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    Edelman, Combs, Latturner, & Goodwin, LLC

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    Chicago, IL 60603

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    Phone: 312-739-4200
    Fax: 312-419-0379


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    Archive

    Settlement of a chicken jerky pet treat class action

    Saturday, May 31st, 2014

    National Settlement Reached In Dog Treat Case

    CHICAGO, May 30, 2014 – A nationwide class settlement was reached today between a group
    of consumers and Waggin’ Train, LLC and Nestle Purina PetCare Company. If given Court
    approval, the agreement would resolve disputed claims related to Waggin’ Train and Canyon
    Creek Ranch dog treats made in China.
    The settlement creates a settlement fund of $6,500,000, and establishes procedures that would
    permit consumers to submit claims for monetary relief. The agreement also requires Nestle
    Purina to undertake enhanced quality assurance measures and modify certain language on its
    packaging. Full details on the settlement are described in the written agreement filed with the
    Court, which is attached to this release.
    Neither Waggin’ Train, Nestle Purina nor any of the consumers concede that their claims, or
    defenses, were not valid. All parties entered into the agreement only to bring the litigation to a
    prompt and certain resolution.
    This agreement is subject to the approval of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
    Illinois, and a final fairness hearing to be scheduled by the Court. Consumers will be given
    notice of the settlement, and the date of the final hearing, after the Court approves the notice plan
    proposed by the parties.
    The cases being settled are Adkins v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company et al, No. 12-cv-2871
    (N.D. Ill.); Gandara v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company et al, No. 13-cv-4159 (N.D. Ill.); and
    Matin v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company et al, No. 13-cv-1512 (N.D. Ill.).
    If you have any questions about the settlement of these actions, please contact Thomas Soule at
    (312) 739-4200 or Phong Tran at (800) 449-4900.

    FTC action against Consumer Portfolio Services

    Thursday, May 29th, 2014

    The following was issued by the FTC today.  If you are being sued by the company, consider the impact on its ability to prove anything.

    Auto Lender Will Pay $5.5 Million to Settle FTC Charges It Harassed Consumers, Collected Amounts They Did Not Owe

    FOR RELEASE

    A national subprime auto lender will pay more than $5.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company used illegal tactics to service and collect consumers’ loans, including collecting money consumers did not owe, harassing consumers and third parties, and disclosing debts to friends, family, and employers.

    Consumer Portfolio Services, Inc. (CPS), headquartered in Irvine, Calif., agreed to refund or adjust 128,000 consumers’ accounts more than $3.5 million and forebear collections on an additional 35,000 accounts to settle charges the company violated the FTC Act. CPS will pay another $2 million in civil penalties to settle FTC charges that the company violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)’s Furnisher Rule.

    “At the FTC, we hold loan servicers responsible for knowing their legal obligations and abiding by them,” said Jessica Rich, director, FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The law is very clear: Loan servicers can’t charge consumers more than they owe. And they can’t threaten and harass consumers about delinquent debts.”

    The order settling the charges requires CPS to change its business practices to comply with the requirements of the appropriate laws. In addition, the company is required to establish and maintain a comprehensive data integrity program to ensure the accuracy, integrity and completeness of its loan servicing processes, and the data and other information it services, collects or sells. CPS must also provide the FTC with periodic independent assessments of its data integrity program for 10 years.

    According to the FTC’s complaint, CPS’ loan-servicing violations include:

    • Misrepresenting fees consumers owed in collection calls, monthly statements, pay-off notices, and bankruptcy filings;
    • Making unsubstantiated claims about the amounts consumers  owed;
    • Improperly assessing and collecting fees or other amounts;
    • Unilaterally modifying contracts by, for example, increasing principal balances;
    • Failing to disclose financial effects of loan extensions;
    • Misrepresenting that consumers must use particular payment methods requiring service fees; and
    • Misrepresenting that the company audits verified consumer accounts balances.

    The company’s collection violations include disclosing the existence of debts to third parties; calling consumers at work when not permitted or inconvenient; calling third parties repeatedly with intent to harass; making unauthorized debits from consumer bank accounts; falsely threatening car repossession; and deceptively manipulating Caller ID. Because for many of its accounts CPS is a creditor, the complaint charges these practices violated Section 5 of the FTC Act. For those accounts where CPS is a debt collector, the complaint charges these practices violated the FDCPA.

    CPS is also charged with failure to establish and implement reasonable written procedures and failure to reasonably investigate and respond timely to consumer disputes under the Furnisher Rule.

    Under the order, the company will begin sending refunds to consumers and adjusting affected account balances within 90 days. Consumers with questions about their elgibility for a refund or account adjustment should contact CPS directly via telephone at 1-888-806-2367, email FTCsettlement@consumerportfolio.com, or visit thecompany’s website.

    The FTC provides information for businesses regarding debt collection and the Furnisher Rule. For consumers, the FTC has resources on credit and loans and dealing with debt.

    The Commission vote to authorize the staff to refer the complaint to the Department of Justice, and to approve the proposed consent decree, was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Terrell McSweeny not participating. The DOJ filed the complaint and proposed consent decree on behalf of the Commission in the Central District of California on May 28, 2014. The proposed consent decree is subject to court approval.

    NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the District Court judge.

    The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

    CONTACT INFORMATION

    Media Contact
    Cheryl Warner
    Office of Public Affairs 
    (202) 326-2480

    Staff Contact
    Tracy Thorleifson
    Northwest Regional Office 
    (206) 220-4481

    Cease and desist letter

    Saturday, May 24th, 2014

    Question: What does a cease and desist do?

    Answer:   You have the right to instruct a debt collector (collection agency, debt buyer) to cease and desist from any contact.  They are obligated to obey, and can either file suit or cease collection.

     

    cell phone calls and spam text messages

    Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

    Did you know it may be against the law for a company to call  you on your cell phone without your permission to sell you a product or service or collect money? A federal law called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) prohibits companies from contacting people on their cell phones with an “automatic telephone dialing system,” or using “an artificial or prerecorded voice,” or by sending an unsolicited text message, without their prior express consent.

    Violating the TCPA is a serious matter; the consumer can recover $500 to $1500 per communication.

    A call is likely to have been placed using an automatic telephone dialing system  if:

    You answered the phone and there was a pause or delay before a live person began speaking

    You answered the phone and heard “clicks” indicating that the call was transferred before you got a live person on the phone

    You answered the phone to “hold music” or initially got a pre-recorded message that told you to hold for a live person

    You get a call from the same number at exactly the same time every day

    junk fax advertising

    Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

    Please contact us if you are being harassed by advertising faxes.   Most are illegal.  Many are worth pursuing.  They are worth $500 to $1500 each.

    Creditors Discount & Audit

    Friday, May 16th, 2014

    Please contact us if Creditors Discount & Audit has attempted to collect a debt from you within the last year.

    Professional Account Service, Inc.

    Friday, May 16th, 2014

    Please contact us if Professional Account Service, Inc. is attempting to collect a debt from you.

    forced arbitration

    Thursday, May 15th, 2014

    Why forced arbitration is so harmful to consumers:

    1.    Arbitration offers inferior justice to that of the court system for several reasons. Unlike court decisions, arbitral rulings are not subject to appeal except on very limited grounds, such as a conflict of interest on the part of the arbitrator. When arbitrators make plain legal or factual errors, their rulings still stand. As a result, arbitration is more likely to produce erroneous outcomes than the court system.
    2.   The  financial firm picks the arbitrator. The major arbitration associations get their business from the financial firms, not consumers, and are thus incentivized to cater to the financial firms in order to get repeat business.  This is in contrast to the court system, where judges are elected or appointed and are paid a salary by the government.
    3. Arbitrations are not subject to standard rules of evidence and procedure, including discovery  —  the right to obtain information from the other party related to the case. This can make arbitrations more streamlined, but it also affects outcomes. The defendant financial firm will generally hold most of the evidence relevant to the case.  If consumer plaintiffs are not allowed to get the evidence necessary to prove their cases by requesting documents or taking depositions, they lose. Even when plaintiffs do have sufficient proof, they may have to counter evidence that is prejudicial or would otherwise be inadmissible in court. It is consumers, rather than financial services firms, who suffer from the lack of these procedural protections.
    4. Binding mandatory arbitration provisions are often crafted so as to preclude class actions, including class arbitrations. Class actions are the only practical recourse for addressing widespread, small-dollar harms—the category under which most consumer claims fall. Preventing class actions is a license for unscrupulous businesses to steal from their consumers. If a bank overcharged all of its 25 million depositors $30 annually, the bank would have pocketed $750 million in unauthorized fees, but no individual consumer would bother litigating or even arbitrating. As one federal judge colorfully put it, the class action is an essential tool for justice because “only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30.”
    5. Arbitration advocates tend to focus on the alleged efficiency of arbitration, rather than the quality of the justice it provides. Arbitration’s “efficiency,” however, largely derives from the fact that it prevents small-dollar claims from being heard at all. If one were to compare the cost of a single class action that decided millions of claims versus the cost of individually arbitrating each of those claims, arbitration would be utterly inefficient. Eliminating meritorious claims is cheaper, but not efficient.  If one simply compares the direct costs to the parties for arbitration to the direct costs for litigation, arbitration is often less expensive. In part this is because arbitration often allows for more limited discovery and has no appeals process. Arbitration costs less because the parties are getting lesser quality justice. Furthermore, litigation produces published court opinions and creates precedent on which other parties—businesses and consumers alike—can rely. Arbitration does not produce rulings that set precedent. The precedent created by a single court litigation that produces a clear opinion can preclude many other legal actions, thus creating huge cost savings. Making an apples-to-apples comparison of the cost of a single court case to that of a single arbitration misses this important benefit of a public judicial system.
    6. Financial services companies do not appear to be passing the cost savings of arbitration on to consumers in general. When Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and HSBC dropped arbitration clauses as the result of a litigation settlement their prices did not go up. Nor did mortgage rates go up when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stopped buying mortgages with arbitration clauses or when Congress later banned arbitration clauses in mortgages. Binding mandatory arbitration for consumer financial contracts has no consumer welfare benefit.

     

    Zombie Debt

    Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

    Zombie Debt

    “Zombie” debt is debt that should be dead, but has come back from the grave to haunt you.

    Junk debt buyers find and buy portfolios of old debts from banks, credit card issuers, utilities, telecom companies, health clubs, auto finance companies, and other creditors for pennies on the dollar. They then dun or sue you, often with little or no evidence. In many cases, the debt is past the statute of limitations. For example, the statute of limitations on a credit card in Illinois is generally 5 years, measured from default or last payment. On a contract for the sale of a car, gas or oil, or other “goods,” it is 4 years in Illinois and most other states.

    The debt buyer hopes that you will be frightened into paying or ignore or not know how to deal with a lawsuit, so that it gets a default judgment. Once the debt buyer has a default judgment, it does not have to prove anything, and the debt comes to life again for 20 years or more.

    Debt buyers operating in Illinois include Asset Acceptance, Autovest, CACH, CACV, Cavalry, CGR, Galaxy Asset Purchasing, HBLC, JRSI, LVNV Funding, Midland Credit, Midland Funding, MSW, NCEP, NCO, Palisades Collection, Portfolio Recovery Associates, PYOD, Resurgence, Resurgent Capital Services, and Unifund.

    We can help you deal with zombie debt.

    If you are being called or sued in Illinois for a zombie debt or by a debt buyer, contact us and we will review the case for nothing. We often can defend the case for a modest fee. If there has been a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or other law, we can make the debt buyer pay you.

    We claim no credit for the term “zombie debt.”   Liz Pulliam Weston,Zombie’ Debt is Hard to Kill, http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/ManageDebt/ZombieDebt CollectorsDigUpYourOldMistakes.aspx; and Jane Kim, Dealing with Debt that Refuses to Die, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30, 2008, at B1.

    Creditors Collection Bureau

    Sunday, May 11th, 2014

    Please  contact us if Creditors Collection Bureau is attempting to collect a debt from you.