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Minnesota Consumer Rights Blog

There have already been 10 billion robocalls this year

Do you feel like you're getting more robocalls this year than you have in the past? Every time you see an unknown number pop up on the screen, do you just assume that it is a robotic service trying to sell you something?

You're not alone. A lot of people have complained about a rise in robocalls lately, and statistics show that there have already been in excess of 10 billion of these calls in the United States -- and that's just for 2019.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act could stand to be updated

Some say that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is trapped in a time warp. When it was signed into law in 1991, lawmakers hoped that it would decrease telemarketers' calls made to Americans on their home phones lines. We currently live in an era in which half of all Americans rely exclusively on cell phones though. Enforcement is difficult. This is especially the case since TCPA hasn't been updated since it was written.

Since these laws haven't been updated in decades, many business owners have gotten sued for violating TCPA when maybe they didn't knowingly do anything wrong. In recent years, defendants from the health care, education, solar, retail and security industries have been sued as part of class-action lawsuits by multiple plaintiffs who've received texts, faxes and calls.

Romance scams are becoming more common -- and costly

With the rise of online dating sites and apps, so-called "romance scams" have become more prevalent. These scams can leave victims both financially and emotionally devastated. Seniors looking for love, companionship or just someone with whom to communicate -- often after becoming widowed -- are particularly vulnerable.

While the median financial loss by victims of romance scams is about $2,600, it's closer to $10,000 for people in their 70s and older. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans lost a combined total of $143 million in 2018 to romance scams. That's more than all other kinds of consumer fraud.

Federal laws prohibit creditors from harassing debtors

If you're drowning in debt, then you may be receiving incessant calls and letters from creditors. You may want to familiarize yourself with federal laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) if you're wondering if their actions are legal.

According to The Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, debt collectors may attempt to reach you by fax, mail or phone any time between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. daily.

Common mistakes found on credit reports

You should never assume that your credit report is 100 percent accurate. Even if this is the case today, an error could show up tomorrow. And if it does, it could have an impact on your credit score and ability to secure a loan.

The best thing you can do is get into the habit of reviewing your credit report once or twice a year. When doing so, carefully review each line for errors. Some of the most common include:

  • Inaccurate personal information: This can include things such as the wrong middle initial, wrong address or wrong Social Security number. These are all details that you want to correct as soon as possible.
  • Accounts that don't belong to you: Even if the account is in good standing, you don't want it on your credit report. This is often the first sign of identity theft, so it's important to dig deeper.
  • Duplicate accounts: If an account, such as a credit card, is listed twice, it can impact your utilization ratio. Subsequently, if your utilization ratio is higher than it should be, your credit score will suffer.
  • Outdated information: An example would be an account with inaccurate information on how much you currently owe.
  • Inaccurate payment history: You're well aware that a missed payment or late payment can lower your credit score. So, if you come across this on your credit report, make sure it's 100 percent accurate. If you don't remember the missed or late payment, file a dispute with the appropriate credit bureau and contact the creditor.

Not all debts get removed from your credit report after 7 years

If you've ever filed for bankruptcy, then the trustee in your case likely informed you that it would remain on your credit report for seven years after it was approved. Did you know that no matter if you file for bankruptcy or not, most debts are supposed to be erased from your credit report after seven years anyway though?

It's important that you don't get the wrong impression. Even though derogatory information can only remain on your credit report for seven years, a Minnesota creditor can still collect on the debt that you owe.

Why was my car wrongfully repossessed and what can I do about it?

Many of us have come to rely on using our car to get our kids to school, to work, to the store or anywhere else we may need to go. While it may be inconvenient if it happens, it's understandable if our car gets repossessed because we fall behind in making payments on it. What can be extremely frustrating though is if it gets picked up by the repo man in error.

If you don't think that it's possible for a car to be wrongfully repossessed, then simply ask around a bit. You'll likely find someone who will say that this has happened to them.

Robocalls rob Minnesotans of their right to privacy

You see an unrecognizable phone number pop up on your cellphone screen, you answer the call and say hello. There's momentary silence before an upbeat voice comes on the line telling you how you've won a contest that you never even entered. You tell them to lose your number, but the robot on the other end of the line doesn't understand. They call back days later. More Minnesotans have been getting robocalls in recent months.

According to a California-based app company YouMail, in 2018, Minnesota residents received double the robocalls that they'd received in previous years. This equates to somewhere around eight calls per month.

How you are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

There are millions of people who face debt each day in the United States. Whether it is debt from student loans, car loans, mortgages, unpaid medical bills or credit card debt; it can be an overwhelming experience until all of it is paid in full. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers in the United States from the harassment of debt collectors.

This act allows consumers to control how and when debt collectors contact them. They are not permitted to contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They also are not allowed to tell any third party about your debt. They also are not allowed to contact you while at work after you tell them so.

Employer background checks: Important, but not always accurate

If you're in the process of searching for a new job, there will eventually come a point when you receive an offer. It may take longer than you'd like, but soon enough you'll find yourself in the early stages of the hiring process.

During this time, don't be surprised if the employer asks to run a background check. While you may have some fears about what the check turns up, if you were honest about your past up front, you don't have as much to worry about.

Get Answers To Your Questions

Contact the Consumer Justice Center. Tommy Lyons can speak with you in a free initial consultation arranged at 800-556-6752, toll free, or by email from wherever you are in the U.S.

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Consumer Justice Center P.A.
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