The People's Lawyer Consumer News Alert
Center for Consumer Law
  Volume 141 Number 72

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The People’s Lawyer’s Tip of the Day

Need a perfect stocking stuffer? Why not make it a useful source for your legal rights, the new 9th edition of my book, “Know Your Rights!: Answers to Texan’s Legal Questions.” Available at local bookstores. Click here for more.

Forty attorneys general join the FCC in pressing telecoms to block some calls

Attorneys General from 40 states are launching an initiative to reduce the number of robocalls made to consumers, many of which are promoting dangerous scams. Representatives from the multistate group have met with several major telecommunications providers about current capabilities and those in development that can identify and block these annoying and unwanted calls. Telemarketers -- both legal and illegal -- have deployed automation equipment because it can initiate hundreds of calls at the same time. If the call is answered the machine plays a recorded message designed to keep the recipient on the line or to press a number to speak to an operator. While these calls can be highly annoying they are also dangerous to vulnerable people because scammers have used robocalling to target hundreds of victims at once. Consumers received nearly 5 billion robocalls in the first quarter of 2018. Click here for more.

Your Money

Ignorance isn't bliss when it comes to the U.S. tax code. Failing to fill out your tax return correctly, even if you make an honest mistake, isn't going to earn you immediate forgiveness from the Internal Revenue Service. If you don't keep appropriate records, neglect to report income or claim unearned deductions, it could land you with penalties, interest payments and even a court date. Click here for more.

For the Lawyers

Mental anguish and attorney’s fees are not actual damages under RESPA. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a trial court’s finding that a servicer did not violate the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) because the borrower could not prove that the servicer’s alleged failure to completely respond to a “qualified written request” (QWR) caused any actual damages. The court noted that RESPA does not provide relief for mere procedural violations and borrowers bringing claims under RESPA must show actual injury. It explained that even assuming some aspects of the servicer’s response were incomplete and may have violated RESPA, the husband did not provide any evidence to show that his alleged injuries — “out of pocket expenses and emotional distress” — were triggered by the servicer’s failure to comply with section 2605(e)(2). Attorney’s fees to review the response could not be a cost incurred as a result of an alleged violation. As the court explained, if attorney’s fees constitute actual damages under RESPA, this would render section 12 U.S.C. § 2605(f)(3) (prevailing plaintiffs can collect attorney fees) superfluous. Moore v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Click here for more.

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