When someone falls victim to a scam, they often feel not only the financial damage that has been done but damage to their pride as well. If you have been defrauded by a business, you are likely going to want to seek justice. The first step you are going to want to take when attempting to fight consumer fraud is to report the offense to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Reporting fraud to the FTC is important, but it won’t help you to directly recover the money you have lost. The FTC will use the information you provide to investigate the company in question. They will work to stop the unfair business practices, bring the responsible parties to justice, and protect others from falling prey to the same scam. The FTC will also offer advice on how to recover your money.
Is It Worth It to File a Lawsuit?
Fortunately, there are often much quicker and easier ways to recover the money you lost. When you only lost a small amount of money, and the charge came through your credit card, if you catch it early enough, the credit card company will likely return the money to your card. However, in situations like this, if the money was not taken over a protected payment method like a credit card, you could simply be out of luck.
There are plenty of situations in which you can get your money back, but you will need to file a lawsuit in order to do so. You might worry about the cost and time involved in filing a lawsuit. In some cases, the amount of money lost isn’t enough to make a lawsuit worth your time, and you will be better off simply cutting your losses.
However, you should at least consult with a lawyer before making a decision on whether or not to pursue a lawsuit. There may already be a mass tort lawsuit against the company that defrauded you if they have done the same to many other consumers. Joining a mass tort lawsuit would not require the same time or financial commitment that filing a lawsuit on your own would require.
You can talk to these Minnesota mass tort lawyers to find out if there is an open lawsuit against the company from whom you hope to receive compensation.
Sometimes, the only path to getting your money back is to file a lawsuit directly.
What Happens When You File a Lawsuit Against a Company?
Filing a lawsuit against a company that has defrauded you is often much easier than suing a company in a product liability case or something similar. That is because many of the companies out there who are actively defrauding consumers do not have the same financial foundation as these bigger companies who have a single product that has failed to meet proper safety standards.
For instance, if you are filing a lawsuit against a contractor that took your money and did not complete the job they were paid to do, they are unlikely to have a high-priced legal team ready to take you on in court. In these types of situations, the company that has defrauded you will often present no defense at all. This will result in the judge delivering a default judgment in your favor.
Not only will you receive a ruling that covers the money you lost due to the behavior of the defendant, but all of your legal fees will also likely be covered in the ruling.
After Receiving a Judgment
Unfortunately, receiving a ruling in your favor does not mean that you will receive your money. The judgment is basically an IOU. Collecting what the defendant owes can be a whole other matter. In some cases, it is simple, and you will quickly receive the money you are owed shortly after the case gets settled. In other cases, though, the court battle is just the beginning.
In order to ensure you receive the money owed to you by the defendant, you must file a copy of the judgment in a county where you believe the defendant owns the property. Doing so will automatically place a lien against any real estate they own in the county. If the defendant tries to sell that property at any point, they will first have to pay you your money. However, receiving compensation in this manner can take years.
After filing the judgment with the county, you should file a “writ of execution”. This document will allow the sheriff’s department of the county to collect the money on your behalf. The sheriff will be able to do so by seizing the defendant’s bank accounts or selling their personal assets, including automobiles and real estate, in order to pay your judgment.
The best thing you can do to protect against fraud is to avoid it in the first place. Carefully research any company you plan to do business with and never send money to anyone you don’t know.