Every day, insurance companies and financial institutions devise new ways to increase their profits. While most of this conduct is lawful, there are also many methods they employ which involve illegal and deceptive practices. These practices come at the expense of unknowing consumers.
There is an immense and powerful array of federal laws in effect which potentially combat these wrongs: the Truth In Lending Act (TILA); the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; the Fair Credit Reporting Act; the Homeownership and Equity Protection Act; the Fair Housing Act; and the Equal Credit opportunity Act. Additionally, North Carolina affords some of the strictest protections for consumers in the nation through its Unfair and Deceptive Trade Act and its predatory Lending Act. Unfortunately, many lenders disregard these rules, or skirt them by trying to stay one step ahead of the legal forms.
Consumers lose hundreds of millions of dollars every year through these violations. The methods by which consumers are financially harmed cover virtually a limitless landscape of wrongful practices. Banks may exact unlawful charges on credit card or checking accounts. Mortgage companies may impose hidden, unlawful fees. Payday lenders routinely extract grossly exorbitant interest charges. Financial institutions engage in “flipping” mortgage loans, throwing unsuspecting borrowers into a spiraling sea of debt. Some car dealers deceive customers by concealing the true purchase cost. Many hospitals bill uninsured patients at rates far exceeding reasonable charges.
The consequences of these acts include mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcies, and financial hardship on innocent consumers.
Sorting through the complexities of the many consumer protection statutes and regulations, along with the volume of documents usually involved and the technicalities of the transaction, is a challenging undertaking. Over the years, the lawyers in our firm have developed strong relationships with consumer advocates around the country in order to render thorough and knowledgeable opinions on the merit of potential claims. We have collaborated with the Center of Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center, the Financial Protection Law Center, the North Carolina Justice and Community Developments Center, and numerous legal service organizations in as effort to thwart unlawful practices against consumers.
A few recent examples of the cases we have handled include:
- Prosecuting class actions against hospitals for overcharging uninsured patients;
- Representing 59,000 credit card holders in a class action against the former First Union Bank for deceptive charges;
- Litigating cases against insurance companies for bad faith in adjusting claims;
- Pursuing claims against car dealers for deceptive practices; and
- Litigation over “force-placed” insurance.
We welcome the opportunity to evaluate cases where consumers have been financially harmed by the ulawful and deceptive acts of corporate wrongdoers.