Think it can’t happen to you?


Even cartoon characters end up in court.  Wile E Coyote, Genius has been brought before the bench although in WIle’s case it was probably deserved.  After all he has been harassing the Roadrunner for decades

The point is simply this.  Anyone of us could be facing a lawsuit at any time, deserved or not.  Just take a few minutes to scan some of the doozies on the Gavel2Gavel website.

A small sampling of what can be found there:

*A man sued Pepsi when they refused to redeem his points for a Harrier jet as shown on a television commercial.

*A man filed suit against Satan and his staff.

*A woman sued a Circus after a performing horse mistook her for a toilet.

And there’s much more Legal lunacy to be found on this site.

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Lets all have a safe and happy Halloween!


Yes it is just about that time again. Little ghosts and goblins will take to the streets en masse chanting that dire threat:

“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.  If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!”

I just thought I would include the complete rhyme for the benefit of those who have never heard it.  Anyway we will all be coerced into giving up the goodies once again this year.  While most people are truly happy to pay this innocent ransom, some may use this as an opportunity to do harm.  Also it’s important that the little goblins stay safe while they are out demanding their just payment for not subjecting us to the embarrassment of a bare bottom!

So I’m reminding you of some tips and suggestions to put into place to protect your little ghouls this year:

1. Take care in planning costumes for the kids. Robes, sheets and capes should not be too long it’s easy for them to trip while running along.  Also remember that masks limit vision, scary make up is much safer than a mask.

2. Make sure each child has a light source.  Since most trick or treating hours are timed to be after sunset, invest in penlights or better yet glow sticks for the little monsters to carry with them.  Many costumes are dark colored, a group of glow sticks can let drivers know to use caution.

3. Go out in groups with adult supervision.  It is much safer to have an adult accompany a group of small children.  An adult can keep the group together.  Also someone with evil thoughts on the brain are much less likely to approach a group headed by an adult than they would be to approach a group accompanied by an adolescent.

4. Keep an eye out for strangers in your neighborhood. Whether you are out accompanying the kids or at home handing out candy keep an eye out. Remember Halloween brings out all sorts of pranksters and mischief makers.

5. Stick to your neighborhood. By staying in a familiar area you more than likely know the folks giving up the treats.  You are less likely to to get ‘suspect’ offerings.

6. Do not allow the kiddies to eat any candy until you have inspected it. Any candy that looks as if it has been tampered with, the packaging is damaged or in any other way doesn’t look right, toss it.  Also toss homemade goodies and fruit unless you know the person who gave it very well.

Remember that the holiday should be enjoyable for everyone but we should always keep safety in the front of our minds.  Have a spooky good time!

Yet another way an attorney can save your bacon!


I came across this nice little video available on the Federal Trade Commission Website.  It’s called “Fraud-An Inside Look”.  You can order the DVD For free from the FTC’s site.

It’s about 10 minutes long and a convicted scammer talks about fraud and how he runs a scam on his victims.

How does this tie in with an attorney?  One of the steps that the FTC advises to anyone looking for business opportunities is to investigate it thoroughly and as a part of your due diligence, consult with an attorney.  Many people lose money by getting involved with scams and having an attorney evaluate what you are considering before you join, can save you from that.

Attorneys are not just for crisis issues.  In many cases such as business opportunity scams, consulting with an attorney beforehand can avert the crisis.  And if you intend to start, invest in, own or join a business; an attorney can help you go about it the right way.

You’re Repo’ing my car? But I’m only 4 years old!


As parents, the safety of our little ones is important.  We put time and effort into teaching them how to be safe.  For example “Don’t talk to strangers.”  We don’t teach them to protect their identities.  We don’t even consider them at risk for the most part.

Most of us still consider Identity Theft a financial issue.  It’s all about our credit cards and bank accounts.  And our kids don’t have credit cards.  And usually a parent or trusted adult is listed on that bank account so our children won’t become a victim.

Actually our children are prime targets for identity theft.  I didn’t get a social security number until I was 8 years old.  I wouldn’t have gotten it then, but my mother applied for mine when she applied for my older brother’s just to get it out of the way.  Now our newborns are often coming home from the hospital with Social Security numbers already assigned to them.

A child has something very valuable to Identity thieves-Clean Credit.  They also don’t use that credit so a thief has years and years to use the child’s information with almost no risk of discovery.  Child identity theft victims may not find out until they apply for a driver’s license or for college financial aid.  The activities of an Identity thief can ruin the life of a childhood victim.

As parents we need to be aware of the risk to our children and we need to teach our children about protecting their identity.  Make the protection of Personally Identifying Information a family issue.  Have children help with shredding documents.   To get them in the habit, let them shred some of their old school papers.  Always check junk mail for credit card or other offers of credit in your child’s name.  Consider enrolling your child some form of Identity theft protection designed for children, like Safeguard for Minors.

The important thing is to teach them to be aware and protect their identities.

Dude! Surf’s almost up!


Halloween is here,  Turkey Day will be here before you know it and then surf’s up!  The Holiday season is prime time for identity thieves to go surfing.  Mailbox Surfing that is.

Your mail can be a goldmine for identity thieves and the Holidays simply means bonus time!  Millions of items containing Personally Identifiable and Non-Public Information are placed in the mail each day.  Bank Statements, utility and credit card bills, applications and government issued correspondence arrive in mailboxes each day.  We write out checks and mail information ourselves and identity thieves know this.  That roadside mailbox is just waiting for them to come along and harvest what is in it.

During the Holidays they can make an even bigger haul from Christmas cards and gifts we mail out.  So what to do to lower your risk of identity theft by mail?

The safest way to protect your incoming mail is to rent a Post Office box.  Your mail remains secured in your PO Box until you retrieve it.  Many newer communities have turned to this option, having a bank of locked mailboxes in a central location as opposed to roadside mail boxes.

Protecting your outgoing mail is also pretty simple.   Treat that roadside mailbox like the threat that it is, don’t put anything into it.  Take your outgoing mail to the post office or one of those blue United States Postal Service mailboxes.

And a tip for protecting that holiday mail:

Send all valuables (including Checks, Money orders and Gift Cards) by Certified mail with a return receipt.  This way the mail is hand delivered to the address and someone at the address must sign for it.

Lets Give the Mailbox Surfers something that they don’t want this holiday season, a wipeout.

Do you have a law degree from Court TV?


Judge Wapner.  You could say that he was the spark that led to the abundance of ‘celebrity’ judges.  Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, Judge Hatchett, Judge Maybelline; the list goes on and on.  TV Court shows that give us a glimpse into the courtroom.  It is good that we see at least a part of how the justice system works, but do you think watching a television show means that you know the law?

What we see on court shows is television-entertainment.  What we don’t see is actual courtroom cases.  Every courtroom based TV show carries a disclaimer that the parties involved have dismissed their cases opting to have them settled on the show.   Since they are not being settled in an actual courtroom, you are not really seeing the whole picture, just a glimpse that has been recorded and edited to result in ratings.

Some people watch the various court shows and suddenly think that they know the law from that one little edited glimpse.  What you don’t see is the research done into the cases.  And you definitely don’t see the research done into the applicable laws.  It’s like picking up a book and reading the preface and assuming you know everything about the book.  You are missing all of the plot twists and surprises that propel the story forward from beginning to end.

So if you think that you know the law from watching Judge Judy, think again.  All you know is the complaint and the ending.  You really don’t know everything that went into reaching that judgement.

This is why attorneys are so vital in our lives, they know the law.  They  read the book and follow the plot twists and surprises to the ending.  They understand how we are affected by the law even when we do not.

A True LegalShield Story


I wanted to share this little video with you.  It’s a nice LegalShield story but it is also a true story.  I know the gentleman it happened to.   And yes he did use his LegalShield Membership for a missing trash can.

Not exactly something you would look in the phonebook and hire a lawyer to handle for you.  It was only an $80 recycling bin.  Most people would simply pay the $80 and forget about it.  It would cost more to hire the attorney than the recycling bin is worth.

That right there is the beauty of a LegalShield membership.  The little issues that we simply accept, even when we know they are wrong, because paying an attorney to right the situation costs more than the situation itself.  LegalShield allows you to take advantage of the scales of justice by freeing you from the scales of ‘what’s in your wallet.’  Those little issues may not seem like much when you compare them to the attorney fees, but those little issues add up.  A $25 issue here, a $30 issue there, a $50 issue next month; eventually they can tally up to a $500 bundle of issues and for most of us the tally is way higher.

Think back to all the times you got stuck with a defective product and couldn’t get your money back.  How many times have you gotten charged for a repair that was not done correctly?  Has a dry cleaners ever ruined an item of clothing.  Your luggage ever been lost by the airlines?  These are all issues that cost you money and you let it slide because you know it would cost much more to get an attorney involved.  You allow yourself to be nickeled and dimed out of hard earned cash unfairly.

LegalShield gives you access to an attorney when things like this happen as a standard benefit of your membership.  By the way, just to let you know how ‘trivial’ an issue our LegalShield attorneys have handled, a good friend of mine has a laminated money order that is the record for the smallest amount his provider law firm has ever written for a member.   He was charged a small service ‘fee’ by a car wash when he had free car washes for a year that came along with his new car.  The attorneys wrote a letter for $3, the cost of the fee, my friend got his $3 back but it did not stop there.  The car wash stopped charging that fee to everyone!  So not only was my friend’s rights protected thanks to LegalShield, everyone who uses that car wash now enjoys no additional service fee!

So what’s new?


How many times have you ran into someone and asked this question to have them tell you about a major change in their lives?  Our circumstances can change drastically in the space of a few months.

We should all understand how important it is to have a will, but it is even more important to have a current will.  An outdated will can cause as much of a problem as no will at all.  A good example of the problems caused by an outdated will was seen with the Anna Nicole Smith estate.  She had a will but it was outdated.  She had not updated her will.  Her late son was listed as her beneficiary and her daughter was not even mentioned.  This meant a lot of legal haggling over who had custody of her daughter and would administer the estate on her daughter’s behalf.

We should update or at least evaluate our will annually.  We should also update our wills when our circumstances change.  Somethings that should make you update your will:

 

 

1.  You have gotten married, divorced or ended a relationship with your significant other.

2. You have a new child or grandchild in your family whether through birth or adoption.

3.  You have come into a large sum of money through inheritance or some form of settlement.

4. You have purchased a big ticket item such as a home, a car or boat.

5.  You have made new investments whether they are in the stock market, a business or real estate.

These are by no means the only reasons you should update your will.  There are any number of individuals reasons to do so.  But you get the idea, your will should reflect your current circumstances.  Having a will is smart, having an updated current will is brilliant.

Sold!!! To the Highest Bidder!


This is a short excerpt from Frances Ellen Watkins poem The Slave Auction

 

The sale began—young girls were there,
   Defenseless in their wretchedness,
Whose stifled sobs of deep despair
   Revealed their anguish and distress.

 

And mothers stood, with streaming eyes,
   And saw their dearest children sold;
Unheeded rose their bitter cries,
   While tyrants bartered them for gold.

 

And woman, with her love and truth—
   For these in sable forms may dwell—
Gazed on the husband of her youth,
   With anguish none may paint or tell.

There is a reason that I included that in this post.  Hi-tech ‘auctions’ put unsuspecting people on the auction block everyday.  Thousands of people are bought and sold at auction everyday and they don’t even know it!

Identity thieves put people up for sale everyday in underground chat rooms.  These thieves trade in our personal information Like Wall Street day traders haggling over pork bellies and we don’t even know it.  Security Breaches and datalosses occur almost everyday exposing our personal information.  What happens to that information when it is lost?

Losing information in a security breach is not like losing your sunglasses.  You can’t ‘get it back’.  Once it has been exposed it is exposed from that moment on.  That’s because Personal Information is not a physical item you can secure again.  You can get your sunglasses back and know that they are safe in your possession.  Tell someone your name and you cannot take it back and make them forget.  If you have ever been notified that your information was exposed or lost you need to keep in mind that it is still exposed months or even years later.  Lose it once and it is gone forever.

 

Do you have Sammy Hagar Syndrome?


Almost all of us suffer from Sammy Hagar Syndrome at one point or another in our lives.  What is Sammy Hagar Syndrome?  You may know it by another name like a case of Lead foot.  I can’t drive 55, or 70 or whatever the posted speed limit is; in other words speeding.

For most of us it really is not intentional, we are ‘keeping up with traffic’.  Usually we don’t go overboard with the lead foot, but every so often it happens to the best of us and we end up with a speeding ticket.

When we get the ticket the officer tells us our options.  He doesn’t explain what those options mean however and rightly so.  He’s not an attorney it’s not his job.  He’s like Monty Hall on let’s make a deal.  You can pick door number 1, 2 or 3 but he’s not going to tell you what is behind that door.

Our usual method of handling it is to pay the fine and forget about it until the next time we get carried away.   We don’t know what option is best for us because we are not attorneys.  We are like the contestant picking a door and hoping that there’s not a Zonk behind it.

But an attorney can help you understand not just what your options are but which option is in your best interest.