Post Number: 210
|Posted on Saturday, September 21, 2002 - 11:35 pm: ||
"With liberty and justice for some, not all."
- Katie Sierra
I've had quite a few clients and readers looking for attorneys and I also referred some to attorneys.
My experiences so far:
Almost everybody who retained an attorney on contingency complained that it takes forever, they don't know what's going on, attorney/client communications practically don't exist.
I think this is typical for attorneys who take cases on contingency. Since you don't pay for it, they work on your case whenever they have time, and all FCRA/FDCPA attorneys seem to be extremely busy.
There were some immediate benefits, such as almost all derogs being deleted by the bureaus who were sued.
I am also aware of a wellknown and highly regarded FCRA attorney negotiating settlements with LESS than 10% going to the client, and the attorney testifying FOR the defendant when the client refused to honor his settlement.
I highly recommend that you use e-mail to follow up on conversations and to inquire about the status of your suit.
Some attorneys will promise a jury trial and fail to do any discovery whatsoever.
Especially if you are having financial problems, you can expect a cramdown settlement unless you cover your back.
Consumer Attorneys - naca.net
NACA recently updated their web site and greatly enhanced search capabilites.
FCRA attorneys: FCRA Attorneys
About NACA and really all consumers attorneys:
They're not really consumer advocates, they make a living representing consumers just like ambulance chasers represent accident victims.
You need to have your act together and they need to know that you have a good case or they won't take it. "Jury appeal" helps.
I became a member of NACA last year, it's $100 for me, and $50 for the attorneys.
I guess that says it all.
* Don't always expect a response to your fax/e-mail
* Some firms want you to complete 6 page forms.
* If you're looking for an attorney to take the case on contingency, be prepared to be able to show damages, especially if you have only FCRA and no FDCPA claims.
Inquiries w/o permissible purpose are an exception since you're looking at a $1,000 minimum ($2,500 in Cal?)
A few notes:
** Keep ALL decline letters, old reports, disputes, etc. Mortgage declines are especially good, you want to be able to show that you couldn't buy or refinance due to the violations.
Make sure you get the decline in writing, as well as the CREDIT REPORT that caused the decline.
** It appears that few attorneys want to sue Capital One, although I've heard of a class action against Cap One in IL.
** Arizona is a real bad State to be looking for a consumer law attorney. I have been assured by several attorneys that there is NO attorney who will take an ECOA or FCRA case in Kingman.
A collection attorney recently told me that all AZ FDCPA attorneys are incompetent. I'm afraid he might be right.
My best lead so far is an attorney who told my client during her call about 9 times that the charge for reviewing her case is $150, in addition to mentioning numerous times how busy he is.
** Illinois is a good State to be in, as there are several big FCRA firms.
One is Edelman, Combs & Latturner, their resume:
Their site has a wealth of info, excellent reading. Some of the best FDCPA info I've seen anywhere.
While I'm not a big fan of class actions, they have filed some great class actions, and are currently pursuing Lexington.
California also has quite a few FCRA attorneys.
One is the office of Sharon Kinsey. She called me once and was very nice, but when I later called them about one of my own cases, I got a 6 page application - not my thing. I hate filling out forms by hand, I can barely read my own handwriting. They don't have an e-mail address, when I submitted a request through that form they have on their site (I HATE these forms because you don't get a copy of what you sent) -- anyway, I got no reply.
At least one of the BayHouse readers retained their services and got a settlement.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey:
Lawrance S. Rubin at http://www.pennlawyer.com/
Great FDCPA Primer!
Oregon and nationwide for FCRA cases:
Baxter & Baxter, LLP
Michael Baxter was the attorney representing Judy Thomas against Trans Union, resulting in the $5.3 million jury verdict.
They are located in Oregon, offer free initial consultations and accept FCRA cases outside Oregon.
Krohn & Moss - unfortunately, there have been several complaints, please read:
Krohn & Moss at faircreditlawyers.com - 10K Cal. statutory damages?
** I learned that it's much easier to settle with collectors and smaller creditors.
The big banks are toughest to deal with.
Companies like Capital One own the regulators and Congress and have nothing but contempt for the law and a consumer without an attorney.
They couldn't care less about your regulatory complaint and are not impressed by small claims suits. They respond best to the promise of a jury trial in federal court by a big law firm.
And that's pretty much what I can post as of now about FCRA/FDCPA attorneys.
Have your corporate (or whatever else) attorney friend negotiate a settlement.
Several readers got cash settlements after having an attorney friend who doesn't know anything about credit reporting contact creditors or collectors and they got immediate offers of at least $1,500+ (mostly attorneys fees), and of course correction/deletion.
Considering that those attorneys knew nothing about the FCRA and the consumers basically told them what to do after reading the BayHouse forum, that's not bad. It was also very fast, took just a few weeks.
Where are all those unemployed lawyers?
When I lived in California I heard a lot about the many unemployed lawyers. If I could find an attorney who is actually looking for work, and I don't care if he/she doesn't know what the FCRA is, I could EASILY generate $10k/month in attorney fees, without ever filing a complaint or going to court.
Pro Se - represent yourself
Whyspers got a nice cash settlement from Experian: http://proselitigant.net/ Don't miss the message board. Representing yourself works especially well in combination with publication.
Most people will be much better off with representation, but when you can't find a lawyer ...
Publish your case.
Post the case summary, violations, screenshots of the accounts as reported, full names and phone numbers of employees you dealt with, faxes and letters, as well as audio recordings of conversations.
That's a great way to try to settle for CASH and corrections/deletions when you can't find an attorney, you don't have time, or you just want to share with the world what happened to you.
If that doesn't work, you can still file suit. A side benefit to the publication is that it's easier to find an attorney when you HAVE your documentation.
If you really want to annoy the creditor/collector, send out a FREE press release.
You can have your own section at the forum here, but there are other sites too. Here's an interesting publication, Katie Sierra's case, the 15 year old anarchist: http://www.courttv.com/trials/taped/sierra/background_ctv.html
http://www.illegalvoices.org/katiesierra/ Scroll down to the "How you can help" section -- I'd like to publish a page like that for the bureaus and Capital One.
There are many ways to make wrongs right.
Determine what your goal is, who you're up against, do some research, and no matter what you plan on doing, document everything, especially when dealing with creditors, collectors and attorneys.
It has been my experience that many CRA/creditor and collection attorneys are very nice and pretend to "feel your pain." That's part of legal practice, they try to make you feel comfortable, they pretend they understand your problem and that they just want to "help" you. Trust me, it's not so.
With very few exceptions, they will not hesitate to LIE to you - you better record those calls and/or follow up on every conversation via fax.
I have been deceived many times, and I've learned a lot about deceptive and lying lawyers. Joseph Udall, Mesa, AZ, attorney for Capital One, took the practice of law to an alltime low:
I had NO idea that you could tell an attorney that payment has been mailed, he promises to discuss this with Capital One, and then he files a countersuit KNOWING that payment in full was made.
I'm sure you've heard of attorneys referred to as scum sucking bottom feeders - now you know why. And while this is not very encouraging, CreditCourt's primary purpose is to document reality.
The first step to getting stronger legislation is to document that the existing legislation doesn't work well.
"With liberty and justice for some, not all."
- Katie Sierra