The Truth About Consumer Law – Separating Fact from Fiction

Debunking Consumer Myths

If you’re facing legal issues related to consumer law in Dallas, TX, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Many people believe common myths about consumer law, which can lead to confusion and costly mistakes. As an experienced consumer attorney, Sharon K. Campbell has seen it all. She debunks the top ten consumer law myths about landlord-tenant disputes, credit reporting, and auto fraud, providing the clarity and guidance you need to protect your rights and interests.

Let me put my experience to work for you!

According to Texas law …

Myth 1 – A contract may be canceled within 3 days.

Contracts are final when made. The only exception to the general rule is when a salesman comes to your home and sells you something, such as aluminum siding or a vacuum. In those cases, where the contract is made in your home, or in a location other than the business location, the law allows you ten days to cancel a contract. There is no such rule in other contracts.

Myth 2 – You can be arrested for failure to pay a debt.

No, not in the United States of America. There are no debtors’ prisons here. Failure to pay a debt is a CIVIL matter, not criminal.

Myth 3 – A financing company or bank must give advance notice of intent to repossess.

No, no requirement for advance notice.

Myth 4 – When your car is repossessed, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, you have no further obligation of payment.

In most circumstances, not true. You are responsible for the full amount of the amount financed. When the car is repossessed, the creditor must sell it and apply the proceeds to your account. If there is a deficiency, you are liable for the balance.

Myth 5 – A divorce decree can remove a spouse’s liability from joint liability such as a mortgage, car payment, or credit card account.

Not true Not unless the credit card company, auto finance company, or mortgage company was a party to your divorce lawsuit. Otherwise, the terms of the contract between you and the credit card company or financing company control; not your divorce decree. If an agreement was made about payments to be made by your ex-spouse which are not kept, you have a claim against your ex-spouse, but not against the credit card company or financing company.

Myth 6 – If my car stops working, I may stop making payments.

Failure to make payment is a default under most financing contracts. Most financing contracts (and Texas law) allow for a creditor to repossess a vehicle if the contract is in default. As long as the repossession is conducted without force, does not involve entry into a building, and does not breach the peace, a creditor may repossess a vehicle.

Myth 7 – If I fail to pay a debt, my wages may be garnished.

Not in Texas. The Texas Constitution prohibits creditors from garnishing wages to collect a debt. The only exceptions are for child support, the IRS, and federally guaranteed student loans. Your homestead is also protected from creditors.

Myth 8 – A Notice to Vacate must be delivered by a Constable.

The property code provides that the landlord must serve the notice to vacate by mail, hand delivery, or posting on the inside of the door.

Myth 9 – If my landlord serves me with a Notice to Vacate, I must move out.

If you move out following receipt of a Notice to Vacate, you will be breaking your lease. In order to evict you, the landlord is required to serve you a Notice to Vacate, then file the eviction lawsuit and prove his case in Court. You are not evicted until a Justice of the Peace says you are evicted. Even then, you have five days to move out or you may file an appeal to the County Court.

Myth 10 – If I buy a used car from a car dealer, which breaks down, I may sue under the lemon law.

The Lemon law applies to new cars only. As a general rule, buying a used car with no warranty makes you responsible for repairs that need to be made after the purchase of the vehicle. There may be other remedies if the dealer misrepresents certain facts or violates other laws, but just because a used car breaks down does not mean you have a cause of action against the car dealer.
For more consumer law myth-busting visit my blog!

Frequently Asked Questions

Credit Card Lawsuits

What does it mean if I am served with a lawsuit?

It means a credit card company or a debt buyer has filed suit in court alleging that you owe them a debt and they are asking the Court to award them judgment for the debt they say you owe plus attorney fees and court costs.

What is a debt buyer?

A debt buyer is a company who bought your debt from the original credit card company and is now trying to collect what they claim you owed on the credit card by filing suit in its (the debt buyer’s) name.

If I am sued, what should I do?

Unless the suit is for a small amount, it is usually a good idea to hire a lawyer to represent you. There are defenses that may be raised, there are burdens of proof the creditors have which a lawyer experienced in credit card defense knows to raise. Often debt buyers are unable to produce the necessary documents to prove their claim.

Once you have been served with a lawsuit, deadlines begin. You have a certain length of time to file an answer or response with the Court. In Justice Court suits, you have until the Monday following ten days after service, so action must be taken promptly. In county or district courts, the deadline is the Monday following twenty days after service. If you have been sued and want to defend the suit, call me. I have handled many many cases to a good end for my clients.

Debt Collection

Can a debt collector call me at work?

Yes, but if you tell them you cannot take or accept collection calls at work and request them to stop, they must stop. The best practice is to send them a letter, either faxed or sent by certified mail. If the collectors continue calling, there is a case for action against them under debt collection laws.

Can I stop a debt collector from calling me?

Yes, send them a letter requesting they cease and desist from all communication with you.

Can a debt collector call third parties and tell them about the debt they are collecting?

A debt collector may call third parties in an attempt to locate a debtor, but may not reveal any personal information or the nature of the call.

Is it legal for a debt collector to try to collect an old debt?

Yes, as long as they do not threaten to take any action which they cannot legally take. If the debt is barred by limitations, it is a violation for a debt collector to threaten to file suit. Since a creditor cannot garnish wages in Texas, it would be a violation to threaten to garnish wages.

Does a debt collector have to give me verification (validation of the debt)?

Yes, if you request it within thirty days of their written demand letter, they must verify the amount of the debt and the original creditor.

Credit Reporting

What do I do if my identity is stolen?

Contact the creditors involved. Cancel your accounts and request the cards be re-issued with a new account number. Most large banks or credit card companies have fraud departments and have their own forms or affidavits for you to fill out. If someone has changed the address on any of your accounts, report it to the Post Office.

The Federal Trade Commission has a great deal of information about identity theft and also has a good form of affidavit to fill out. Send a copy of the affidavit to all creditors and to each of the credit reporting agencies. Request each agency put a freeze on your credit report.

How can I check my credit report? You are entitled to one free credit report from each credit reporting agency each year. Also, if you are turned down for credit, you may request a free report from the credit reporting agency used by the creditor.

How do I make a dispute about something wrong on my credit report?

Send a written letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies disputing the error. Tell them what the error is and why it is wrong. Send a copy of your driver’s license and social security card to verify your identity and copies of any documentation you have showing the reporting is in error. Dispute with the creditor reporting the erroneous information.

How long can a debt be reported on my credit report?

In most cases, seven years. Bankruptcy can be reported for ten years. Tax liens may be reported for five years after the release of the lien.

Car Dealer Fraud


If you miss an installment payment or breach your finance agreement, the finance company or bank can repossess your vehicle without a court order or any court involvement. Technically, if you are one day late in making a payment, the bank has grounds for repossession. The bank or finance company may repossess as long as they do not breach the peace.

Does the bank have to give notice before repossession?


What is a “breach of the peace”?

The equivalent of disorderly conduct. Texas courts have found the following to be breaches of the peace: a creditor (or repossession company) taking a set of car keys from the consumer, fighting with the consumer; breaking and entering the consumer’s garage or behind a locked fence, causing damage to property.

Can I get my car back after it is repossessed?

Yes, if you are able to pay the entire balance due plus repossession charges. The bank or finance company is required to give you notice after the repossession of its intention to sell the car, the date when it is to be sold, and the balance due on the vehicle.

If my car is repossessed, does that extinguish any debt?

Usually, no. The bank or finance company will sell the vehicle, apply the proceeds to the debt and you will be responsible for the deficiency balance.

What if the bank or finance company does not follow the law in its repossession?

If the bank or finance company breaches the peace, if they do not send the proper post-notice letter or if they do not handle the sale of your vehicle in a commercially reasonable manner, you may have a claim against them for actual and statutory damages and you may be able to prevent them from obtaining a deficiency judgment against you. If you believe you have a claim contact me.

Can a mechanic repossess my car if I fail to pay for repairs?

Yes. A mechanic is not required to return your car to you until you pay for the repairs. If you pay for the repairs with a bad check, or if the payment on the check is stopped, the mechanic may repossess your car. Like any other repossession, the mechanic may not breach the peace.

What is a car dealer required to disclose?

According to the Texas Motor Vehicle Dealer Manual, put out by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, many dealers believe that if vehicle damage falls below a certain dollar amount, it does not have to be disclosed to consumers. There is no law or court decision supporting that position.

Failure to disclose damages of any dollar amount may be a deceptive trade practices act violation.

A car dealer is required to disclose flood damage, if the car has a salvage or branded title, or if it is a lemon law buyback.

What is Odometer fraud?

If the odometer reading in a vehicle history report, odometer disclosure, seller’s advertisement, or other document does not match the actual mileage of the vehicle, you may have a claim for violation of the Odometer statute (Motor Vehicle Information and Savings Act).
Have you found yourself being harassed by debt collectors or are experiencing other consumer legal troubles?

Sharon K. Campbell, Attorney at Law
3500 Oak Lawn Ave
Suite 110
Dallas, Texas 75219

Phone: 214-351-3260
Fax: 214-443-6055

Board Certified

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The results of all legal matters depend on a variety of factors unique to each case; past successes do not predict or guarantee future success. The information contained in this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the creation of any attorney/client relationship.