Frequently Asked Questions

Please Note

 

 

Nothing on this web site should be viewed as creating an attorney-client relationship between you and our law firm, or any of our attorneys. The information here is general in nature and should not be viewed as applying to your specific circumstances. Only a qualified consumer rights attorney can advise you about your specific situation. Hyde & Swigart are California consumer rights attorneys. State laws, and the interpretation and rulings on federal laws, are different in each jurisdiction. If you feel you need consumer rights legal advice, contact Hyde & Swigart at (619) 233-7770 for a free consultation.


 

 

What does it cost for me to talk with Hyde & Swigart?

If you are concerned that talking with Hyde & Swigart is going to cost you money, stop worrying, it won't. If you think that bringing a lawsuit will cost you a lot of money, you are wrong. All you need is a good case and attorneys that want to help you. For more information, click here.

 

 

Hyde & Swigart does not currently have an office in my state. Where can I find a good consumer rights attorney in my state?

The National Association of Consumer Advocates is an excellent source. For more information, click here.

 

Is there any easy way I can fix my bad credit?

Contrary to what companies will tell you, you cannot easily get correct but negative information removed from your credit report. However, there are things you can do that, over time, will have a significant positive impact on your credit rating. Start by obtaining a copy of your credit reports and correcting the inevitable errors you will find on them.

Step 1: Get Copies of Your Credit Reports

There are a number of ways to obtain your credit report. You can get a free copy ever year at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also contact the credit reporting agencies by mail (we recommend mail over internet access for evidential reasons).

Request copy of your Credit Report from these credit bureaus:

TransUnion, LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
(800) 888-4213
www.transunion.com

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
(800) 685-1111
www.equifax.com

Experian
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
(888) 397-3742
www.experian.com

Step 2: Examine All Credit Entries & Inquiries

Once you get all three of your consumer credit reports back, sit down and thoroughly review every account and company name on your reports.

Make sure that all of the information on the account, including late payment history, high credit, and monthly payments is accurate for every account.

Make accurate notes of any errors because you will use this information to create a second letter to request that your report be corrected.

Next, thoroughly examine and review every person and company listed who has obtained your credit report.

If there are inquiries on your credit reports which you don't recognize, try to investigate them thoroughly and eliminate any possibility that the access of your credit report was permissible.

Your current creditors, insurance underwriters, debt collectors who are collecting from you, and people who expect to loan you money have a right to access your credit report.

Inquires made for promotional purposes are legal as well and are usually indicated with a special code such as "PRM" for promotional or other specific language on the credit report.

Step 3: Send A Correction Request Letter

You are not required to, but you may choose to use the correction form provided by the credit bureau along with your new credit report. Sometimes these form have too little space or not enough room to explain the problem you have.

Save a a good clean copy of what you send to the credit bureaus requesting the corrections.

Step 4: Review Your Updated Credit Reports

Within 30 days or so, after you have sent your Request Letter in Step 4, you can expect a copy of any updated credit report showing what corrections have been made, what has been deleted, and what remains unchanged.

If you still dispute inaccurate information that is on your your credit reports, then it's time to go to Step 5.

Step 5: Contact Our Office If Errors Persist

If you have followed all of these Steps in writing, and 1) your credit information is still inaccurate, or 2) the creditor refuses to correct it, or 3) someone has accessed your credit report illegally, please contact our office.

We will consult with you for free and advise you of the best course of legal action to vindicate your rights.

Your claims under the FCRA must be brought within two years or they will be forever barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Consult a competent attorney immediately if you have inaccurate information on your credit report that the credit bureaus will not remove.

Additionally:

Remember, the reports will cost you $8.00 each in the state of California unless you attach a copy of a credit denial letter you have received in the past 60 days which was based upon the information that that credit bureau provided. Other states allow other charges.

Save any and all of credit denial letters you receive, including the envelopes.

Save clean, original copies of each of the credit reports you have receive after you send your requests out.

Save a a good clean copy of what you send to the credit bureaus requesting the reports.

Online Users Beware: You may be tempted to get your credit reports on-line either directly from the credit bureaus or through a "consolidated" credit reporting service. We don't recommend online reports for several important reasons: 1) Online service has been "hit or miss" with some of the credit bureaus; 2) consolidated reports are harder to link directly back to the particular source of the incorrect information; 3) the print outs are often harder to read than original reports.

Our Advice: Take the time and send the manual letters. They create a great paper trail.

 

 

Can I Tape Record My Telephone Conversations?

What most people mean when they ask that question is, “Can I Secretly Tape Record My Telephone Conversations?”

Tape recordings can be powerful evidence when a debt collector, repossession employee, etc., verbally abuses you over the telephone. However, they are a double edged sword. If you lose your temper, swear, or make crazy statements out of anger or frustration, these recordings can come back to haunt you. Finally, many states restrict or prohibit secretly tape recording telephone calls.

In California

If a person calls and leaves a message on your answering machine, you can, and should, retain and use it to prove you have been abused. We recommend you keep all messages left by debt collectors or others until an attorney can review them. Do not assume the call is of no use. For example, a debt collector who calls you and states, “Susan, this is David, please call me at 800-555-5555,” violates the law by not saying who he is, or who he works for, or that he is a debt collector. The call sounds innocent, but it is not. The person who calls you and leaves a message on your machine is giving his or her consent to being recorded, so there is no need to be concerned that this may be illegal.

If you call a debt collector or other person, or that debt collector or person calls you, and advises you that “this call may be monitored or recorded,” it is our opinion that you can record those calls.

Other than that, however, recording calls without the other persons knowledge may be a crime. It is a crime in California to intercept or eavesdrop upon any confidential communication, including a telephone call or wire communication, without the consent of all parties. (See The California Privacy Act, Cal. Penal Code §§ 630 - 637.6 ) Former California Attorney General Lockyer has on opinion on this that is also worth considering. (See OPINION of BILL LOCKYER, California Attorney General)

It is also a crime to disclose information obtained from such an interception. A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and imprisonment for no more than one year. Subsequent offenses carry a maximum fine of $10,000 and jail sentence of up to one year.

Eavesdropping upon (in other words, listening in on an extension, or “monitoring” the call) or recording a conversation, whether by telephone (including cordless or cellular telephone) or in person, when a person would reasonably expect to be confined to the parties present, carries the same penalty as intercepting telephone or wire communications.

Conversations occurring at any public gathering that one should expect to be overheard, including any legislative, judicial or executive proceeding open to the public, are not covered by the law.

Anyone injured by a violation of the wiretapping laws can recover civil damages of $5,000 or three times actual damages, whichever is greater. (See Cal. Penal Code § 637.2(a)) Finally, a civil action for invasion of privacy may be brought against the person who committed the violation. (See Cal. Penal Code § 637.2)

In Other States
In other states, we suggest you seek the advice of an attorney before doing so. You may also like to review the web site called “A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C.,“ at http://www.rcfp.org/taping/

 

How do I deal with e-mail spam?

You can sue if you receive spam e-mail, but it is tricky. In California, there are powerful anti-spam statutes. (See the Statutes) However, these Spammers are often overseas companies or well hidden in the United States. However, if we can actually find them, Hyde & Swigart will sue them.

 

I am have a bunch of problems with my cell phone company. What can I do about it?

That depends on teh problem, but in California, you do have rights. Check out of web page on your Wireless Bill Of Rights.