Consumer Law

JALA’s Consumer Law Unit

JALA’s Consumer Law Unit provides free legal assistance and educational opportunities to low to moderate income individuals. JALA is fortunate to have a special unit devoted specifically to combating predatory lending of all types from high cost mortgage lending to pay day and refund anticipation loans. The Consumer Law Unit has been involved in effectuating changes in the mortgage foreclosure process in individual and class action litigation, and has led the way in pay day lending, title lending and military pension loan legislation and litigation. The Unit tries to focus on proactive and wide impact means in addition to litigation and legislative advocacy to solve the problems of predatory lending and the effect it has on JALA’s client community.

The Consumer Law Unit staff welcome the opportunity to speak to community groups of all types and sizes about how to protect yourself as a consumer and where to go for help if you have been the victim of a consumer scam.

Collection/Creditor Harassment/ Credit Card Debt

It’s something most consumers dread — a debt collector calling to ask about an unpaid credit card debt, past due student loan or medical debt. Consumer credit counselors, debt collectors and state regulators all agree that ignoring debt collectors’ letters and phone calls is a bad idea. But remember, harassing and nuisance phone calls, threats and abusive language are illegal.

The best advice is to avoid debt collectors altogether. If you see trouble coming with debt, try to negotiate with the original creditor and work out a reasonable payment arrangement before the debt is sold to a third-party debt collector.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has several publications designed to educate consumers about their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection)

The law allows consumers to send written requests for verification of debt within 30 days of being contacted by a debt collector. Don’t dawdle if the debt isn’t yours: Debt collectors can place negative information on your credit report that remains there for seven years, which can affect your ability to get a mortgage or other loans, cheaper car insurance rates or even jobs. If you’ve been served with a notice of a lawsuit please contact us immediately.

Consumers who lose court judgments may have their wages garnished. Some suits are filed by debt collectors with little proof of the original debt owed or the statute of limitations may have expired on the debt. Click here to learn how Zombie Debt Collectors dig up your old mistakes. Without a party appearing in court to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, the creditor often wins. Chances of having the lawsuit dismissed in court may be greater if you show up in court and have representation. Be sure and keep copies and records

Repossession of Vehicle

If you break your agreement with a lender on a car, truck, RV or boat loan, the lien holder (usually a bank) has the right to repossess (take back) the vehicle. Usually they take it back because you have missed multiple payments, but there are other possible reasons for repossession such as not having proper insurance on the vehicle or accumulation of unpaid late payment charges. For more information on repossession in general and what to expect: Repossession

If your vehicle was sold at auction and there is a remaining balance owed, you can be sued by the lien holder for that balance. For more information: Repossession Deficiency

Small Claims Court

Are you being sued by a creditor or debt collector for less than $5,000? It’s important that you know as much as you can about your situation before your first court date. This court date (Pretrial Conference) is listed on the summons you were served with. Please read this information and the links below to make sure a judgment is not entered against you at your pretrial conference date.

There are also several free classes you can attend to learn more about your situation. Attorneys specializing in this area will be there to provide general information and answer questions. You can attend any of these free clinics and should do so BEFORE your first court date. If a judgment is entered against you at your pretrial conference, there is very little an attorney can do to help you.

Small Claims Court

Are you being sued by a creditor or debt collector for less than $5,000?

It’s important that you know as much as you can about your situation before your first court date.  This court date (Pretrial Conference) is listed on the summons you were served with.  Please read this information and the links below to make sure a judgment is not entered against you at your pretrial conference date.

There are also several free classes you can attend to learn more about your situation.  Attorneys specializing in this area will be there to provide general information and answer questions.  You can attend any of these free clinics and should do so BEFORE your first court date.  If a judgment is entered against you at your pretrial conference, there is very little an attorney can do to help you.

Free Consumer Law  Clinics

There are several free classes you can attend to learn more about your situation.  Attorneys specializing in consumer law will be there to provide general information and answer questions.  You can attend any of these free clinics and should do so BEFORE your first court date.  If a judgment is entered against you at your pretrial conference, there is very little an attorney can do to help you.

Small Claims Clinics

Please attend one of JALA’s small claims clinics before your pretrial conference (the date provided on your summons) to make sure you understand your rights and the legal process.  If you have questions about these classes or your rights as a defendant in a small claims suit, please contact:  Ariel Cook at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, at 904-356-8371 ext. 371.

Self Help Pamphlets

Agency Referral Information
Garnishment Information
Home Loan Toolkit
How to Answer Discovery Requests
How to Collect a Judgment
How to File an Answer to a Complaint
Motion to Enlarge Time to File Response with Instructions
Lawyer Referral Service Information
Nassau County Consumer Rights Clinic
Options for Homeowners Behind on their Mortgage
Repossession Deficiency Information
Repossession Information
Sample Qualified Written Request Letter
Small Claims Basics
Small Claims Court Information
Small Claims Clinics
Student Loan Information
What to Expect after a Judgment is Entered Against You

Self Help Web Links

Click here to access information and forms from the US Bankruptcy Court