CLS helps people protect their consumer rights regarding purchases, income, property, contracts, loans and debts.

CLS focuses on consumer cases throughout the state. CLS offers many types of consumer law assistance. Your ability to obtain direct representation depends in part on staff availability or a volunteer lawyer in some offices.

What are consumer law issues?

A consumer is a person who buys or leases a product or services for his or her personal use or the use of the consumer's family. A person may have a consumer claim if he or she been damaged by a service or product.

Consumer claims are very broad ranging under state and federal law and include cases where physical injury results from a product or service which was damaged, faulty or dangerous. Community Legal Services does not handle this type of claim because private attorneys will represent consumers on a contingent fee basis, i.e., the consumer does not pay legal fees unless his or her claim is successful.

Community Legal Services does provide assistance in a number of consumer law areas including those described in the next section.

What are typical consumer law issues?

  • Automobile Purchases
  • Wage and Account Garnishments
  • Student Loans
  • Debt Collection
  • Homeowner Association Assessments
  • Title Loans/Predatory Lending
  • Bankruptcy Advice

Frequently Asked Questions

Click topics below to expand:

Question

Does Arizona have a lemon law?

Answer

Arizona’s lemon law is very limited. For used cars, it provides warranty protection for 15 days or 500 miles (whichever first occurs) if you purchased a used car from a car dealer If you purchased a new car, the warranty protection is for up to two (2) years or 24,000 miles (whichever first occurs).

Question

Do I have any rights if I did not purchase my car from a car dealer?

Answer

If you purchased your car from someone who is not a car dealer, you do have rights. However, those rights are not under the lemon law. You may have rights under Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act, for breach of contract, fraud, or possibly under certain federal statutes.

Question

Does the law give me time to cancel a contract to buy a car?

Answer

No, in Arizona, there is no 48 or 72 hour (or any time period) right to cancel a contract to purchase a car.

Question

Are title loans legal in Arizona?

Answer

Yes. Although pay day loans have been outlawed in Arizona, title loans are still lawful. Title lenders may charge interest exceeding 200% and, in addition, the lender takes a lien on the borrower's car. This means the title lender may repossess the car upon default (failure to make the loan payments) even if there is a prior lender's lien that is greater than the car's value.

Question

If I am not paying a debt that is owed, what can a creditor do to collect the debt?

Answer

If you owe a debt and are not making the agreed upon payments, a creditor may sue you to collect the debt. If the creditor gets a judgment against you, the creditor may seek wage or account garnishments. A garnishment is a court order requiring your employer (in the case of wages) or bank or credit union (in the case of an account) to turn over a portion of your wages or the funds in an account to the creditor holding the judgment.

Certain types of income are protected from creditors even after judgment. These include Social Security benefits, workers and unemployment compensation benefits, child support and veterans’ pensions. Other funds including some private pensions may also be protected, but may lose protection after payment to the recipient.

Question

What can a Homeowners Association do if I fail to pay my monthly or special assessments?

Answer

If you fail to pay your monthly or special assessment, the homeowners association may sue for the delinquent assessments and may file a foreclosure action, even though the property is subject to a mortgage. It is not a defense, to either of these actions, to claim that the homeowners association, its board or its manager is doing a poor job managing the association.

Question

I am having trouble repaying my student loans. Can I change my repayment plan?

Answer

You may be able to do so. If you have a loan that was funded by the U.S. Department of Education through your school and managed by a loan servicer, under the supervision of the Department, the Direct Loan Program offers different repayment plans that may assist. You may find additional information at https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans.

Question

What does filing for bankruptcy do?

Answer

A bankruptcy is a federal court procedure that allows consumers and businesses to "discharge," i.e., get rid of their debts and/ or repay their creditors. During a bankruptcy proceeding, you are protected from creditors; however, your non-exempt assets (those not protected by law) may be sold by the bankruptcy trustee and distributed to creditors.

There are different types of bankruptcy actions. The principal types for individuals are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

  1. Chapter 7 – A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a person to discharge – avoid personal responsibility for - most unsecured debt. An unsecured debt is one for which no collateral guarantees the debt. There are many exceptions however, including:
    1. Child and Spousal support
    2. Most Education loans
    3. Most Tax debts
    4. Debts incurred by fraud or false pretenses
    A Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not discharge or remove liens, such as those held by car lenders, mortgage issuers and homeowner associations. This means the property covered by the lien may be recovered and sold by the creditor and the proceeds applied to the debt absent an agreement with the creditor.
  2. Chapter 13 – A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court supervised repayment plan that allows you to make payments to creditors through the court. The payments are made from your "disposable" income for up to five (5) years. (Bankruptcy law has a specific definition of disposable income which may be very different than your definition.)
  3. There are advantages and disadvantages to filing a Chapter 13 instead of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. For example, certain debts and liens are dischargeable in a Chapter 13 but not in a Chapter 7. Examples include some tax liens and some homeowner association debts. In addition, the payment of some secured debts such as car loans may be reduced. There are disadvantages to Chapter 13 bankruptcies as well.

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