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Steven Michael Fahlgren

Steven Fahlgren’s Answers

251 total


  • What should I do ??

    I purchased a vehicle February 2013. It was used, 2012 but only had 11k miles. I asked for carfax and they said it wasn't available yet as they has just received the car two days before. I was having issues with the headlights and took it back in ...

    Steven’s Answer

    You may have a fraud claim or a warranty claim or both. According to the information you have provided, you have a problem with a car dealer; specifically, you may have purchased a used lemon vehicle without proper disclosure. Fortunately, I have a lot of experience defending and suing car dealers. Prior to forming my own practice in 2002, I represented several car dealers. Since forming my own practice, I represent consumers and no longer represent any car dealers. I have sued several car dealerships for selling a used vehicle without proper disclosure.

    You have provided some basic information about your problem, but it would be helpful to review the contract documents. It would also be helpful to know if the vehicle is unmerchantable, i.e., whether it would pass without objection in the trade under the contract description. In other words, how serious was the damage and the repairs. Each of these answers will help determine how "material" the misrepresentation the dealer made as to the prior condition, use or history. We usually need to have an expert prepared to testify if the case is litigated. This can be costly so we need to know beforehand just what damages were involved and the extent the repairs were performed adequately or not.

    It sounds like you may have a claim for breach of contract, fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Just because something is sold "as is" does not give the seller a license to lie about the prior use, condition or history of the vehicle. There are certain disclosure laws that apply to car dealers selling cars to consumers versus a dealer selling someone a vehicle for commercial use.

    It would also be useful to read a detailed time line in chronological order reflecting the dates and the specific details of what happened. I really need to know what representations were made, when they were made, who was present, the details and date/time of all communications with the car dealer, any finance company or any repair shop relating to your potential matter. It is very important that you also provide a chronological copy of the relevant documents including but not limited to any advertisements that may pertain to your vehicle, any documents you obtained from the dealership, finance company or repair shop.

    Ordinarily, you should not get the car repaired unless and until it has been inspected by your expert and the other side has been given a significant opportunity to inspect the car as well. Otherwise, you may be subject to a defense that you spoiled the evidence.

    Based on the information you presented, you may have a case under Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act or another cause of action. Effective July 1, 2013, a law requires specific demand letters to car dealerships or you will lose valuable rights. It is usually advisable to retain an attorney before pursuing litigation. I wish you the best in the future.

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  • I purchased a car. Dealer will not release car.

    Dealer received check from credit union. Dealer will not release car. Im told there is a problem with title , but in the mean time a found car that I purchased relisted at a higher price.

    Steven’s Answer

    If the dealer signed a contract to provide the car but does not deliver it, it is in breach. If you prove a breach of contract, you can recover either expectation or benefit of the bargain damages. The dealer may be interested in "unwinding" the deal, but you would be wise to seek counsel to evaluate your options. There is probably a hard pull shown on your credit report that will reduce your credit score somewhat if you seek to purchase another car in the future. Consult a lawyer for specific details. I wish you the best in the future.

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  • Return a car to dealership

    In Florida is there a 72 hour period where you can return a vehicle to the dealership without owing anything?

    Steven’s Answer

    Many consumers ask if there is an automatic right to cancel a contract to purchase a car within three days. The general answer is there is no three day right to cancel the transaction but, as always, there are exceptions. I'll give you some general guidelines. Consumers can rescind a contract if it was induced by fraud and the parties can be returned to the status quo. Consumers can revoke acceptance of a car if he or she received non-conforming goods, e.g., the consumer buys a 6 cylinder and later learns it is a 4 cylinder. Consumers would need to revoke acceptance in a reasonable time. Consumers can rescind a transaction if the sale involves a retail installment sale contract and the buyer has not taken delivery of the vehicle. Consumers can sometimes cancel a contract as part of a remedy if there is a breach of warranty and suit is brought under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Consumers can cancel some deals if they have not received a copy of the retail installment sale contract and have not taken delivery of the vehicle. Section 520.07(c) of the Florida Statutes provides that "[u]ntil the seller has delivered or mailed to the buyer a copy of the retail installment contract, a buyer who has not received delivery of the motor vehicle shall have the right to rescind the agreement and to receive a refund of all payments made and return of all goods traded in to the seller on account of or in contemplation of the contract or, if such goods cannot be returned, the value thereof." Consumers probably can void a usurious contract under some circumstances or one that calls for finance charges in excess of Section 520.08, but that is rare. The age issue (i.e., the buyer being a minor) or some other lack of capacity oftentimes makes a contract void or voidable. There are certain protections for home solicitation sales. A consumer who entered into a contract to purchase goods or services worth more than $25 is usually allowed to cancel the contract up until midnight of the third business day after the contract was signed if the act of signing took place at any place other than the seller's business location. For home improvements, a contract to repair, make a replacement to, remodel, alter, convert, modernize, improve, or add to any land or building used as a single-family dwelling or residence in which financing is involved, may be cancelled by certified or registered mail up until midnight of the third business day after the contract was signed. Of course, consumers should always review their specific facts with an attorney to ensure that an exception to the above statements does not apply. For some car buying tips, check out articles on my website: http://fortheconsumer.com/articles.htm If this answer is helpful, please mark it as so.

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  • Bough a brand new car from a dealer and a day later they tell me i need a new cosigner and may have to return the car?

    Hello,I have recently purchased a brand new car and everything went fine.The day after my husband goes to the dealer, the finance director tells him he has to find another cosigner because i have a another car loan to my name that is less than 6 m...

    Steven’s Answer

    Be careful. Make sure the dealer is not trying to make you a victim of a yo-yo scam. If financing was not approved and you signed a bailment agreement (or a similar document) saying that the sale was contingent on financing by a third-party (usually by the dealer selling the retail installment sale contract to a lender), then you probably have to return the vehicle. You should get a receipt for it. You should try to communicate via text or email to make it clear that the dealer asked you to return the vehicle based on its inability to find financing. If it gets any more complicated than that, get an attorney involved asap. I wish you the best in the future.

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  • What is the fastest way to build my credit scores?

    And how to fix my credit scores?

    Steven’s Answer

    Great comments. I once hired Evan Hendricks as an expert witness. He wrote a fine book on credit scores and you can look him up online. He probably has some tips and publishes a privacy newsletter. I think his website is still www.privacytimes.com . I wish you the best in the future.

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  • In Florida, Can Social Security Benefits Be Taken by Collection Agencies for Credit Card Debt?

    I am a retired lady over the age of 65 and I recently had to default on a few credit cards that had to be used in connection with a family emergency. It finally got to the point that I am unable to pay those debts and I was told by a supposed "a...

    Steven’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    20 CFR 404.970 SSR 79-4 Social Security benefits are exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or from the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law. The exceptions are (1) for the collection of delinquent Federal taxes and certain delinquent child support payments; and (2) to enforce a child support or alimony obligation. Section 207 of the Social Security Act provides: "The right of any person to any future payment under this title shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this title shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law."

    Social Security will garnish benefits:
    •To enforce child support or alimony obligations under 42 USC 659;
    •To enforce a valid garnishment for court-ordered victim restitution under 18 USC 3613;
    •To collect unpaid Federal taxes under 26 USC 6334(c);
    •To have a portion of your check withheld to satisfy a current year Federal income tax liability under 26 USC 3402 (P); or
    •Other Federal agencies will offset benefits to collect money from benefits to pay a non-tax debt owed to that agency according to the Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134).

    Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407) protects Social Security benefits from assignment, levy, or garnishment. However, the law provides five exceptions:

    Section 459 of the Act (42 U.S.C. 659) allows Social Security benefits to be garnished to enforce child support and/or alimony obligations;
    Section 6334 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6334 (c)) allows benefits to be garnished to collect unpaid Federal taxes;
    Section 3402 (P) of the Internal Revenue Code allows beneficiaries to elect to have a percentage of their benefits withheld and paid to the Internal Revenue Service to satisfy their Federal income tax liability for the current year;
    The Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134) allows benefits to be withheld and paid to another Federal agency to pay a non-tax debt the beneficiary owes to that agency: and
    The Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-34) authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to collect overdue federal tax debts of beneficiaries by levying up to 15 percent of each monthly payment until the debt is paid.

    The Social Security Administration's responsibility for protecting benefits against legal process and assignment usually ends when the beneficiary is paid. However, once paid, benefits continue to be protected under section 207 of the Act only as long as they are identifiable as Social Security benefits. This applies to money in a bank account where the only payments into the account are from direct deposit of Social Security benefits. So to add to the previous commentator, I would just open an account solely for social security benefits and have checks deposited there. I would then use so-called non-exempt funds from other sources until those were exhausted. I wish you the best in the future.

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  • I get a disability check do i still pay child support

    Baby mother is try to get retroactive support out of spite she thinks I called DCF on her so now she went to the courts asking for back child support I'm not working but I'm looking but this is wrong and I'm not even allowed to see my son how is a...

    Steven’s Answer

    Look at the form Financial Affidavit. You will soon learn that the definition of income is very broad. I wish you the best in the future.

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  • I bought a 1987 Mercedes Benz that has to be started on neutral. My mechanic informed me that it is illegal to sell a car .

    Mechanic states it is illegal to sell a car that can only be started in neutral. Is this true to fact? If so, what is the statute confirming this?

    Steven’s Answer

    Interesting question. Perhaps it is not illegal to sell it but arguably, there is a legal duty to disclose of all conditions (of which the dealer knows) materially affecting the value of the property. The reason I suggest that it may be a duty is based on the reading of a seminal case called Johnson v. Davis which applied that rule to residential sales of real property. Because a car is something of significant value, I have always believed that the concept could be extended in the correct case to motor vehicles. Also, if the purchaser asked questions about the prior use, condition and history of the vehicle and the dealer knew of the condition but did not advise, then it may be something actionable under Florida's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. However, this is something the purchaser would have likely learned about before leaving the dealership and, if true, makes the case more difficult. In any event, you need a good attorney to review your potential matter with you. I wish you the best in the future.

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  • Car dealership didn't honor warranty before fleeing country. Can that allow me avoid repossession being filed

    Warranty was to be split of cost 50 50, they picked up the car but then never responded with a status of repair. I eventually learned from the police that they had closed and fled the country. The financing was not in house and there is still a ba...

    Steven’s Answer

    This is a complicated fact pattern. Oftentimes, the holder of commercial paper (i.e., the installment sale contract you likely signed) takes the rights to sue you subject to your claims and defenses against the dealership. If that is true, you may have had a defense to the repossession after all. There are a lot of things a repossession agent and lender must do and not do when taking back a vehicle. It is possible that the law was not followed. If so, you may not be liable for a deficiency. Also, you may have a claim against the surety bonding company for the dealership's breach of warranty. You need experienced counsel to review your potential matter. I wish you the best in the future.

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  • Is it possible that I can press charges against an individual who used my identity to purchase items?

    I received a bill from a company claiming I ordered Hooked On Phonics online, and that I owed $199.96. I contacted the company involved with collections and they told me that an initial payment was made for roughly $30.00 several months back, from...

    Steven’s Answer

    You also may be a victim of additional identity theft. Fortunately, I have some experience with these types of cases. http://www.fortheconsumer.com/article-williams-v-equifax.htm
    If you have not done so already, it would probably be a good idea to review your credit report prepared by Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. You may also want to check with Innovis, a more recent credit reporting agency. You can order your credit reports from the big three for free once a year by calling 877-322-8228. It is a lot simpler and quicker than jumping through all the hoops on the internet and you do not risk mistakenly agreeing to waive your right to a jury trial by arbitration. Please be sure to stay on the line until you have ordered all three reports. You can also go online to www.Annualcreditreport.com
    If you have not already disputed properly, you should consider disputing with the credit bureaus who claim you owe a debt. You should be as detailed as possible. Hopefully, that will take care of the problem or at least help. Because you have advised that your case involves identity theft, you should obtain a police report and also complete the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit. I strongly recommend that these documents be sent to the credit bureaus with your dispute. If the creditor or debt collector has already asked you for more information, you should provide that to them. If you do not, they will take the position in any litigation that you failed to mitigate your damages. Most judges and juries are going to expect you to use your best efforts to solve the problem. If after you dispute to the creditors, they continue to try to collect the debt by sending you dunning letters or by placing or leaving items on your credit report, then you probably have a claim under Florida's Consumer Collection Practices Act and/or the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    If you dispute in writing and send the dispute via certified mail, your case would probably be one that I would take on a contingency fee basis. In case you have not, you can email me and I will try to email you an instructional form for dispute letters as a convenience to you (in word format). Please act quickly because there is a two year statute of limitations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, although there is an argument now that it can be longer if you did not learn of the violation for some time. Your failure to act quickly could result in a loss of valuable rights. There is only a one year statute of limitations under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I cannot give you any advice as to when the statute of limitations starts running until I am retained because sometimes it is not clear.
    You should file a police report if you have not done so already. You should obtain an EXTENDED fraud alert on your credit reports.
    If there are errors on your credit report, you should consider disputing with the credit bureaus who claim you owe a debt. You should be as detailed as possible. Hopefully, that will take care of the problem or at least help. Because you have advised that your case involves identity theft, you should obtain a police report and also complete the attached fraud affidavit. I strongly recommend that these documents be sent to the credit bureaus with your dispute. If the creditor or debt collector has already asked you for more information, you should provide that to them. If you do not, they will take the position in any litigation that you failed to mitigate your damages. Most judges and juries are going to expect you to use your best efforts to solve the problem. If after you dispute to the creditors, they continue to try to collect the debt by sending you dunning letters or by placing or leaving items on your credit report, then you probably have a claim under Florida's Consumer Collection Practices Act and/or the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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