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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116799
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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I recently battled my bank over a loan workout program they

Customer Question

I recently battled my bank over a loan workout program they got me into and pull from me. I spent 5 years fighting them and finally ended up keeping my home, but not after it had accumulated over 200K of past interest, late fees, etc... The loan they gave me in the workout program wasn't the same as I ended up with but I have my home, so that's the important part. I spoke to a law firm out of LA, CA and they said I have a case to go back and get the loan I should have gotten and other things they could help me with like removing the 200K in fees and interest. Through email, their rep that was talking to me assured me that if it didn't go to trial or get a settlement I wouldn't owe them anything and I'd get a full refund. I have that in email. So I paid them $5,495 before I could speak to an attorney about my case and then when I finally did, she said the agreement I had with my bank had covered all possible actions going forward and they couldn't help me. She said I should request and get a full refund, but the company said I wasn't entitled to a refund since the agreement was clear that there was a no refund policy. I did an E-Sign so I never got a copy of the agreement and so far to this date, I still haven't got a copy of it. After several weeks of arguing with someone there, I got a $4,000 refund and they said they were doing that as a courtesy to me. They said they earned the rest but didn't give me any accounting of the fees charged. When I ask, I got a plain sheet of paper with typed fees on it as an accounting sheet. No letterhead, no other info, just a bunch of line items totalling $1,495. Does this sound legal or am I right in thinking they owe me the rest back since their sale rep stated clearly in an email that if it didn't go court or have a favorable outcome for me that I wouldn't be charged anything? Thanks for the help. Robert Beck
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

You need to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the CA Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit and the CA bar against the firm. It is against Federal Trade Commission rules to charge someone up front for loan modification process, so they had no business charging you promising you they would reduce your loan. Also, it is an unfair and deceptive practice under the deceptive trade practices act and you could sue them for up to 3 times the money they owe you. Finally, the state bar governs practices of all attorneys and them violating the FTC rules and also not doing any work and keeping your money is a violation of the code of professional conduct and grounds for the bar to sanction them.

So based on what you said above, those are your options. If those options do not work, your final option is filing suit in court against them, small claims, to recover your money and up to three times what you are due for the unfair and deceptive practices.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for the detailed response. Let me correct myself on the purpose of talking to them, it wasn't for a loan modification, I had already completed that with another law firm. These guys told me I could sue for the trial payment plan I didnt get but wanted and they said there was a clear fraud case for the bank saying I would get the loan workout plan and then not giving me one. So if sued in small claims up here in El Dorado County where I live would that be where they have to come to go to court? And would the email from their acct rep be enough to show deceptive practices? And lastly, would I still be allowed to report them to the state bar for for not doing any work and would that sheet of paper they typed my fees on be enough to prove they really didnt do anything aince its not on letterhead and looks like they did that in 10 mins and made it up? Thanks again
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

They still cannot charge you for doing nothing. They told you they could sue and then said they could not sue. That is not grounds to take your money. You have to sue them where they are located and you would have to go to court there, because small claims has limited jurisdiction of where the defendant lives.

Emails would be sufficient proof of the deceptive practices.

You can indeed report them to the bar and argue the fees are false or fraudulent as they did no such work on a case they said they could do nothing with for you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If I sue in regular court and not small claims would be able to do that here in my area or it no matter how I sue, its going to be in LA?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

Proper jurisdiction in CA is where the defendant is located, so you need to sue in L.A. no matter what.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Could I have an attorney such as you handle this in LA or do I need to be there myself. What would it cost to get an attorney to do that if it's possible. Would or be smart to give them one last chance to pay or just go forward with legal action. What you recommend my next step be, I really can't afford to go to LA and I think they know this. Thanks so much for the legal advice here.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

You absolutely can hire a local attorney in L.A. to handle that, but no attorney from this site can represent you as it would be forbidden by state law.

I would suggest using a local consumer protection attorney and filing suit against the firm, but before you do so I would file the complaints first and see if the bar and the attorney general can settle this without a suit.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Just so I don't get taken again, about how much should it cost to file that suit in LA with the consumer protection agency and is there a time limit that I can file and complete this? I think I requested my refund from them in June of this year so I want to make sure I'm ok in pursuing this and what's the best way to find an attorney to work with on this when I'm not in the same city? Thanks for all the help and advice. Anything else you can think of that I should know would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply,

It is a consumer protection law attorney, the suit is not filed with the consumer protection agency, and generally they will charge maybe $700 or so.

For filing a complaint with the state bar or the state attorney general, there is no fee. But for suing, you have to sue in the small claims or superior court and the costs usually vary a little, but usually about $500-$700 or so for small claims court is realistic.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

if you prove the unfair and deceptive practices, which you likely will, then you can potentially get the court to award your attorney's fees as part of the damages together with triple damages as punitive damages.

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