What Businesses Need to Know about Consumer Protection

Posted by on Apr 21, 2013 in Business | 0 comments

Especially in the difficult financial situation of the past several years, many Americans have found themselves dealing with unmanageable levels of debt. There are a number of options available to both creditors and debtors to deal with this undesirable situation, but if you have customers who are in default or behind on payments, there are some important regulations in place that govern how these individuals can be treated.

It is essential for businesses to be aware of the consumer protection laws that are in place, because violations of these regulations could have serious repercussions on a business or business owner.

Consumer protection at the federal level

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is included in the United States Code under Title 15 § 1692 and was first enacted in 1977. It is designed to:

  • Prevent abusive collection practices for consumer debt
  • Provide a way for consumers to dispute and validate debt information in terms of accuracy
  • Provide guidelines for the legal conduct of debt collectors
  • Establish penalties and sanctions for violators
  • Codify the rights of consumers in reference of debt collection

Individual consumer protection

The FDCPA, as applied in many situations, covers personal, family, and household debt including credit card debt, auto loans, and medical care debt. It polices the conduct of third-party debt collectors, who may be any person who regularly collects debts and may include lawyers. It does not include internal collectors of the creditor. Under most laws, a debt collector may only contact a debtor between 8 am and 9 pm, and may not call at the place of work if the employer does not allow it. If the debtor tells the debt collector in written form to stop calling, the debt collector may only contact a debtor to provide additional information, such as the intention to sue. A debt collector may also not inform anyone except the debtor that money is owed.

The FDCPA cannot be used to erase debt, but when debt collectors act in ways which violate the FDCPA, issue false statements, or engage in other illegal practices as defined under the Act, then a debtor may be able to file a private lawsuit citing FDCPA consumer protection violations.

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Mandatory Auto Insurance in Illinois for Company-Owned Vehicles

Posted by on Apr 19, 2013 in Auto Insurance | 1 comment

Auto insurance is required for all motor vehicles in the US with the exception of Virginia, Mississippi and New Hampshire. Each state has its own minimum coverage for third person (another car or pedestrian) liability, and in Illinois, these are:

  • Bodily injury (per person) – $20,000
  • Bodily injury (per accident) – $40,000
  • Property damage – $15,000

While many individuals make sure to get the auto insurance coverage they need, many companies forget about the importance of having the minimum amount of coverage required for company-owned vehicles. Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.® urges that it is essential for businesses to secure at least the state-required amount of liability coverage, or they could face serious penalties under the law. Plus, in the unfortunate event of an accident, they’d regret not having the insurance.

How the law is enforced

The law requires that proof of coverage, such as an insurance card, is always available in the car and has to be shown to any law enforcer when requested. Failure to do so, insured or not, will result in a traffic citation. If it turns out that youare not insured, your license plates will be suspended and you will have to pay a minimum of $500 in fines.

Illinois also makes random checks of vehicles by sending out a questionnaire regarding your insurance coverage. Failure to return the questionnaire, insured or not, will lead to a suspension of your license plates.

Getting your license plates reinstated

If this is the first time you were ever caught driving uninsured, you may have your license plates reinstated after paying a fee of $100 provided you already have insurance coverage. Repeat offenders will not be able to reinstate their plates within a four-month period. The suspension is only valid for a specific vehicle; it does not mean the driver is also suspended from driving other vehicles. Driving a vehicle with suspended license plates, however, carries a fine of a minimum $1,000.

You need auto insurance

Unless you rarely use your vehicle in Illinois, it is cheaper and less of a hassle to get at least the minimum required auto insurance coverage in Illinois. It serves not only to protect you from liability in case of an accident, it also protects the people you may injure or whose property you may damage. After all, a motor vehicle is a moving missile with the potential for causing a great deal of damage to yourself and other people. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, auto insurance is still very important.

 

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About Workplace Discrimination

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Employment | 1 comment

Aside from the US Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 or the FLSA, which prevents discrimination against work and compensation, many other laws have been passed which would help ensure fair labor practice all across the US. Just a few of these laws are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Pay Act (EPA).

Despite all these federal decrees, many employers choose to turn a deaf ear to claims of discrimination, rather than addressing the unjust practices committed in their companies. And although an act of discrimination may oftentimes be obvious, many employees would find it hard to complain due to fear of being subjected to greater injustice or, worse, losing their job.

Discriminatory acts can inflict more and deeper harm that one can imagine. Oftentimes victims appear to be easily dismissing the issue; deep inside, though, the hurt can be much deeper. Not having any chance for promotion, getting lower pay compared to their peers, being laughed at by both their peers and supervisor, or never having been asked to participate in important meetings or company activities – these are just some of the unjust treatments employees may suffer from due to their age, race, national origin, gender, or disability status.

If you feel that you are being discriminated against in your workplace, you have every right to take action against the party responsible for the discrimination and pursue the equal treatment that you deserve under the law. If company policy cannot save you from the injustice you are suffering from, then it is likely that the best way to address the wrong done is through legal means.

Discrimination can have devastating effects on anyone and everyone in a workplace, and employers and employees alike should do everything they can to stop such illegal actions as soon as possible.

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Invest in Good Writing for Your Business

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Business | 0 comments

Website content is what drives the market today, and we’re not just talking about online businesses. With the Internet filtering through every facet of daily life, the sure way to get market attention is by being online. This is why most businesses have an online presence even if it is just on a social network. And for an effective online presence you need a well-designed website and good content writers.

Good content writers know how search engines work, so they can optimize the copy to keep your web presence in the public eye. Aside from optimization, good writers preserve the correct form, function, and flow of the content so that it not only ranks well in search engines but also gives value to the reader. This makes a good impression on the target market, enhancing the credibility of your page or website which in turn reflects on your product or service. Most people take you at your face value; if you look good, then you must be good. The next step, providing excellent service or quality products, is up to you.

It would be tempting to try doing it yourself; after all, a penny saved is a penny earned. That’s true enough if you write well, and you have the time to do the necessary research. If not, you might be doing yourself a disservice by not trusting your content writing needs to a professional. You spent good money on your website design but it’s an empty shell without good content. Also, having mediocre content (or worse, none) on your webpage or website can turn away potential customers because they are not favorably impressed by what they see. Remember that your online presence is the first thing most people will see before they ever step into your actual place of business. You need to wow them from the get go, and investing in good content writers to provide you with excellent copy is the easiest way to do that.

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Establishing LLCs for Multiple Businesses

Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in Business | 0 comments

If you are a born entrepreneur and have a wide range of interests, you may have several small businesses in operation at one time. Some of these may benefit from the protection afforded to limited liability companies (LLC).

Why form an LLC

According to the website of business lawyers Arenson Law Group, PC, an LLC is like a hybrid business entity that combines the limited liability of a corporation with the tax benefits of a single proprietorship. If you have a business that would have significant tax consequences if it is turned into a corporation, or you don’t want to be personally liable for everything from lawsuits to debts under a single proprietorship, then an LLC is just right for you. There is an advantage to an LLC, but there are also things to be careful about.

The potential for liability may prompt you to form an LLC from two or more of your businesses, but this is not always good practice. True, you save on time and money because you only have to go through the LLC formation process once. But that could be a bad decision for the following reasons:

  • Your businesses may not be related, so would not be able justifiable to lump them all under one LLC
  • You may want to eventually sell one business; it would be easier to establish the health and desirability of the business to potential buyers if you have separate accounts and books for each business
  • You may need to take out a loan with your business as collateral. If not all your businesses are doing well, it will dilute the value of the businesses that are actually successful

Luckily, forming an LLC is a relatively simple and inexpensive matter, and it is even easier when it is handled by an experienced business lawyer. A lawyer will be able to help you determine if an LLC is the right choice for you. If it’s not, he or she could show you what your more feasible options may be.

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