Got a problem? Here’s a list of helpful resources from Better Call Harry
From scams to rental disputes, Better Call Harry has been helping consumers for years
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Folks from all walks of life run into serious problems, and since 2016, consumer reporter Harry Samler has been helping metro Atlantans with everything from wage disputes and scams to debt collection and rental issues. Over the years, Better Call Harry has helped recover $4 million in damages and refunds to consumers.
Here’s a list of useful resources if you’ve run into some of these common problems.
SCAMMED OUT OF MONEY
If you’ve been scammed out of money, you should first report it to your bank and see if there is anything they can do to recover your money. Best-case scenario is you used a credit card, and you can dispute the charges.
We have been inundated with questions and concerns about unemployment claims with the Georgia Department of Labor. We know how difficult this situation is for thousands of you, and we are trying to help. We are assisting GDOL by identifying claimants who have waited twelve weeks or more for their benefits.
USED CAR PROBLEMS
If you purchased the car “as is”, there’s not much we can do. If the dealer or the broker haven’t violated the purchase agreement, the sale is legal. We advise everyone buying a used car to get a pre-purchase inspection from a mechanic you trust, along with copies of the Carfax and auto check reports. Here’s a good link for next time.
If the car hasn’t been wrecked and is in good shape otherwise, you may want to make the repairs and keep it, or trade it in and start over. Also, never purchase a vehicle without a title.
It’s possible that you may have grounds to break your lease, if a rental property is no longer habitable.
You can cite what’s called a “constructive eviction.” It’s important to document problems and have everything in writing. Please keep in mind that we can’t provide legal advice, so you’ll want to refer to the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook. See page 11.
Please do not withhold rent or your landlord can file for eviction.
We wish we had better news for you, but unfortunately, you’ll have to sue your employer and take them to small claims court to get a resolution on a wage dispute.
If you’ve had a problem getting work done after paying a contractor, there isn’t much you can do. You should have a contract; never pay money for work unless you have a contract. There is also a Georgia law that requires contractors provide a warranty to homeowners prior to construction, if the projects value is more than $2,500.
If you can prove they haven’t done what they agreed upon, you can hire an attorney, as well as report them to the state licensing board for residential and general contractors.
NOTE: You should never hire someone who isn’t licensed. You can check their license on the Secretary of State website.
If the bill has already gone to collections, you should ask for proof in writing that you owe the debt. The burden is on the collector. If the debt was paid, send proof of payment and dispute it with Equifax, Experian and Transunion.
You can also write the debt collector and inform them not to contact you again under the terms of the fair debt collection practices act. In simple terms, it’s called a “Drop dead” letter.
FILING A CLAIM
In a lot of these cases, the most common way to retrieve your money back is to take someone to court. In order to do that, you have to file an official claim with the clerk of your local magistrate court.
According to Georgia’s Consumer Protection Division, the statement of claim should include the following:
- The complete name, address and phone number of the plaintiff (and their attorney, if they has one.)
- The complete name and street address of the defendant.
- The damages, or the amount of money or property the plaintiff is seeking.
- A brief statement explaining why the defendant is being sued, including the date(s) of the underlying incident(s).
- Copies of all relevant documents, such as contracts, receipts and canceled checks. (Keep the original documents for your files.)
If you have exhausted options, you can also look into hiring an attorney. Here’s a link to Georgia Legal Aid.
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