Sue your landlord by serving the management company

Q. I want to sue my landlord. I know his name because he signed the lease but have no other information. The clerk told me I need an address to serve him with the petition if I want to sue. How do I find out where he lives?

A. You are correct that to sue someone you need to provide the court with a location where the party can be served with notice of the lawsuit. You do not, however, need his address. Under the law, you may serve what is called the “agent for service.” If you were given written notice of the name and address of the management company that manages the property, the management company is the agent for service and may be served. If you were not given such notice, you may serve the management company, the on-premises manager, or rent collector.


Q. I saw my neighbor pull into his driveway with a young child sitting the front seat without a safety seat. I made a joke about how it wasn’t really safe, and he said his daughter was large for her age and could wear a seat belt. Is this the law?

A. Under the law, whether a child must be secured in a safety seat when a car is operated depends on both the age and the size of the child. The law says that any child under the age of 8 must be secured in a safety seat system, unless the child is taller than 4 feet, 9 inches. Once the child reaches that height the child must wear a safety belt. Basically, the law recognizes that it is the size of the child and not the age that determines when the additional protection of a safety seat system is necessary.


Q. I saw an ad for an Internet company that advertised it would give me my credit score for free. The company’s name is Credit Karma, and it seems too good to be true. Is this a scam? Should I avoid dealing them them?

A. I also saw the ad and was similarly concerned. It did seem “too good to be true.” Most companies either charge you to receive your credit score or have you sign up for credit monitoring or something else that requires you provide a credit card number.

So to find out what Credit Karma was all about, I went to the website and checked it out. Although you do have to give some limited personal information, they do not ask for a credit card and you do not have to sign up for any other service. I did some additional research and as far as I can tell, this is not a scam and your score is free. All of the information they provided me about my accounts was accurate and I found the website to be very useful. Of course, no company can stay in business giving things away and the Credit Karma website contains numerous opportunities for you to apply for a credit card or loan.

I should point out, however, that although Credit Karma is a legitimate company, there have been some problems with its website. In March, Credit Karma agreed to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) based on allegations that despite its security promises, Credit Karma failed to take reasonable steps to secure its mobile apps. This left consumers’ sensitive personal information at risk. This was especially dangerous on public Wi-Fi networks such as those at coffee shops, airports and shopping centers. The settlement requires Credit Karma to establish comprehensive security programs designed to address security risks during development of their applications and to undergo independent security assessments every other year for the next 20 years. Fandango also faced and settled similar charges.

My bottom line: Use your home computer, and Credit Karma can be a useful way to gather information about your credit and credit score.


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