Articles

Can They Repossess My Boat?

by admin on March 27, 2017

If you bought your boat on a loan, the lender will likely have a lien put on the boat title. The lien lasts until the loan balance is fully paid off. If you do not adhere to the terms of your loan, or if you default on your loan, the lender will generally be able to repossess the boat. The specific details outlining what constitutes a default will be stated in the loan contract, however the most common reason is the boat owner’s inability to make monthly payments on time. Still, when the boat owner defaults, the lender must adhere to certain rules in order to repossess the boat. If these rules are not followed properly, the repossession may be illegal.

The following rules must be followed by the lender:

  1. The lender’s agent is not allowed to “breach the peace” in the act of repossessing your boat. In the state of Minnesota, the repossessing agent (referred to colloquially as the “repo agent” or “repo man”) can take your boat at any time of day, without giving you notice. The repo agent does not need to have a court order, assuming that they do not breach the peace in the act of seizing your boat. An example of a breach of the peace would be if the repo man threatens you, or uses force to take your boat. Breaking into a locked garage usually qualifies as a breach of the peace. Once the repo man breaches the peace, he no longer has the right to take your boat. He now needs to get a court order in order to repossess it. If he takes your boat before getting a court order, then your boat had been repossessed unlawfully.
  2. If the lender has been regularly accepting late payments from you, the contract terms may be deemed modified. The lender is not allowed to take your boat until the loan is in default for a reason other than you were making consistent late payments (because they consistently accepted said late payments). In addition, the lender is required to give you notice, typically in writing, that your future late payments will not be accepted. In Minnesota, these are called Cobb letters. If your lender has consistently accepted your late payments, failed to send you a Cobb letter, and repossesses your boat, these actions likely constitute an unlawful repossession of your boat.
  3. The repo agent is not permitted to ask the police to assist in repossessing your boat. In fact, the repo man cannot even threaten to call the police in order to assist in taking your boat. This would be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If police are called in during the act of repossession, their role must be solely to maintain the peace and order, nothing more. The reason for this is that the state is required to provide you with “due process” before they become actively involved in taking your boat. This necessitates that you are first provided with notice and the opportunity for your case to be heard in court. A private repossession company is not considered a state or government agent. They typically are not required to provide you with notice and the chance for your case to be heard in court. Therefore if a police officer assists in the repossession of your boat, this may be in violation of your rights. The state cannot take your boat without first providing you with due process.
  4. If you paid off the full remaining balance on your loan, yet nonetheless the lender fails to release the lien on your boat’s title and repossesses your boat, this is an unlawful repossession of your boat.

If your boat was unlawfully repossessed, you may have claims against the lender AND the repo man for statutory and actual damages. You may be entitled to thousands of dollars more than you are currently being offered by the lender or repossession company, if you are even being offered anything at all. For a better understanding of the damages you may be entitled to and a Free Case Evaluation, please contact attorney Adam Strauss now at (651) 505-3335 or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.

When and How to Freeze Your Credit

by admin on March 20, 2017

What is a credit freeze, and how does it work?

A credit freeze is something that you can do if you want to block your credit reports from being accessible. They provide you with a secret PIN number that you can use if you ever need to apply for credit, so that you can temporarily allow your credit applications to be processed. However, the general idea is that if someone has stolen your identity or is otherwise an unauthorized user of your Social Security Number, they will not be able to open up new credit in your name, because they don’t know your secret PIN.

When your credit is frozen, you can still continue using your existing credit lines (for example, your credit cards). The freeze only covers new applications for credit.

In the past, you were able to freeze your credit for free, but only if you were the victim of identity theft. However, in recent years, all of the three major credit bureaus have started new policies allowing for non-victims to be able to freeze their credit as well for a fee and to do this preemptively in an effort to prevent becoming a victim in the future. Most states also have put in place laws that enable residents to freeze their credit.  Currently, there are twenty-seven (27) states that allow a child’s parents to place a freeze on their minor child’s credit report. For a list of how these laws vary by state, please refer to the NCSL’s Consumer Report Security Freeze State Laws.

Typically you will pay between three and ten dollars ($3-$10 USD), per bureau, in order to freeze your credit report with them. It is strongly recommended that you freeze your credit with all of the bureaus.

When you want to open up your credit for a given creditor, temporarily allow access by any creditor, or remove the freeze completely, the cost will be between free and ten dollars. If you are someone who frequently needs creditors to be able to access your credit report, you should take this into consideration before enacting a credit freeze. There will be an expense involved each time you want to open up access to your credit report.

In Minnesota, your credit freeze will remain active until you explicitly request a removal. This is true in most states, with the exception of South Dakota, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. For these states, currently the credit freeze automatically expires after seven years.

How to Freeze Your Credit with Each of the Three Bureaus

Equifax

  • A credit freeze can be requested online.
  • In Minnesota, for ID theft victims, the cost is free. For non-victims in Minnesota, it costs $5. If you live in a different state, check the state fee listing.
  • If your PIN does not show up on time, call 1-888-298-0045. They will verify your identity and send you your PIN within seven days.
  • An unfreeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-800-685-1111.

Experian

  • A credit freeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-397-3742 (press 2, then wait for security freeze instructions).
  • In Minnesota, for ID theft victims, the cost is free. For non-victims in Minnesota, it costs $5. If you live in a different state, check the state fee listing.
  • An unfreeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-397-3742.

Transunion

  • A credit freeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-909-8872.
  • In Minnesota, for ID theft victims, the cost is free. For non-victims in Minnesota, it costs $5. If you live in a different state, check the state fee listing.
  • An unfreeze can be requested online, or you can call 1-888-909-8872.

If you’re interested in freezing your credit because you have been wrongfully contacted by debt collectors, and you feel the debt collector is saying or doing anything unfair; untrue; harassing, oppressive, or abusive, please contact our Consumer Protection Attorneys to discuss your specific situation in more detail.  If our Consumer Protection Attorneys agree to handle your case, we make the debt collector pay our attorney fees.  For a better understanding of the damages you may be entitled to and for a Free Case Evaluation, please contact attorney Adam Strauss now at (651) 505-3335 or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.

Are You a Physician Facing Age Discrimination In Minnesota? We Can Help.

November 22, 2016

Minnesota physicians, as well as medical doctors throughout the country, are entitled to legal protection from age discrimination in the workplace. Health care facilities are not allowed to use a doctor’s age as a determining factor regarding his or her competency. Nonetheless, age discrimination is reportedly increasing in the United States, which is why it […]

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Are you getting collection calls for another person’s debt?

November 10, 2016

Whether called intentionally or by mistake, the most prevalent consumer charges that are received by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are frustrating collection calls for someone other than the person it is intended for. If you are receiving letters or calls from a collector for another person’s debt, you likely aren’t interested in the reason why […]

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Debt Collectors Calling Your Friends and Family? That’s Illegal And You May Have A Case.

November 3, 2016

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act usually forbids debt collectors from calling friends and family. In reality, most collection calls to third-parties are illegal. In some rare cases, there are exceptions to this rule however. If a debt collector is contacting someone else about your debt, here is what you should know. “Debt Collectors” Gathering […]

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Messerli & Kramer Sued Me. What Are My Options?

October 27, 2016

The largest debt collection firm in Minnesota is Messerli & Kramer. They are very adept at what they do, and if you are on the receiving end of this giant, you’ll want to know how to properly protect your interests. Messerli & Kramer can be a very difficult adversary. Immediate Response to a Collection Lawsuit […]

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How to Tell If a Debt Collector Violates the FDCPA

October 5, 2016

There are many ways that a debt collector can violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In this post, we are first going to review some basic guidelines for determining if a debt collector violates the FDCPA, and then go over some more specific examples of violations. The FDCPA states that debt collectors are not allowed to […]

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Can the Police Assist a Repossession Agent in Taking My Car?

September 28, 2016

The repo man is not allowed to ask for police assistance in order to seize your car. Vehicle repossession is a private affair. If police are called in during the act of a repossession, their role is strictly to maintain the peace and order, not to help the repossession agent. The repo agent is not even allowed […]

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Illegal (Unlawful) Vehicle Repossession in Minnesota

March 7, 2016

When you buy a vehicle with a loan, the lender will typically place a lien on the title of the vehicle until the loan balance is paid off. The lender will also typically have the right to repossess the vehicle (the collateral) if you default on, or breach the terms of, your loan. The contract will […]

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Same-Sex Marriage and How it Affects Quit Claim Deeds (and other Conveyances of Real Property)

July 1, 2015

The purpose of this article is to discuss the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court on same-sex marriage, dealt with in the case of Obergefell et. al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Dept. of Health, et. al. with the recent issued decision on Friday, June 26th, 2015. In its decision, the Supreme Court of the United States […]

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