Resources

The following links may provide you with helpful information, or connect you to useful resources:

Iowa Electronic Court Filing

If you have been sued by a debt collector in Iowa District Court or in Small Claims, you will probably need to file an answer to the collection lawsuit by electronic filing. Before you file your answer, it would make sense to give the Johnson Law Firm a call for a free consultation to avoid one of the many common traps consumers who represent themselves fall into. Ask yourself if you know what you are doing (representing yourself) or if you are doing the equivalent of your own heart surgery. Expect similar results.

Iowa Court Records

If you have been sued by a debt collector or have a judgment against you, you can get information on the case by going to this Iowa court web site. If a collector in Iowa has garnished your wages or garnished your bank account and you were never served the lawsuit, you can check this web site to obtain information as to how the debt collector claims to have served you. Many times you were not even served at your address or an ex spouse was “served.”  At this point, you need to be consulting with an attorney–especially if a collector has a judgment against you and you were never served the collection lawsuit. Take advantage of the Johnson Law Firm’s free consultation.

Your Free Annual Credit Report

You are entitled to one free annual credit report each year from each of the major credit reporting agencies. You are not required to pay anyone to obtain your free credit reports. Here are links to obtain your report and to provide you with information on getting your credit report. By staggering your requests during the year, you can reasonably monitor on a regular basis whether erroneous information is being reported against you. Click through the garbage the credit reporting agencies try to sell and go straight to the free report.

FTC Consumer Information Including Credit Reporting Issues

The Federal Trade Commission has a useful web site on credit reporting and other consumer issues such as identity theft and alerts for well known scams, including the scam where a person is falsely told they will be arrested or prosecuted for an old debt, such as a payday loan or an old credit card debt.

Fair Credit Reporting Act and Privacy Rights Information

This web site is a resource for information pertaining to the Fair Credit Reporting Act and your privacy rights related to your credit information.

National Association of Consumer Advocates

Provides information on a wide range of consumer issues and links to some of the best consumer attorneys in the U.S. In fact, they might be the only consumer attorneys in the U.S. It’s not like there are thousands of them out there. If there is no Iowa connection to your consumer protection or credit issue, you should visit National Association of Consumer Advocates web site to find an attorney.

Iowa Attorney General

Provides information on consumer protection issues such as lemon law, unfair debt collection, auto fraud, predatory lending, mortgage foreclosure and other issues of interest to consumers. You may file a complaint online at the Attorney General’s web site. Prior to going into private practice, I was an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division.

National Consumer Law Center

An excellent consumer law resource for attoneys, the courts and consumers alike. NCLC has numerous publications on consumer issues such as identity theft, consumer credit, fair credit reporting, salvaged vehicles, rebuilt wrecks, lemon law, illegal auto repossessions, unfair debt collection and many other consumer law subjects.

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission web site is an excellent source of information on federal consumer laws.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulates banks, lenders, payday loan companies and securities firms. They all want to kill the agency off, so you know it must be doing something right. The CFPB is the brainchild of now Senator Elizabeth Warren. Banks strongly opposed Warren’s appointment as the first director of the CFPB. With three bank lobbyists for every member of Congress, President Obama had little choice but to remove her name from consideration. In a case of be careful what you ask for, you might get it, Warren, after leaving the CFPB, then ran for, and was elected to, the United States Senate and became a member of the Senate Banking Committee–turning the toasting and clanking of champaign glasses of bank executives into weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It is not surprising why big banks oppose Warren. In a speech, Warren once said “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: They’re right. The system is rigged.” Warren has said that Wall Street CEOs “wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs” and that they “still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.” At the Johnson Law Firm we deal with the victims of laws and banking policies designed to give every possible advantage to wealthy interests over those of consumers. Most consumer do not realize the credit card collection lawsuit filed against them was by the very same banks who rigged the system and crashed the economy, which caused them to lose their jobs, exploded the amount owed on the card, and then the banks blamed them for not being able to pay off the debt. It is very difficult to disagree with Warren and it is refreshing to FINALLY hear an elected official who actually recognizes the reality of the situation.

But you still got sued and you still need to deal with it. Call the Johnson Law Firm for a free initial consultation. 

Iowa Legal Aid

Iowa Legal Aid is a resource for consumer information. Legal Aid represents low income Iowans, including Iowans with consumer related problems. Unfortunately, Congress has placed severe restrictions and budget constraints on Legal Aid to prevent Legal Aid from effectively representing consumer interests against powerful corporations. Nevertheless, Legal Aid does an excellent job despite the restrictions.

Federal Court-Northern District of Iowa

Contains information about the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. Consumers frequently find themselves sued in federal court for copyright infringement. Simply paying for an internet connection can result in completely innocent consumers being sued for tens of thousands of dollars for alleged copyright infringement.

Federal Court-Southern District of Iowa

Contains information about the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. See above on copyright infringement.

Iowa Supreme Court

The Iowa Supreme Court’s web site provides information on appellate cases, court rules and statewide online court records. The Court is converting to statewide electronic filing of court documents similar to the current federal system. Most attorneys eagerly await the move, but others are not quite sure whether this Internet thing is going to catch on–although rumor has it all attorneys in Iowa no longer use carbon paper.

Americans For Fairness in Lending

An excellent source of information on predatory lending. In addition, one of my attorney friends, Kathleen Keest, used to work there. Kathleen is extremely knowledgeable and a die-hard consumer advocate. She once re-wrote her contract for phone service and sent it back to her provider demanding they negotiate their boiler plate adhesion contract with her. I’m not sure how that turned out–I wasn’t able to reach her by phone.

National Odometer and Title Fraud Enforcement Association

Self explanatory. If a Carfax shows that low mileage vehicle you purchased with 30,000 miles had 120,000 miles on it a year ago, you might want to check out this web site. Low mileage vehicles can mean a little old lady only drove it to church on Sunday, or it could be the car wasn’t driven for a year while it was being transported from state to state and “repaired” and it is a rebuilt wreck.