Resources

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Car Resources

Buying A Car

“Buying a New Car: Know What You’re Signing”:
http://www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/edge85.htm

“Buying a Used Car? Steer Clear of Bad Deals”: http://www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/edge108.htm

Check out the documentary film “Driven to Defraud” by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition

The Ultimate Auto Fraud Links Guide, from The National Consumer Law Center

Lemon Laws, Auto Value and Safety

To estimate the value of your vehicle, go to the Kelley Blue Book: http://www.kbb.com

Free ‘Lemon Check’: http://www.carfax.com/cfm/general_check.cfm?partner=car_8

Maryland’s Lemon Law: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/lemon.htm

Auto Safety Complaints and Complaints Database of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:  http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/trd/

NHTSA service bulletins: http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Owners

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Council: http://www.cpsc.gov/.

Database to determine if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle: https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck/vincheck

 Investigating Auto Fraud

  • For a used car, get a vehicle history report from www.carfax.com or www.autocheck.com. Note, however, that these only attempt to collect data from public records. So, if the car was in an accident but it was never reported, it is not going to show up here. Thus, these reports are helpful but not definitive. Don’t let any car dealer try and convince you otherwise.
  • Gather together and then review the originals of all paperwork given to you by the dealer, and read it. Does the contract contain the terms you agreed to? Are there signatures everywhere there are supposed to be? Are there any blanks in the forms? Did you receive all of the required disclosures? Is there an arbitration agreement that you can opt out of? Typical documents will include the following:
    -Advertisements or Letters from the dealership or financing company
    -Window Sticker
    -Buyers Order
    -Retail Installment Sales Contract
    -Manufacturer’s Warranty Booklet
    -Extended Warranty Forms
    -Gap Insurance documents
    -Etch or Lojack documents
    -Odometer Disclosure Statement
    -Agreement to Provide Insurance
    -Spot Delivery or Financing Agreement
    -Addendum
    -Prior Use Disclosure
    -Negative Equity Disclosure form
    -“We Owe” form
    -Payment Book
    -Credit Denial Letters
    -Credit Acceptance Letters
    -Title to the Car
  • Get the car’s title history and review the paperwork which the dealer submitted to the MVA. Compare signatures, governmental charges, etc. Contact prior owners where appropriate – i.e. to find out about prior accidents, etc:

Send check for $9.00 (or $12.00 for certified copy) to:

Motor Vehicle Administration
Room 146
6601 Ritchie Highway, N.E.
Glen Burnie, MD 21062

  • Go to any franchised dealer for the make of your car and get a complete printout of the car’s warranty, service and recall history. This may help you locate useful information about material problems the dealer failed to disclose at time of sale, or help establish odometer discrepancies.
  • Get copies of your credit reports from each of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, by going directly to their websites, or by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. There is one free credit report per year to Maryland residents (but they will try to sell you optional “credit watch” and other things). Once you have your credit report, look at which finance companies the dealer shopped your loan to.
  • Armed with this information, identify any red flags such as phony down payments, a used car sold as new, an undisclosed prior daily rental, a salvaged title, forged signatures, unsigned documents, missing documents, etc. If you believe the facts warrant it, contact a lawyer to find out your rights.

Regulations Governing Car Purchases in Maryland

  1. Failure to give signed copy of Buyer’s Order and signed copy of financing contract
    COMAR §11.12.01.15A and B
  2. Dealer did not accurately describe car as “new,” “used” or “demonstrator
    COMAR §§11.12.01.14A(5) and I and L
  3. Dealer did not disclose that your “used” car is actually a prior daily rental car
    COMAR §11.12.01.14M; see also Transp. Code §13-112(d)
  4. Dealer said you were “required” to buy service contract (aka “extended warranty”)
  5. Dealer said you were “required” to buy GAP insurance when law says it is “optional” RISA, CL §§12-606(b)(8) and 12-609(b)(3) and (4); CLEC, CL §12-1005(c) and §12-1012(a).
  6. Dealer did not disclose prior accident damage
    COMAR §11.12.01.14J(5) and K; 74 Op. Atty. Gen. 303 (1989); CL §13-301(3);
    Official Comment, ¶3 to CL §2-314; CL 2-314(2)(a); Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. 2310(d); COMAR §11.12.01.14K(1)( c ); COMAR §11.12.01.14K(1)(b)
  7. The odometer on the car was rolled back
    49 U.S.C. §32701 et seq.; 49 C.F.R. §580.1 et seq.; Transp. Code §22-415; COMAR §11.12.01.20.
  8. Dealer said that I cannot cancel the deal, even though they have not delivered the car to me
    COMAR §11.12.01.15C
  9. Dealer used false or deceptive advertising
    Transp. Code §§ 15-210; 15-312; 15-313; 15-411(c); CL § 11-701 et seq.; COMAR § 11.12.01.14A-H; CL § 13-301; CL § 14-2003
  10. Damage and Penalty Provisions
    CL § 13-408; RISA, CL §12-609(c) and 12-630; CLEC §§ 12-1017 and 12-1018; for Lemon Law, CL §§ 14-1502(c) and 14-1504(b); for leased vehicles, CL § 14-2007(a); for Federal Odometer Act, 49 U.S.C. §32710
  11. Attorneys Fee Provisions
    CL §13-408; for Lemon Law, CL§14-1502(l); for leased vehicles, CL§14-2007(b); Magnuson-Moss, 15 U.S.C. §2310

Debt Collection Harassment

Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act –
See Article “Protecting Yourself Against Creditor Harassment”:
http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/edge117.htm

Find out if a debt collector is licensed to do business in Maryland at:
https://www.dllr.state.md.us/cgi-bin/fin_reg_el/rel2/FinReg_search.cgi?calling_app=Query::PQ_company1.

Read “Debt Collection: Your Rights” on the Maryland Attorney General’s website: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/edge117.htm

A complaint form is available: http://www.oag.state.md.us/sa/jsp/consumer/FileComplaint.jsp.

See Also: Know Your Rights if You Choose to Use a Debt Management Services Provider: http://dllr.maryland.gov/finance/consumers/debtmgmtserv.shtml

The Federal Trade Commission has information on Fair Debt Collection: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection

File a formal complaint with the FTC: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0341-file-complaint-ftc

Congressional findings and declarations of purpose  [15 USC § 1692]

(a) There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors. Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.

(b) Existing laws and procedures for redressing these injuries are inadequate to protect consumers.

(c) Means other than misrepresentation or other abusive debt collection practices are available for the effective collection of debts.

(d) Abusive debt collection practices are carried on to a substantial extent in interstate commerce and through means and instrumentalities of such commerce. Even where abusive debt collection practices are purely intrastate in character, they nevertheless directly affect interstate commerce.

(e) It is the purpose of this title to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.

Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act

The Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act also prohibits debt collection harassment, and specifically provides as follows:

§ 14-201. Definitions.

(a) In general.- In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Collector.- “Collector” means a person collecting or attempting to collect an alleged debt arising out of a consumer transaction.

(c) Consumer transaction.- “Consumer transaction” means any transaction involving a person seeking or acquiring real or personal property, services, money, or credit for personal, family, or household purposes.

(d) Person.- “Person” includes an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, two or more persons having a joint or common interest, or any other legal or commercial entity.
[An. Code 1957, art. 83, § 167; 1975, ch. 49, § 3.]

§ 14-202. Proscribed conduct

In collecting or attempting to collect an alleged debt a collector may not:

(1) Use or threaten force or violence;

(2) Threaten criminal prosecution, unless the transaction involved the violation of a criminal statute;

(3) Disclose or threaten to disclose information which affects the debtor’s reputation for credit worthiness with knowledge that the information is false;

(4) Except as permitted by statute, contact a person’s employer with respect to a delinquent indebtedness before obtaining final judgment against the debtor;

(5) Except as permitted by statute, disclose or threaten to disclose to a person other than the debtor or his spouse or, if the debtor is a minor, his parent, information which affects the debtor’s reputation, whether or not for credit worthiness, with knowledge that the other person does not have a legitimate business need for the information;

(6) Communicate with the debtor or a person related to him with the frequency, at the unusual hours, or in any other manner as reasonably can be expected to abuse or harass the debtor;

(7) Use obscene or grossly abusive language in communicating with the debtor or a person related to him;

(8) Claim, attempt, or threaten to enforce a right with knowledge that the right does not exist; or

(9) Use a communication which simulates legal or judicial process or gives the appearance of being authorized, issued, or approved by a government, governmental agency, or lawyer when it is not.

§ 14-203. Damages

A collector who violates any provision of this subtitle is liable for any damages proximately caused by the violation, including damages for emotional distress or mental anguish suffered with or without accompanying physical injury.

Resources and Links

Relevant Civil Pattern Jury Instructions Click Here

Debt Collector Contact Log

FDCPA Intake Questionnaire Click Here

Find out if a debt collector is licensed to do business in Maryland at:
https://www.dllr.state.md.us/cgi-bin/fin_reg_el/rel2/FinReg_search.cgi?calling_app=Query::PQ_company1.

File a Complaint:

You can file a complaint with the Commissioner of Financial Regulation here.

You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.

Reports & Articles

“FTC letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”Federal Trade Commission.  March 13, 2012 (The FTC’s 2012 annual letter to the CFPB on debt collection matters)
“Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Annual Report.”  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  2012 (The CFPB’s 2012 report describing its enforcement actions under the FDCPA)
 Due Process & Consumer Debt Jones Day.  2010 (Proposing reforms to the debt collection process in New York)
“The Debt Machine: How the Collection Industry Hounds Consumers and Overwhelms Courts.”  National Consumer Law Center.  By Rick Jurgens & Robert J. Hobbs.  July 2010.
“Debt Deception: How Debt Buyers Abuse the Legal System to Prey on Lower-Income New Yorkers.”  The Legal Aid Society, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, MFY Legal Services, & Urban Justice Center, Community Development Project.  By Claudia Wilner & Nasoan Sheftel-Gomes.  May 2010. (Ground-breaking study of Debt Buyer activity in New York)
“Structure & Practices of the Debt Buying Industry.” Federal Trade Commission, 2013
“Junk Justice: a Statistical Analysis of 4,400 Lawsuits Filed by Debt Buyers.” Peter A. Holland, 26 Loyola Consumer Law Review 179 (2014)
“Account Stated Resurrected: The Fiction of Implied Assent  In Consumer Debt Collection.” Emanwel J. Turnbull, 38 Vermont Law Review, 339 (2013)

Media

Wall Street Journal Series of Articles on “The Debt Collectors.”  The Wall Street Journal.  By Jessica Silver-Greenberg.

  • Encore Is Settling Class-Action Suit.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. February 18, 2011 (Collection giant Encore Capital settles a class action suit in Ohio which alleged that the company collected debts using fake affidavits)
  • Minnesota AG: Encore Capital ‘Robo-Signed’ Affidavits.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. March 29, 2011 (The Attorney-General of Minnesota criticizes the practices of debt collection giant Encore Capital)
  • States to Fight Lawsuit Accord.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. June 14, 2011 (Attorneys-General in 38 states dispute the Encore Capital settlement in Ohio)
  • Judge Backs Pact on Debt Lawsuit.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. August 15, 2011 (Federal Judge approves the Encore Capital settlement in Ohio)
  • Debt Firm Is The Target of a Probe Into Practices.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. October 27, 2011 (Encore Capital is investigated by North Carolina and sued by Texas)
  • In Debt Collecting, Location Matters.The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. July 18, 2011 (How debt collectors file cases with a friendly judge in Indiana)
  •  “Welcome to Debtors’ Prison, 2011 Edition.The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. March 17, 2011 (How the debt-collection industry uses threats of arrest to collect debts)
  • Debtor Arrests Criticized.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. November 22, 2011 (Illinois Attorney-General attacks the use of arrest warrants for failure to appear in debt collection cases)
  •  “Debts That Won’t Die.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. (interactive graphic telling the story of Linda Long and her ordeal with debt collectors demanding that she pay here deceased husband’s debt)
  • For the Families of Some Debtors, Death Offers No Respite.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. December 3, 2011 (Debt ‘Death-debt Collectors attempt to get money from the relatives of deceased borrowers)
  •  “House is Gone but Debt Lives OnThe Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. October 1, 2011 (The effects of deficiency judgments following foreclosure sales).
  • Remains of the Debt.” The Wall Street Journal (Showing the impact of mortgage foreclosure deficiency judgments in Lehigh Acres, Fla.)
  • The Long Arm of Debt Stretches Into Condo Fees, Car Repos.” Wall Street Journal, Deal Journal Blog, By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. October 2, 2011
  • Debts Go Bad, Then It Gets Worse.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. December 23, 2011 (Debt Collectors pursue debts discharged in bankruptcy)
  • Consumers Cry Foul Over Debt-Collectors.” The Wall Street Journal. By Jessica Silver-Greenberg. December 15, 2011 (Complaints to the FTC about debt collectors rise dramatically)

“State AGs Probing Sales of Credit Card Debt.”  American Banker.  By Jeff Horwitz.  September 17, 2012.
“The Meat Grinder: When the debt collection machine comes for its pound of flesh.”  The Pacific Northwest Inlander.  By Daniel Walters.  July 25, 2012.
“Banks Play Fast and Loose with Credit Card Debt.”  USA Today. April 6, 2012
“Why People Hate the Banks.”  The New York Times.  By Joe Nocera.  April 2, 2012.
“Bank of America Sold Card Debts to Collectors Despite Faulty Records.”  American Banker.  By Jeff Horwitz.  March 29, 2012.
“Borrower Beware: B of A Customer Repaid Her Bill Yet Faced a Collections Nightmare.”  American Banker.  By Maria Aspan.  March 29, 2012.
“How a Whistleblower Halted JPMorgan Chase’s Card Collections.”  American Banker.  By Jeff Horwitz.  March 16, 2012.
“OCC Probing JPMorgan Chase Credit Card Collections.”  American Banker.  By Jeff Horwitz.  March 13, 2012.
“’Robo’ Credit Card Suits Menace Banks.”  American Banker.  By Jeff Horwitz.  January 31, 2012.
“Zombie Debt Creeps Onward in Idaho Courts.”  Idahostatesman.com.  By Audrey Dutton.  January 22, 2012.
“Demand That Collection Agencies Keep ‘The 5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Conscious Bill Collector’.” Huffingtonpost.com.  By Jerry Ashton.  January 11, 2012.
“America’s Abusive Debt Collectors.”  Thedailybeast.com.  By Gary Rivlin.  January 1, 2012.
“Regulate Junk Debt.”  Fredericknewspost.com.  December 18, 2011.
“Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars.”  NPR.  By Susie An.  December 12, 2011.
“Complaints Show Debtors’ Frustration, Fear.”  Fredericknewspost.com.  By Bethany Rodgers.  December 11, 2011.
“District Court of Maryland Stays Thousands of LVNV and Resurgent Capital Services Debt Cases.” Maryland Judiciary.  November 2, 2011.
“Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure Notice of Proposed Rule Changes.”  Court of Appeals of Maryland.  July 2011.
“Past Due: Why Debt Collection Practices and the Debt Buying Industry Need Reform Now.”  East Bay Community Law Center & Consumers Union of United States, Inc.   By Rachel Terp & Lauren Bowne.  January 2011.

General Information, Courts, Procedures

To gain information on Maryland Law and answers to basic consumer, personal injury and procedure questions, start with the excellent brochures published by the State Bar Association: http://www.msba.org/departments/commpubl/publications/brochures/index.htm

Learn about the court structure in Maryland with this video from the Maryland Judiciary: https://vimeo.com/93303652

What To Do if You Are Sued produced by the District Court of Maryland
Read about the District Court Self Help Center, which provides assistants in many civil matters to people who do not have a lawyer.
Maryland Code and Court Rules Online
Maryland People’s Law Library:
http://www.peoples-law.com
Maryland Judiciary Website:
http://www.courts.state.md.us
State Law Library: http://www.courts.state.md.us/lawlib/
Maryland State Bar Association: http://www.MSBA.org
The American Bar Association: http://www.abanet.org
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County: http://www.circuitcourt.org
Maryland Courts Brochures: http://www.mdcourts.gov/district/public_brochures.html

Commonly Used Court Forms

DC-001 Request with Certificate of Service
DC-002 Motion with Certificate of Service
DC-067 Certificate of Service
DC-070 Request for Postponement
DC-065 Address Change Request
CC-DC-008 Petition for Waiver of Costs
CC-DC-052 Request to Shield Information in a Case Record
CC-DC-041 Request for Spoken Language Interpreter
CC-DC-049 Request for Accommodation by a Person with Disabilities
DC-CV-036 Motion to Release or Exempt Property from Garnishment
DCA-109A Guide to Appeal Fees
DC-CV-037 Civil Appeal/ Request for Transcript
DCA-119 Request for CD Recording/Transcript

The Supersedeas Bond stays collection activity pending outcome of the appeal.  You use this form.  The clerk’s office will need to fill at least part of it out.

Lawyer Referral Services

Civil Justice, Inc.: http://www.civiljusticenetwork.org/

Maryland Association for Justice, Inc.: https://www.marylandassociationforjustice.com/index.cfm?pg=MAJLawyerSearchDISCLAIMER

Maryland State Bar Association: http://www.msba.org/public/referral.htm

National Association of Consumer Advocates: http://naca.net/find-attorney

General Information

Because It Is Never Too Early To Learn Consumer Skills

“Wise Buys for Teens”:
http://www.oag.state.md.us/WiseBuys/index.htm

Consumer Rights

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Keep up with consumer rights news from the National Association of Consumer Advocates: http://naca.net/news

General Help for Consumers:  http://naca.net/legislative-advocacy/consumer%20resources

Standards and Guidelines for Litigating and Settling Consumer Class Actions:  http://www.naca.net/sites/default/files/pdfs/RevisedGuidelines.pdf

Predatory Lending Practices: http://www.naca.net/issues/predatory-lending

Self Help (Pro Se, Unbundled, And Other)

The following documents may be printed out to assist you in documenting your case:

Where To File A Complaint

Other Useful Links

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