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Exposing the Great InvisaLIE: Vivera Retainers Last Only a Few Months and Your Dentist Wants To Keep It a Secret!

Ever wonder why your teeth shift when you’re wearing your retainers 20 plus hours a day? Or why it is that when you change to your second or third set, the new retainer is surprisingly tight? Weren’t these all supposed to be made to the same spec?

The reason for this is crystal clear: Your Vivera retainers have worn out and are no longer retaining properly. Your dentist or orthodontist knows all about these limitations. They’ve read the studies. They’ve heard these complaints from other patients. And they’ve received personalized training from Invisalign on what this product can do. So why do they claim these retainers can last for years? (When yours lasted only for a few months!)

Welcome to the Great InvisaLIE

For how I was a victim see my story below.1 But first, here are the facts supported by Invisalign’s own press releases!

Yes, Invisalign aligners can straighten your teeth. But don’t count on their Vivera retainers to keep them that way. Whether you maintain these retainers perfectly, or just like the average person, your teeth could start shifting in less than 3 months!

Why The Lie?
Last year, Invisalign made $3.9 billion in annual sales.1 And their 256 thousand doctor customers have made billions more selling Invisalign to almost 17 million patients.1 2 So it’s all about the money.

The big draw to both Invisalign aligners and retainers, is that you can fix your teeth fairly quickly and not need braces or visible retainers to keep them that way. Indeed, the Invisalign website boasts that “Invisalign aligners are customized for each patient and are virtually invisible, making them a desirable option when compared to other teeth straightening methods such as braces.”1

This near invisibility is a key Invisalign selling point. And it resonates with the patients who were never told that after aligners, they must still wear their Vivera retainers, full time, both day and night, for 3-9 months!1 2 So the lifespan of Vivera retainers is crucial. If it’s too short to keep your teeth straight, why bother with Invisalign? And if it costs extra but requires huge, clunky non-clear retainers, then you’ve paid a fortune for invisible treatment that is no longer invisible.

Your doctor knows exactly what’s at stake. Invisalign is their bread and butter.1 So if you complain that your Vivera retainers aren’t working, they’ll claim your case is unique and offer you other money draining options, such as fixed retainers. Or they may say it’s your own fault because you didn’t maintain your retainer to some exacting impossible standard.

But don’t you believe them! Their claims of how long these retainers last are outrageously exaggerated. Just compare these to what Invisalign says about their own product. With such a vast disconnect, someone here has got to be lying!

Claims on Vivera Lifespan Range from 10 Years to 3 Months!
Just how do Invisalign providers determine how long Vivera retainers last? Is it by voodoo? Is it astrology? Or do they predict these things by Tarot cards? Just check out the divergent claims below! Where exactly do they get their data from?

  • 10 years but can be less1 2
  • 4 years with proper care1
  • 2 years but sometimes sooner1 2
  • Several years if cared for1
  • 3 years for a set of 41
  • 5 years with proper care1
  • 3 months to 2+ years1
  • 3-9 months with proper care1
  • 3 months if worn full time, 9 months if at night1
    (most accurate but the least common response)

The Actual Claims Made by Invisalign
Invisalign never states an exact time when their Vivera retainers stop retaining. But if you can do 4th grade math, you’ll find that they do refer to their retainer lifespan. (It’s buried in their ancient press releases.)

Turns our that Invisalign retainers last about 2.6 months (assuming your retainers don’t crack or break before then).

Retainer Durability v. Strength (Strength Is Key!)
The Invisalign website says “BUILT TO LAST LONGER Vivera retainer material is also at least 30% stronger and twice as durable as other leading clear retainer materials.1 In footnote 3, at the bottom of the page, they explain that Durability means “The ability to withstand cracking and breakage of the retainer.1

Strength is verified by retention force, the ability of the retainer to provide sufficient corrective mechanical loads to retain teeth in their defined positions.1

So durability is how long these retainers stay intact if you drop them or expose them to stress. While strength, is how long these retainers will keep your teeth from shifting.

So strength is key here. But what does this mean in terms of Vivera retainer shelf life? We still need to know just how long these retainers last. But fear not! This mystery is revealed in an Invisalign Jan 8, 2008 press release.1 Here, in paragraph 4, we learn that Vivera retainers are made to last for about 2.6 months! After that, Invisalign is unwilling to publicly attest to their strength in keeping your teeth aligned.

The Smoking Gun
Back in 2008, the Invisalign parent company, Align Technology, Inc., boasted that “Align’s lab tests show that Vivera’s proprietary thermoplastic material is more than 30 percent stronger than the clear retainers used by their competitors” and that “strength is a key quality for retaining teeth in their final position.” At this point, Align tells us that the leading retainers being referred to “begin to deform after as little as two months of simulated daytime wear, impacting their ability to maintain teeth in their final retained position.”1

Conclusion about Vivera Retainer Lifespan
In a perfect world where your Vivera retainers remain whole and strength is the only factor, such will retain teeth in their defined positions for 30% longer than those leading retainers that last for 2 months. This means the expected lifespan of Vivera retainers is 2.6 months! But to be fair, let’s agree that more than 30% strength=3 months. 

And what do you know! Invisalign agrees with this. In the same paragraph of the Jan 8, 2008 press release, just after boasting about their retainer strength, they then roll out an exciting new Vivera retainer subscription plan: a plan which offers a new retainer every three months!1

But thanks to the Way Back Machine, it gets better than that! In a long defunct website specifically for Vivera Retainers, they admit these retainers last for only 3 months and that if you wear them longer than that “your teeth may not be in “working retention.” So “this is why we’re delivering Vivera retainers every three months.” 1

This is the smoking gun. Here, Invisalign confirms that these retainers don’t last much longer than that.

With Invisalign, Patients Are Promised a Square Circle
From the outset, these patients are never told the true cost and commitment of using Invisalign. They don’t even know the right questions to ask, and the doctor providers seem to take full advantage of that.

On Reddit, Invisalign patients will often complain they must wear their Vivera retainers day and night (and well beyond the 3 month limit these were tested for).1 Some, were quite surprised because they were never told that this extended full-time wear was common and to be expected.1 This omission is also part of the Great InvisaLIE.

So patients are promised a square circle. In order to keep their teeth straight, they must now keep wearing worn out retainers which can no longer keep their teeth straight!

But you may ask, what happens next when their teeth inevitably start to shift? Well, at that point, the helpful doctor can suggests costly alternatives such as lingual braces, or more robust retainers. It’s a fantastic win-win for the orthodontist; but an abysmal lose-lose for the patient.

Does Invisalign Protect the False Claims of Their Providers by Almost Never Referring to How Long These Retainers Last?
Of interest, is that Invisalign has long since discontinued their 3 month retainer replacement program. If they offer something similar, it never hints about a short retainer lifespan.

They’ve even discontinued their Viveraretainers.com website-the one where they reveal directly that Vivera retainers last for 3 months, hence the replacement plan.1 See below how in 2011, Invisalign glibly edges away from their statements made in 2008. Keep in mind it’s the same retainer replacement program!

In 2008, they said “This is why we’re delivering Vivera retainers every three months – keeping your patients in working retention.”1 But in 2011, they try to obfuscate the three month lifespan through misdirection. Instead, it’s a bundle of 4 which is shipped over time. Where in 2008, the purpose was to keep patients’ teeth in working retention, a fancy term for keeping their teeth straight, now, the purpose is to accommodate each patients unique retention needs.” Very slick: But misleading as these retainers degrade after 3 months regardless.

But tricks aside, is Invisalign still keeping their retainer lifespan on the quiet?

Amidst all their current promotions, almost none tell you how long these retainers last. For example: a Google search for the word “Vivera” returns hundreds of hits from the Align Tech website.1 But when you search for terms on retainer lifespan you find only three!1 These references are all buried in their old company press releases from 2007, 2008 and 2018.

In the first two from 2007 and 2008, both say that “strength is a key quality for retaining teeth in their final position.” But not so in the later 2018 press release, which focused on retainer duration. Here, strength is downplayed and this exact phrase has been removed.1 Of interest, is that I could find no modern references to retainer lifespan after 2018. Why is this?

Does Invisalign’s Webpage Assist Providers with False Advertising by Deliberately Diverting Attention Away from Retainer Lifespan?
Invisalign’s current webpage looks much like their Jan 2008 Press release. It too talks about strength and durability. It too boasts that Vivera retainers last 30% more than leading retainers. But unlike their early press releases, they no longer refer to the two month lifespan of their competitors. Nor do they explain what 30% more means in terms of months or years. Instead, they slyly divert attention elsewhere to the brand names of their competition, all the while, skirting the real issue of just how long these retainers actually last.1

So why would Invisalign do this? What good is it to intentionally keep patients in the dark? Could it be they know their provider doctors are lying about Vivera retainer lifespan? Could it be that an ignorant public would be less apt to sue Invisalign’s customers for false advertising? If true, this sounds a lot like aiding and abetting.

Indeed, Invisalign has the best of both worlds. They make billions off their provider dentists and orthodontists. And if any of these providers lie about their product, Invisalign can always claim they had no part in it-they never knew of it, or if they did know, it’s still not their fault.

But is that really the case? Their clever gimmicks aside, could they be at fault anyway? Could it be that Invisalign is so enmeshed in training, marketing, and distributing that they are legally complicit as well?

Shouldn’t We Believe Invisalign When They Tell Their Providers “Invis Is by Your Side” “Align has you covered” and is “Supporting Your Practice at Every Stage?”
The message here is clear. Sell more Invisalign and you’ll do just fine! We’ll help you in every way, including how to market to consumers. And so Invisalign paves the way for their providers to keep on lying. They either approve of their false advertising, or imply they will eagerly look the other way.

Indeed, on their provider resource page, they even pitch to their doctor customers that “Clear aligners gross revenue per visit is 46.8% higher than braces.1 (An obvious incentive for dentists to offer patients even more Invisalign.)

Elsewhere, they boast that “We’ve invested $150M in marketing programs designed to drive patients to your office.1 And in large print up top, they assure providers that:

But it doesn’t stop there. In the screenshot below, Invisalign promises them “From expanding your practice to creating efficiencies that further patient care, Align has you covered. Our patient concierge team, direct-to-consumer marketing programs, and in-office marketing materials help you set the stage for success.” Invisalign then offers to support their practice “at every stage through Practice Mentoring & Training” and through numerous marketing programs.


When It Comes to Training & Marketing, Their Eye Is on the Sparrow: Invisalign Leaves Nothing to Chance, which Means They Know Exactly What Their Providers Claim about Retainer Lifespan
Invisalign is like the helicopter mom who sorts their child’s laundry, cleans their bedroom and writes all their book reports. Nothing escapes her notice. Everything is tightly controlled. Nothing happens without at least her tacit consent. So when the police come to find the child’s bedroom cluttered with stolen merchandise, can momma really claim she never knew? If not legally complicit, she certainly is morally so!

Likewise, as shown in their own public documents, Invisalign zealously protects their image. And they control virtually every aspect of their product marketing. This extends well beyond training and marketing to their provider doctors. They even induce US consumers to hype up their own product demand.1 This includes their Invisalign patient referral program, a program which rewards existing patients with a $100 gift certificate if they can convince their friends and family to get treated with Invisalign!1

To show you just how hands on they are with their training and marketing plans, take a look at this public recap of their Q3 2021 financial results. Here Invisalign admits:

  • Their share of the retainer market is significantly underpenetrated;
  • They have a robust retainer strategy with a separate marketing team;
  • This marketing team is devoted to driving adoption and increasing Vivera market share in the US;
  • This includes engaging doctors through clinical education and sales initiatives, engaging consumers through social media, and by making
  • Demand creation programs that direct consumers to their provider doctors who sell Invisalign.1 2

So Invisalign has a special marketing team devoted to selling Vivera retainers. Further, this team directly engages both doctors and consumers. For doctors, it provides clinical hands on training and sales initiatives.

For consumers, it creates a patient to patient referral program and engages them through social media. In short, Invisalign does whatever it can to penetrate the US market to sell more Vivera retainers. You’d figure this means checking out not just their competitors but also the claims from their own provider doctors.

At the very least, their marketing team would want to harmonize any provider ads that were off script or contradictory. But this seems exactly the reverse of what they’re doing! Instead of policing their providers to tell the truth, Invisalign allows them to keep on lying. They then submerge the truth in just three documents, which sink beneath a flurry of their new ads and more recent press releases.1 So finding the truth is like looking for the needle in a haystack. Except the needle is extra tiny, and someone keeps adding more haystacks!

When It Comes To Exposing the Lies of Their Competitors, Invisalign Actively Combs Reddit, YouTube and Other Websites To Remove Promotions that are Incorrect or Misleading
Court documents show that Invisalign is selectively passive about which lies they are willing to contest. They seem just fine with lies that promote their sales. But are fiercely against lies that aid their competition.

In their lawsuit against SmileDirectClub, Invisalign shows how eagerly they scour the Internet for lies that threaten their own revenue stream.1 And yet they become aloof and nonchalant when these lies come from their own doctor providers. Lies that dupe millions into falling for the Great InvisaLIE.

When It Comes To Exposing Lies on Their Website and Social Media Page, Invisalign Says They’re Legally Obligated To Remove or Correct ALL Promotions that are Incorrect or Misleading

Check out their rules of social media engagement made for their Singapore market. Here they note that:

Invisalign is a Class II medical device that is strictly regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, which requires that all promotion of Invisalign (including those on our Facebook page) be truthful, non-misleading, and fairly balanced. Furthermore, like other device manufacturers, Align is obligated to provide clarification or remove any posts from our Facebook pages that we deem inconsistent with Invisalign’s intended use or are otherwise incorrect or misleading.1

Here, they must have put up this disclaimer because they wanted to remove claims they thought were false or misleading. Indeed, if ALL promotion of Invisalign, (a Class II medical device) must be truthful and non misleading, why would Invisalign apply this standard selectively?

It seems they have one standard when it comes to removing misleading comments on their Facebook page or a page of their competitor’s, but an entirely different standard for removing misleading statements that their own providers use to sell more Invisalign. Could it be they think this duty applies only to their aligners, but not to their retainers-a Class I medical device? 1 If so, the spate of recent lawsuits would suggest otherwise.1

But it gets better.

Invisalign Now Partners with Their Providers To Home Deliver Retainers To The Patient’s Doorstep. The Product Manufacturer Has Also Become the Product Marketer and Product Distributor -with Near Absolute Control over Their Product.
Yes! Through their newly developed Direct Ship To Patient feature, Invisalign actively ships Vivera to patients directly!

In this recent press release from Align Technology, they tout that

With the direct ship to patient feature, doctors can arrange to have subsequent retainers sent to their patients directly, reducing the need for doctors to store the retainers in their office or for patients to make a trip to their doctor’s office simply to pick up their replacement retainers. …”All shipping costs, logistics, and facilitation of tracking information are managed directly in the Align VRS platform.1

And their program seems to be a success. In their publicly posted 10Q filing they announced that:

For the three months ended March 31, 2023, non-case net revenues increased by $12.0 million as compared to the same period in 2022 mainly due to increased volumes from the Doctor Subscription program and retention products across all regions primarily driven by Vivera retainers.

The Bottom Line: Invisalign Markets, Micromanages, and Monitors Their Medical Products Which They Ship Directly to the Consumer’s Doorstep: They Profit from the Great InvisaLIE, Pretend to Ignore It and then Keep Consumers in the Dark So No One Can Expose It.

As the manufacturer, marketer and distributor of Vivera retainers, Invisalign is now involved in every phase of product deployment. And they are too involved to not be legally liable for the false claims of their provider doctors, which they monitor and supervise through their numerous training and marketing programs.

Indeed, shouldn’t we believe Invisalign who tells their doctors “Invis Is by Your Side” “Align has you covered” and we’re “Supporting Your Practice at Every Stage?”

And they’ve proven this every step of the way! Invisalign injects their Class I and Class II medical products into the stream of commerce. First, by actively pitching these products to their 256 thousand doctors. Then, by training these doctors exactly how to sell such to their patients.

Second, in order to create a higher demand for their aligners and retainers, Invisalign then reaches out to consumers directly through their social media page and through their consumer to consumer referral programs. This is followed by direct shipments of Vivera retainers to the patient’s doorstep.

Finally, Invisalign conceals the true lifespan of Vivera retainers, so their providers can keep lying on how long these retainers last. Their current webpage ignores this information and attempts to divert the consumer from asking about such. And the only references to an actual time limit are found in just three old press releases which will soon be forgotten. Indeed, any promotions that even hint at a short retainer lifespan have been discontinued or cleverly reworded.

To add to this hypocrisy, Invisalign then selectively combs social media to stamp out the lies of their competitors. All the while, blithely ignoring the false marketing done by their own doctors. (Doctors closely monitored by Invisalign in virtually every respect.) Indeed, how can Invisalign disregard all those lying advertisements!1 Their silence here is deafening.

A Call to Action for Align Technology, Inc. (The Owner of Invisalign!)
Stop being passive. Do the right thing and rein in your providers! You know consumers are being deceived. You know your dentists and orthodontists are lying. And you know you profit from it! A simple word from you and it all stops! You are clearly in the best position to take action. Now tell us what you plan to do about it!

What Victims Can Do.

1. Help Clean Up The Internet! 
Report all false or misleading medical device ads on Vivera retainers to the Federal Trade Commission. For serious adverse reactions and events, safety related product quality problems, and product use errors, also report such to the US Food & Drug Administration. Be sure to send a copy of your complaint to your dentist’s or orthodontist’s state medical licensing board with the name of the person or website with the misleading ad.

2. Demand that Align Technology (who owns Invisalign) police their 256 thousand Dr. customers so they will now tell the truth about how long Vivera retainers really last.

For Align Technology, this means:

A. Require your doctor customers to pull all their false online ads that imply Vivera retainers last for years instead of months. Any claim they last for years is misleading and deceptive. Consumers want to know their retainer will work for years, not just stay nice and shiny without cracks. Saying they “last for years” implies the retainers will continue to retain their teeth in their final position for years. This is inherently misleading and unsupported by your test studies.   

B. Require your doctor customers to publish on their websites only the claims on Vivera retainer lifespan found in the Jan 8, 2008 Align press release. And to provide hardcopy brochures of such to any consumer seriously considering Invisalign. This means to say outright that the lifespan of Vivera retainers (which is how well they keep teeth in their final positions) is more than 30% longer than the leading retainers which in tests start to degrade within 2 months.

C. Require your doctor customers to publish on their websites and in hardcopy brochures the average expected time that patients will need to wear their Vivera retainers both day and night. This includes the number of hours per day and for how many months. Many of your doctors conveniently omit these statements to lull patients into buying Invisalign. Patients are told simply that once done with their aligners, they will need to wear their retainers at night. This is deceptive. These patients must be fully informed before they purchase Invisalign aligners. It is inherently deceptive and misleading to not disclose this information until much later when the patient complains their teeth are shifting or that each night their retainer fits tighter and tighter.

D. To protect against future false or misleading ads on your Class I and Class II medical products, assign a compliance team to routinely search the web for misstatements made by your providers and demand that these be corrected or removed. Warn them in your training and marketing programs that gross infractions could result in being barred from selling Invisalign.

E. Send These Demands To The Key Align Technology Contacts Below:

  • Simon Beard, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Americas, EMEA
    Email: sbeard@aligntech.com
  • Madelyn Valente, Director of Corporate Communications
    Email: mvalente@aligntech.com,
    cc: Shirley Stacy, sstacy@aligntech.com
  • Melinda Walker, Director of Global Marketing @ Align Technology
    Email: mwalker@aligntech.com
  • Management Team (Names but no phone numbers, emails may be first initial last name like the ones above)
  • Press Contacts Email: corporateinfo@aligntech.com

Final Word for Victims of the Great InvisaLie
So think again if you thought your teeth would stay straight with Vivera retainers. Get a more robust, thicker retainer before it’s too late! And here’s a final word for those considering Invisalign: Don’t believe the hype! The doctors want you to think the experience is relatively quick, easy and won’t involve extra expenses, such as getting new, costly retainers, or having to buy even more Vivera retainers. But often this is not the case.

Read below about the definitions and drawbacks to both the Invisalign aligners and Vivera retainers. This is followed by my personal account of how I discovered the Great InvisaLIE. Finally, see the list of questions to ask your dentist or orthodontist so you know the full scope of what you’re committing to!

For Blogs on Other Subjects See

Part II For Those Who Are Considering Invisalign Clear Aligners


Below are definitions and descriptions including comments from my own experience. And below this is my own story (How I fell victim to the Great InvisaLIE.)

What Are Invisalign Aligners?
Invisalign offers dentists and orthodontists a method to straighten teeth with clear removable aligners instead of with traditional wires and brackets. These aligners or “trays” are detachable plastic like mouthpieces that fit directly over each tooth. They must be removed when eating, and worn 20-22 hours a day. Studies show that Invisalign can straighten teeth within 12–18 months. 

The costs for Invisalign can vary dramatically depending on the dentist and the complexity of the treatment. I paid $4.4K but others paid as much as $9K. Patients receive anywhere from 10 to 39 of these Invisalign aligner trays, each of which should be worn 1-3 weeks before being replaced with the next one.

Invisalign aligners are quite fragile and require lots of care. Also, it’s not uncommon for your dentist to later add more trays to your correction plan, such as when your teeth are not aligning properly. This can drastically change the time you will be stuck wearing Invisalign. In my case, I initially had 15 trays but ended up wearing 29.

To make these Invisalign trays move your teeth faster, “attachments” or “buttons” are often glued to the teeth that need to be “rotated” or moved more than other teeth. Patients can expect as many as 22 or more of these attachments and maybe even 2 on one tooth. These “buttons” are colored like your teeth and made of a glass-like substance that can sometimes fall off while you’re eating, drinking, chewing or swallowing. If the buttons don’t fall off, such will be removed when you get your retainers.

What Are Invisalign Retainers?
Invisalign “Vivera” retainers are simply meant to keep your teeth in place. Like the aligners, these are composed of a similar clear material but supposedly much more sturdy. You will be instructed to wear them forever at night, once you have finished with your aligners. There is often contradictory advice on whether you can clean them with toothpaste, denture solution or clear mouthwash. Normally, you’ll receive 1-4 of these retainers and they’re supposed to last “a long time.” Many dentists actually claim they last for years. But I have evidence these retainers last just a few months and then stop retaining.

The medical community is extremely vague on the lifespan of Vivera retainers. There is also competing, and contradictory advice on how to care for them. It’s not even clear how long you should wear one before switching to the next one. Nor is there good guidance on how many hours each day you should wear them aside from at night. Your doctor may choose not to disclose that after aligners, many patients still must wear their Vivera retainers, full time, both day and night, for up to 3 to 6 months or even longer!1

So What’s the Scoop on Invisalign?
Invisalign is great for getting your teeth straight for that one time promotional headshot-the one where the dentist uses your smile to promote even more sales of Invisalign! But don’t count on your teeth staying that straight. At least not with the Vivera retainers! If you’re going to be smart about this, jump straight from the aligners to a hard, more robust retainer that will actually work. (The kind that most people get when they’re finished with braces. Some of these retainers are surprisingly clear.)

Indeed, if you stick to the Vivera retainers, your dentist, who already got your money, can now suggest exciting new ways to thin out your wallet. If the Invisalign retainers let you down, well how about more robust mouth guards?  Or maybe you can buy special lingual braces that are permanent fixtures. These stay hidden in your mouth, sometimes forever, but on the side of your teeth where no one can see them but you and your significant other.

Of course, if you knew in advance that you’d need permanent fixtures from the get go, why would you even bother with Invisalign? So for the dentist or orthodontist, it’s a fun filled spree of how to get even more of your money. But pity the poor patient snookered into thinking that Invisalign could actually help them!

My Story (Mostly Written Two Days Before I Found the Smoking Guns Above!)
I was on Invisalign from June 2021 though December 2022 and I paid about $4400 for my treatment. I was quite OK with how Invisalign initially straightened my teeth. Sure, I was surprised at the 22 plastic like buttons they attached, the fact that they kept falling off and that I must have swallowed quite a few. And that while initially told I only needed 15 aligner trays, I wound up with 29 instead.

But in the end, my teeth were straight enough so that I left semi-satisfied. I was willing to endure the unexpected 18 month process, and I could see the difference especially in how straight my bottom teeth had become.

My Experience with Invisalign Retainers
At the end of my treatment, I was then given 4 Invisalign Vivera retainers. I was a bit put off because these retainers seemed quite loose. The dentist never told me anything but that I should wear them at night, and if they were tight, to begin wearing them a full 12 hours a day and then ease off to 8 hours. Puzzling was that I never heard anything about the complexities of wearing these retainers until after I completed all my aligners.

But sure enough, within a few days the retainers went from loose to very tight, and so I switched to 12 hours a day for one month. I then called the dentist as they kept on being tight, which no one ever told me would happen. At that point, I was then instructed to wear them for at least 12 hours a day for the next 4 months! I did so and within another month or two, the retainers started to fit again without being tight.

But later as I looked in the mirror, I noticed both my top and bottom teeth seemed to be shifting. My top front teeth began to look buck again, and a similar thing was happening with the bottom. Was my retainer no longer retaining?

To test this, I decided to switch to my second retainer, which was supposed to be identical to the first one. But to my horror, this retainer was extremely tight, even though it was made to the exact specifications as the first one.

I wore this 2nd retainer for at least a month or two  and then switched to the 3rd retainer, which now was also tight on me! By then, I realized these retainers weren’t doing their job. My teeth were moving anyway in spite of such. After a few months on retainer #3, I got to my 4th retainer, and it too was tight! But I knew this would happen simply because it was obvious now my teeth were shifting. I was losing all that I paid for!

Finally, in January 2024, after wearing each retainer an average of just 3 months, I sought out my dentist for another set of 4. However by this time, he had moved to another location even though there was still a dental office at his old address. When I called his new office, I was told that I would have to come in for new dental impressions. In other words, in spite of telling them I was regularly wearing my retainers and just needed new ones of the same mold, they insisted instead they must take new measurements of my teeth.

At first, I thought they were just being extra greedy. After all, they could charge double the price and such would include the new molding. But when I called the former place where he used to work, they said the exact same thing! Worse, they told me it was because they didn’t expect the new retainers would fit me anymore! This was baffling. If the Invisalign retainers actually retain, why would two separate dentist want to measure my teeth for movement?

Eventually, I convinced the new dentist to simply give me the 4 retainers as I didn’t want my teeth to become even more crooked. The specs for such were still in their system and probably could be made with a 3D printer and a few dollars in raw materials. But grudgingly, I forked over the $450 for a new set of 4, which was still better than paying twice that for new moldings, which would only preserve my teeth in their new crooked position. All this time, I continued to wear my last retainer for at least 15 or more hours a day.

On February 21, 2024 , I picked up my second set of the four retainers as the dental assistant hovered around me expecting that they wouldn’t fit! Turns out she was almost right! My top retainer was very tight. My bottom one I practically had to force onto my lower teeth! The specs on these retainers hadn’t changed a bit. But my teeth had! And this was all within just a year, where I had worn my prior retainers for months, day and night.

So why did two separate dentists think these retainers wouldn’t retain? Could it be that the dental community knows all about this defect but refuses to warn the general public?

Testing If The Retainers Failed for Lack of Proper Care on My Part
To be fair, for my first set of original retainers back in 2023, I got lazy and used Efferdent to clean them. This is something that some dental websites said was perfectly fine. But others recommended against it. So you might think that perhaps I am to blame here.

However, I was determined to do better this round. I wanted to know for sure if these retainers truly retain. So for two weeks, I wore my 2nd set (retainer #1) and made sure to clean it with only a toothbrush, cold water and clear liquid soft soap, something recommended on various medical websites. During this time, I wore these full time, and was relieved as I saw my teeth move mostly back into place. However, I grimly wondered if the retainer was still weakening like the last ones did.

To test this, after wearing this new retainer from 2/21 through 3/5. I jumped straight to my new retainer #2. And guess what? It was a lot tighter than retainer #1, even though #1 was kept in perfect condition and had been worn for just two weeks!

This is the big InvisaLIE! The medical community must know these retainers don’t retain! So why is no one talking about it? You’d figure there’d be a lot more of this on the Internet. The answer, no doubt, is that there’s just too much money in this. Most of the online information comes directly from the very dentists and orthodontist who sell Invisalign! So why tell on themselves? It’s like the farmer asking the hungry fox how many chickens are left in the hen house. The fox will say whatever number the farmer wants to hear. But you can never trust a fox!

So ask around to your friends who’ve had Invisalign and are now at least a year into their retainers. Are they happy?  Did their teeth shift? Have they had to make new moldings even when they wore their retainers? To keep their teeth straight, did they wind up buying a mouth guard or a more robust non Invisalign retainer? Or did they finally give up because they found Invisalign was such a colossal letdown?

Questions To Ask Your Dentist or Orthodontist Before Committing To Invisalign (Both the Aligners and Vivera Retainers)
If your doctor doesn’t have statistics, they should at least be able to provide ballpark estimates. After all, they’re seeing Invisalign patients all the time. And these things are bound to come up. If they still don’t know, ask if they can point you to unbiased medical journals that can answer these questions. Best you find out now before you cut the check!

Questions on the Aligners

  • How many trays does the average patient need? (Yes, I know everyone is different, but have them give you a range.)
  • How long is a typical plan with someone who has my degree of correction? (They will often give you a free scan so they should know this.) If I choose Invisalign when is the expected date I will be done with my aligners and ready for retainers?
  • How often are initial estimates revised to add on more trays? (10%, 30% 50%? 75%) (Note I was initially told it would be 15 trays but I wound up with 29, which means everything took much longer than expected.)
  • How much time should I wear these before moving to the next aligner? Some dentists and orthodontists are more conservative than others, so one may say two weeks while another says three.

Questions on the Vivera Retainers

  • Do most patients have to wear the retainer more than at night? For how many months and for how many hours a day? Do you get a lot of calls from patients who were wearing it for 8 hours at night but the retainer became too tight so they had to wear it in the daytime as well?
  • How long should each of these retainers last, and when should I be concerned that they may not be retaining correctly? Is it true from Invisalign’s Jan 8, 2008 press release that these last only three months?
  • Any idea why Invisalign used to offer a program that would replace these retainers just every three months? Do they still have that program? If I keep using Vivera retainers, how much will it cost me per year to keep these teeth straight?
  • Do any patients complain that the retainers don’t retain? For example, the retainers seem too loose or their teeth shift?
  • What are the best ways to maintain Vivera retainers?
  • How often do you have to take additional impressions of their teeth after a patient has worn their retainers? (assuming they never lost them or stopped using them.)
  • How often do patients ask for a second set of retainers when they haven’t lost them. What reasons do they give?
  • How often do patients need or request for other ways of keeping their teeth straight after wearing Invisalign retainers?
  • Do you ever recommend a fixed retainer or some other way of keeping teeth straight after that person has already been though Invisalign retainers? Why? How often?
  • What percentage of patients do you recommend wear a fixed retainer on the inside of their teeth? Why do you recommend such?
  • Is there any reliable research on these subjects that you can point me to?

    Key Newsworthy Stats About Align Technology and the Clear Retainer Market
    In 2023, Align Technology, the parent company of Invisalign grossed an annual revenue of $3.862B, a 3.42% increase from 2022.1 2They are also #1 in the market with 80-85% market share globally.1 The global clear aligners market size was valued at USD 5.13 billion in 2023 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 30.7% from 2024 to 2030.1 By 2030 sales are anticipated to exceed $28.6 Billion.1

    Other Fun Facts About Invisalign
  • Better Business Bureau Complaints Re Invisalign
  • Complaints on Reddit that Vivera retainers last for only two or three months! (site monitored by dentists, orthodontists and maybe Invisalign lawyers)
  • Lawsuits with Invisalign
  • Gross Revenue of Invisalign Parent Company (Align Technology)
  • Search Align Technology Website for Literature on Invisalign Retainers
  • Invisalign Annual Reports & SEC Filings
  • Wiki Facts about Align Technology
  • Dentists and Orthodontists Disagree on How Long Vivera Retainers Last (3 months to 10 years)

    For Blogs on Other Subjects See
  • Sleuth For The Truth (Free Background Checks)
  • Christian-SOS (Just Jesus!)

Find Old Roommates, former tenants, Sorority Sisters and Frat Brothers When You Don’t Know Their Last Name

Ever want to get in touch with an old housemate but have no clue how to reach them? Or what about your frat brother with the weird ethnic name no one could pronounce? Yeah, you remember; the guy who everyone called “The Schmoo!”

There are plenty of excellent reasons to reach out to a former roommate. Perhaps they owe you loads of money. Or maybe you just want to send them wads of their old magazines.

As a recruiter, sales person, or wannabe Ponzi schemer, it’s always good to explore new and sometimes very old connections. Same goes if you’re looking for alumni donations or are in charge of your class reunion!

But whatever your reasons are, I’m here to show you how easy it is to reach out to those who previously shared your home address. And it works even when they have a new surname, you forgot their last name, or you have no clue how to spell it!

Backgrounding All The Places You’ve Lived At

Let’s break this down nice and easy. First, you’ll need to find a free Orwellian website that just happens to list all your prior addresses with links to all or most of the people you once lived with.

From there, simply click on the prior address where you both were housemates, so you can see a list of present and former residents. A good site will have their names in hyperlinks, and provide exciting personal information about them such as their ages, middle initials and new surnames. From there it’s just a game of point and click!

How I Used PeopleSearchNow To Locate My Indian Roommate of 25 Years Ago

I’ll start with one of my favorite free websites. The very best is Cyberbackgroundchecks.com. Second best is PeopleSearchNow.

Note: If you know the person’s name and it’s a rare one, simply look it up directly in the Name search box. Or if you know an old address of theirs, you can enter it here and then when it lists all tenants, you can look for the link to their name. Or you can use the top links in the website to do a reverse search on emails or phone numbers. For a backup site, checkout Search For Free (by name) or Search For Free (by address)

Otherwise, look up your own name so you can find the address you both lived at. Below I’ll show you how I found “Sameer” when I had no clue how to spell or even say his last name! But as you can see, I found not only his last name, but probably also his current cell phone number.

First, type in your own name and hit enter. If your name is a common one, you may want to narrow your search with a city and state. Note that you’ll see a partial list of addresses, sometimes with the top address being old and not your current address.

The goal is to find and click on the address that you and your former roommate lived at. To see more addresses, click View Details.

Still can’t find the address you both shared? Well, then scroll down until you see more addresses. And click “Show More” for even more addresses. Don’t bother clicking on court records or other links-they’ll just wanna charge ya! Now click on the address you both lived at.

Once you’ve clicked on an address, there may be several pages of people who have lived there. So be sure to search all pages until you find them.

Here I found Sameer from my old address at 2422-D Morosgo Ct, Atlanta GA. (There was no way I could spell that surname!)

When I clicked on View Details, I was able to see his cell phone numbers, and places he’s lived at. Note that his current address may be wrong, but who cares? You can always confirm his address through reverse lookups, property records or various other means.

For More Sleuth For The Truth Blogs, see

FIND THEIR CELL PHONE NUMBER

Whether you’re a sleazeball stalker like the guy above, or like my mom who simply wants to find an old friend, here’s a great way to get someone else’s cell phone number. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s free. And most important: it works at least 50% of the time. But if you can’t find a cell phone # the easy way, be sure to check out my Sleuth For The Truth blog “Find Their Phone Number.”

The Website Du Jour
The wonderful website of the day is called Cyber Background Checks. Just enter in a name, and perhaps a state, and out pops up names and ages, and phone numbers. But unlike many similar sites, this one lists cell phone numbers.

For backup sites, you can still get some cell #s from these free links below. TruePeopleSearch.com and PeopleSearchNow.com will identify the cell # as “Wireless.” FastPeople.com can also give out cell phone numbers, but it won’t tell you if it’s wireless or a landline.

Confirming You Have The Right Cell Phone Number

Obviously, the easiest thing to do is pick up the phone and call. But sometimes there’s a very good reason not to. Especially when you don’t want them to know you’re scoping them out.

For example: If you’re a cop about to make an arrest, a lawyer about to sue, or you’re simply making a contact list for later; these are all good reasons not to appear on their caller ID. Of course, you could also be a wimpy scaredy cat too chicken to pull the trigger. But who am I to judge?

USE SPYDIALER AND OKCALLER TO VERIFY THE NAME BEHIND A CELL #

Aside from Google, here are some clever ways to see if the cell phone # still belongs to the person you’re looking for.

This is where OKcaller and  Spydialer come in. Both allow you to see who owns a landline or a cell phone number. I’d check each of these to see if the same name comes up. (If your subject’s name appears twice, it’s probably their current cell phone number.) For more on how to use these free services, take a look at the screenshots below.

Secretly Listen To Their Voicemail

For cell phones and some landlines, Spydialer has an exciting feature that allows you to hear the person’s voicemail without them knowing you called. And now, this feature works even for landlines.

Hearing Jenny’s Voicemail

Suppose you got Jenny’s number from the bathroom wall. Naturally you want to “make her mine.” But how do you know it’s really her? An easy way to find out is to listen to her voicemail. Here’s how.

  1. Go to Spydialer.com (which defaults to the PHONE selection)
  2. Choose the “SpyDialer” field (ignoring all ads)
  3. Enter in Jenny’s phone number (404-867-5309)
  4. Click on SEARCH

5. Choose “Hear Voicemail” and click Search again
(or instead, confirm the owner’s name by choosing the cell phone “Name Lookup”)

At this point you’ll have to wait about 20 seconds as Spydialer immediately makes the call and begins recording their voicemail message. While this is in progress, you should see a Cog icon that spins around happily.

Note that even if they try to answer the phone, it will usually bypass them! Further, if they call the number back, it won’t be yours. (Try SpyDialing yourself or a friend so you can see what call back number appears.)

Once done, keep ignoring all the ads, go to “Results” and press play. Make sure your volume is on.

Using OK Caller To Confirm Who Owns The Cell #

OK caller is very simple to use. But you won’t get anywhere unless you can avoid clicking on the ads. So here’s how to verify the # 404-867-5309.

  1. Go to OKcaller.com and enter your number above the orange OK CALLER SEARCH button
  2. Press the orange search button

Almost instantly it will retrieve results, often with a full name and sometimes even with an address. No need to click on the ads or rate the caller.

Other Blogs

Find Their Current Address
Find Their Email Address
Find Their Phone Number

LINKS
Free People Search Links from Consumer-SOS.com
All my free databases and directories, without the fluff.

Christian-SOS
My other set of blogs about knowing and loving Jesus.

New York Seniors:_How To Break A Lease Under RPL 227-A

Blog Index

  • What The Law Allows
  • Who The Law Applies To
  • Moving Into Senior Housing or Living With A Family Member
  • What The Doctor’s Note Must Say
  • Other Required Documentation
  • Notifying Your Landlord: How & When To Send Notice
  • Sample Notice Email (Should also Mail to be safe)
  • Hand Deliveries: Sample Form For Agent To Sign (Showing Notice Was Received)
  • The Actual Statute: New York Real Property Law 227-a (With Highlights)
  • Getting Help Through an Advocate

I am New Yorker who moved to Atlanta long ago. I would never have written this, until my mom needed to move to Georgia because of serious medical issues.  Sadly, the law on breaking a lease is extremely confusing, even for consumer rights lawyers like myself. So here’s a stab at making it simple for you and your loved ones.

What The Law Allows
The law is called “Termination of residential lease by senior citizens or individuals with a disability moving to a residence of a family member or entering certain health care facilities, adult care facilities or housing projects”(New York Property Law 227-a).

It allows a person 62 or over to break their New York lease if they have a medical issue that affects their ability to live independently. However, the senior must be moving into senior housing, or other qualified housing, or the home of a family member. AND the senior must provide timely notice and all the documentation required by this statute.

In short, the senior must follow every jot and tittle of the law or they could lose another month’s rent and possibly forfeit their security deposit.

Once the senior meets all the requirements under New York law, the landlord must legally end the lease, refund their security deposit, and cannot charge any more rent or fees in lieu of rent.

Note that New York law trumps a New York lease. This means the senior can walk away Scot-free even if the lease has penalties for early termination or other more stringent requirements for giving notice. But to be safe, I recommend you follow both the law and lease when giving notice of termination.

Who The Law Applies To
The law applies to people of any age who are disabled as defined by NY EXC Article 15 § 292(21).

The law also applies to seniors who are at least 62 years old or will be age 62 during the lease term. It extends to the senior’s spouse and their dependents (even if younger than 62). So everyone gets out of the lease, not just the senior. This makes sense as families should be allowed to stick together.

The Senior Must Move In With A Family Member or Into Qualified Senior Housing
The senior can’t break the lease simply to move elsewhere. Rather, the senior must move in with a family member or into qualified senior housing. Qualified senior housing does not just include nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The statute actually allows the senior to move into “any complex erected for the specific purpose of housing senior citizens.”  In other words, even an independent living facility will qualify.

A Doctor’s Note Must Show A Medical Issue Exists To Justify The Move
Under RPL 227-a, the senior must have a doctor certify that the senior is “no longer able, for medical reasons, to live independently in such premises” and the senior either:

Requires “assistance with instrumental activities of daily living;
or
Requires “assistance with personal activities of daily living.”

The law does not require that the senior be so impaired that they must move into assisted living or a nursing home. As stated earlier, the senior can move into independent living as well.

Key is that:

  • There are medical reasons why the senior cannot live independently in their current premises;
  • The senior requires some assistance (even if very small) with either personal or instrumental activities in their day to day living.
  • The doctor’s note makes clear these three points above, (preferably by using the exact language found in the law, e.g. the terms marked in red.)

Example of Not Being Able To Live Independently in Their Current Premises
My mom is a senior over the age of 62 who lives in Midtown Manhattan. She is visually impaired and keeps falling down the step between her living room and dining room.

When she has to go buy groceries, she must risk her life to cross the street in heavy midtown traffic. Thus, her poor vision is a medical reason why she cannot live independently in her current  premises. For all I know, she may magically be able to live independently in an apartment without steps, or move somewhere safer in a quiet, low traffic part of Queens. But the statute only requires that she cannot live independently in her current apartment.

Example of Personal or Instrumental Activities
Likewise, my mom has trouble putting on her makeup or reading the labels on her medicines. Either of these could be deemed personal or instrumental, and that should be enough. It is not a tough standard to meet. But a doctor’s note is mandatory.

Required Documents under New York Real Property Law 227-a.

If the senior is moving in with a relative, send the landlord:

  1. The doctor’s note (does not need to be notarized);
  2. A notarized statement by a family member that the senior will be living with them for at least 6 months;
  3. A notice of termination letter as required by your lease (Optional but highly recommended though the law should trump any lease notice requirements.)

If the senior is moving directly into senior housing, send the landlord:

  1. The doctor’s note (does not need to be notarized);
  2. A copy of the signed or executed contract or lease with the senior housing facility;
  3. A notice of termination letter as required by your lease (Optional but highly recommended though the law should trump any lease notice requirements.)

When and How To Send A Termination Notice under RPL 227-a
Your termination date (the date you can get out of your lease) all depends on the date your landlord receives your written notice. It is not determined by when you sent the notice. The exception is if you mail it. (see Mailing Your Notice for details).

For when to send notice, scroll down to “HOW LATE CAN MY LANDLORD RECEIVE MY TERMINATION NOTICE WITHOUT PENALTY?

Notice Can Be Sent by Mail, Email, or Hand Delivery
There is nothing in the statute that restricts how you can send a termination notice. It can be sent by mail, email, certified mail, hand delivery or passenger pigeon.  Key is being able to prove the landlord received it prior to the deadline. So keep a paper trail of all you do.

Mailing Your Notice
RPL 227-a contemplates that a mailed letter may not be responded to or signed for. So if you decide to mail your landlord the notice letter, “notice shall be deemed delivered five days after mailing.”

This five day mailing rule means you best send it at least FIVE DAYS EARLIER THAN if it was hand delivered or emailed. The better approach is to send it certified mail, return receipt requested. Then you’ll have proof that it was received on time. However, IF NO ONE SIGNS FOR YOUR LETTER, follow up with an email or hand delivery so the landlord has it before the notice deadline.

Emailing Your Notice
For emailed notices, ask the landlord in your email to send a reply email once notice is received. (See sample email below)

You may want to copy two or three people just in case the leasing manager is on vacation or on maternity leave. Sometimes names and email addresses can be found on your lease or on the Landlord’s website. If not, there’s always Google. Or you can call the leasing office and ask for a contact name and email address.

Don’t forget to attach all the required documentation. To be safe, be sure to blind copy yourself on the email and double check that you received all the required attachments.

IF NO ONE RESPONDS TO YOUR EMAIL, don’t wait until after the notice deadline. If the deadline is today or tomorrow, BE SURE TO ALSO HAND DELIVER OR MESSENGER THE NOTICE SO THAT IT WON’T ARRIVE LATE. Then follow up with another email stating you just delivered notice.

Hand Delivering Your Notice
If the notice is hand delivered, make sure the landlord or agent signs a dated confirmation sheet so you can prove it was received at least 30 days before your desired termination date. See a sample below.

IF NO ONE WILL SIGN, use your smart phone to take a dated time stamped photo of the person and your document, so it’s clear notice was delivered. Also immediately send a follow up email with all the documents attached stating you delivered notice to X but no one would sign for it. In your email ask for them to confirm notice. Be sure to blind copy yourself on the email and double check that you sent them all the attached documents.

HOW LATE CAN MY LANDLORD RECEIVE MY TERMINATION NOTICE WITHOUT PENALTY?

Making Sense of the Strange Termination Language Found in RPL 227-a(1)
The earliest termination date that you can have (without penalty) is one that is at least 30 days after your next rent payment (the rent payment that follows the date the landlord received your notice letter.) So don’t plan on giving notice in October so that you can leave in November. If you do this, the law will not protect you.

That said, if your rent is payable on the first of every month, be safe, and always give written notice at least 36 days before the date you will be stuck paying rent for an unwanted month. (For mailing you want to include the 5 extra days notice plus 1 day of padding, in case you miscalculated.)

So if you don’t want to pay rent due on December 1st, make sure the landlord receives your notice no later than October 26th. Click here for a move out date calculator where you can add or subtract days to determine notice and termination dates.

If you hand deliver the letter or email it, you may be able to get away with just 31 days notice. (30 days plus 1 day of padding in case you miscalculated.)

Notice Received Anywhere In October Means Lease Can Terminate Before December 1st
So, say you wish to move out before December 1st and your rent is due on the first of every month. In that case, the landlord could get your notice on October 1st or October 31st. And either way, your termination letter is effective by November 30th at the earliest.

In other words, you still must pay one full rent payment after the notice was received. From there you must wait an additional 30 days before the termination is deemed legal. This doesn’t mean of course, that you have to stay in your apartment until November 30th. You can certainly move out earlier-as long as you still pay November’s rent.

Notice Received Anywhere In November Means Lease Can Terminate Before January 1st
Now instead, suppose the landlord received your notice on November 1st rather than in October. This would mean your earliest penalty free termination date would be December 30th.  By law, you would still have to pay the rent for the month afterwards (December’s rent) and also add another 30 days before the termination was effective.

NOTE: THERE’S NOTHING THAT STOPS YOU FROM GIVING MORE THAN THE LEGALLY REQUIRED NOTICE.  BUT NEVER GIVE LESS THAN SUCH or you may forfeit another month’s rent and some or all or your security deposit.

Sample Notice Letter For The Landlord (Email)

Kimberly Quest (Person listed in Lease for Sending Notice)
cc: Amy Pullman (Back up person in case Ms. Quest doesn’t respond)
Subject: Carla Freedman Tenant Termination Notice per New York Real Property Law §227-a

If Sending By Mail:
Northmoor Leasing (Name of NY Landlord)
(use landlord address listed in Lease For Sending Notice of Termination or other required notice)

Dear Ms. Quest

My name is Graham Firestone and I am the son of Carla  Freedman. This letter is to provide the required 30 day’s notice that on or before November 30th, 2019, Carla Freedman will be moving into The Renaissance on Peachtree, located at 3755 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta, GA 30319, which is deemed long term senior housing per New York Real Property Law §227-a.

My mother is slowly going blind and has extreme difficulty with even ordinary life activities. She is also prone to falls, which makes it unwise for her to live alone in an apartment with stairs between the entry way and her living room.

Attached is a doctor’s note which certifies that Carla Freedman is 71 years old, nearly blind and for medical reasons is no longer able to live independently in her apartment. Also attached is a copy of the lease at Renaissance on Peachtree. Please email me within 24 hours to confirm receipt of this notice and contact me immediately if you have any questions or concerns.

Best regards,

Graham Firestone

515 Wyncourtney Drive NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30328

C 867-5309
H 678-587-9228

Sample Proof of Receipt For Hand Delivery

Make sure the landlord’s agent prints their name, signs and dates the form below. (You can have them sign two copies if you like, one for their records and one for your own.)

I confirm that I work for Northmoor Apartments and have received from Carla Freedman, tenant of apartment 4B, the following documents:

A doctor’s letter;

A lease from Happy Hills Senior Housing; and

A notice letter dated October 31, 2019.

_______________
Printed Name

_______________
Signature

_______________
Date


Getting Help Through An Advocate

OK. So you did everything right but the landlord still won’t return your security deposit. Now is the time to call an advocate. Or perhaps many advocates. But first, why not give the landlord just one more chance to do the right thing. After all, if it works, you won’t have to risk using the heavy guns.

Keep in mind that big landlords are usually more sensitive to publicity while the smaller landlords are more sensitive to lawsuits.  So if you’ve been treated unfairly, you’ve got to speak their love language. You must demonstrate that the cheapest, easiest and best course of action, is for them to follow the law , let you out of the lease, and return your security deposit.

Talking To Small Time Landlords
Some landlords are individuals who rent out their homes, or slumlords who may depend on word of mouth rather than advertising. These are usually more prone to responding to legal pressure rather than bad publicity. Therefore consider going straight to the Government, Non-Profit and  and Legal help agencies listed below.

Talking To Big Landlords (Apartment Buildings)
Apartment buildings have leasing managers, leasing directors, lawyers and public relations directors. If you know their motivation, you’ll know how to persuade them.

Your leasing manager and leasing director want to keep their jobs and get yearly bonuses. Often these things depend directly on the apartment building having a high occupancy rate. If lots of apartments suddenly become empty. that’s going to look bad for them.

Similarly, the public relations director also thinks about low and high occupancy rates. Their job is to promote the landlord’s good public image OR to protect the landlord from a bad public image. So the last thing they need is for a media explosion to occur because they didn’t jump quick enough to stop it.

Lawyers
The lawyers for your landlord are another matter. Lawyers think mostly about losing or winning lawsuits.  And chances are they are quite good at such things. 

What their lawyers are not good at (what they’re absolutely terrified of) is controlling and containing the absolute chaos that will erupt when your story gets out to the media, the government regulatory agencies and the non profits.  Lawyers know the courts. But most are helpless before the court of public opinion. So don’t fool with their lawyers. And don’t waste your breath yelling about how much you can sue them for.

Explaining Their Exposure In Terms of Viewers & Circulation Instead, simply email your leasing manager and leasing director that you need your deposit back immediately. Otherwise, your next step is to spread the word to other would be renters through (Channel X, Channel Y and newspaper Z).

Inform them that your goal  is to guarantee that everyone in New York knows how badly they mistreat seniors. (Including the disability rights groups) And that this publicity will cause their vacancy rates to skyrocket for years to come so they lose 1000 times more than your meager security deposit.

Be sure to copy the Public Relations Director and leave your phone number. She may be calling you shortly.

Don’t forget to provide a list of the TV stations, newspapers and government agencies you will be contacting.  If you list the # of viewers each TV station has,  and the circulation (# of readers) for each magazine or newspaper, it may drive home just how bad this thing is going to get.

To avoid looking like you’re just ranting and raving, keep it to about 3 TV stations, 3 newspapers and 3 magazines. Then add in a few of the non profits and government agencies for good measure. DO NOT FORGET TO LIST THE # OF VIEWERS and # OF READERS NEXT TO EACH MEDIA SOURCE.

In your email, feel free to explain the key buzz words that are sure to make media headlines. “80 year old grandmother,” “disabled senior,” “nearly deaf,” “nearly blind,” “can barely walk,” “must use a walker/cane,” “stumbles and falls,”  can’t safely cross the street,” “suffers from dementia,” “just needs to be with family,” …”x million seniors live in NYC,” “y million Seniors in NY State.”

Also explain that you will file a complaint with the NY Attorney General and Department of Aging so they can continue to monitor how seniors are treated in the future.

If none of this works, your next step is to reach out to the Senior Advocates below.

Senior Advocates

GOVERNMENT & NON PROFITS

TV STATIONS, NEWSPAPERS & MAGAZINES

Media Facts

Legal Help (Mostly Low Income To Qualify)

The New York Statute

Section 227-A Termination of residential lease by senior citizens or individuals with a disability moving to a residence of a family member or entering certain health care facilities, adult care facilities or housing projects.

(Age, DR’s Certification, Qualified Senior Housing, Release of Lease Liability)


(Advance Notice, Documents Needed, Long Term Stay With A Family Member)

Car Dealers & Illegal Dealer Fees (Georgia)

So you really dig the Honda Civic you saw advertised for $7100 online. But at the dealership you suddenly learn its take home price is now $8100. This really happened to me and I was furious. Turns out, the sales guy wanted to charge me an additional $599 “dealer fee” along with the taxes and title fees.

So what are dealer fees?  Can car dealers legally tack them on to the price they advertised?  The answer to the last question is NO. This practice is totally illegal in Georgia (See dealer fee restrictions in GA and other states).

A dealer’s fee is nothing more than a clever way for a car salesman to grab your money. Dealer fees may show up as “administrative fees,” “document fees,” “processing fees,” or “customer service fees,. They could also be called reconditioning or “recon fees”, or “protection fees” etc.  It’s all left to the car dealer’s imagination.  Bottom Line: A dealer fee is any non-governmental fee a car dealer tacks on.

Dealer fees are not per se illegal. Georgia law allows car dealers to charge whatever they like for these fees. But here’s the catch! It’s TOTALLY ILLEGAL to advertise a price and then tack these fees on later. THAT’S RIGHT! The price they show you must include any and all dealer fees or they’re ripping you off! This pricing requirement extends to any advertised price in any medium. So if they advertised the car for $7100, the law says this price must include all dealer fees. The car dealer can’t slip them in later. Even if their website disclaimer says “price does not include dealer fees.”

So if Stone Mountain Toyota decides to show you a computer screen showing the car’s price, they’ve published it! The only fees they can add to this price are the fees they must pay the government.

Other types of charges that MUST be included in the vehicle’s advertised price include “freight charges”, “transportation charges”, “destination charges”, “dealer preparation charges”, “overhead charges”, and any other terms of similar import.

Fees New and Used Car Dealers Don’t Have To Include In The Price
The only fees dealers DON’T have to list in the advertised price are government fees, which include tax, tag, title, Georgia Lemon Law, and Warranty Rights Act (“WRA”) fees. The GA Lemon Law fee is just $3 and applies only to new vehicles.

So be sure to ask the car salesman “What’s the full price when I walk out the door.” And don’t let them get away with tacking on dealer fees not already included in the advertised price.

How To Verify You’re Not Being Overcharged For Government Fees
If government fees are being added to the price of the car, be sure to ask what each fee is for and how it was calculated. You can ask them “Is this the exact amount you pay the government or is it more than that?” If the dealer inflates the title fee or tax amount, it’s nothing but an illegal dealer fee in disguise.

Don’t confuse the government’s title fee of $18 with the more expensive “Titling Fee” often charged by new and used car dealers. The latter is often five times the amount charged by the state. So the dealer’s titling fee also needs to part of the published price of the car. It can’t be extra.

Government Fees The Dealer Can Add To The Price Of The Car

Government Title Fees=$18. See DOR Title/Tag Application
($50 titling Fee=Deceptive per GA. Gov Auto Informer 2020)

GA License Plate Fees= $20 (car or light pickup truck)

GA Lemon Law Fee=$3

Ad Valorem (Sales Tax): To know the exact taxes the dealer must pay,  simply enter the car’s vehicle identification number into the Georgia Department of Revenue’s Ad Valorem Calculator.

Examples of Legal And Illegal Dealer Fees

ILLEGAL The car is advertised for $7,100 with a $600 dealer fee not included.  But a big disclaimer says THIS PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE DEALER FEES”. Illegal (all dealer fees must be included in price).

LEGAL An old beat up car is advertised for $7,100. Price includes dealer service charge of $599 and “title service” fee of $198. Legal (both fees are steep but allowed because they are part of the car’s published price and not added as an extra fee).

ILLEGAL The car is advertised for $7,100. Price includes dealer service charge of $599 but not title service fee of $98. Illegal as the actual title fee charged by the government is less than $98 (dealer fee in disguise).

The Advertised Price Must Include  Options Already Installed or Those Things “You’re Required To Have” to  Buy The Vehicle

ILLEGAL “A dealer policy where all new vehicles must receive a paint protection package and vehicle floor mats for an additional $1,000. (illegally forces you to pay an extra  fee beyond the published price or you can’t buy the vehicle).

ILLEGAL A car dealership  website invites you to click a button on the website, and communicate with your dealership in order to receive a special “E-Price.” This “E-Price” does not include your mandatory dealership fee which is tacked on later.  The “E-Price” must include all required non-government charges, including your dealer fee, according to The Georgia Department of Law-Consumer Protection Unit (CPU).

ILLEGAL “This car has a GPS built in so you need to pay an additional $200 beyond what was advertised.”  Not by a long shot! Like any other dealer fee, if this option is  already installed,  this “dealer addendum charge” must be included in the advertised vehicle price.

So when the dealer gives you a line on how “the rules require” a particular option to be installed, or “it has already been installed”, you get to tell them, “Great! The rules also say it’s you who will eat the cost! Now remove the charge!”

Negotiating The Best Deal With Your Car Dealership
(and convincing them not to back out once you expose them)

If you tell the sales person upfront about the illegal dealer fees, two things may happen:

  1. The dealer may not sell you the car;
  2. The dealer may remove the illegal dealer fees but then jack the price up with other fees/offer you second rate discounts.
    For example: To recoup their losses, the dealer could decide to lower the price of your trade in,  give you a terrible deal on auto  financing and warranties, or jack up their insurance or other service products. 

To be safe, DO NOT OBJECT TO THEIR ILLEGAL FEES UNTIL THE END WHEN THE DEALER HAS PRESENTED YOU WITH THE PAPERWORK LISTING ALL THEIR DISCOUNTS AND CHARGES. Yes, ask to see their final paperwork so that you know your absolute takeaway costs.

This is the time to make sure the dealer won’t back out when you expose them. They may try to do so simply because the deal is no longer a moneymaker. To ensure the deal goes through:

  1. Circle the illegal dealer fees, illegal add ons, and anything else illegal;
  2. Quickly take a photo of the finance page with your circles: Make sure to get their logo or anything else that proves this is from their car dealership;
  3. Object to the fees, and give the dealer the 3 pre printed, highlighted copies of the GA Department of Law pamphlets found in this blog under the Georgia Law section (listed under YOUR TOOLBOX: Helpful Resources)
    Better yet: Use their business card to email or text them. Be sure to attach the snapshot of the illegal fees along with the links to the GA law brochures. (might get the sales person personally on the hook by proving they knew of the illegality.)
  4. If the dealer still won’t sell you the car, no need to raise your voice or make empty threats. Simply explain that they are all on legal notice. They have wasted your valuable time, padded the bill with almost a thousand dollars in illegal fees, and you need to warn the whole state of GA so they won’t become victims. IF YOU WON’T SELL ME THE CAR SANS THE ILLEGAL FEES, I’LL SIMPLY SPREAD THE WORD BY SENDING THIS TEXT/EMAIL TO THE GA DEPARTMENT OF LAW, THE BBB COMPLAINT DATABASE, FOX 5, and WSB  NEWS.  I’LL ALSO SEND IT TO THE VARIOUS AUTO FRAUD CLASS ACTION ATTORNEYS WHO WILL ADVERTISE THIS ONLINE  SO THEY CAN ROUND UP ALL THE OTHER VICTIMS  AND SUE YOU FOR MILLIONS.
  5. THE CHOICE IS YOURS  BUT PLEASE DECIDE IN THE NEXT FIVE MINUTES. I’VE WASTED ENOUGH TIME HERE.

Help For Victims Who Were Cheated with Illegal Dealer Fees

You’ve heard that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Well, mamma was right! Big companies including car dealerships are extremely sensitive to bad publicity.

But it’s best to use a flyswatter before you use dynamite. Your first step should be to contact the general manager and get them to fix the problem. After all, if you were in charge, wouldn’t you want people to come to you first, rather than go over your head?

But sometimes it’s necessary to go beyond the GM and even beyond the owner of the dealership.

For example: Say you were cheated by a dealership like
Nalley Infiniti or Stone Mountain Toyota, and the general manager doesn’t return your calls. These dealerships have to worry not only about their own reputation, but also about the reputation of Infiniti or Toyota (which allows them to sell their brand name cars).

So in the above example: if the franchise finds out the dealership is besmirching their good name, guess what happens? It means that the dealership could lose their right to sell Toyotas or Infinitis! That would cost them a lot more than a thousand dealer fees.

Keep that in mind if you think the dealership is not playing fair with you.  Your next step may be to call Toyota’s or Infiniti’s pubic relations department. You can bet they’ll be keenly interested in what the dealer is doing with their good name.
(In case you’re wondering, Infiniti is owned by Nissan; Toyota Stone Mountain is owned by Sonic Automotive.)

If this doesn’t work, try your local TV station for even more exposure. Be sure to Google if the car dealer has had prior complaints.  Reporters eat this up. You can also lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  A little bad press can give your dealer a seven figure lesson on freakenomics.

And don’t forget our government friends. You can also contact the GA Department of Law (404-651-8600) regarding any Fair Business Practices Act violation of the above. The GA Department of Law is part of the GA Attorney General’s office. They have the power to fine a crooked dealer and shut them down.

Finally, if you’re really really mad, find a class action lawyer who will gather other angry plaintiffs who have also been cheated.

I’d do this last, because if it were me, I’d first sue in the court of public opinion so the dealership would immediately lose millions and millions. But if you simply want your money back, it may be worth your while to deal with them pesky lawyers.

Getting Proof They’re Cheating Others
It’s always good to have proof this is not an isolated incident. After all, repeat offenses could peak the interest of the media or your U.S. or  local representative. First try Googling  the name of the dealership with any of the following words:
Complaint
BBB
Fraud
Deceptive

For example, you could paste in Google all these terms in red: “Nalley Infiniti” complaint OR fraud OR BBB OR unfair OR deceptive. You could also do the same search of complaint OR fraud OR BBB OR unfair OR deceptive with “Stone Mountain Toyota” or  “Hodges Ford.”

Also, be sure to monitor your dealer for further wrongdoing through Google Alerts.  Yes, you can create a Google Alert with the same terms as above so future complaints appear in your email in box!

Next, fax an open records request to the Georgia Department of Law so they can email you a printout of any allegations of fraud against the dealership. You can fax (not email or text) these requests to 404-651-9018.  If the request is simple, they’ll email you the results in just 3 business days. (free of charge). I just verified this with a lawyer who works there!

Sample Open Records Requests To Fax The GA Dept. of Law
“In regards to Gravity Auto throughout the state of GA, please send me a list of all  complaints against them in the last three years (formal or informal, substantiated or merely alleged) that involved deceptive pricing.”

“In Regards To Nalley Infiniti, please list any fines or settlements in the last three years that relate to deceptive practices.”

Making The Story More Newsworthy

Aside from how you were cheated, your story will gain more traction if you can show reporters that virtually every driver has or will become a victim.

The facts and figures below show the number of people who buy new and used cars from dealerships, and how much $ the dealerships make from selling these cars. Dishonest dealerships are a problem for everyone. This issue affects the rich, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, immigrants, democrats, republicans, the black, the white, Latinos and anyone who buys a new or used car from a GA dealer.

New Cars Sales Statistics & Market Size By Model in The US

  • 6 million more new cars on the road each year (sold by a dealer who may be ripping off consumers)
  • Sales Broken down by type or MFG
  • US Auto Sales By Year (from 1999-2018)
  • Top Ten Cars bought in 2019
  • 281 million cars registered in the US (prediction for 2019)

Total # of Licensed Drivers By State (2017)
With 3.5 million annual registrations, Georgia ranks in the top 8 of all 50 states.

Sales of Used Cars By Dealers in GA (2014-2019)

Your Toolbox: Helpful Resources Below To Stop False or Misleading Car Dealers and Crooked Auto Dealerships

 Georgia Law

Georgia Consumer Protection Division (Formerly The GA Dept. of Law) 404-651-8600
Complaints filed with this office alleging fraud may form the basis for an investigation into a company’s business practices. A significant quantity of complaints about a business may give rise to legal action—not on behalf of the individual complainants, but to enforce state law.

Georgia Auto Informer Government Pamphlets Below
The Georgia Department of Law-Consumer Protection Unit enforces the Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act (FBPA) which prohibits unfair and deceptive acts or practices within the context of consumer transactions. These news letters are part of their efforts to raise awareness among auto dealers and advertisers regarding the FBPA, as well as the GA Government’s Auto Advertising and Sales Practices Enforcement Policies (AAEP).  Although the policies found in the AAEP are not actual law, they highlight those industry practices that the GA government considered to be unfair and deceptive, and thus violations of the FBPA.

What’s The Deal With Dealer Fees (Government Pamphlet Issue #12) Governor’s office of Consumer Protection newsletter: a dealer’s claim of ignorance or confusion regarding this matter will not mitigate OCP’s actions for noncompliance.  In 2013, Fox 5 Atlanta conducted numerous undercover visits to Atlanta area dealers in order to investigate dealer compliance with this policy. All of the dealers visited during these undercover shops were adding fees to advertised prices.

Pricing Representations: Dealer Fees, Options & Discounts  (Government Pamphlet issue #13) 1/22/16
Georgia Department of Law’s new bulletin: Advertised vehicle prices must include all non-government charges that a consumer is required to pay in order to purchase a vehicle, including but not limited to, dealer fees, previously installed dealer options, and electronic titling fees. Only taxes, tag, title, and Lemon Law fees may be added to this price. This pricing requirement extends to any advertised price in any medium, but most commonly becomes an issue on your dealer website or a third party site such as Autotrader.

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF LAW: AUTO ADVERTISING AND SALES PRACTICES ENFORCEMENT POLICIES (2007)
Learn how the GA Dept of law determines what is deceptive and illegal in regard to automobile advertising and auto sales. This agency enforces the Fair Business Practice Act (FBPA) which protects consumers against tacking on to the sales price, things like illegal dealer fees, and dealer add ons, like “mandatory safety treatments”, etc.

GA Law On Mandatory Arbitration Clauses (Forum Selection Clauses)
In 2022 it’s still touch and go. The courts still have some leeway to decide that a clause forcing you to arbitrate (forbidding court or a class action law suit) are void.  And some dealerships do not have these clauses in their contract anyway.  Every case can turn on the facts, the judge or the jurisdiction. So consult an experienced GA class action attorney.

Select Dealerships: (Their Public Relations and Franchise Owners)

Stone Mountain Toyota is owned by Sonic Automotive. To report wrongdoing to Toyota Media Relations, contact Karen Nielsen, Corporate Communications (469) 292-2659. The General Manager of Stone Mountain Toyota is Steve Crane (or Steven Crane).
See also Reviews and Complaints against Stone Mountain Toyota.
 

TV Stations, Magazines, Blogs & Legal Help


FOX 5 Call For Action 404-879-4500
 Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m
Volunteers at Fox 5 Call for Action center try to resolve your problem by calling the bad auto dealer to work it out. Bad car dealers may want to respond to them, because if, not, their story could soon be on FOX news. Be sure to explain to the volunteer how many millions this affects so the story will interest a reporter, This will help the volunteer feel more confident to forward your story to a reporter if the car dealership remains uncooperative.

WSB News (Channel 2)
Nicole Carr (nicole.carr@wsbtv.com)
(She’s done prior news stories on crooked car dealers)
See also newstip@wsbtv.com (general inbox for WSB)

WXIA-11 Alive 404-892-1611
Call in or fill out their form.

FOX 5 Atlanta
News Crew
In 2013, Fox news did undercover sting operations exposing crooked car dealerships.

Find Your Local TV station
Here are links to the local TV stations near you!

AutoDealer (Publishes Deceptive Car Dealership Practices) Use them to give the dealer negative publicity, or to explain to the dealer what you will do if they don’t play fair.  

Top Ten Car Magazines
Perhaps they’ll do a story on your dealer’s misconduct.  

Top Auto Blogs
A post in the right place will spread the word to other car buyers.  

Better Business Bureau. (GA)
Warn other victims. Get the word out so car a dealer’s wrongdoing appears in Google searches.

GA Consumer Protection Division (Formerly The Ga Department of Law)
This is the enforcement division of the Georgia Attorney General’s office.

Federal Trade Commission
Regulates auto financing and false advertising.

GA Class Action Lawyers (Lawyers For Auto Fraud)
Even if you’ve been cheated only a little bit, the dollars add up when thousands like you have also been defrauded. Class action lawyers can file a mega lawsuit that punches the crooked dealer in the pocket book. Car dealers must learn that charging illegal doc fees, security fees and other illegal markups ain’t worth the trouble.

Georgia Auto Fraud Attorneys

Consumer Advocacy To Report Safety Issues Or Shady Dealings

Great resources for when you’ve been taken advantage of by your manufacturer or dealer, or if there’s a serious defect with your vehicle.

https://www.carcomplaints.com/resources/advocacy/

https://www.carconsumers.org/wheretocomplain.htm

Other Blogs

Christian-SOS
Walking daily with Jesus, without all the churchy stuff.

Consumer-SOS
Free legal help in all 50 states.

Find By First Name Only (No Last Name Required)

So you’ve had a busy day at Walmart, and you’re now ready to spoil your family with all the goodies you got.  But as you see your car in the parking lot, your golden mood turns to brown. Something is clearly wrong.

For one, your car used to be a white Honda Civic. But now its got a red gash running across the front passenger side door. Worse, the door has a huge dent in it!  Some jerk in another car swiped you and fled the scene!

But you’re in luck. As you curse and cry at the sky, a bystander tells you she saw the guy who did it. She says his name is “Spencer.” Spencer is a local hot shot attorney who occasionally hangs out at the bar by Walmart. He is a notorious braggart and an obnoxious know it all. Nobody likes him and they’d finger him in a second. But he pays for his drinks in cash, so no one knows his last name, where he lives or even where he works.

All the witness can tell you is that he’s a whippersnapper in his mid to late twenties. She’s not sure if Spencer wears glasses, but she’d  know his face if she saw him again.

So armed with this meager description,  can you really find
Spencer de JERK?

You bet. Yes.  Believe it or not, within the hour you will have his full name,  address and photo, just like that!

Here’s how.

First, let’s review what we know.  Spencer is a licensed professional (an attorney). He’s local to Metro Atlanta (where the bar and Walmart are) and he’s under 30. He also has a nice red car probably with some white paint on it. You can find him regardless of what his car looks like. But it’s good to know these things when you sue him in small claims court, and also when you report him to the police for leaving the scene of the accident.

Approach To Finding Spencer Or Any Licensed Professional

  1. Find a comprehensive occupational directory that will list every member of the profession by first name and admittance date, or by age, or by school graduation date.
  2. Weed out the false leads (based on age, gender, geography…)
  3. Get their photo.

So first we need an inclusive professional directory that lists all Georgia lawyers, not just the ones who pay for a listing. While Martindale Hubbell is a useful second choice, it doesn’t list all GA lawyers. But the GA State Bar Directory does! And it allows you to filter by first name, last name, state of practice, company, city or law school.  Too bad we don’t know his law school. But we do know his age and that he is local to GA.

Like many professional directories, the GA Bar lists when they were admitted/when they graduated law school. This is mighty useful to weed out the false leads. False leads include those lawyers too old, dead, or too young to be our Mr. No Goodnik.

But first we must figure out the time period when Spencer became a lawyer.

Lawyers spend 4 years in undergrad and 3 years in law school. So the earliest the average lawyer graduates is at 24-25. This means if we’re looking for a lawyer under 30,  we can discount anyone who became a lawyer before 2014.

THE SEARCH FOR ALL GA ATTORNEYS NAMED SPENCER
So I searched by first name only, and limited my search to GA attorneys that are currently practicing in GA and not in other states.

Results

52 Spencers came up in a first name search with no other restrictions.

35 Spencers are licensed in GA and still practicing in GA verses in another state.

Only 13 Spencers had Spencer as their first name. (22 of the 35 had “Spencer” as a middle name (some of these were women).

Only 6  Spencers were admitted on or after 2014.

Only 4  Spencers were listed in the Metro Altanta Area.

So now we have 4 suspects with full names, middle names and practice location along with the law school they graduated from. This is more than you need to Google them. But it gets better. For these directories may even publish their email addresss, phone numbers and business address as well.

But this is just part of the fun. You don’t want just their address. Now it’s time to get their mugshots!  For ordinary criminals, we’d search for their mugshots in the arrest records. But for professionals, we’ll get them from LinkedIn, Facebook and Pipl.com of course. (for best results search by their first and last name-no middle name or initial).

Too many hits? Then narrow by their school or company or state  until you see you have the right one. Both LinkedIn and Facebook allow for these advanced searches. And Pipl pulls up their photos with just a name, OR their email OR their phone number. Still no luck?  Then Google them or search for their photos in Google Images. (less reliable)

The 4 Suspects (To show the police or the local bar)

(LinkedIn)

(Pipl.com)

(LinkedIn)

(Facebook)

But wait! You may be able to narrow the list even further. Now about the car… Try putting their address in Other Street View Lookups  to see if there’s a red car by their house. Might be useful in court! Or simply go by where they live or work to see if you can spot a red car with white paint on it.

Googling A Person By First Name Only
But what about if the person is not a licensed professional? People are dumbfounded when I tell them you can Google by first name, no last name and still find them. So I get crazy requests like  “Hey. Can you find me this guy John in LA?  All I know is that he’s a barista who I met 30 years ago at a Starbucks.” My answer is of course “NO WAY!” And quit asking me these things! I’m good. But no one is THAT good!

Let’s get one thing straight. You almost always know more about someone than you think you do. So use it to your advantage. At the very least, you probably would recognize them by their photo. And you’re likely to know their race, their approximate age, where you met them, and maybe things like a hobby, a job of theirs or the name of an ex wife or sibling. So if you need help jarring your memory, click here for a list of things that might be useful.

TO FIND THEM, THINK RARE

When you search by first name only, you’re bound to get a lot of hits unless you can narrow them down with something rare.

It could be a RARE first name along with their profession OR company. (SILBO and Patent attorney) OR a fairly common name coupled with a RARE street name , or a first name coupled with  a string of common things that when put together are rare. And remember, even if you get 10 hits, you can figure it out by getting their photo. (e.g. plug each name into LinkedIn, Facebook or IDCrawl)

Examples Where People’s Last Names  were found in the 1st 7 hits
Graham and morosgo ct (common name + rare street name)
Tiffany Unitedlex Georgia  (rare company + state)
Rima Marwan atlanta (brother and sister + state)

Other suggestions
Carol ukele Boulder CO (rare hobby + city + state)
Teresa “cathedral school” “havana” site:facebook.com (first name with rare high school in Havana, searching only within Facebook)

For old classmates, look in classmates.com,  your college directory or any other directory where you can search by first name, or first name and city,  first name and age, or first name and DOB, etc.

Other Blogs

Christian-SOS (Walking Daily with Jesus)

Blasting Bad Debt Collectors Out Of Business

Every superhero has a weakness. With Superman, it’s Kryptonite.  With Green lantern it’s the color yellow. And with Daredevil, it’s just a lot  of background noise. But what about the supervillains? Obviously they have weaknesses too. And it’s my pleasure and delight to talk about them.

In the world of supervillians, the worst of them is the big bad debt collector. And the badder the debt collector, the easier it is to find their Kryptonite!

This blog will talk about the really bad debt collectors. I won’t claim there are good debt collectors. But the bad ones are those that illegally ignore the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Sadly, the worst offenders are lawyers. Particularly, it’s the attorneys who think that because of their power and connections, they can trounce on the little people. So here’s a handy dandy road map to blast them out of business! I’ve even included scare letters which you can send to the state bar, their big bank employers and to all their trade associations (the pals they hang out with).

The Four Ways To Cripple A Bad Debt Collector (Like Cooling & Winter) 1. Drive up their cost of doing business (More Lawsuits & Publicity)
2. Scare away the companies that use them (Sample Letter)
3. Get them in trouble with their peer groups & licensing boards
4. Get the government to shut them down. (FTC & CFPB)

1. Drive Up Their Cost Of Doing Business

Debt collectors cut corners because it’s faster and cheaper than playing by the rules. So now is the time to punch them in the pocketbook.

Use public awareness so more debtors know their rights, fight harder, pay less on their debt and sue more under the FDCPA and state law. Remember that the FDCPA encourages consumers to sue and will even pay for your court costs if you win. You can also collect $1000  plus your attorney’s fees and even tack on state law claims to drive up the damages! In other words, you can make it so the debt collector is the one who owes you the money!

To spread the word, tell your story to the BBB and other Internet Complaint Websites. Make sure to mention key terms that other debtors will search for. Include the full name of the collection agency, the phone #, the name of the individual collector, FDCPA and what they did wrong. For example, “I asked them to validate the debt but against the law they sued me instead!”

You Will Need Publicity
Lawyers won’t go down without a fight. And they are experts at fighting in court. So you need to fight them where they’re at a disadvantage. And this means the court of public opinion.

Publicity is more than just the media. And it’s more than just the Better Business Bureau. It also includes reaching out to Consumer Advocates. It is through such means that you can force a debt collector to make nice, or drive it out of business.

For how to background your debt collector, don’t forget to look at Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA.

2. Scare Away The Companies That Use Them

Big bad debt collectors often work for big global banks. These include the banks you know by name such as Capital One, Bank of America and Citibank. And the bigger the bank, the more sensitive they are to bad publicity.

Sometimes the collector works for a debt buyer such as Midland Funding. A scare letter is much less effective with Midland because they already have a bad reputation. However, you might want to send it to them anyway. Their lack of response can be used to draw in the media. And once the media is involved, you can lobby your government representative to saddle them with more fines and regulations.

To write a good scare letter, you will want to Google your bank with FDCPA or complaints. If the bank has had bad publicity with debt collection, you can mention it in your letter.

For the same reasons, you will also want to do a background check on your debt collector. For how to search, see the end of Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA (Sleuth For The Truth).

Sample Letter To Capital One Public Relations Department

Capital One Rehires Debt Collection Firm Fined $3.1M for Robo-Lawsuits

Dear Capital One,

The above headline is almost a certainty. How you minimize the fallout is up to you.

You are using the law firm of Cooling & Winter to collect debts on your subprime credit card accounts. As you must know, Cooling & Winter is the successor to the notorious law firm of Frederick J. Hanna & Associates. You are no stranger to Hanna. Hanna is the same law firm you previously hired to collect on your credit card debts. It’s also the same firm that in January 2016, was fined $3.1 million and then shut down by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

The Hanna firm was shut down because it relied on deceptive court filings and faulty evidence to churn out over a hundred thousand debt collection lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA. To stop further action against it, Hanna signed a Consent Order with the federal government, which was made final on January 6, 2016.

As part of this Order, Hanna, agreed to pay $3.1 million in fines and acknowledged itself to be a debt collector subject to the FDCPA. The Order also prohibited Hanna and its partners and successors to engage in unfair debt collection practices. (see CFPB Complaint and Consent Order).

Out of the ashes of the Hanna firm, arose Cooling & Winter. Cooling & Winter was formed just three weeks before the Consent Order that forced Hanna out of business. And the new firm is strikingly similar to the old one. In fact, the named partners, Joseph C Cooling & Robert A Winter, belonged to the Hanna firm, and were specifically named in the government suit against Hannah. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s prior phone number. (For National Headlines on Hanna partners Joseph Cooling & Robert Winter, click Here.)

Like its predecessor, Cooling & Winter has continued in the Hanna legacy. In 2017 alone, they’ve been sued 11 times for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Many of these cases touch on the same practices prohibited in the Consent Order.

To this day, Cooling & Winter lawyers are telling debtors that the FDCPA doesn’t apply to them. The reason they give is alarming. They say they’re exempt because they have a special relationship with Capital One. True or false, this puts Capital One in a bad light. And inquiring minds want to know what Capital One has to say about this.

Capital One is no stranger to publicity. According to the Wall Street, Journal, Capital One is the top lender to the working poor. (sub prime credit card accounts). In another article, Capital One was noted for “Easy Credit and Abundant Lawsuits.”

In that story, the Consumer Federation of America called for more government regulation against subprime credit card lenders. It found “disturbing” the volume of suits filed by Capital One, and it urged regulators “to investigate whether the perils of subprime credit cards outweigh the benefits.”

So these debt collectors are already in the federal spotlight. And they have already made national news. Using them against the working poor is an open invite for more government regulation.

Below, Are the 18 Lawsuits Where Your Debt Collector Was A Defendant.

The 11 lawsuits in 2017 were all for Violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Note how quickly Cooling & Winter settles them-often within 1-3 months– to avoid a ruling that the FDCPA applies to them.

Bottom Line: A wolf in grandma’s clothing is still a wolf. You are using debt collectors who have hurt thousands of people. And they’re still at it but under a new name. So when the feds and media come knocking at your door, what will Capital One have to say for itself?

Very truly yours

Joe Debtor

 3a. Get them In Trouble With Their Licensing Boards

Publicity & The State Bar
As a lawyer myself, I know that attorneys fear bad publicity. And so does the state bar, which in GA, just happens to be run, not by the government, but by the lawyers and judges themselves!

If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the websites for doctors vs. lawyers.  As you would expect, GA doctors are regulated at medicalboard.georgia.GOV.  But for some reason, GA lawyers are regulated by a non government organization at gabar.ORG.

This is your strength. The state bar is very much like the Motion Picture Association. Both are terrified that outsiders might make the rules for them. Both want to regulate themselves without government interference. With the MPAA it means they’re very aware of the public’s sensitivity to sexual acts, and will rate on this more aggressively than on violence.

But with the state bar, it’s less about sex and far more about client theft. If a lawyer is caught stealing a client’s funds, the bar is terrified they must act immediately lest the government step in to correct the matter. And so in these cases, the Bar is very tough on its own.

That said, most lawyer offenses are treated with far less punishment. Unless of course, you can convince the Bar that if they don’t act fast, their friends the government will…

So with debt  collector law firms, you must show how the individual lawyers are acting so badly that there needs to be immediate damage control. Otherwise, it will look like the state bar is a den of wolves and unwilling to police its own!

Show They Violated Ethics Rule 8.4 (Attorney Misconduct)
Your state bar is in charge of enforcing lawyer ethics violations. This includes whenever a lawyer engages in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. So don’t let a lawyer blow smoke in your face and say the FDCPA doesn’t apply to them.

Know deception when you see it. For example, when Cooling & Winter was told they must follow the FDCPA, one of their senior lawyers tried to mislead the debtor into thinking otherwise.

The lawyer starting saying something that was technically true: “We represent the creditor and the creditor is FDCPA exempt”.  But in context, it was said only to fool the debtor into thinking something false; i.e. that because the FDCPA doesn’t apply to the creditor it also won’t apply to the creditor’s 3rd party debt collector!

There was no other purpose for this response except to mislead and deceive the debtor, who had challenged them under the FDCPA! So they violated both the GA Bar rules on deception and misrepresentation, along with the the FDCPA rules against misleading the debtor.

In Cooling & Winter’s case, they know full well they are under the FDCPA. Take a look at the disclaimer they have on their website. It totally tracks the FDCPA disclaimer-the one where the law requires all 3rd party collectors to say This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

Now what debt collector would ever put this on their website unless they were forced to by law? It’s like the cop who reads you your Miranda rights and then claims it was just a courtesy. The police don’t do it as a courtesy. They only do it because they have to. So Cooling & Winter, a law firm, has committed a breach in lawyer ethics by lying to you.

For how to background your debt collector, don’t forget to look at Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA.

Sample Letter To State Bar Ethics Commission
Dear state bar: I am not a lawyer but I do know how lawyers are seen by the general public. Sadly, most people are suspicious of lawyers until they need one. And even then, they assume that the state bar will protect its own at the expense of the people hurt by them.

That said, I hope the state bar will investigate the ethics lapse of lawyer x who works for the law firm of Cooling & Winter. This lawyer violated ethics rule 8.4 which requires they refrain from deceptive or misleading statements.

As you must know, Cooling & Winter is the successor to the notorious law firm of Frederick J. Hanna & Associates; the same firm that in January 2016, was fined $3.1 million and then shut down by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. The Hanna firm was shut down because it relied on deceptive court filings and faulty evidence to churn out over a hundred thousand debt collection lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA.

Cooling & Winter is much like the defunct Hanna firm. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s prior phone number. To this day, Cooling lawyers are still telling debtors that the FDCPA doesn’t apply to them.

Now that you know the checkered past of this particular law firm, I will go into what they did wrong here. In my case, the misleading/deceptive statement was… I also have an email/recording  to back it up.

Worse, lawyer X is an expert on the FDCPA and a former employee of the defunct Hanna law firm. This lawyer knows better.

I am copying this email to Randy Travis at Fox 5 News. I am also copying (list one consumer advocate group)

Possible Headlines For Reporters include :
State Bar Protects Notorious Attorney Debt Collectors Shut Down By Feds
State Bar Won’t Police Its Lawyer Debt Collectors, Is This A National Trend?

Please respond in the next 7 days.

Best regards,

Joe Debtor

3b. Get Them In Trouble With Their Trade Groups
(Are You All A Den Of Thieves Argument)

Find the trade Associations the debt collectors belong to and scare them with unwanted media attention. Have I-team reporters place calls to the National Credit Association and other groups these lawyers mingle with, belong to, host seminars at, or are invited to speak at.

To find the groups they interact with, Google the name of the individual wrongdoer and the word association. Repeat with the name of the company. If the association has them as a key speaker or treasurer or president etc, make sure the media exposes these connections.

Also get the reporters to contact respectable trade groups for comment, even if the debt collector doesn’t belong to them. The goal is to get other groups to admit the debt collector is out of line and to publicly put distance between them and the big bad wolf. i.e. Big Bad Wolf is wrong and most of us debt collectors are not like that.

Enlist the Debt Collectors Who Play Fair Who Are Put At a disadvantage because the bad guys cut corners. If the bad guys always win then it’s just a race to the bottom of who can ignore the law the fastest. Contact Convergent Outsourcing, a debt collector who plays by the rules and will be at a competitive disadvantage with the bad guys.

Do the same with other respectable debt collection trade groups. Have reporters call them for an opinion on big bad wolf’s collection practices. Do they have any suggestions on how to stop crooked debt collectors? Watch your story gather momentum as respectable organizations chime in with their opinions.

Sample Letter To Trade Association About Cooling & Winter Debt Collector
Dear National Creditors Bar Association (NARCA)
I wish to inform you that one of your members is actively flouting the FDCPA.  The individual attorney is X and they work for the law firm of Cooling & Winter.

Specifically, they falsely claimed they were not FDCPA debt collectors, refused to validate the debt and also did … I also have an email/recording  to back it up.

This is in violation of Ethics Rule 8.4, and also the FDCPA which forbids deceptive or misleading communications. It also goes against your NARCA Code of Professional Conduct & Ethics. Specifically this attempt at deception causes disfavor with the public and a lack of public trust in violation of Article I, Section 1 and Section 2.

Please consider that your member law firm is the successor to the notorious law firm of Frederick J. Hanna & Associates. As you must know, in early 2016, this firm was fined 3.1 million dollars and shut down by the federal government. The new Cooling & Winter is much like the defunct Hanna firm. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s phone number.

And it seems they are at it again with numerous FDCPA violations. Given your reputation in the community, I hope you will take action. The general public does not have much faith in a creditor’s group policing its own members. Please prove us wrong.

I am copying this email to Randy Travis at Fox 5 News. I am also copying (list one consumer advocate group)

Possible Headlines For Reporters include :
NARCA Shields Notorious Attorney Debt Collectors Shut Down By Feds
NARCA Won’t Police Its Lawyer Debt Collectors, Is This A National Trend?

Best regards,

Joe Debtor

4. Get the Government to Shut Them Down.

Like a slow languid beast, the government won’t act unless there’s  plenty of prodding. To get it moving on your behalf, you’ll need lots of help. Help can take the form of consumer action groups, the media and other debtors who’ve been victimized.

You’ll also want to know all about your debt collector. This includes , who they’ve hurt, and if they’ve ever been fined or investigated by a government agency. For how to background them see the end of Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA.

Getting More Victims To Come Forward
The media love to talk to real live victims. And the government will need to know who else has been hurt. The best place to find other debtors are in Magistrate and Superior court where the cases are recent or still ongoing.

A court search does two things that should make you happy. First it will get you a  list of defendants (victims) involving Cooling & Winter or it’s attorneys. Second, you get to see the names of the big bad banks you’ll want to write scare letters to. To search court records, see Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA

Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA

To the non beer drinker, there’s only three types of beer in the world. There’s BAD beer. There’s VERY BAD beer. And there’s LESS BAD beer. And so it’s much the same with debt collectors.

This blog is all about the VERY BAD debt collectors. Here I will show you how to background the shady ones along with their company or law firm.

As an example, I will name real names. You will get to see an actual  background check on the notorious lawyers of Cooling &Winter. Cooling & Winter is a prime example because it’s been sued 12 times in 2017 alone. And virtually all the lawsuits against them concern bad debt collection practices. So you’re in for a real treat!

When we’re done you’ll be able to expose a debt collector’s lies, ferret out their half truths and expose their prior bad dealings. You can then use this information to negotiate your own settlement!

As a special bonus, I’ll even show you how to blast a crooked debt collector out of business. For believe it or not, you have powerful tools to make unscrupulous debt collectors play by the rules.

This includes enlisting the aid of honest debt collectors, the BBB, the media and even the debt collector’s own licensing board and trade associations. It could also mean getting help from consumer rights advocates and powerful government regulators.

Can I Enlist The Help Of A Plaintiff’s Attorney?
Most plaintiff attorneys won’t dare use these weapons of mass destruction. Because unlike you, they don’t really want to go nuclear. To them, it’s a big game of catch and release. They see the debt collector as a wild animal that should be caught, fined and let go again.

No attorney makes money off of destroying big bad debt collectors. They make money off of suing them and collecting their attorney’s fees. (again and again). So it’s not in their interest for you to blast them out of commission. It’s like asking the farmer to kill the goose that lays all the golden eggs. This is why the media, consumer advocates and government regulators are your best course of action.

3rd Party Debt Collectors Must Play By The Rules (The FDCPA)
When I say play by the rules, I mean that most debt collectors must follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA  is the golden rule that applies to all third party collectors. It even applies to collectors that work for the creditor but look like they’re an entirely different company.

If the collector violates these rules in the slightest, they could be sued for $1000, plus, your court costs and even your attorney’s legal fees. (And this doesn’t even include state law claims, which you can file too!) Yes, it’s all built into the Act to encourage attorneys to take your case. Free of charge!

Blog Roadmap

  • Spotting The Lies & Half Truths Collectors Say
  • How To Show They’re Still Bound By The FDCPA
  • Googling The Debt Collector and Their Company
  • Checking The State Courts & Complaint Databases
  • Checking For Other FDCPA Lawsuits Filed Against Them
  • What We Found on Cooling & Winter!

Spotting The Lies  & Half Truths Collectors Say

Lie/Half Truth #1

Since We’re Part of The Creditor, We’re Exempt From The FDCPA
Debt collectors love this one. Some of them even believe it. One of the real life exceptions to the FDCPA is that it usually won’t apply to creditors who collect on their own debts. Nor does it usually apply to the creditor’s employees.

For example, if you owe money to Bank Of America, they can collect on the debt with no fear of the FDCPA. The same goes if you receive a call from their accounting department or their in-house lawyers.

But even then, the FDCPA forbids them to collect under another name. OR in a manner which makes them appear to be a third party debt collector. If they do that, they will be stuck under the rigid rules that bind all third party debt collectors. Note that in Cooling & Winter’s case, they sometimes will insist the creditor is not subject to the FDCPA. But the status of the creditor is not the issue. It’s the law firm’s status as a 3rd party debt collector that counts. The FDCPA applies to law firms too!

And this is VERY important. The trend these days is for some collectors to falsely claim they are not a third party. Instead, with forked tongue, they’ll tell you they are somehow an “affiliate” or “employee” of the creditor.

The reason they do this is because if they can skirt the rules they can undercut their law abiding competitors. And by ignoring the law, they can collect their debts cheaper and faster than everyone else.

Honest debt collectors hate when their competitors try these stunts. For unlike the baddies, they’re the ones who get penalized for playing fair.

Lie/Half Truth #2

Since We’re Debt Buyers The FDCPA Won’t Apply To Us
Debt collectors will also try to avoid the Act by claiming they are debt buyers and therefore exempt. In other words, they will tell you that since they own the debt outright, they are now the creditor and can collect on it in any way they choose to.

This is a half truth based on the recent Supreme Court ruling in Henson. What they won’t tell you is that the FDCPA still applies to them when the principal purpose of their business is debt collection. See Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1718 (2017). And this is where the background check comes in.

How To Show That They’re Still Bound By The FDCPA
Under current case law there are 4 ways a debt collector can be bound under the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act. Since the collector may try to hide this information from you, it’s up to you to find public records that support your case!

Prove any one of the following and they’re still on the hook:

1. The debt collector is clearly a third party who is collecting the debt on behalf of someone else.

OR

2. While the debt collector claims to be part of the creditor, they have the appearance of being an entirely different company. For example, a debt collector law firm may say they’re part of the creditor but they use a different name, incorporate as a separate entity, have a different website, use a different logo and have different stationary-all of which conveniently fails to list an affiliation with the creditor.

OR

3. While the debt collector may own the debt and say’s they’re merely collecting on it, you have proof that debt collection is the principal purpose of their business or part of their regular activities; For example, their website says they’re debt collectors and all their lawsuits and articles involve debt collection.

OR

4. Even if the debt collector is a debt buyer or part of the creditor, you can show they also act as a third party collector with respect to other debts.  For example, they say they’re an “affiliate” of Capital One but you discover they also collect debts for competing banks such as Bank of America or Midland Funding.

A General Background Check To Reveal The Facts Above
Each background check is different. And you never know the juicy facts that can help you until you find them!

So it’s important to do a background check on both the debt collector AND their company. If either one has a checkered past, all the better.

Googling Cooling & Winter
I Googled the law firm of Cooling & Winter with many or all of the terms below:

Cooling & Winter FDCPA
Cooling & Winter Complaint
Cooling & Winter fines
Cooling & Winter sanction
Cooling & Winter Capital One (To see if they are affiliated)

Googling Debt Collector Attorney Quinn M Kasper
I then did likewise with one of their attorneys,

Quinn M Kasper Georgia
Quinn Kasper Georgia attorney
Quinn Kasper Georgia complaints
Martha Quinn McGill (maiden name)
Quinn Kasper “Bank of America” (more connections to creditor? )
Quinn Kasper Cooling Winter
Martha McGill FDCPA
(for prior FDCPA violations)
Quinn M Kasper FDCPA

Other words to search for include their name along with
contempt, fined  and disciplined.

Googling Specific Newspapers For Stories On Your Collector or Their Big Bank Employers
You’re more likely to get the media to do a story if the collector was already in another story by them. And you can bet the collector’s bank employers will be more apt to drop them if you remind them about their prior bad press with debtors, or how the collector has damaged their rep in the past.

In the case of Cooling & Winter, a Google search revealed sordid facts about their past. It turns out that many of their top lawyers were from the notorious law firm of William J Hanna & Associates. Yes, the very same firm that in 2016 was fined $3.1 million and shut down by the federal government! (See more below)

Sample Google Search For Hanna & Associates in Media Articles

Hanna debt site:ajc.com (collector in Atlanta Constitution)
Hanna debt site:wsj.com (collector in Wall Street Journal)
Hanna debt site:nytimes.com (collector in New York Times)

Sample Google Search For Big Bank & Media Articles
(Getting Headlines to include in Scare Letters To Their Clients)

“Capital One” Hanna debt site:ajc.com (collector & Capital One, AJC)
“Bank of America” FDCPA site:nytimes.com (FDCPA trouble)
“Midland Funding” debtors site:wsj.com (general bad press)

Check The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s Complaint Database. The CFPB Complaint Database shows the type of complaints filed by others which the government already knows about. For Example, Cooling & Winter has had 75 complaints since 3/16/16 to the present. This information may be useful when contacting the media, writing scare letters to the big banks, or when negotiating with the collector. It’s also good to remind the government that the collector is still a menace.

Check Local and Federal Courts For Cases They’re Involved In
Search by the last name and maybe 1st name of their attorneys. Also search by their law firm. You’re looking for three things:

1. The names of the companies or banks they represent
The more competing banks they represent, the more obvious they’re a third party debt collector. Also, the cases will show you if there are any big banks involved, i.e. the ones most sensitive to bad press. You’ll want a list of these so you can write them scare letters or  get the consumer advocates and reporters to give them a happy phone call.

2. The names of the debtors that are being sued
If the debt collector is telling you lies, there may be other witnesses who can vouch for their bad conduct. Reporters also like talking to a other victims to make their story more sensational.

3. Other lawsuits that show dirt or bad conduct.
Has the law firm, collection agency or its attorneys been sued for malpractice? Are there any suits against them in federal court for violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act?  You’re looking for anything juicy and embarrassing they don’t want publicized.

Searching For Cooling & Winter in GA ( Fulton State & Magistrate Court)
In the link above, search for the word Cooling
and set your display to 200 records. You’ll want at least a dozen names and addresses of defendants in debt collector actions during 2017.  This will help when you or reporters reach out to other victims.

Do the same with Fulton Superior Court.
Choose All Case Records and enter the CAPTCHA. In the box below this, change Search By: Citation to Attorney. Ignore all fields but the attorney’s name. In this case, the attorney has a rare name so search by the last name of KASPER (nothing else). When you see a list of cases, look for the ones grouped as Contract/AccountFor more info on a case, click on the blue links to the far left

USING PACER TO FIND OTHER FDCPA LAWSUITS
Often, a big bad debt collector trounces on the little guy in magistrate court. But later the debtor turns around and sues them for FDCPA violations in federal court. While the debtor often loses the first round, with the help of free plaintiff attorneys they typically win or settle the FDCPA case. At least that’s how it works with Cooling & Winter.

And guess what? You can find all these cases on PACER. PACER is free if you use it wisely. And even if the case has settled already, you get to see what every debtor complained about (before they were paid to keep quiet). This is great because the debtor’s complaint can show if there’s a pattern or practice the government should investigate. For example: a debt collector’s repeated attempts to sue before the debt was confirmed or “validated.”

To search on PACER, log in and then get to find a party by pasting the link below in the Internet address bar at the top:
https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/pages/search/findParty.jsf

Or you can go to National Case Locator, click on Pacer Case Locator, and Find Parties. Next, in the field called Last Name or Entity Name, all you need to do is enter in the law firm name without the LLC, LLP etc. For example Cooling & Winter. Click Search and watch the magic!

As of 8/12/18, here are all the Unfair Debt Collection Law Suits Against Cooling & Winter in Federal Court. See PACER which has 30 Lawsuit Against Cooling & Winter with 21 cases based on FDCPA violations, 1 is a FCRA violation

What We found On Cooling & Winter

  1. Cooling & Winter is the successor to the notorious law firm of Frederick J. Hanna & Associates.
  2. Hanna is the same firm that in January 2016, was fined $3.1 million and then shut down by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. (CFPB)
  3. The Hanna firm was shut down because it relied on deceptive court filings and faulty evidence to churn out over a hundred thousand debt collection lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA.
  4.  Cooling & Winter was formed just three weeks before the government  forced Hanna out of business. (Frederick J Hanna & Associates knew they needed a new name as a shut down was imminent.)
  5. The new firm is strikingly similar to the old one. In fact, the named partners, Joseph C Cooling & Robert A Winter, belonged to the Hanna firm, and were specifically named in the government suit against Hanna. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s prior phone number. (For National Headlines on Hanna partners Joseph Cooling & Robert Winter, click Here.)
  6. Like its predecessor, Cooling & Winter has continued in the Hanna legacy. In 2017 alone, they’ve been sued 11 times for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Many of these cases touch on the same practices prohibited by the government Order that shut down their predecessor.
  7. Cooling & Winter collects for Bank of America, Capital One and a debt buyer called Midland Funding.
  8. Cooling & Winter lawyers are licensed by the GA Bar and subject to their rules and regulations for ethical misconduct.
  9. Cooling & Winter is a member of a trade organization called NARCA (The National Creditors Bar Association)
  10. Cooling & Winter knows it’s subject to the FDCPA. In 2017 alone, They were sued under the FDCPA 11 times. And in every case, they settle within 1-6 months.

What We Found On Quinn M Kasper

Quinn Kasper was no angel either.

  1. Martha Kasper worked for both Hanna and Cooling & Winter and is therefore bound by the government order on unfair debt collection. She’s also known as Martha Quinn McGill and Quinn McGill Kasper.
  2. Kasper is a former magistrate judge and files many suits in magistrate court.
  3. Kasper holds herself out as an expert on the FDCPA and even was about to teach a class on such to NARCA before it was canceled due to a hurricane scare.
  4. Kasper in spite of her seniority and expertise, still tells debtors she and her firm are not covered under the FDCPA.
  5. Kasper is a lawyer licensed by the GA Bar and subject to their rules on ethical misconduct & misrepresentation. (Rule 8.4 )

For more see,

Lawyers at Cooling & Winter (For Googling)

Georgia Office

Joseph C. Cooling
Managing Partner
Email: jcooling@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055

Robert A. Winter
Managing Partner
Email: rwinter@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055

S. Louis Schiappa
Managing Attorney
Email: lschiappa@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3014

Kristian Knochel
General Counsel
Email: kknochel@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055

Quinn McGill Kasper
Senior Attorney
Email: qmcgill@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3299

Christopher R. Yarbrough
Attorney at Law
Email: cyarbrough@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3356

Louis R. Feingold
Attorney at Law
Email: lfeingold@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3127

M. Scott Peskin
Attorney at Law
Email: speskin@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3116

Allison K. Lovell
Attorney at Law
Email: alovell@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3007

Shenika L. Lee
Attorney at Law
Email: slee@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3066

Ryan O. Bell
Attorney at Law
Email: rbell@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 770.988.9055 x3184

Florida Office

Joy Lynn Kundawala
Senior Attorney
Email: jkundawala@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 954.903.2806 x4028

Karen E. Berger
Senior Attorney
Email: kberger@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 954.903.2806 x4031

Melissa Alvarez
Attorney at Law
Email: malvarez@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 954.903.2806 x3389

Lauren N. Turner
Attorney at Law
Email: lturner@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 954.903.2806 x4026

Mateusz M. Szymanski
Attorney at Law
Email: mszymanski@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 954.903.2806 x4032

South Carolina Office

Joseph E. Brown
Attorney at Law
Email: jbrown@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 864.605.3832 x4003

Wesley E. Boyd (name has been removed from website)
Attorney at Law
Email: wboyd@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 864.605.3832 x4004

Dylan D. Lingerfelt
Attorney at Law
Email: dlingerfelt@coolingwinter.com
Phone: 864.605.3832 x4004

Look Up Partial Phone Numbers That Are Missing A Digit!

So it’s time to call your new client. Or maybe it’s the hot date you met at Trader Joe’s. The only problem is you can’t read their phone number! Staring at the napkin, you try to decipher if it’s an 8, or a 1, or a 0. Or worse, you can read all the numbers just fine. But why are there only 6 digits?

So what do you do? Where can you go for help? Who can you call?

I decided to write this blog because a few days earlier, this is exactly what happened to a friend of mine. My friend is a no good, lousy duck stuffer (a taxidermist).

He came to me because he needed to call a new client about a bird he just mounted. But the client’s handwriting was so crappy that he couldn’t make out a digit in the phone number. I was able to find the number anyway using Google. However, it was not your typical Google search.

How To Google A Number That’s Mostly Right
Sadly, Google did away with its reverse phone number lookup.  And if you enter a 6 digit # or 8 digit # with dashes, Google thinks it’s a subtraction problem!

But Google can pull up plenty of phone numbers if you give it some hints. This includes lots of business numbers and even some cell #s.  And remember, you want to find the number they gave you. Not the old landline they discarded 10 years ago. Here’s how:

Say you’re looking up Graham Firestone and the number you have is

678-58?-9228. Or maybe you got sloppy and wrote 678-587-92228.

Or worse, the guy gave you a bum phone number and no last name.

But don’t you fret. All is not lost! Simply Google their name along with the area code and first three 3 digits of the phone number.  OR, if you think that too could be wrong, try their name along with the last 4 digits at the end of the phone number. You can also search for part of the phone number along with their name in quotation marks.  Don’t know the last name? Try with just their first name. Did you get too many hits? Then refine your search with a city or state.

Google Search Examples With Partial #s

When Unsure of Last 4 Digits (Google 1st 3 digits w/ or w/o area code)

Graham  Firestone 587 (rare name: not sure of the last 4 digits)
Greg Napster 404-394  (for more common names add an area code)
“Greg Napster” 404-394  (Narrow search with name in “Quotes”)
Graham 678-587 Roswell (first name w/ city)
Graham 587 lawyer (first name w/ profession)
Firestone “587” Roswell (last name w city)

When Unsure of First 3 Digits (Google last 4 digits)

Graham Firestone 9228 (rare name, last 4 digits)
“John Smith” 9228 (common name in quotes)
“John Smith” 9228 Roswell (add a city)
Graham 9228 Roswell
(first name w/ city)
Graham 9228 Morosgo (first name w/ rare street)
Graham 9228 lawyer (first name w/ profession)

Or Use Asterixes for missing #s! And Add a first Or Last Name if Known

678******9228
309******58 “Mcwhorter”
770******7474 “steve”

But What If I Can’t Find It On Google?
Look, life’s tough. And you can’t always get what you want. Partial number searches don’t seem to work on Facebook, Pipl, the Whitepages or on Linkedin. But they may work on your emails, or in Excel or in a Word document.

Or, if you know which digit is missing, plug in numbers
0 -9 and put the whole phone number in a reverse cell phone lookup. Sites like OK Caller or SpyDialer will often return a full name once they have the right phone number.

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