716-218-8876 - Call Now to Schedule a Free Consultation - Ripoffs

We are no longer accepting new matters or cases.

Effective September 4, 2012, attorney Matthew Parham will be working as a full-time staff attorney at the Western New York Law Center (WNYLC).  Where there is no active court case and the matter is not time sensitive, we may withdraw from representation in existing matters.  Otherwise, matters for existing clients will either be (a) handled to completion by attorney Matthew Parham upon the same terms already agreed or, with your consent, (b) transitioned to the WNYLC or to other replacement counsel.  If you are a current client, you will hear from us shortly regarding the status of your matter.

If you are seeking an attorney for a type of matter that we used to handle, we suggest you view the links page for links to attorneys that may handle such matters locally, or that you contact the Bar Association of Erie County Lawyer Referral Service.

The information on this website is retained as it existed in August 2012, but will not be updated, and is presented for informational purposes only.

Ripoffs, Scams, and Other Abuses

If you have been ripped off by a business that tricked you into buying something you didn't want or need or that was not worth what you were charged, if you paid for something you didn't get, if a company promised to do something it didn't do, or if you've been otherwise harassed or abused by a company, you may have a claim under state or federal law. We handle various kinds of rip-off claims.

Car Frauds

Sometimes it seeks like car salespeople will say anything to get you to make a deal. Then once you're committed to buying, come the add-ons and bait-and-switches. If you think your car dealer ripped you off, contact us to discuss your situation. State and federal law guaranty you various protections when you're buying a car, including:

  • Truth in Lending Act: requires the dealer to clearly disclose the terms of any credit, including what the credit is going to cost you, before any contracts are signed; "spot delivery" or "yo-yo sales" - where the dealer lets you drive away with the car and then contacts you later and says you have to sign new and less favorable credit paperwork - clearly violate this law;
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act: requires the dealer or bank to give you notice if you were denied credit; often dealers pretend to look for a loan and then tell you they couldn't get you one and they have to change the terms of the deal to get credit - if that was true, you should get this notice;
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act: if your interest rate is higher because of something in your credit history, the dealer is required to tell you this;
  • Federal Odometer Act: the car title must accurately disclose the mileage; if the dealer altered the odometer reading to change the mileage, then you have a claim;
  • New York False Advertising Law: prohibits false advertising of consumer goods - if the dealer advertised a certain pricing or credit terms, and those disappeared when you got to the dealership, you may have a claim;
  • New York Deceptive Business Practices Law: anything deceptive that the dealer did, such as not disclosing to you a history of frame damage or lying about anything else about the car, charging exorbitant amounts for useless add-ons, have been held to be deceptive behavior.
  • New York Fraud: New York law prohibits fraud, which is the making of false and misleading statements to get you to do something - if the salesperson or dealer personnel lied to you about the car, the deal, or the add-ons, you may have a claim for fraud to get out of the deal, return the car, and get your money back, and/or for monetary compensation.

    Payday Loans or Title Loans

    If you have take out a payday loan or car title loan and are unable to pay it off, or have been contacted by debt collectors or law firms seeking to collect it, you may have a remedy.

    Payday and Title Loans usually have an effective interest rate that is astronomically high, such as 200% to over 1,000% annual interest. You should know that it is illegal in New York for a lender to charge over 16% interest, unless the lender is a certain kind of bank or has a license from the state Banking Department as a "licensed lender." Because no payday or title lenders have such licenses, these loans cannot be enforced in New York because they are considered a form of criminal usury. The law actually makes it a felony for the lender to try to collect the loan from you. In addition to violating New York's usury laws, these lenders often require you to authorize electronic bank withdrawals as a condition of making the loan, which is a violation of the federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

    Payday and Title Lenders try various schemes to avoid federal laws and New York's laws against usury. These include fake arbitration procedures, or locating themselves on an Indian reservation or in a foreign country where you cannot sue them. However, they are not going to sue you in a New York court to try and collect the money because New York courts will not enforce such an illegal loan. If a debt collector or attorney contacts you to collect the loan, and particularly if they threaten to sue you, you can sue them for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  If the lender repossesses your car to collect a title loan, you can sue the repossession company and any others involved. If you are having trouble with Payday or Title Loans, contact us to discuss your options.

    Telephone Harassment and Telemarketing Abuses

    Unsolicited telephone calls, text messages, or faxes, particularly calls to a cellphone, can be not only extremely annoying, but also costly.  The Telephone Consumer Protection Act limits the circumstances under which a company can send you an advertising fax, call or text you on a cellphone using an automatic dialer, or call you on any phone using a pre-recorded marketing message.  It is illegal to do any of these things without your prior express consent.  If you have a prior business relationship with the company and you provided the company with the phone number it is calling or agreed to receive such calls on other phones, then you may be deemed to have consented to receive such calls.

    Debt collection calls to cellphones are often made with an automatic dialer, and so may violate the TCPA.  Certainly, if you are not the person they are trying to reach, the calls are illegal.  If you have sent the collector a written request to cease and desist calling you in which you state that you revoke any consent to receive calls on your cellphone, any further calls should be violations even if you were deemed to have consented before.

    If you have received faxes, texts, or calls from telemarketers, debt collectors, or others that violate the TCPA, you are entitled to damages of at least $500 per call and of at least $1,500 per call if the caller knew it shouldn't be calling you.  It can be difficult sometimes to determine who is calling and whether it is a violation.  If you are receiving unwanted marketing faxes or pre-recorded voice messages or calls, or unwanted autodialed cellphone calls or commercial texts, contact us to discuss your options.

    Warranty and Service Contract Abuses

    If you obtained a warranty or service contract for a car or other product, and found that when you tried to invoke it, you got either no service or terrible service, you may have a claim under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act as well as New York's Uniform Commercial Code. You may also have a claim even if you never got a written warranty, because there is generally an implied warranty of merchantability any time you buy a consumer product. Thus, if you purchased an item that turned out to be garbage, you may also have a claim. Contact us to discuss your situation.

    Deceptive Business Practices and False Advertising

    New York law generally prohibits deceptive acts or practices directed towards consumers in any business. If you are the victim of any kind of rip-off not specifically addressed here, you may have a claim under this general law.

    RICO Act Claims

    The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act sometimes allows you to go after those companies and individuals that commit a particularly serious ripoff or scam. Even if you for some reason cannot go after the primary perpetrators, you can sue the individuals and companies that aid and abet such a scheme. The RICO Act applies to two kinds of scheme. First, if the scheme is carried out through a pattern of committing certain federal crimes, you can sue under RICO. The most common crimes committed by companies ripping off consumers are federal mail and wire fraud. Second, if the scheme is carried out through the collection of unlawful debts, which is defined to mean debts that are more than double the state usury limit on interest, then RICO applies. Thus, RICO may allow you to go after Payday or Title Lenders and the companies and individuals that aid and abet them. Contact us to discuss your situation if you think you have been the victim of this nefarious a scheme.

    Class Actions

    If you were victimized by certain behavior, chances are others were too. Depending on the kind of ripoff, if others were harmed in the same way by the repetitive unlawful behavior, you may be able to file a class action. Contact us to discuss your case.

  • Last Updated (Monday, 13 August 2012 11:30)


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