Have you been denied an Apartment Rental application?

            Finding a place to live is hard. Being denied an Apartment Rental application makes the search harder and more expensive. (Those non-refundable application fees can really add up.) You need to know why your application was denied so that you can fix what is wrong to keep it from happening again. While you have the legal right to this information, most likely you did not get it.

As explained by the CFPB:

Federal law requires a landlord who denies your tenant application, due to information in a tenant screening report, to inform you of that fact.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act  provides you with rights as both a rental applicant and a tenant. This federal law requires a landlord, who rejects or denies your tenant application due to information in a tenant screening report, to inform you of that fact. This notification is called an “adverse action” notice, and it must:

  • Be given in writing, orally, or electronically.
  • Provide the name, address, and phone number of the company that provided the report.
  • Notify you of your right to a free copy of the report if you request it within 60 days of the adverse action.
  • Explain your right to dispute inaccurate information.

An adverse action not only includes being denied a rental, it could also include:

  • Requiring a co-signer on the rental agreement or lease.
  • Requiring a larger deposit or a higher rent payment than other applicants.[1]

What are Tenant Screening Reports?

            The tenant background check industry creates reports that include extensive personal information, such as credit history, civil and criminal records, and credit scores, as well as the proprietary risk scores on which many landlords and property management companies base their decision to rent to a prospective tenant.[2] The CFPB has a list of the major tenant screening agencies, where you can request a copy of your tenant screening report.

What are Some Common Problems with Tenant Screening Reports?

  • Tenant background check content for landlords has questionable relevance, particularly given the lack of rental payment history: Prior rental payment history is overwhelmingly not reflected in the reports or algorithmic risk scores assigned to tenants. Industry estimates of the coverage of rental payment history in the consumer reporting system range between 1.7% to 2.3% of U.S. renters.
  • As corporate landlords have increased their rental holdings, the demand for digital, algorithmic scoring of prospective tenants has increased: The automated property management systems with centralized databases relied on by corporate landlords and private equity firms substitute a single algorithmic score for the more nuanced and holistic evaluation of prospective tenants done historically by smaller landlords and property managers.
  • Renters pay for the reports, but often do not see them, and struggle to get errors fixed: A reported 68% of renters pay application fees when applying for rental housing. These fees are often used to pay the cost of tenant background check reports. But renters often have little to no visibility into the information they contain prior to a rental decision being made, and they have little recourse when the information is wrong, misleading, or old. Renters who attempted to correct their reports found they could not get them corrected, and even had the same bad information show up on future tenant background check reports.
  • Market dysfunctions result in companies selling erroneous data to landlords: Tenant screening companies appear inclined to include negative information on a report even if that information might be inaccurate. The tenant scores produced for landlords make decision-making easy, but the social scores can hide data errors and magnify the negative impact of erroneous and outdated information.
  • Renters often do not receive adverse action notices, a legal right for renters: Many landlords do not consistently inform prospective tenants of their right to dispute information in reports or provide them the information necessary to do so, as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Without these notices, renters may remain unaware that a version of their tenant background check report was pulled and unable to address any errors on the report.[3]

How We Can Help You

Chances are good that the apartment complex that rejected your application and keeping your deposit, did not provide you with the adverse action letter required by law. You need the letter to find out what report the landlord relied on. We can help you get that information. Mor importantly, WE CAN HELP YOU FIX ANY ERRORS on the report. We can also bring suit against the apartment complex for failing to provide you with an adverse action letter.

We work on a contingency basis such that we only get paid if we win or settle your case. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we can force the defendants we sue on your behalf to pay our attorney’s fees and costs. Please call, text, or email us today for a free consultation.


[1] https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-should-i-do-if-my-rental-application-is-denied-due-to-a-tenant-screening-report-en-2105/

[2] https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-reports-highlight-problems-with-tenant-background-checks/

[3] Supra n. 2.

Are you the Victim of Identity Theft?

“One of the biggest hazards of the internet age is losing control of your personal data to cybercriminals, which can lead to calamitous outcomes. Identity theft can be devastating, resulting in the takeover of your financial and social media accounts, as well as significant losses of money and sensitive personal information. All of this can have a long-lasting impact.

[A recent U.S. News & World Report] survey asked 2,000 U.S. adults — all of whom had experienced identity theft — about their experiences with identity fraud, social media identity theft, SMS phishing, identity theft precautions they take now, and more. While nearly three-fourths (73%) of our survey respondents said they experienced one case of identity theft, more than a quarter (27%) said they faced identity fraud more than once.”[1]

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission. This information can include:

  • Names and addresses
  • Credit card or Social Security numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Medical insurance account numbers[2]

How can someone steal my identity?

Identity thieves may use any number of low or high-tech methods to gain access to your personally identifying information.

Common Examples of How Identity Thieves Steal Your Information:

Account Takeover

Account takeover occurs when a thief is able to obtain enough information about you in any manner or method and then ‘takeover’ your account, enabling them to make withdrawals, transfer funds to other accounts, and other transactions.

Data Breach

Data breach happens when a business or corporation has their sensitive, protected, or confidential data for customers or employees stolen via intrusion into an information or computer system, whether caused externally or internally.

Dumpster Diving

Dumpster diving happens when thieves search through your trash, or trash discarded by a business, looking for any discarded documents which contain sensitive information or personal identifying information, such as customer information, receipts, bank statements, credit card bills, utility bills, medical insurance papers or medical bills.

Flagging

Flagging is the practice of placing your outgoing mail into your mailbox and placing the red flag up to alert the postal service that you have mail to be picked up. This also alerts thieves that you have important mail in the mailbox, usually bill payments or other important documents that contain information the thieves can use.

Hacker

A thief who uses your computer, or a business’s computer, to gain unauthorized access to confidential data or personal information is a hacker.

Mail Theft

Thieves target your mailbox, stealing any items which may contain your personal information, such as bank statements, retirement or investment statements, and even credit card applications.

Motor Vehicle Trespass & Theft

Thieves target your personal items, such as your purse or wallet, which contains your identification, checks and bank cards, and then use these items to make purchases or withdrawal money from your accounts.

Phishing

Phishing happens when identity thieves trick you into providing your personal information or passwords. For example, thieves may send you a message purporting to be from your bank or another legitimate business you frequent and request that you update or provide your PIN in order to access your account or restore access by clicking on a link. Once you click on the link to provide the information, the fraudsters have your information. In some cases, the link may cause your computer to be infected with malware, which can allow access to any personal information you have saved on your computer. In other variations, the thieves may send you a text message or other social media to request your information.

Shoulder Surfing

When in a public location using your bank cards, entering PINs or completing applications or other forms with personal information be wary of individuals who may be observing your entries or account numbers, sometimes even surreptitiously taking pictures of your information by using their mobile phones.

Skimming

Skimming can happen anytime you use your credit card, bank card, or debit card. The theft occurs when the device that reads the information stored on the magnetic strip on the back of your card records the information and the card’s code, which is then used by thieves to make a duplicate card and make purchases with your account.

Social Engineering

This type of identity theft occurs when thieves use any means of deceit to trick you into providing sensitive information or sending funds. This can be done over the phone or via the computer, internet, or email.

True Name Identity Theft

True name identity theft happens when an identity thief has been able to obtain your personal information and open new accounts with your name, date of birth, and/or social security number. Unfortunately, in these cases, the ID thief is usually a relative, spouse, ex, or partner.[3]

What are the consequences of identity theft?

Identity theft can have serious consequences for you and your family. It can negatively affect your credit, get you sued for debts that are not yours, result in incorrect and potentially health-threatening information being added to your medical records, and may even get you arrested.[4] ID thieves may open bank accounts and credit cards in your name. Change billing addresses for credit and charge cards. They may establish wireless phone service or other utilities in your name. They may file bankruptcy in your name.

Another devasting consequence is “tax-related identity theft [which] occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.”[5]

How can I tell if I’m a victim of identity theft?

Regularly review your credit reports and account statements. Look for charges and activities you do not recognize. Look for addresses, phone numbers, and employers you that are not related to you. This is a clear red flag of ID theft.

Other indications of identity theft include:

  • Failing to receive bills or other mail, which may signal an address change by the identity thief.
  • Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply.
  • Being denied credit for no apparent reason.
  • Receiving calls or letters from debt collectors.
  • Receiving call from businesses about merchandise or services you did not buy.
  • Receiving a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
  • You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
  • Receiving a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
  • Receiving an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
  • Receiving an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
  • Receiving an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
  • You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number, but you did not request an EIN.

How to fight ID Theft

            We can help

Call or text (502) 473-6525 or email us for a free consultation. We know how to fix credit damage caused by ID Theft.

            Place a Fraud Alert

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) you can file a fraud alert, which stay in place a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of seven (7) years.

Report the Theft

After placing the fraud alert, file a police report and/or ID Theft report with the FTC or the US Postal Inspection Service. SAVE the REPORT. You will need for disputing false and inaccurate information on your credit reports.

            Block False and Inaccurate Credit Information

Under the FCRA you have the right to block false and inaccurate credit information resulting from ID Theft. The law requires that you include an ID Theft report with your request to block the credit information. In your letter, you will need to identify with particularity each item that is false and inaccurate because of ID Theft. You also should include color copies of your driver’s license, your social security card, and a recent utility or wireless bill with your current mailing address on it. I strongly advise sending the dispute letter via a service that allows you to track and prove delivery: UPS, FedEx, or the USPS via certified or priority mail.

Consumer Reporting Agency mailing addresses:

Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA  30374-0256

Experian Information Solutions, Inc.
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000

Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 530086
Atlanta, GA 30353-0086


[1] https://www.usnews.com/360-reviews/privacy/identity-theft-protection/identity-theft-fraud-survey

[2] https://www.usa.gov/identity-theft

[3] https://www.jeffco.us/967/How-Identity-Theft-Happens

[4] https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/identity-theft/what-identity-theft#:~:text=Identity%20theft%20can%20have%20serious,may%20even%20get%20you%20arrested.

[5] https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft

Vroom is a No-Go when it Comes to Title Transfers

If you bought a car from Vroom but cannot get good title to the vehicle after delivery, we are to help. And you are not alone.

On August 30, 2021, the Better Business Bureau issued a warning titled, “Vroom, an online car retailer, receives an influx of consumer complaints.”  The BBB warning noted that “Customers have submitted well over a thousand complaints to the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas, where Vroom is based.  During the past year, BBB received 1,696 complaints, a significant uptick in complaint volume over previous years. Vroom has received 1,817 complaints in the past three years.”[1]

Disgruntled consumers have formed a Facebook group titled, “Vroom.com Horror Stories” that has over 3,100 members.[2]  Many of the complaints on the Vroom.com Horror Stories Facebook group concern the issue Vroom’s failure to transfer good title after a sale.

Recently, Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has filed an administrative complaint against Texas-based online car dealer Vroom alleging that in 47 cases, the dealer failed to transfer titles to consumers within 30 days.[3]

Wave 3 News recently aired a troubleshooter spot concerning multiple instances of Kentucky consumers fed up with and frustrated by their inability to good title from Vroom after an online sale.[4]

Under Kentucky law, a dealer has at most 30 days to transfer title to a buyer after a vehicle sale.[5] Failure to promptly transfer good title can be grounds for voiding the sale.[6] Further, a temporary tag is good only for 30 days from the date of issue. KRS 186A.100. And a temporary tag “shall not be renewed.” 601 KAR 9:140.

If you have run into a brick wall for Vroom’s or another vehicle dealer’s failure to transfer title we can help. Failure to transfer title gives rise to violation of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act and a claim for breach of contract. The failure to promptly transfer title can be grounds for cancelling the sale all together.

We have helped thousands of Kentucky consumers fight back against abuse, malfeasance, neglect, and various violations of the law. We have several important court victories create favorable precedent for consumers and Kentucky consumer law.

If you have not been able to get good title from a dealer after the purchase of a vehicle, please call or email us today. We can help. We work on a strict contingency basis such that we only get paid if we win or settle. We take the entire risk of loss.


[1] https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/24809-bbb-warning-vroom-an-online-car-retailer-receives-an-influx-of-consumer-complaints

[2] https://www.facebook.com/groups/784888658945089/

[3] https://www.wfla.com/8-on-your-side/better-call-behnken/florida-files-47-count-complaint-against-car-dealer-vroom-over-title-issues/

[4] https://www.wave3.com/2022/03/17/troubleshooters-customers-furious-after-buying-vroom/

[5] Sandoval v. Auto Venture, Inc., No. 2018-CA-000133-MR, 2020 WL 504960, at *3 (Ky. App. Jan. 31, 2020) (“KRS 186A.215(3) commands titling documents to ‘promptly be submitted to the county clerk…’ by the dealer.”).

[6] Harlow v. Dick, 245 S.W.2d 616, 618 (Ky. 1952): Brooks v. Williams, 268 S.W.2d 650 (Ky. 1954).

Stop Credit Card and Insurance Junk Mail

How do banks and insurance companies know to send you credit card and insurance-policy offers? Because banks and insurance companies buy your personal information from consumer reporting agencies (“CRAs”), which are glad to sell your information and profit from it. To the CRAs, you are the product—not a user, not a customer. The CRAs monetize your personal information that companies pay the CRAs to collect, coordinate, and synthesize. But you do have a limited right to control the sale of your personal information by the CRAs without your permission, and to stop the junk mail and spam credit card and insurance offers.

How to Opt-Out

            Straight from the FTC, here’s how you can opt out of unwanted junk mail and the uncompensated sale of your personal information.

            The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FRCA”) gives you the right to “opt out” of prescreened offers of credit, which are what the credit card and insurance offers cluttering you mailbox and inbox are called.

To opt out for five years: Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). The major credit bureaus operate the phone number and website.

To opt out permanently: Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) to start the process. To complete your request, you’ll need to sign and return the Permanent Opt-Out Election form (which you get online) once you’ve started the process.

When you call or visit optoutprescreen.com, they’ll ask for your personal information, including your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. The information you give is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out.

Opting out for minor children

Even though the credit bureaus don’t keep credit files on minor children, if you suspect an identity thief used your child’s information for fraud, you can submit an Opt-Out Request for them. You must send a written request to each of the credit bureaus. Your letter must include your child’s full name, address, and date of birth. Include a copy of their birth certificate, a copy of their Social Security card, a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued proof of identity.

Experian
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion
P.O. Box 505 
Woodlyn, PA 19094-0505
Equifax, Inc.
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 495
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0495

            If you opt out online, please be aware that your first option is to opt in. You must affirmatively change the selection to opt out. After you opt out, you will get a confirmation screen affirming you selection and date of your selection. SCREEN SHOT AND SAVE the confirmation screen. This is important to verify that you opted out and to prove that you did so in the not so-unlikely event that the CRAs fail to honor the opt out.

            According to the FCRA, the opt out should go into effect within five days of your election to opt out. But the CRAs may continue to sell personal information in spite of your denial of that right to them. If you continue to get prescreen credit card and insurance offers, if there are “soft” promotional inquiries by banks and insurance companies on your credit reports after you opt out, you have the right to sue the CRAs for violating your rights and profiting from your personal information. You can recover statutory damages of up to $1,000 for these violations.

            If a CRA has violated your right to control the sale of your personal information, please call or email us today. We can help. We work on a strict contingency basis such that we only get paid if we win or settle. We take the entire risk of loss.

Buy Here—Pay Here: The Carnival Game of Buying a Used Vehicle

            Buy here—pay here “’is not the car business. This is the finance business,’ said Ken Shilson, an accountant who founded the National Alliance of Buy Here Pay Here Dealers in Houston. ‘Not everybody has the stomach for it.’” These words are true. And they should sound a warning bell.

Private equity firms are investing in chains of used-car lots, and auto loans are being packaged into securities much like subprime mortgages. They’re attracted by the industry’s average profit of 38% for each car sold.

            Buy here—pay here is also a wheel that rolls over many consumers. The graphic below taken from a L.A. Times article lays out the cycle:

            The first thing to note is that the price you pay for a vehicle at a buy here/pay here lot is usually much greater than the blue book or NADA value of the vehicle. Indeed, you have probably noticed that most buy here/pay here lots do not advertise the price of the vehicles on their lot. This is because these dealers sell a payment not a vehicle. That is, the dealer finds out what you can pay on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis and steers you to vehicles that fall within those payment parameters.

            The next thing to note is the interest rate. It will be much higher than you would pay if you purchased a car with a bank loan or with traditional financing. This again is byproduct of selling a payment rather than a vehicle.

            The final thing to note is the wheel turning and crushing you. At the first opportunity, a buy here/pay here dealer will repossess the vehicle and sue you for the deficiency balance. As explained by the L.A. Times:

A key reason for the industry’s growth in tough times is that dealers can come out ahead whether or not customers keep up with their loan payments.

About 1 in 4 buyers default. In the real estate and credit card industries, that would be bad news. In the world of Buy Here Pay Here, it’s just another avenue for profit: The car can be repossessed and put back on the lot for sale in short order. A new buyer makes a down payment, takes on a high-interest loan and the cycle starts anew.

Provided they don’t get wrecked, these recycled vehicles just keep paying dividends. At some dealerships, cars have been sold and resold over and over — three, four, even eight times apiece, motor vehicle records show.

            And of course, when it sues to collect the deficiency balance on the defaulted loan, the dealer can get a judgment against you, which is a super debt that allows the dealer to garnish your wages and bank account. That is, you’re stuck paying for a car you no longer have. When you default on your car loan, the dealer profits.

If a buy here/pay here dealer has sued you to collect a deficiency balance due on your vehicle loan, please call or email me today. We may be able to help.

Have you been sued by Service Financial Company? If so, we can help.

Chances are, you don’t even know who the heck Service Financial Company (“SFC”) is. SFC is an assumed name for the River City Adjustment Bureau, Inc. Does that clear it up of you? Didn’t think so.

                SFC is in the business of buying defaulted car loans from buy-here-pay-here used car lots like Circus Auto and Autosmart II and suing to collect the underlying debt. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because SFC has sued you too. DO NOT LOSE HOPE. You can fight back. We can help you do so.

                Most likely, SFC’s lawsuit simply states that you breached a contract and that you a responsible for the balance due. If SFC repossessed and sold your vehicle, this is NOT TRUE. SFC’s lawsuit is not for a defaulted loan. SFC’s lawsuit is not for non-payment of loan. Rather, SFC’s lawsuit is for a deficiency judgment under Kentucky’s UCC laws.

                In order to obtain a deficiency judgment against you under the UCC, SFC has the affirmative burden of proving that it disposed of your vehicle in a commercially reasonable manner after repossessing it. This is where SFC is the most vulnerable.

                “Kentucky law requires that “[e]very aspect of a disposition of collateral, including the method, manner, time, place, and other terms, must be commercially reasonable.’ Ky.Rev.Stat. Ann. § 355.9–610. The purpose of the provision is to protect the debtor’s interest by ensuring he will ‘receive the market price of his collateral.’” Layne v. Bank One, Ky., N.A., 395 F.3d 271, 279 (6th Cir. 2005).

                We can make the disposition of your repossessed vehicle the central issue of SFC’s lawsuit against you by forcing SFC to produce evidence that it in fact sold or resold your vehicle in a commercially reasonable manner. We will move to dismiss SFC’s lawsuit against you on grounds that it failed to plead that it disposed of your vehicle in a commercially reasonable manner. We will serve discovery on SFC to uncover what evidence, if any, it has on this crucial question.

                In addition to challenging the reasonableness of the post-repossession sale of your car, we will examine the terms of the loan to make sure that it conforms to the Federal Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”). If there is a TILA violation, we will file a counterclaim on your behalf.

                We will also look at what information, if any, concerning the underlying debt is being reported on your credit reports. If the information is wrong, we will work with you to develop claims against SFC under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act.

                Most likely, you have been abused and ripped off by the car dealer. Because of difficulties qualifying for credit, you probably paid way over book value for a vehicle that has mechanical problems and paid an outrageous interest for the “privilege” of doing so. The car dealer set you up for failure. SFC is the vulture circling to pick your economic corpse to complete the cycle of abuse.

                A few years ago, the L.A. Times published an excellent series of articles that explain how this vicious cycle works.

                If the above sounds like something that’s happened to you, please

Call or text us today at 502-473-6525

Or email me at james@kyconsumerlaw.com.

For a very reasonable fee, I can defend you in this lawsuit and give you a reasonable chance to win or have the suit against you dismissed.

Have you been Sued by Mariner Finance, LLC?

If you’re here, it’s mostly likely because Mariner Finance sued you. We may be able to help. We’ll evaluate your case at no cost to you. Specifically, we will look for counterclaims you may have against Mariner Finance for violations of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act (“KCPA”), the Federal Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), and other state and federal laws. If you have a viable counterclaim, we can represent you at no costs.

            Mariner Finance is not regulated by the federal government. It is not subject to over by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”). (Though, there are over 560 complaints about Mariner Finance registered on the CFPB complaint data base.) Rather, regulation is left to the states. In Kentucky that means Kentucky’s Consumer Loan Company Statutes and the KCPA.

            The Washington Post recently did a scathing expose of Mariner Finance. The article explains that Mariner Finance is predatory lender that exploits the poor and the desperate:

“It’s basically a way of monetizing poor people,” said John Lafferty, who was a manager trainee at a Mariner Finance branch for four months in 2015 in Nashville. His misgivings about the business echoed those of other former employees contacted by The Washington Post. “Maybe at the beginning, people thought these loans could help people pay their electric bill. But it has become a cash cow.”

            The article goes on to explain:

The market for “consumer installment loans,” which Mariner and its competitors serve, has grown rapidly in recent years, particularly as new federal regulations have curtailed payday lending, according to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, a nonprofit research group. Private equity firms, with billions to invest, have taken significant stakes in the growing field.

Mariner Finance is owned and managed by a $11.2 billion private equity fund controlled by Warburg Pincus, a storied New York firm. The president of Warburg Pincus is Timothy F. Geithner, who, as treasury secretary in the Obama administration, condemned predatory lenders. The firm’s co-chief executives, Charles R. Kaye and Joseph P. Landy, are established figures in New York’s financial world. The minimum investment in the fund is $20 million.

            We have defended hundreds of Kentuckians who have fallen prey to Mariner Finance. If we can, we’d like to help you to. Please call or email us as soon as possible to see if we can help you too.

An Unconstitutional Statute that Refuses to Die

In Kentucky, husbands are legally responsible for their wives’ medical debts, but not the other way around. Please help me change that.

            KRS 404.040 provides:

The husband shall not be liable for any debt or responsibility of the wife contracted or incurred before or after marriage, except to the amount or value of the property he received from or by her by virtue of the marriage; but he shall be liable for necessaries furnished to her after marriage.     

            Because the “wife” is not likewise liable for the necessary expenses of the husband, the statute violates equal protection on its face. For over two decades at least, the statute has evaded a judicial decision on its constitutionality for any number of technical reasons. Last year, I lost a challenge because the courts concluded that a hospital’s promise not to collect a debt from my client rendered the constitutional challenge moot. Lessons were learned. The path forward may be a class action. But I won’t know until I try. This is where you come in.

            If a debt collector or doctor or hospital is trying to collect a medical debt from you that was incurred by your wife, please call or email me. I’ll represent you at no cost with the hopes of finally getting a ruling on the statute’s constitutionality.

Lexington Judge Says NO to UK HealthCare using the KY Dept. of Revenue as its Debt Collector

Since 2006, the UK HealthCare has been using the Kentucky Department of Revenue as its collection arm. This cozy relationship empowered UK HealthCare to garnish bank accounts, wages, and tax refunds without any judicial oversight. This essentially practice essentially strips the consumer of all due process rights. In addition to the recovery of debts, the Kentucky Department of Revenue tacked on a 25% collection fee. But no more, maybe.

Judge James Ishmael recently ruled that “UK is not eligible to use the revenue department as its collection agency.” Judge Ishmael’s decision turned on whether UK HealthCare was a state agency within the meaning of applicable state statutes.

This is good news, especially for poorer residents of the Commonwealth, who often depend on tax refunds and tax credits for basic needs.

UK HealthCare has not decided yet whether to file an appeal.

Don’t Let ID Thieves Steal your Tax Refund

According to a report from CNBC, tax-refund theft is expected to “hit a whopping $21 billion.” ID thieves could steal your refund. Cyberscout postulates that “[w]ith more than a billion personal records “out there,” identity theft has become the third certainty in life, right behind death [and taxes].” Tax-refund theft could hit the poor and the lower middle class (who often use tax refunds as emergency savings) the hardest.

Clark Howard recommends that you take these steps to safeguard your information from ID thieves:

  • Use a password-protected Wi-Fi connection when filing your taxes. Use a long and complex password — not just for your Wi-Fi but also for any accounts you’re using during the tax-filing process.
  • Get your return via direct deposit. If you must receive a return check via mail, have it sent to a locked mailbox.
  • Ask your tax preparer to use two-factor authentication to protect your documents and personal information.
  • Use an encrypted USB drive to save sensitive tax documents.
  • Never give information to anyone who contacts you by phone or online claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS will never contact you this way.
  • Monitor your accounts and online identity for any signs that your identity has been stolen. For example, if you see a sudden, unexpected change in your credit scores, it could indicate your identity has been stolen. You can easily get a look at your credit by using our free credit report snapshot, which is updated every 14 days.