Did you pay too much?

Auto repairs are a part of vehicle ownership.  Parts wear out and they do need to be replaced, but are you paying too much for those repairs?  I came across a great blog post today on the Driverside website listing the top 5 most overcharged repair jobs.

Is this what you feel like you have paid for?

Most of the repairs listed are fairly simple and they tell you how to figure what your bill should be on these repairs.  A repair bill should consist of parts and labor and possibly a ‘disposal’ fee.  Did you look at your last vehicle maintenance or repair bill?  Did it seem high?  So what can you do if you think that you have been overcharged?

Well if you were a LegalShield member, you could call your attorney.  Many members use the membership when they have been treated unfairly by a merchant or service provider.  Members use the membership for everything from over charges to defective products to repairs that did not fix anything.  We all have the right to expect merchants to provide the services they promise at a fair cost.

As a Legalshield member you feel like you have paid for this instead

Being overcharged for a repair or paying for a defective product is a legal issue and an attorney can help.  When a LegalShield member says “You’ll hear from my attorney.”  They have the power through affordable access to actually mean it.

Who you gonna call?

Accidents happen.  When they do we automatically think call an ambulance and call the police.  We never think call our lawyer.

Why call a lawyer?  When the police get there you are giving them a statement.  That’s right a statement that goes on the police report.  We all have the right to consult with an attorney before giving any statement to the police.  It’s just not something that we think about in this situation.

What if there are no injuries, it is just a minor fender bender?  how should you handle the situation?  Once again, consult with an attorney who can tell you the best way to handle it.  The attorney can help you determine whether or not you should report it to your insurance company or handle it privately.

LegalShield allows you access to an attorney in situations like this.  You can get advice to help you protect your rights and figure out the best way to handle this legal issue.

Sorry Bill doesn’t live here

Usually when a client calls me to ask the question “What do I do?” it’s because they need to use their membership and are not sure how to go about it or even if they should call.  My advice is always to use the membership and let the attorneys handle legal issues and the Investigators for Identity Theft Shield answer their identity theft questions but this morning I was stunned by a client asking me a different question.

It seems my client is the recipient of email meant for someone else.  Not a single email but several.  These email are being sent to her from a phone service provider.  When she received the first one, she tried to contact the person that it was meant for and called the phone number that had been provided for the intended recipient.  Guess what? she got another email letting her know that the intended recipient now had a message to pick up.

You would think this is a minor thing but…The email contains everything a thief would need to steal the intended recipient’s identity, all of their personal information.  Name, address, phone number, account number etc.  Not good.

She told me that she although she understood identity theft, she never understood exactly how easy it was to steal someone’s identity.  This company handed someone elses’ information to her on a silver platter.   This triggering a bit of thinking on her part.  Who else is getting all this information sent to them?  Are they honest?  What companies has sent out her information to the wrong person.

She is very thankful right now to have her LegalShield and Identity Theft Shield memberships.  She now realizes just how easy it is for her identity to be stolen and is relieved to know that she is covered when the wrong person gets their hands on her information.

Identity theft victims suffer an emotional toll too

Identity theft is a crime.  People who are the victims of crime often have a mental reaction to that crime.  Identity theft is no different.  Identity theft victims are put through all sorts of stressful situations.

Imagine finding out you do not have the money to pay your rent or mortgage, going to jail and spending the night in a cell for something you did not do.  Going to the hospital for treatment and finding out your insurance is exhausted.  Identity theft victims face all of these situations on a regular basis.

Indentity theft can be a source of great emotional trauma, especially when you clear up one thing only to find that there is yet another problem to be dealt with and having that happen over and over again over a period of weeks or even years.  That is the emotional toll an identity theft victim can face.

Because identity theft is not a violent crime, victims can often find that their issues are overlooked or that others around them expect them to simply ‘suck it up’.  People who have never experienced it don’t understand that the victim’s  sense of violation is just as real as the mugging victim.

The Identity Theft Resource Center has put together a guide for Identity theft victims to help in overcoming the emotional impact.  The fact sheet can be found here.

One way to ease a bit of the stress is to be prepared and have help available that you can turn to before you become a victim.  Having something that will kick in and take a bit of the burden off of your shoulders.  This is one area where LegalShield can help.  Through the Identity Theft Shield you have investigators that will work with you to restore your identity.

Driving while…

There’s a well-known term in the African-American community, DWB.  DWB means Driving While Black and it happens regularly.  The term refers to Racial Profiling the idea that certain groups of people are more likely to commit crimes than other groups.  How do I know it happens? I have been a victim of DWB.

Several years ago, my mother and I were traveling from San Antonio TX back to Florida.  Just outside of the Beaumont city limits, I noticed a marked police cruiser in traffic.  I wasn’t speeding and unlike most driver’s, I don’t have any fear of passing a cop who is not doing the speed limit.  So I passed him.

I suppose I should add that IH-10 is the major East West highway in the southern part of the U.S. running from Los Angeles, CA to Jacksonville FL and it passes through San Antonio, TX.  This is importantant because the Major North-South highway, IH 35 crosses IH 10 in San Antonio.  IH 35 runs from Laredo, TX on the Mexican border to Duluth MN where travelers can easily cross into Canada.  Cops understand the significance of this intersection of highways Drugs brought in from Mexico can easily be distributed nationwide using these highways.  But back to my experience.

When I passed the police unit, not speeding mind you; the officer immediately pulled out into the left lane behind me.  The maneuver was so abrupt, I thought perhaps he had received a call.  I was working at the time for the police department so this was my way of thinking.  As soon as I could move over to get out of his way I did so which triggered the blue lights.  Yes, I was being pulled over.

The traffic stop started with license, registration and step out of the car.  The officer’s partner immediately approached the passenger side of the vehicle where my mother was sitting while Officer number one began questioning me about where I had been, what I had done while there and where I was going.  This was prior to me becoming a member of LegalShield, which allows you 24 hour access to an attorney in these situations.

I was questioned at the rear of the vehicle for about five minutes when officer 2 came back and took over the conversation putting an end to the questioning.  Oh and he gave me a very flimsy excuse for why I had been pulled over.  It seems when I got into the right lane to allow them to pass I was ‘too close’ to the panel van in front of me, but I did immediately back off correcting the situation.  I later found out that my mother had not only informed officer two that I was a Police Department employee, but had challenged the officer to call my department and speak with my Chief.

The real reason that I was pulled over?  I was a black woman driving a nondescript car with Florida plates coming from a known drug distribution area.  The officer was so busy questioning me, he never even checked my Driver’s License and registration. I was Racially profiled.

But the Profiling does not stop with race, there are many other forms of profiling:

DWY-Driving While Young as teenagers are targeted

DANCIABN-Driving a Nice Car in a Bad Neighborhood

DABCIANN-Driving a Bad Car in a Nice Neighborhood

DWF-Driving While Female

DWE-Driving While Elderly

The list goes on and on.  Most cops are honest hardworking individuals but like any other group it does have it’s bad apples; those who  see this as a way to legally display their own prejudice, and those who have ‘good intent’ but go about it the wrong way not seeing or realizing what they are doing.

Today I am a member of  LegalShield in addition to being an associate.  I don’t have to worry about being profiled because I know any hour, day or night all I have to do is grab my cell phone and call the LegalShield hotline for help.

He’s dead, he won’t care

On a traditional Catholic calendar  October 31st through November 2nd are all holidays.  October 31st needs no explanation All Hallows Eve or Halloween is quite notable.  That makes November 1st All Hallows Day, Better known as All Saint’s Day.  November 1st is set aside to honor the many saints of the church.  That only leaves November 2nd.

November 2nd is not really observed in the U.S. except in ares where there is a large Hispanic population.  November 2nd is All Souls Day, better known in Mexico as Dia de los Muertos-Day of the Dead.

The Day of the Dead/All Souls Day, is a day to honor and remember those who have passed on.  Being today is the Day of the Dead, It is an appropriate day for me to honor and remember the dead in my own way.   By telling you about a practice that dishonors our departed loved ones.  It is called Ghosting and it is one of the first widely used forms of identity theft.  Ghosting is simply taking over the identity of someone who has died.

Classic Ghosting

There was a time when governments did not document births or deaths.  It fell to families and churches to record this information through family bibles, baptismal records or church membership registries.  That meant that the information on births and deaths was only available locally.  Identity thieves only needed to worry about a few things to successfully ghost someone. They needed to be the same sex and race as the deceased and close to the same age.  All they had to do was go to a different location and establish themselves as the deceased.

Modern Ghosting

When Government began to be more effective at recording vital statistics, Classic Ghosting became much harder.  Today it is almost impossible.  Ghosting still occurs today but in a different form.

Today ghosting is all about using the information of the deceased to commit financial identity theft or Social Security Identity Theft.  Yes we do have what is called the Death Master File to prevent it from happening but it can take years for the deceased to be added to the file.

A Well known victim of Modern Ghosting is the Late Nirvana front man, Kurt Cobain.  Kurt Cobain died in 1994 yet his social security number was allegedly used in 2007 to purchase a $3.2 million home in New Jersey.

Identity thieves will target anyone even our loved ones who have passed on.  When you lose someone you love, they can no longer protect themselves.  It is up to us to protect them.   or for us to take steps to protect ourselves before we pass on.  Talking to an attorney now about what you can  do as a part of your estate planning would be a good first step.

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.

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.

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.

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.