Author Archives: Aurora Harris

About Aurora Harris

Ms. Harris has both a litigation and appellate practice and is an active trainer and mentor for new consumer lawyers. She was admitted to the California State Bar in 1980, and has been representing consumers in actions against car dealers and finance companies since 1983. Ms. Harris is the President of the Christian Legal Aid Organization in Orange County. She was a former Co-Chair and Board Member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA), and is a partner of the National Consumer Law Center. She has represented NACA as an advisor before a committee of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law (NCCUSL) that was drafting a proposed uniform state Consumer Leasing Law. She was also a principal drafter of a NACA amicus brief on dealer advertising.

Name search in the on-line court records!

If you suspect that a creditor may be planning to  sue you, do not wait for “proper service”.   Unfortunately you may not know what is “proper service” of a lawsuit.  Also a disreputable process server may lie about having given you court papers, when in truth you never received them.   Always give your creditors an updated address or they may serve a “John Doe” at your old apartment address, claiming he is your room mate.  And guess what, that guy is just going to throw your court papers away.

I think if  you are worried about being sued, it is much better to go on line periodically  and check the local court house web site to search for your own name under parties to a civil lawsuit.

Otherwise, you might be shocked to discover that a case is proceeding to judgment that you  did not even know about.  If so, you need to act quickly.  The law does not protect those people that sleep on their rights.

Here is an example how to find you local court web site.  If you live in Orange County you would google “Orange County Superior Court”.  When the court web site appears, then look for “on-line services” or “civil”. (You might want to check out your traffic tickets while you are there.)   Look for a  the link to “civil case”  “party name”.   Once you found any case with your name on it, you want to click on it and try and print the docket— which is a list of papers that have been filed in that particular case.  Search the docket especially for “proof of service” or “request to enter default”  which is a big clue that someone is claiming to have served you and is proceeding to judgment without your knowledge.

As soon as you discover a case you do not know about it is  best run immediately to the clerk’s office of the court house and get copies of everything and call a lawyer.  Timing is everything.  Do not wait!  Setting aside defaults can be difficult, if not impossible if you wait too long.

Many counties are starting to charge a nominal amount  for name searches and in others (like Orange Co) it is free. Copies of  some case files ( like some unlimited jurisdiction lawsuits filed in the Central District in Los Angeles Superior Court) can be purchased on-line without a trip to the court house.

Exorbitant interest and unfair fees

Most people do not  realize that credit card companies have set them up to fail.  Many  creditors want you to go over limit  or be late on a payment so that they can charge you over limit fees and late fees and increase your interest rate. That is how they make the most money.   That is why many companies will give you two $500  limit credit cards instead of one card with a $1000 limit.  The two cards gives them two chances to charge you over limit fees and two chances to assess late fees. These fees can rapidly turn $1500 worth of credit card purchases into a $5,000 + obligation accruing interest at 29.99% .

Despite  layoffs or health problems, many people have struggled and sacrificed to make their credit card payments but nevertheless have faced unfair and inexplicable  interest rate increases which prevented them from making their minimum payments.  Next comes the charge off on their credit report and their debt is sold to a series of nasty debt collectors.   The harassment of collection calls and letters can be almost  unbearable. All the brow beating and harassment is designed to make a person feel hopeless, and helpless and to give up and pay this unfair unsecured debt before more important payments, like taxes and critical  living expenses.

A  person may or may not find out that  a debt collector is proceeding with a lawsuit against him or her related to that old credit card.  They may feel paralyzed or trapped in the debt.

But there are many legitimate ways to fight a credit card lawsuit.  You do not have to  just give up.  Consumer protection attorney Aurora Dawn Harris has a heart for those who are economically oppressed.  She will aggressively fight for your consumer rights.

Use the contact form at this link to get in touch with Aurora Dawn Harris.

California Senate Bill 94 Update

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 11th, 2009
SIGNED: October 11th, 2009

Senate Bill 94 prohibits any person — including a real estate licensee or California attorney — from offering or negotiating “foreclosure rescue” or “loan modification” services where an advance fee is charged before performing all services provided in the contract. The law also requires written notification be included in the contract to inform homeowners that the services of these intermediaries are not required.

California Notaries and Signing Agents have been asked to accept assignments from foreclosure rescue and loan modification companies seeking to intervene between a homeowner and lender by providing services to renegotiate a mortgage or to postpone or preclude foreclosure. Because the new law prohibits the collection of any type of advance fee by a foreclosure rescue company, California Notaries and Signing Agents should not agree to perform an assignment that asks the Notary or Signing Agent to obtain a check for advance fees.

Foreclosure rescue companies are also prohibited from taking a power of attorney from a client.

Attorneys General across the nation are warning Notaries not to accept work from “Mortgage Rescue” firms.

View the text of the law, details about the changes and an NNA analysis here here

SUMMARY: If you are asked by anyone to pre-pay for services regarding the renegotiation of your mortgage, don’t.  It is now illegal in the State of California to require such a payment.