The Consumer Law Team provides representation, advocacy, advice and assistance to eligible applicants with consumer-related problems.
The Consumer Law Team provides representation, advocacy, advice and assistance to eligible applicants with consumer-related problems. The types of matters we handle include problems with contracts and warranties, fraudulent home repair, deceptive trade practices and acts by sellers, mobile home contracts and repossessions, predatory lending and other unfair or fraudulent banking practices, fraudulent auto sales and repair, unfair debt collection practices, access to credit, insurance fraud, and public utility problems. The Consumer Practice Group provides assistance with Chapter 7 bankruptcy to eligible applicants on a limited basis.
TRLA also provides assistance and representation to elderly clients for whom consumer-related matters can be especially challenging, particularly where there has been fraud or other deceptive trade practices designed to deceive elderly customers for profit.
Eligible applicants seeking to apply for assistance from the Consumer Practice Group must be prepared to fax, mail or bring to a TRLA office copies of all documents regarding the consumer matter in question as part of the application process. Incomplete documentation provided to our office may result in delays in the TRLA review process, and lack of documentation may make it difficult for TRLA to provide detailed assistance or representation.
Alternatives to Legal Representation
Because our resources are limited, TRLA is unable to provide representation to everyone who applies for our services, but we try to provide at least some advice and counsel to everyone who applies. We are able to represent only a small number of clients each year. Many consumer-related matters can be handled without legal assistance. In fact, sometimes problems can be resolved is the customer writes a letter to the business explaining their problem and describing what type of relief is desired. Sometimes this will involve asking the business to conduct an investigation of the customer’s account and to take steps to rectify a particular problem.
If this doesn’t work, then at least the customer has made an effort to resolve the problem before resorting to legal action. Many state and federal agencies that regulate certain businesses will receive written complaints by customers and will then review a consumer-related matter, but they usually require the customer to have contacted the business first for resolution before getting involved.
Small Claims Court
If these initial steps do not resolve the matter, there are situations that may be suitable for small claims court. In Texas, small claims courts can hear cases involving money damages of $10,000 or less. You do not need a lawyer to represent yourself in small claims court. A small claims court judge can only award money. He or she cannot force another party to do or not do an act. How to File in Small Claims Court
TRLA may only provide services to applicants who are financially eligible to receive free legal services. TRLA does not provide representation in debt collection or other consumer matters where there is no valid defense.