Credit Repair Companies Face Lawsuits

Has a credit repair company violated your civil rights?

Unsuspecting customers with bad credit are constantly being ripped off  by so called credit repair companies promising to increase their credit rating and fix their bad credit. Robert Sykes, senior officer of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in Washington, D.C., states that while “there are legitimate credit restoration services such as Credit Repair Dallas who follow all industries standard guidelines and best practices, but the FTC has found that most  credit repair companies make false claims and fail to deliver results.” These fly by night credit repair companies call themselves all kinds of names such a credit counseling services,credit doctors , and debt consolidation specialists; they claim they can clean up your credit so you can get new credit cards auto loans,mortgages, etc. The simple truth is, only the creditor and the credit bureaus  can remove a debt from your credit record permanently.If any of the scenarios below describes your interaction with a “credit repair” company that guaranteed to boost your credit rating and delete negative items on your credit report, then you may be able to sue for damages.Here are these dubious scenarios:

  • The “credit repair” agency made you pay a set up fee upfront.
  • The “credit repair” agency guaranteed you unsecured credit cards and loans.
  • The “credit repair” agency said it could “improve” your credit rating, or “restore,” “re-establish” or “erase” “negative” or “trashed” credit.
  • The “credit repair” agency said you could “remove” or “erase” from your file such as such as bankruptcies, judgments, payment delinquencies ,or liens.
  • The “credit repair” agency advised you that you could start up a “new” identity for credit purposes (for example, by signing up  for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security number).
  • The “credit repair” agency didn’t disclose the fact that you have the legal right to dispute inaccurate information in your credit report personally and can do so by getting in touch the credit bureau directly.
  • The “credit repair” agency neglected to tell you that you could cancel your contract with them within 3 days after signing.
  • The “credit repair” agency guaranteed you that leasing or buying its product or services, for example an power yacht, would itself raise your credit score.
  • The “credit repair” agency advised you not contact the credit reporting bureaus directly which is your legal right.

The bottom line is there are plenty of scammers in this industry so it’s up to you the consumer to do your due diligence when it comes to hiring a third party to help you with your credit report.If you’ve fallen victim to any of the tactics above then you do under the law have to right to sue these companies for making false claims.

calculator tax return

New IRS tax preparer regulations

In May of 2008, the Internal Revenue Service began reviewing tax preparation companies to determine whether or not an increase in oversight was necessary for tax preparers who charge money for preparing tax returns. After an long 8-month review, including not just study of tax preparers and their actions, but also laws both federal and at the state level, the Internal Revenue Service delivered an anaylsis in October of 2008  recommending increased oversight for tax preparation companies including individual tax preparers.
Increased regulations were set forth in early 2009 and demands for  tax preparation companies to register, test, enroll in industry education, and pay fees towards  the new tax oversight directives. In September of this year, the Internal Revenue Service put forth new regulations with regards to the new need for more checks and balances including minor adjustments for all service providers.
 Here are some of the requirements from personal to professional.
Individual tax preparers
Every tax return prepared and filed will have to include a Preparer’s Tax Identification Number (PTIN) on all return forms.With these new regulations,individual tax preparers must register for and obtain a PTIN. Registration mandates the completion of a disclosure statement . Once both of these items are received, the the Internal Revenue Service will assign a PTIN.
Accounting firms, tax preparation companies
In some cases, it’s easy to determine who will require PTINs and who doesn’t. Although, in a wide range of scenarios, it can be hard to judge when referring to someone preparing a tax return.
The new rules should give an idea of which individuals need to register for PTINs, based on realistic cases based around a single tax return.
Enrolled agents, registered tax preparers
Certification and base CPE mandates are relatively clear for Enrolled Agents and Registered Tax Preparers.Taking this into consideration, the rules are a lot harder to figure out once the specific details are carefully studied.
In today’s terms, it is hard to figure out whether the same CPE rules and regulations for Enrolled Agents work for Registered Tax Preparers and all other sub categories.

The new regulations for businesses  that specialize in Tax Preparation Services are very important because of the endless number of consumers who hire independent tax preparers every tax season. Additionally, thousands of firms hire non-CPA preparers who work for them during the busy tax season and they will have  to know all about the new rules to figure out exactly who must comply with exams and CPE.

Advice Before Suing a Home Builder

If you believe you have a strong legal civil claim against your home builder, don’t rush to court right away. You may be able to recover your damages you’re entitled to more cost effectively and with less stress by using either of the following options:

  • Demand letter. Send a demand letter to the responsible contractor asking for the total costs to repair the defects in question.
  • Mediation. Tell the contractor about the issue and — assuming they are against to compensating you or willing to fix the problem right away –request if they would cooperate and to go to mediation with you. 

Final Resort: Filing a Lawsuit

If  resolving your dispute using one of the methods above is not a viable option, you’ll have to consider filing a lawsuit. If the construction issue will cost less to repair personally than to try to pursue in court, you might as well right off this as a lesson. If not, however, you shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s poor workmanship and or unethical practices.

Here’s some directions for filing a lawsuit:

  • Make sure you’re within the Statute of Limitations . Every state in the USA puts a time limit on how long you have, from the date you discover a problem to file a lawsuit. Courts don’t want old cases taken to court 10 years after the issue, when neither party recalls exactly what happened.The majority of statutes of limitations are somewhere between 3 and 9 years, but it depends on your location and what classification of claim you have.Inquire about your state’s laws on this matter with either by searching online or by contacting your state or personal attorney.
  • Consider going to Small Claims Court. Small claims court allows you to proceed with your case without a lot of  overhead and high expense of regular court. You can represent yourself in many cases and the rules are not usually as strict, and your case should be resolved in short order. However, all states place a maximum dollar limit on the amount of damages you typically can sue for – somewhere between $2,500 and $25,000 is typical. Even if the overall  damages are over the limit — for example, if the total repairs cost $10,000 and the limit is $6,000 — filing a suit for $6,000 and forgetting about the rest might make monetary sense because you will save time and attorney’s fees.
  •  Bringing suit in State Court. If the overall sum of money damages you’re suing  for goes higher than the small claims court limit, your best option is then to file suit in state court. Attorneys usually will take this type of case on a contingency basis, which means that you don’t pay a fee upfront but pay a large percentage (25-50%) of the total awarded damages. However,you may still be on the hook for paying court costs and other fees.When bringing suit in state court there is always a risk on both sides so make sure you know what you are getting into and be cautious.

Probate and Civil Law In Texas

1. What is Probate?

Probate is the action by which the assets of a deceased person are consolidated, creditors paid, and the carry over of the estate distributed to all beneficiaries. In most Texas counties, the probate process is conducted in an appointed probate division of the Circuit Court, under the legal oversight of one or more probate judges.

2. How is Probate Initiated?

Although probate can be initiated by any beneficiary or creditor, normally the individual named in the will as Personal Representative, also known as the executor in other states, starts the probate process by filing the original will with the county court and filing a Petition for Administration with the probate court. If no will exists, typically a relative of the decedent who believes they should inherit from the estate will file the Petition for Administration.

3. Who is Eligible to Serve as Personal Representative?

A trust company or bank operating in Texas, any person who resides in Texas, and a spouse or relative who is not necessarily resident in Texas are all eligible to serve as the Personal Representative. Non related individuals who are not residents in Texas are not eligible and therefore cannot serve as the Personal Representative.

4. How is the Personal Representative Chosen?

If the decedent had drafted a will, the individual named in the will as the Personal Representative shall serve, if eligible to do so. If that individual is unwilling or unable to serve as Personal Representative, the individual selected by a majority of the beneficiaries in interest of the estate shall select the Personal Representative. If no will exists,Texas law mandates that the surviving spouse may serve, or, if there is no spouse or the spouse is unwilling or unable to serve, the person selected by a majority of the beneficiaries in interest shall serve.

5. Is the Personal Representative Required  by law to Retain an Attorney?

In Texas, the Personal Representative is required in almost all probate proceedings to retain a Texas probate attorney. Although the Texas probate documents are available to the public, these are of almost no practical use to a non attorney.

6. How is the Personal Representative Typically Compensated?

Texas law provides a compensation itinerary for the Personal Representative, based on a share of the assets of the probate estate.

7. Is the Family of a Deceased Person Entitled to a Portion of the Estate?

Texas law provides for a family draw for the surviving spouse and minor children of the deceased, as well as an elective share for a surviving spouse, twenty five percent of the estate, if the surviving spouse would prefer the elective share to that left under the terms of the will. A Texas resident is entitled to disinherit adult children.That being said, if it can be shown that the adult children were disinherited due to the influence of another, they could possibly have recourse through the probate court.

8. What Assets are Subject to Probate?

All assets owned by the deceased person are subject to probate. Assets that pass by means of title, such as real estate titled as “Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship,” or bank accounts titled as “Transfer On Death” are not subject to probate. Assets that pass by means of a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance or personal retirement accounts, are not subject to probate as well.

In certain cases, however, assets that would typically pass by title or beneficiary designation can be subject to the probate process, especially in the case of a surviving spouse electing to take a share against the estate.

9. How is Distribution of the Estate Handled if no Will exists?

Texas law sets forth rules for the distribution of an estate if there is no existing Will.

If the surviving spouse and no direct descendants, the surviving spouse is then granted title to the entire estate.

If there is a surviving spouse with direct descendants, and all direct descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $25,000 of the probate estate, plus one-half of the remainder of the probate estate. The descendants share in equal divisions the remainder of the estate.

If there is a surviving spouse with direct descendants, and not all direct descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse is entitled to fifty percent of the probate estate, and the descendants of the deceased share the second half of the estate in equal shares.

If there is no surviving spouse and there are descendants, each child is entitled to an equal share, with the children of a deceased child sharing the share of their deceased parent.

If there is no living spouse and no children or other descendants,Texas law provides additional rules for distributing an estate under these circumstances.

10. Who is responsible for paying estate taxes in the state of Texas?

According to the Internal Revenue Code, the estate taxes are taken from the estate of the deceased. Depending on the exact terms of the will, the estate taxes may be paid from the probate estate only, or also from a living trust, life insurance dividends, and other personal assets passing straight to beneficiaries outside the probate estate. The estate tax return, Document 812, is filed by the Personal Representative. The Document 812 is due to be filed 6 months after the official date of death.