8 News NOW's Michelle Mortensen is looking out for Southern Nevadans. From scams and rip offs to consumer product alerts, Michelle and the 8 On Your Side Team are working to find solutions, solve problems, and expose those out to take advantage of you. If you've been scammed or been a victim of a deceptive business practice, let us know by sending us a note. You can also call 8 On Your Side at (702) 650-1907.
Q. Can you give me advice on my auto related problem?
A. Unfortunately, we are unable to help with certain auto related issues. However, numerous resources exist for consumers experiencing problems with the auto industry. For help with your specific problem, please contact one of the following:
Mechanic & Used Car Sale Complaints:
All mechanic and used car complaints are under the DMV's control. It is called OBL which stands for Occupational & Business Licensing. To file a report, go to www.dmvnv.com. Click on the business tab and look for the compliance enforcement complaint form. Once you have filled out the complaint form, get it notarized and then hand deliver it to the DMV office at 8250 West Flamingo. Once there, go to the licensing window to drop off your complaint and open up a case. Make sure you have all necessary receipts and documents with you at that time. While there, be sure to get your investigator's name and your case number.
For more information, you may also call the DMV directly at (702) 486-4368.
Recalls: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or (888) 327-4236
Business And/Or Product Questions
Q. If I have a question about a business where should I go to see if they are legitimate?
A. To learn more about a local business contact the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada http://southernnevada.bbb.org
6040 South Jones Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Q. If I have I a question about a product where should I go for more information?
A. To learn more about requirements for product advertisements, contact the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357. To access information about recalled products, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC can be reached at (800) 638-2772.
Cell Phone Telemarketing Calls
Q. I get telemarketing calls on my cell phone, what can I do to stop the calls?
A. Register your cell phone number with the national Do Not Call Registry. It's easy and free, and will help ensure that telemarketers don't even try calling your cell. You can get more information here: www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx
Q. Where do I go to check on a charity before I make a donation?
A. You can check on a charity's identification through the Nevada Attorney General's Website or through this guide they have produced:
The Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada also offers this service:
These sites will also allow you to view the charity's 1099 tax form, which shows you how much the organization raises, how much they use for the actual charity, and how much their management team makes. This should help you make an informed decision about whether you want to make a donation.
Q. I keep getting calls from a collection agency and I do/do not have a debt what should I do?
A. The recorded message encouraging you to call back, without saying what it is in regards to, is a typical tactic used by collection agencies. They will often track down a phone number of the person they think owes money to some company or other and they often get the wrong party. If you do have any outstanding debt, our advice is to pay it off as quickly as you can and get proof of the payments in writing. If you don't have any outstanding debt, go ahead and call the company back and ask what the call is about. If it is a collection agency, ask for proof of the debt in writing. Under federal law, they are required to provide you proof of debt if requested. If you feel you are being harassed by a collection agency, report them immediately to the Federal Trade Commission. Harassment to collect a debt is illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You can find more information about that here.
You can file a complaint with the FTC here.
Q. I am looking for a licensed contractor, where is the best resource to find one in my area?
A. Before you hire ANY contractor, please be sure to check licensing with the Nevada State Contractor's Board. http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com
There's also a service called Angie's List, which basically ranks service providers based on consumer opinions: This is also a subscription-only service.
Q. I believe I was taken advantage of/ripped-off by a contractor, plumber, or repairman. What should I do?
A. You're first step should be contacting the Nevada State Contractor's Board: www.nvcontractorsboard.com.
Once you file a complaint, they can investigate the repair or situation. If they find in your favor they can also help with restitution.
Q. I have a contract I want to get out of, where can I go to get help?
A. A signed contract is usually binding. Once a contract has been signed, or a purchase completed, there is little that can be done. For general questions, you can also contact the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC can be reached at 1-877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357). You can also contact a contract lawyer for advice.
Counterfeit Cashier's or Sweepstakes Checks
Q. I received a check in the mail and it looks real, how do I know if it's fake or not?
A. You can take it to your bank and have them inspect it. They may not be able to tell just by looking at it so they may cash the check, just don't touch the funds until you are sure it has cleared. That can take more than a week.
Remember, if you did not request the check, were not expecting the check, or you were given the check for services not yet rendered it is most likely a counterfeit check. If you were given the check with the instructions to wire a portion of the funds back to the sender, do not do it. That is a common scam that will leave you out a lot of cash.
Credit Card Receipts
Q. Can a business print my full credit card number on my receipt?
A. No. According to the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, only the last four or five digits of your card number can appear. That's why you see something like XXX-XXXX-1234 instead. Your card expiration date can't show either. This doesn't mean you shouldn't keep track of your receipts though. Scam artists who get their hands on even part of your card number can use it to phish for the whole number by posing as your credit card issuer or utility company over the phone. Remember, your card company will never call you and ask you to give them your whole card number.
Q. Can you recommend a credit counseling service to consolidate my debts?
A. The Financial Guidance Center, formerly the Consumer Credit Counseling service, in Las Vegas offers free credit counseling services, as well as other financial guidance. d
650 South Jones Blvd.,
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146
702-364-0344 | 800-451-4505 | 435-986-9223
Please also check the Federal Trade Commission website for tips on how to choose a credit counseling service.
Credit Report Errors
Q. Where can I go to fix problems or errors on my credit report?
A. The Federal Trade Commission website has a very helpful pamphlet on how to properly go about dispute errors on your credit report. Please note that you can always do this yourself and do not have to pay a service to "fix" your credit history.
Q. What is the best way to monitor my credit?
A. Although there are many legitimate credit monitoring services, most consumer advocacy groups say that you shouldn't have to pay for something you can easily do yourself. While 8 On Your Side can not make specific recommendations for services, there are many consumer groups that have articles on this subject. Here are a few websites which should provide helpful information for you if you are deciding whether or not to pay for credit monitoring:
Debt Collection - Zombie Debts
Q. A debt collection company is trying to collect a debt that is years old, what can I do?
A. Each state has its own statute of limitations. Under Nevada state law, there are several statutes of limitations:
Credit Cards NRS 104.3118: Statute of limitations is 6 years.
Consumer Lease NRS 104A.2506: Statute of limitations is 4 years.
Warranties NRS 116.4116: Statute of limitations is 6 years.
Debt-Management Services, (effective July 1, 2010), NRS 676A.780: Statute of limitations is 4 years.
Nevada Mortgage Foreclosure
The Nevada Department of Business and Industry offers a Nevada foreclosure help resource page Nevada residents should review. Nevada Chapter 1-7 — Deeds of Trust governs foreclosure and deficiency balances. Under Nevada law, the lender may recover any deficiency balance. However, if your servicer participates in the HAFA program, then it is barred from collecting a deficiency balance.
Nevada offers simple and effective foreclosure mediation for distressed homeowners who face foreclosure. See the State of Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program (FMP) pages at the Supreme Court of Nevada's Web site for details. If you receive a Notice of Default (NOD), consult with a Nevada lawyer who has experience with FMP. Eligible homeowners have 30 days after receiving a NOD to request mediation. At minimum, working within the FMP puts a hold on foreclosure during the mediation process. Homeowners in the FMP are advised to continue to pay their property taxes and insurance.
If you have specific questions about your debt, consult with an attorney licensed in Nevada and experienced in civil litigation to get precise answers to your questions.
Q. I got a call from a debt collector saying I woe them money. What do I do?
A. If a debt collector says you owe a debt, you must ask them for the details in writing.
If you don't dispute the debt in writing within 30 days, the debt collector has the right to assume the debt is valid. During the 30 day period, the collector can continue attempts to collect the debt from you until it receives your validation request. Have you ever had a debt get tossed from one collector to another over what seems like ages? At some point, the cycle has to stop, right? Right. Debts have sort of an expiration date known as the statute of limitations that keeps debt collectors, and even the original creditor, from pursuing it indefinitely. Before you agree to pay an old debt, first make sure the statute of limitations hasn't expired. If it has, you might not have to pay.
Two Time Limits For Debts
A lot of people get the statute of limitations confused with the credit reporting time limit. While they're both time limits related to debt, they have different effects. The credit reporting time limit is the max amount of time credit bureaus can report delinquent debts on your credit report. For most types of accounts, it's seven years from the date of delinquency. However, bankruptcies are reported for 10 years and tax liens can be reported for up to 15 years. The credit reporting time limit is dictated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and does not influence the statute of limitations for collecting a debt. The statute of limitations for collecting a debt is the period of time that a creditor or collector can use the court to force you to pay for a debt. The time period starts on the account's last date of activity and varies by state.
How to Use the Statute To Your Advantage
The statute of limitations starts on the last date of activity on the account. (Keep in mind this can be different from the date the account went past due.) Your credit report will include the account's last date of activity. Even if the statute of limitations has expired, some debt collectors will continue to attempt to collect. They're hoping you don't know about the statute of limitations and you'll pay up if they threaten you enough. They may even file a lawsuit against you. If you are certain the statute of limitations has expired, you can use that fact as justification that you do not have to pay the debt. Be careful not to restart the statute of limitations. Anytime you take an action with an account, the statute of limitations is restarted. Making a payment, making a promise of payment, entering a payment agreement, or making a charge using the account can restart the statute of limitations on an account. When the clock restarts, it restarts at zero, no matter how much time had elapsed before the activity.
What's My Statute Of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is usually between three and six years, but is as high as 15 years in some states. Use this Complete List of Statute of Limitations by State to get the debt statute of limitations for your state. If you recently moved, sneaky debt collectors might try to use your home state for the statute of limitations, especially if that time limit is longer than of the state you currently reside. This would give a collector more time to collect on the debt. Some debts don't have a statute of limitations. This includes federal student loans, child support in some states, and income taxes.
What the Statute Of Limitations Does Not Do
Keep in mind when the statute of limitations expires, it only prevents a collector from winning a judgment against you when you can prove the statute of limitations has indeed expired. It does not:
Statute of Limitation in Nevada is 4 years.
Do Not Call Violations
Q. I am on the Do Not Call List and I am still getting calls, what can I do?
A. If you are getting unwanted calls you will need to start keeping a log of the date and time of the call, as well as the company name.
Get a specific employee name if possible. Inform them calmly that they are in violation of federal law and that you will exercise your legal right to sue them for $500 per call if they continue to contact you. Also, inform them that you are filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and make sure to follow-up on that. You can file a complaint online.
We also suggest that you contact the company in question to let them know you are being wrongfully harassed by someone claiming to be with their company. Give them information you have on the caller (the number off your caller ID, dates & times of calls, etc.). Inform them you will pursue legal action if necessary to make the calls stop.
Q. I am constantly getting credit card offers in the mail, what can I do to relieve some of the offers?
A. 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688) is the legitimate toll-free number that connects you with a service run jointly by the three national credit bureaus. They are the ones who have a legal right to sell your name for credit card, insurance and other financial solicitations. However, you can call this number and "opt out." The credit bureaus were ordered by Congress to create this shared one-call opt-out system in 1996.
Flood Damaged Cars
Q. Where do I check to see if a car I want to buy was ever in a flood?
A. Before making a car purchase it is advisable to have a certified mechanic do a thorough check of the car before you make any purchase. They can look specifically for possible signs of flood damage, such as: corrosion, rust or stains in areas where water normally wouldn't or shouldn't reach. You should also check the carpet and upholstery in the interior and trunk for a musty or moldy smell.
The databases you can use to check the car's VIN:
Free Credit Reports
Q. I want to get my free credit report, how do I go about this?
A. You can order your free credit reports from the 3 major credit bureaus by going to this website: www.annualcreditreport.com. If you try to order it from any other source you will have to pay for it.
Please be advised: if you order your report online, you will only see your reports right then and there, on the screen, although you will have the option to print them.
You can get a hard copy by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Gift Card / Gift Certificate Expiration
Q. Can a gift card or gift certificate expire?
A. Yes, they can. You need to check with the issuer if it has an expiration date. You can ask a business to honor an expired gift card but they are under no obligation to do so.
Q. I am a victim of identity theft, what should I do?
A. The first step is to report the identity theft to Law Enforcement. When filing a police report, ask for more information on the Nevada Identity Theft Program. You can call the Nevada Attorney General's office for more information on this program at 1-877-213-5227. You'll also want to contact credit reporting companies to report that you are an identify theft victim.
The Federal Trade Commission has extensive information on what to do if your personal information is stolen.
Q. I get junk faxes on my home fax machine, how can I stop this?
A. Unfortunately, despite the illegality of junk faxes, the government has done little to provide real consumer protections. You can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission
To file a complaint, call 1-888-225-5322 or go to the FCC's website.
Q. How can I stop the junk mail I receive to my home?
A. If you want off as many national mailing lists as possible, your first step is to contact the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS).
You can do so online: https://www.dmachoice.org/ When you register, your name and address are placed in a "do not mail" file which is updated monthly and distributed to DMA members quarterly. DMA members are required to update their lists at least quarterly, and some do it monthly.
If you are receiving a lot of financial solicitations (which is typical especially after you buy or refinance a home), you should opt-out with the three national credit bureaus, who have a legal right to sell your name for credit card, insurance and other financial solicitations. However, you can call 1-888-5OPT-OUT (888-567-8688) and "opt out."
Landlord / Tenant
Q. I am a landlord/tenant and having an issue, where can I go for advice?
A. This site www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-118a.html lists the Nevada statues regarding the obligations of landlords and tenants.
This HUD website also lists landlord tenant obligations:
Legal Aid of Southern Nevada's Ask A Lawyer program also handles landlord and tenant questions:
If you are facing an eviction you can find a great deal of information on the Clark County courts website:
If you are concerned that your dwelling is a health hazard you can call the tenant landlord hotline with the Southern Nevada Health District. 702- 759-0697.
If you have questions about your security deposit, check out this information from Nevada Legal Services. http://www.nlslaw.net/landlordtenant.html#security deposits
If you think your dwelling is in violation of city or county codes, please contact code enforcement.
Las Vegas City Code Enforcement: 229-6615 Clark County Code Enforcement: 702) 455-0000 or 702-455-4191 or 500 South Grand Central Parkway Las Vegas, NV 89155
You can also call Nevada Tenant Rights with any of your concerns. 383-6095
Q. If I move out of my apartment is my landlord required to give me my security deposit back?
A. No. There are many factors that determine whether or not your deposit will be refunded.
For a clear definition of what the law requires check out this site from Nevada Legal Services: www.nlslaw.net/landlordtenant.html#security deposits
Q. Can 8 On Your Side assist me if I currently have a lawyer/attorney working on my consumer complaint?
A. Unfortunately, we can not get involved in any case in which you have retained legal counsel. If you are receiving legal advice from a paid professional, your consumer rights should be adequately protected.
Q. Where do I find information about hiring an attorney?
A. If you need help finding a lawyer you can go to the Nevada Bar Association's webpage for assistance: www.nvbar.org
Q. Where can I go to get loan modification advice?
A. The federal government has a great deal of information on the topic. You can go directly to their website here.
You can also contact HARP – the Home Affordable Refinance Program:
Nevadans may also be eligible for free money from the Nevada Hardest Hit Fund. You can call them at 855-428-4357 or you can visit them in person at 205 E. Warm Springs Road, Suite 105 Las Vegas, NV 89119.
Assistance can also be found at the Financial Guidance Center in Las Vegas: www.financialguidancecenter.org
2650 South Jones Blvd., Las Vegas, Nevada 89146
702-364-0344 | 800-451-4505 | 435-986-9223
You can also receive information about assistance at the Woman's Development Center by calling 702-796-7770.
Unfortunately, 8 On Your Side can not help you with your loan modification, short sale or foreclosure.
Q. Where can I get help if I am having problems with my lender and modifying my home?
A. If you are having problems getting your lender to modify your home mortgage or if you have paid a third-party company to help you but they have not performed as promise, the following free help is available:
Go to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov or call (888) 995-4673 for getting modification help from the Federal government Department of Health and Urban Development. They will contact your lender to try to negotiate on your behalf. Finally, the Federal Trade Commission would be interested in hearing your consumer complaint.
Unfortunately, 8 On Your Side can not help you with your loan modification, short sale or foreclosure.
Q. I received an email and/or letter in the mail saying I won a lottery; is this a scam?
A. Most likely it is. International lotteries are a very common type of scam. If you never purchased a lottery ticket it is very unlikely you would win a lottery. If you are required to pay taxes and fees on your winnings up front, that is a red flag that this is a scam. Unfortunately, fraudsters even use common sweepstakes names like Publisher's Clearinghouse to scam you. The following link has some great information on how to avoid sweepstakes and lottery scams. info.pch.com/consumer-information/fraud-protection
Also, it is illegal in the U.S. to purchase lottery tickets from other countries by phone or mail. Yet scammers continue to attempt to trick innocent consumers into believing they have won. In any case, the notification you received is, unfortunately, probably one of those scams. Please read the information from the Federal Trade Commission's website.
Medical Insurance Issues
Q. I have a problem with my medical insurance, can you assist me?
A. Unfortunately, we are unable to assist in cases that involve health insurance due to HIPPA laws. However you can contact the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Consumer Health Assistance program to assist you. dhhs.nv.gov/CHA.htm
Mystery Shopper / Secret Shoppers
Q. I received an offer online and/or in the mail to be a Mystery Shopper, is this legitimate?
A. Unfortunately, we are prohibited from answering specific inquiries or providing recommendations about products or services. However, here is information on mystery shopping from the Federal Trade Commission.
Q. What is the Nigerian scam?
A. The so-called "Nigerian" scam that has been around for about a decade. Here is some helpful information about them from the Federal Trade Commission.
Q. I received an email asking me to enter my account number and personal information with a company I already do business with, is this is scam?
A. This is indeed a scam, commonly known as "phishing." Please read the following information from the Federal Trade Commission.
Small Claims Court
Q. I want to file a small claims court case, where do I go for information?
A. If your dispute involves an amount under $7500, you may wish to contact Small Claims Court for assistance. Filing fees are moderate and the process is straight forward. Each county also has a Small Claims Advisor, whose services are free. Information on the small claims process is available online. You can also request written information by calling the Department of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-952-5210.
Q. I received a letter in the mail from a company claiming I am owed money, is it true?
A. It's highly possible that the government is holding some money for you, but you do NOT have to pay anything to get it! Businesses like "U.S. Claims Service" will try to get you to pay them to get the money for you. But the truth is, you can do it yourself very easily, and for FREE! All you need to do is check with the state controller's office to see if you do have money coming to you. You fill out a claim form, mail it in, wait for them to verify that you are who you say you are, and they'll mail you a check. Anytime someone owes you money, you shouldn't have to pay anything to recover it.
Here is the website you can go to in order to check if you have money from the state: scoweb.sco.ca.gov/UCP
Again, all you do is fill out the government's form, and you should get the check -- for FREE -- although it may take several weeks.
Q. I received merchandise in the mail that I never ordered, what do I do?
A. Federal laws prohibit mailing unordered merchandise to consumers and then demanding payment, so if you receive something you didn't ask for, you have a right to keep it without paying for it. If it's something expensive, that you're worried you might be held liable for, you could write to the company that sent it, let them know you didn't order it, and that they have 30 days from the date of the letter to pick it up on their dime. If they don't, you can keep it with a clear conscience. Make sure you send that letter return receipt requested or certified, so you have a record. Here's more information from the Federal Trade Commission.
Q. Are work-at-home programs legitimate?
A. Unfortunately, we have rarely - if ever - encountered a work-at-home program that really was legitimate. We are prohibited from providing recommendations for or against specific products or services but we can, however, tell you that state and federal regulators have issued warnings about many work-at-home schemes.
Here are some links with helpful information:
Q. My employer has not paid me for work rendered. What can I do?
A. The first thing you need to do is file a wage claim form with the Labor Commissioner.
They will investigate your claim and get you any money that is owed you in a timely matter. Most people we've sent to their office have their money in about 30 days.
Senior Citizen Assistance
Q. I am a senior in need of help. Is there anywhere I can go for assistance?
A. We have so many great resources for senior citizens in Nevada.
If you have a legal matter, try the Senior Citizen Law Project.
They provides free legal counsel and assistance to Clark County residents age 60 and older. Clients are responsible for applicable filing fees and other court costs.
Clark County also has a Senior Advocacy program. They coordinate and disseminate information gathered from governmental agencies, health agencies, local groups and organizations, utility companies, businesses and service programs that provide assistance to valley seniors.
Please call for more information (702) 455-7051.
And this link will provide you information for several senior citizen services in Southern Nevada:
Food and Housing Assistance
Q. Where can my family get food assistance?
A. There are so many food banks in Southern Nevada.
Here are just a few places where you can get a meal or groceries"
Q. Is there housing or shelters available for the homeless?
A. Yes. Women and Children are welcome at the Shade Tree: www.theshadetree.org
Anyone is welcome at The Las Vegas Rescue Mission and Salvation Army:
Men are welcome at Catholic Charities: catholiccharities.com
Buying a Home - Refunds
Q. Can I get my earnest deposit refunded is I am unable to purchase a home?
A. Earnest money is the deposit money that you place into an escrow account when you are purchasing a property. Earnest money deposits are always made according to the real estate contract that has been drawn up and signed by all of the parties in the transaction.
For example, an earnest money agreement between the buyer and the seller of the property may state that the buyer is required to place $1,000 in earnest money as an initial down payment when the contract is signed and then another 5% of the purchase price within 1 week of signing the contract. All of the earnest money deposits that are made during the real estate transaction are applied to the down payment and/or the closing costs, so earnest money deposits are not extra costs to the buyer but rather up front payment of costs. The initial earnest money deposit is also known as a good faith deposit because it shows "good faith" that the buyer truly intends to go through with the real estate transaction.
Whether or not earnest money payments are refundable depends on the real estate contract itself. If properly negotiated, a contract will call for all earnest money deposits to be returned if the terms of the contract are not fulfilled. For example, a real estate contract for a purchase usually has a stipulation that states that the buyer must apply and be approved for mortgage financing within a certain amount of time. If the buyer applies for a mortgage but is denied financing then the earnest money deposit can be returned to the buyer. As well, a contract might state that the seller has marketable title. If a title search reveals that the seller doesn't, then the earnest money can be refunded.
Watch out though. It is not uncommon for contracts to explicitly state that there will be no refund of earnest money under any condition. This is why it is so important to have a real estate attorney draw up a contract or to fully understand the terms of the contract. Even if earnest money must be refunded, don't be surprised if it is less than the amount of the deposits that have been made.
Often, third party fees are paid out of earnest money deposits. For example, if an appraisal has been completed on the property then the appraisal fee is going to have to be paid before money can be released to either of the parties. As well, many states have laws requiring the buyer and the seller to agree on the disbursement of these funds before they are refunded, which can lead to further problems and legal action, diminishing the value of the refund by the time and money spent on legal wrangling. Depending on the reason for the refund of the earnest money, it may be better just to walk away and forfeit the deposits.
Q. Can I get free medical or dental care in Las Vegas?
A. Yes, Operation Hope provides a variety of free medical services:
968 East Sahara Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89104