What constitutes fraud in Alabama?
Fraud is legally defined as “a misrepresentation of material fact…acted on by the opposite party.” Ala. Code 6-5-101. This means that if someone lies to you to get you to do something, and you do it, then they’ve committed fraud. In Alabama, fraud does not have to be intentional. Negligent or mistaken fraud is still fraud. Which means you can sue whoever defrauded you for damages. If the fraud was intentional, you can sue for punitive damages as well. But, Alabama has an unfortunately bad supreme court case that says that if the truth is somewhere written down (even in fine print), then you don’t have a case.
If my car is repossessed, can I get it back?
Only if you pay the full balance due on the contract. In Alabama, filing bankruptcy will not require the lender to return your vehicle.
Do I have to sign a release to get my personal property back after a repossession?
No. Lenders do not have a security interest in your personal property, even if it was in your vehicle when they repossessed it. They have a lien on the vehicle alone. Not your other property. You don’t have to pay them money to get your stuff back (unless you’ve left it with them for a while, in which case they can sometimes charge reasonable storage fees). You definitely don’t have to sign a release.
Does a car dealer have to give me a copy of my contract when I buy a car?
Yes. Under Alabama law, any time a dealer sells a vehicle, they are required to give you a copy of your truth-in-lending disclosures at or before the time of the transaction. Any sort of extension of credit requires the lender to give you a copy of the loan document in writing. Ala. Code 5-19-6. Dealers are also required to give you a copy of the title application, which serves as your permit to operate the vehicle until a new title certificate is issued. Ala. Code 32-8-38.
Can a judgment be removed from my credit report?
Not unless you pay it off. You have the right to an accurate credit report. Not a good one. If there is a judgment against you for an unpaid debt, the credit reporting agencies are allowed to report it as long as it remains unpaid. If you pay a judgment creditor in full (or settle the debt in full), then you are entitled to a document called a “satisfaction of judgment” which you can file in the court as proof that the debt is paid. Only then can the judgment be updated on your credit report.
How do I avoid bankruptcy?
If you can’t afford to pay your creditors in full, but don’t want to file bankruptcy, you can either a) try to settle with them for what you can afford, or b) wait for them to sue you and try to beat them in court. NEVER sign up with a debt settlement or credit repair company.