judgments, but the documents that I've seen don't include an assignment of individual accounts.  They have used a lawfirm named Slovin & Associates Co. L.P.A.  

If you are receiving letters regarding a judgment of any of the dead companies, or if they are trying to seize assets or garnish wages out of a judgment relating to these companies, please contact my office at 317-662-4529.  If you are not in our area, I will look for a NACA consumer lawyer in your home state to refer you to.