Go green! Keep your family safe! We’ve got a great new product that can make your home energy efficient!
Buyer beware. Door-to-door sales of solar panels, alarm systems, and other home improvement goods and services are rife with scams. Bad actors coupled with new technology and a legal system that has not always caught up have left consumers vulnerable.
Not all deals are bad ones, but there are things that you should look for. Never hand a sales rep your cellphone or leave your phone open and unattended. Do not e-sign documents unless you have seen the entire document and are sure of what you are signing onto. If you have any indication that a wrong address was used by you or someone assisting you during the sign up process or is shown in documents you are provided with at a later time, contact an attorney to look over the documents. You have a right to ask them to send you a copy of the agreement to your email address before you e-sign any document. If they won’t agree, think twice. And, if someone claims that you signed up for something, and you know that you did not, contact an attorney immediately. Often, time is of the essence.
Have you ever logged into your bank account online and thought ‘was I scammed?’ because of a Zelle or
Venmo transfer you didn’t authorize? Criminals and thieves have gotten more sophisticated with the
use of technology. While online payment apps – like Zelle and Vemno - usually provide a convenient
service, sometimes they are abused to steal money out of your bank account.
There is a law - the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) - that protects consumers from banking errors
and unauthorized transfers.
But it is important to note that not all transactions are covered, and it is your responsibility as the
consumer to act first in order to trigger EFTA’s protections.
Although the EFTA doesn't cover paper check transactions - it does cover most common electronic
transactions such as
So, what about those popular payment apps like Venmo, Cashapp, or Zelle? Generally, the EFTA applies
to those too, but there are some limitations.
Typically, fraud is due to a lost or stolen debit card or identity theft. In some cases, an identity thief has
enough debit card information to make online purchases. In other cases, the thief has enough personal
identifying information to trick the bank into giving them access to the consumer’s accounts. Some
identity thieves will even call a consumer posing as a bank employee and trick them into revealing their
usernames, passwords, and pins. In general, EFTA will protect the consumer when this happens.
The EFTA does not cover situations where the consumer knowingly provided access to a device or debit
card. For example, if a consumer gave a loved one their debit card to buy groceries, and that loved one
took it to the casino instead - that's not covered. The EFTA also does not cover voluntary transactions
initiated by the consumer where the recipient is a fraudster. That is where consumers need to be
particularly careful when using payment apps like Zelle and Venmo. If a fraudster can convince you - the
consumer - to send them money through one of these apps, the EFTA will not protect you. Moreover,
most banks include language in their consumer agreements where they expressly disclaim liability for
these types of transactions.
As a consumer - you need to notify your bank within 60 days of a transaction appearing on a statement
to be protected by EFTA. If you have a device that was lost or stolen with access to your account
information you should notify your bank within 2 days to ensure protection for future transactions. A
lost or stolen cellphone with a payment app may be considered the same way, and you should treat it as
If you have recently had unauthorized payment app transactions on your account, we encourage you to
reach out to speak with an attorney at no cost to you. We may find a way to help you.
You can call Jim Feagle at 404 373 1978 or Kris Skaar at 770 427 5600.
No one needs to tell you how important your credit history is. We strongly recommend that you review the contents of your three major credit reports (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) at least annually.
Federal law provides that you have the right to get a complete copy of each of your credit reports. The three major credit reporting agencies have set up a single website to handle most consumer requests for reports:
(Federal law only requires free reports once a year, but at the beginning of COVID, the credit reporting agencies started to allow free reports weekly. As of this writing, the website still states that it offers weekly reports.)
We strongly recommend that you pull each separate report and take some time to look through them all. Significant things that might hurt your credit or indicate problems would include:
When disputing inaccurate information, we have found the best practices to be to:
You can call Jim Feagle at 404 373 1978 or Kris Skaar at 770 427 5600.
What if you have an eviction on your credit report, but you have never been evicted. What can you do?
First, gather all of your relevant credit reports.
There are a lot of specialty credit reporting agencies that serve the apartment industry. These specialty agencies are where the evictions are usually reported. Click the following link to see a list of these agencies (see pages 17 through 21 of the current edition of the CFPB's List of Consumer Reporting Companies): https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201604_cfpb_list-of-consumer-reporting-companies.pdf.
While the main three credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) do not usually have eviction data, you should probably get copies of those reports as well. You can get a free copy of each report once a year by following this link: www.annualcreditreport.com.
Additionally you should preserve all evidence that you timely paid any rent (as well as any other fees permitted under the lease, such as any termination costs). There may be rare occasions where the public record (if that is the problem) can be challenged, vacated, or otherwise dealt with.
Then consider consulting with a consumer protection attorney, as an attorney may be able to assist you in resolving your situation.
Generally, garnishments are only allowed after a judgment has been entered against you in an earlier, separate court proceeding. If your wages or your bank account has been taken from you by a garnishment, the first thing to check is whether or not the garnishment is based on a valid judgment. Some courts have their records online, so we may be able to look at the court papers while you are on the telephone with one of our attorneys. (If the court involved does not have online records, then we may need you to go to the courthouse to get complete copies of the court file that has the judgment.) This first review is to see if there is a defect in the judgment or the process leading to the judgment. For example, if you were never given proper notice of the earlier lawsuit, then you would have grounds to challenge the garnishment and the underlying judgment against you.
Even if the judgment is not defective, there may be grounds to fight the garnishment. Certain funds (such as social security, retirement funds, workers compensation, etc.) are protected from garnishment even when they are in your bank account. While banks may preserve known protected funds from the garnishment (because the bank knows the source of direct-deposited funds), banks may not always get it right. If the bank messes up and holds protected funds, filings can be made in the garnishment to recover the protected funds. Even if the judgment is defect-free and no protected funds are involved, there may be defects in the garnishment process which invalidate the garnishment. Georgia law in this area has changed significantly in recent years, so it is important to have your garnishment case reviewed by a qualified attorney.