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Law Library

If you have a specific law-related question unrelated to one of the practice areas that we specialize in, feel free to make use of our Law Library. It contains relevant information related to each of the denoted areas of law listed below.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in our Law Library is generic in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Viewing this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Changes in the law or the specific facts of your case may result in legal interpretations that are different from those presented in the information below.

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Civil Harassment: Restraining Orders

California law allows the court to enter orders to protect against harassment. If you feel you are the victim of harassment and require legal intervention, Click here for more details.

Correcting a Credit Report

Credit reporting agencies collect and disseminate information about your credit practices to creditors, employers, insurance companies, landlords and others that have a legitimate purpose in receiving such information. When an error is entered on your report, it may affect your ability to get credit. Both Federal and California law give consumers rights that are helpful in correcting this information. If you believe that an entry in your credit report is inaccurate, you should write to the credit reporting agency requesting that they verify the existence and accuracy of the entry. If the credit reporting agency cannot verify the information, the law requires them to remove the entry from your file. You can also request that the credit reporting agency inform recent recipients of the erroneous report of the correction. The following is the contact information for the three major credit reporting bureaus:

  • Equifax: (800) 525-6285
  • Experian (formerly TRW): (888) EXPERIAN, (888) 397-3742
  • Trans Union1 (800) 680-7289

If the dispute over the completeness or accuracy of the entry is not resolved to your satisfaction, you should write a consumer statement of 100 words or less stating the nature of the dispute. The consumer reporting agency must then include the statement in all future reports. Information that is older than seven years, or 10 years in the case of judgments and bankruptcies, must be deleted from your file.

Dealing with Collection Agencies

If you fail to meet the repayment terms of your contract with a creditor, you will receive a number of letters informing you of this failure and requesting that the terms be met and payments be made. If the creditor fails to get you to conform to the terms, they will most likely send your case to a collection agency.

Collection agencies work on behalf of the creditor to recuperate the amounts owed by debtors. It is important to understand that the agency’s interests lie with your creditor and not with you. It is also important to understand that these agencies are highly professional and experienced in dealing with debtors.

Collection agencies get a percentage of debt collected. They may charge other fees for the time they put in, so they tend to be aggressive. A few may go overboard, which can work in your interest. There are legal constraints on the actions permitted of collection agencies. If they do act illegally you can sue or threaten action and get a renegotiation of the terms of your debt. Creditors understand this, and you must refer all unethical action of a collection agency to your creditor as well as to state or federal agencies that govern the activities of these agencies.

If you have a legitimate dispute with a creditor, make sure the collection agency knows the details of this. A number of agencies will not wish to deal with consumers with legitimate complaints against creditors. The collection agency is interested in recouping as much of the moneys owed as possible. But they and your creditor both realize that it may not be possible to recover 100 percent of the amount owed. Understand that you are in a bargaining position to the extent that the collection agency can convince your creditor to accept some fraction of the outstanding debt if this is within your means, and if you can make this payment over a shorter period or even in a lump sum. You will have to make a convincing case regarding your inability to repay the creditor.

If you are not working, send letters to your creditors and the collection agency explaining your situation and promising to set up a reasonable payment plan as soon as you get a job. If you have a job or if you get one, call every creditor and collector and tell them that you want to honor your debt. Determine ahead of time what you can afford to pay. Do not agree to a payment you know you cannot honor. If your creditor agrees to your payment proposal, fine. If not, send the payment anyway and make sure you send it every month without fail. Send by money order, not check. This will show good faith and reduce your bill. If this fails, you may wish to seek assistance from a local non-profit credit counseling service. You can formally request that a collection agency stop contacting you. After this, they are obligated to stop and may only contact you specifically to:

  1. Note termination of collection procedure
  2. Note specific impending formal action against you such as a lawsuit.

Behavior Forbidden of Collection Agencies By Law

To prevent abuse and overly aggressive behavior, the law forbids certain actions by collection agencies. A collection agency or its employees may not:

  • Contact you at inopportune times. They must not contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Contact you at your place of employment if your working situation forbids this.
  • Use harassing or abusive language in communication with you. This includes obscenity or clearly offensive language.
  • Threaten to embarrass or publicly defame you or any other friends or relatives of yours.
  • Make the nature and status of your debt public.
  • Misrepresent themselves as anything other than what they are. They may not mislead you into believing they are agents of law enforcement or state or federal government.
  • Make threats implying intended action that it does not intend to take. The agency must be precise about whatever legal action it proposes to take against you. Contact a third party except to determine your location. They may not contact a particular third party more than once unless the third party requests it or if the third party gives erroneous information to the collection agency.
  • Inform a third party of your debt or of their status as a collection agency. Communication that divulges the nature of your debtor status is illegal.
  • Intentionally make calls at your expense, e.g. through collect calls.
  • Alter your outstanding debt by adding fees and interest charges foreign to your initial contract with the creditor or not mandated by law.
  • Request a check from you post-dated by more than five days unless they inform you in sufficient time prior to depositing the check. This information must be given between three and ten days before check is deposited.

It is not uncommon for collection agencies to break a number of the laws described above. If you experience any of these, you may contact the Federal Trade Commission at (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357) or the State Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing forms of consumer fraud in this country. If you have received statements regarding accounts you have not personally opened, or if unknown accounts appear on your credit report, you may have unknowingly been a victim of this crime. Click here for more information.


If you are the owner of property with tenants or a tenant yourself, there are certain rights that protect either party in certain legal situations (eviction, habitability, damage or deposit return etc.). If you feel that you need clarification regarding your legal rights as a landlord or as a tenant, Click here for more detailed information.

Legal Aid

Chain | Cohn | Clark provides free consultations for accident, injury, workers’ compensation, and other potential civil legal matters. Legal aid societies also provide free legal advice, representation, and other legal service to the economically disadvantaged. For information on Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, click here.

Name Changes

There are commercial services that offer do-it-yourself kits for legal name changes. In most cases this is an unnecessary expense. If you are seeking to have your name legally changed, click here for more details.

Small Claims

In the event of certain civil matters where damages do not exceed $7,500, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney. Small Claims Court is an available remedy if you wish to pursue your matter without having an attorney involved in the litigation process. For more information on Small Claims Court, click here for more details.

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