Would you believe?


There was a time when our airwaves were not clogged with attorneys trolling for clients for class action lawsuits?  Today you cannot turn on the television without seeing a commercial for a class action lawsuit for this drug or that drug.  Class action suits mean big paydays for the attorneys who handle them.  What I rarely see is the attorney who advertises for clients with the intent to help clients prevent major problems.

Attorneys  can help you prevent a molehill turning into a mountain, but that means addressing legal issues before they snowball out of control.   Let me give you an example.  You want to do some work on your home, maybe add on an addition.

You call in a contractor to do the work.  Soon you have a nice new room but the first time it rains the roof leaks.  The contractor comes back out, goes up on the roof and stays there for about an hour comes back down and tells you it is fixed.  A few months later and it is leaking again.  How long will you go through this cycle?  When will you get fed up and call in someone different to fix what should have been done right in the beginning?

Having an attorney involved on your behalf could mean the difference in the contractor fixing the problem so that your roof does not leak again or the contractor coming out and doing a patch job that eventually fails.  This is one of the many benefits of a LegalShield membership.  You have attorneys to help you now instead of waiting until the problem becomes a major one.

So are we safer on Facebook? Time will tell


Facebook has reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over its privacy policies.  That means we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right?  Well time will tell.

I would like to think that means my information will be protected just as Facebook says it is, but I can’t help but consider the fact that several of the points brought up in the settlement was the fact that the Facebook Privacy statement said one thing, and the reality was that Facebook was doing things totally differently.

While I can hope that things will be done correctly from now on, there is no guarantee.  Only as we move forward and see the independent third party evaluation can we hope to see if Facebook is following the terms of the settlement.  I hope that they do, but I will not take it as gospel.  I will continue to be aware of the fact that advertisers and third party application developers may very well have access to my personal information and act accordingly.

If it happens that things remain the same, I can take comfort in the fact that I have a LegalShield Membership and that I can depend on  Identity Theft Shield to fix it.

 

Old habits die hard


All of us have developed habits over the course of our lives and habits can be hard to break.  Some habits are beneficial. If it is your habit to take a walk every day that is beneficial, it contributes to your health and fitness.  Some habits are basically harmless, like tossing dirty clothes in a pile on the floor.  And other habits are dangerous like drinking and driving.

All of us are influenced by habits and often we don’t consider many habits dangerous unless they directly impact our health or lives.  In today’s information driven world many habits we consider harmless are more dangerous than we think.  These habits increase our risk of falling victim to identity theft.  By changing these habits we can lower our risk.  Take a look at these habits, everyone of them increases your risk.

Considering junk mail harmless

Junk mail shows up in our mailboxes on a daily basis and most people consider it nothing more than an annoyance.  The truth is junk mail can be a real danger.  How many pre-approved credit card offers do you get?  All it takes if for a thief to get theirs hands on one, change the address and open an account in your name.

Tossing documents in the trash without shredding them first

Look at a piece of junk mail laying around right now, does it have a bar code?  barcodes carry information, and yet most people simply throw junk mail in the trash.   When it comes to personal documents people are getting better but anything that contains a name and the following information should be treated as sensitive:

  • Social security or other identifying number
  • Account number
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth

Carrying unecessary identification cards

Many of us have multiple identification cards such as Social Security card, Military ID’s Insurance cards, Medicaid cards.  All of these cards give thieves the information that they need to steal your identity.  Only carry these cards with you when absolutely necessary.  If your wallet is lost or stolen, these cards will not be lost along with it.

Carrying too many credit/debit cards

Many of us may have multiple credit accounts or bank accounts and we have cards for each account.  Limit the number of cards you carry.  You don’t need to carry your JC Penney store credit card unless you are going shopping at JC Penney.

Giving our social security number as a matter of habit

Not everyone who asks for your social security needs or has a right to it.  Ask why it is needed.  Your employer has a need and a right to your Social Security number when you are an employee, a prospective employer does not.   Government agencies have a right to your social security number, a private company probably does not.  Also when giving your social security number verbally to someone  be aware of your surroundings, think about who may be listening in.

Leaving purses or wallets unattended

Never leave your purse or wallet inside your car.  If you must leave it in your vehicle lock it in the trunk.  A thief who breaks into your car has access to the entire passenger compartment and can search through it very quickly and efficiently.  Anything you leave in the passenger compartment is fair game.

Not checking our credit report regularly

When is the last time you checked your credit report?  When you bought your last car? When you bought your house? Never?  Checking your credit report regularly gives you the greatest chance of minimizing the damage an identity thief can do to you.  Also there are government protections in place for consumers who become victims and many of these protections are time sensitive requiring you to take action within a certain time frame.  For example fraudulent credit card charges must be disputed in writing within 60 days of when the fraudulent charge would first appear on the credit card bill.  If an identity thief changes the address and you don’t get the bill, the 60 day time limit still applies.

Evaluate your habits of dealing with your personal information.  If they are lax, work on changing those habits to lower your risk.  Remember that we can all lower our risk but we cannot eliminate it.  The more we develop good habits the less of a chance that a thief will get our information from us.  Have a plan when and if you do become a victim, LegalShield can help.

Sorry! No Partridge in a pear tree here


Identity thieves are very generous during the holidays and they will give you all sorts of ‘gifts’ you really don’t want.  Identity theft will be rampant.  Are you protected?  I am with my LegalShield membership.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

  as performedby the Identity Thief Mass Choir

On the Twelfth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me twelve felony convictions

On the Eleventh day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, eleven cases of malt liquer,

On the Tenth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, ten STD’s,

On the Ninth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, nine illegitimate children,

On the Eighth day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, eight tickets to New York,

On the Seventh day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, seven seaside timeshares,

On the Sixth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, six speeding tickets,

On the Fifth day of Christmas an identity thief gave to me, five DUIs!

On the fourth day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, four pairs of shoes,

On the third day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, three video games,

On the second day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me two PS3s,

On the first day of Christmas an identity thief billed to me, a bottle of Dom Perignon!

Let’s Haggle!


If you have followed this blog, you know that I am a die-hard believer in the power of having a good attorney on your side.  Not just for emergencies, but for everyday issues-like haggling.  Haggling is simply a form of negotiation or bargaining.   Haggling can save you a lot of money especially on big ticket items.

Let’s say that you are looking at purchasing a car.  You go into the dealership and pick out a car, it may be new or used but either way once you pick out that car you have a few decisions to make like how much you want to spend, the payments you are prepared to make and the options and upgrades that you would like.  This is also the point where many people jump into the age old custom of haggling.

Lets say it is a used car.  There’s a catch phrase going around right now “Show me the Carfax.”  Carfax provides a report on the history of the car in question.  Has it been in an accident, maintenance history, mileage and the like.  A Carfax report can reveal bargaining points to a potential buyer or warn a buyer not to purchase the car at all.  The Carfax gives you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Now suppose you have an attorney available to you to help you with the next step, the contract.   The attorney can do for that purchase contract what a Carfax does for the vehicle itself.  The attorney review can point out bargaining points for you in the contract.  Things like balloon payments and warranty issues.  Or maybe promises made by the salesperson verbally that are not covered.  For instance the salesperson offers you free oil changes for a year verbally but that verbal agreement is not included in your contract.

Having an attorney to review that contract can reveal things like this.  With LegalShield, document and contract review is included in your membership so when you do decide to purchase a new car, new home or other big ticket item; your attorney will review that document for you.  Your attorney will point out the hidden surprises and explain to you exactly what it is that you are about to sign.

This is for the men and women in blue


Police Brutality.  It seems like we see YouTube videos posted constantly as evidence of police brutality but is that really what we are seeing?  No one likes police brutality, not even the police.  Believe me I know, I worked with them for 12 years.  But yes, like any other career field you do get bad apples in the bunch, and it’s the good officers who suffer because of the small idiotic minority.


Most officers get through their entire career and retire never having discharged their weapon or used unnecessary force, but to look at all the you tube videos out there you get the impression that police brutality is the norm.   However even the best cops may find themselves in a situation where force is needed, up to and including deadly force.  That force is needed to protect the life of  officers and the public.

The difference between a good cop and a bad cop is that a good cop uses force when he has no other apparent option.  He is in a situation where his life and the lives and safety of others may be at risk .  Hindsight is 20/20 vision as they say and looking back when things are calm and there’s time to thoroughly evaluate a situation may reveal other options, but he has all the time in the world to evaluate those options at that point.

The bad cop however often has what I like to call a ‘tin star mentality’.  He’s a cop by God and thinks that badge puts him on the level of God.  The authority of the badge goes to his head and intimidation, and use of force is his normal way of dealing with things.  He is the one we need to worry about, luckily he is not most officers.

While videotaping the bad officer is a great idea, you rarely know if that video on YouTube is a bad cop playing God or a good cop pushed into a situation where he or she is left with no choice.  I have yet to see a video posted that has captured the entire situation.  Those cell phone cameras don’t come on until it has already escalated into use of force.  You don’t know what the officer tried before it got to the point of using force because a ‘routine’ situation is never posted.  It’s not interesting, it won’t go viral in an hour’s time.  It doesn’t get interesting until the nightstick comes out, the pepper is sprayed or the taser is deployed.

LegalShield understands that Law Enforcement can be a thankless career and offers a plan just for Law officers called the Law Officer’s Legal Plan (LOLP) for duly sworn officers.

 

 

Official fake ID’s? No it’s called counterfeiting


I got a message from a friend of mine this morning Dave Gilbert.  Dave is one of the founders of Kooiii Business Resources and very aware of scams since they do not allow them to be promoted on Kooii.  And when they say they don’t allow them they mean it, all identified scams are immediately removed and the scammers accounts are terminated.  This one popped up on the radar of the KBR Stay Safe Program which is their scam identification program.

Knowing that I am a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, he knew that I would love seeing this one and skyped me a message right away!

[5:19:57 AM] Dave Gilbert: We offer only original high-quality fake passports, driver’s licenses, identity cards, visas, birth certificates and other products for a number of countries like:

USA, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, etc.

To get the additional information and place the order just visit our website: (url removed)

If in some technical reasons you are unable to visit our website we are always happy to answer your questions on email addresses mentioned below.  (e-mail addresses removed)

So I did take a peek at the site and it is not only a scam but quite illegal in what it is providing.

This is so obvious that I hope no one would fall for it.  The entire site is one huge red flag.  The site is designed to first steal your money and second steal your identity.  You can in the US ‘purchase fake documents, Passport, Driver’s license and ID card for $1,500 and they will have all of the security features of the documents you would get from the official government sources.  Well that happens to be a little crime called counterfeiting, so any document that you purchased from them would be illegal.

Oh and the only way to make a payment is by some form of wire transfer.  That is another crime.  By the sites own admission they cannot accept credit cards or paypal because it is ‘difficult’ to secure these services.

And if Point A and Point B weren’t reason enough to open your eyes, they intend to disappear on January 1, 2012 when they will take down their website.

This is obviously criminals harvesting information and whatever funds they can collect before disappearing into the Twilight Zone.  Don’t fall for this.  Never give out your information to anyone.  But more importantly understand that all anyone needs here personal information and a photo and it doesn’t have to be their own personal information.  Just send off a $1,500 Moneygram  with their photo and your information and they not only have your information but they have  ‘documentation’ to back up their fake claim.

This is why it is so important to have something to address identity theft.  Who might be sending your personal information to this company right now?  LegalShield is a good way to protect yourself now before it it happens.

Kids will be kids


Remember back in the day when you were a kid?  We all did silly things  on the playground and they were mostly harmless.  It seems that harmless kiddie antics now warrant the calling of police.

Yes a school in Florida called the police because a couple of 12 year olds snuck a kiss on the playground.  What the police?  Okay I guess I should say the school started out with the Department of Children and Families that for once actually displayed a bit of common sense.  By not responding to the report but then DCF passed the buck telling the school to call the police.

I think back to my days in Elementary school.   Boys and girls displayed their interest in all sorts of silly ways.  Yes there was kiss stealing, accusations of being infested with cooties, throwing balls at each other and even name calling.   But none of it was considered a basis for calling in the police.  I think most of my teachers and principals would have been embarrassed at the thought.  They were of the opinion that if you are going to work with kids you needed the skills to deal with them.  If you didn’t have those skills then you needed to find a different career.

The thing that gets me here is that this situation could have gone in a completely different direction with a different officer responding.  In this case the officer correctly saw it for what it was innocent childhood hijinks.

But schools seem to be calling police more and more often to handle what should be the job of school administrators and teachers.  Police respond and question children, arrest children and detain children on school property without the knowledge of parents.  It’s to the point that your child needs an attorney as much as if not more than the parents do.

LegalShield members don’t have to worry about this issue.  They know that their children have legal representation through that membership.  A LegalShield family membership covers not only the parents but the children  also, including 24 hour emergency access.

 

Silly Phishers!


Take a good look at the following email.  It’s pretty clear that this is a phishing scheme.  It was emailed from a numerology website.  The first thing that jumps out as a red flag is that they are using the ‘credit score’ bait.  A numerology site alerting me that there may be changes to my Transunion credit score?  Ms Cleo must be working for them since the only way they could know what is on my credit score is if they are psychic.

 

But hang on a minute!  Hidden text in the email!  That little box of text didn’t show in the email but when I copied it to a document to edit out the sensitive information, guess what showed up?  This is just a tiny bit of the text which looks like someone is writing a bad novel or ripped off a bad novel, not sure which applies.

 

So I am being warned about my credit score, offered unknown links back to a numerology site and Has a good awful example of putrid prose on top of everything else.  I can’t figure it out.  Are they phishing for personal information or fishing for a publisher?  No matter, either way it gets deleted.  However for those who click on links like this, there is LegalShield.

—–Original Message—–
From: email address removed
Sent: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 10:21:15 -0500
To: e-mail address removed
Subject: Notice: There has been a change to your Transunion score

ALERT: THERE MAY HAVE BEEN CHANGES TO YOUR CREDIT SCORE

View all 3 reports at no cost to you, and also receive score monitoring at all three major bureaus and avoid credit fraud. To retrieve your score Click Here
To unsubscribe please Click Here

Since there was little he could do about his situation, he seemed determined to strike as picturesque and dramatic a pose as possible. The back of one hand rested despairingly across his forehead, while his other arm was thrown wide in a flamboyant attitude. The only part of his face visible, therefore, was his mouth, which was pursed and plump, as if the world were too hot and coarse for his palate

Will you become a victim?


Thanksgiving is practically here and that means the busiest in store shopping day is here, Black Friday.  Most of us will be hitting the malls, shopping centers and department stores around the country.  We will not be alone, identity thieves and thieves in general will also be out there hitting the the same places that we hit.  Black Friday is a perfect time for low-tech gathering of personal  information.

Don’t become complacent thinking that Identity thieves need some complex convoluted scheme to steal your identity.  Low tech methods work quite well, and on Black Friday you need to be on alert for these low tech methods.

Pickpockets and purse snatchers

These are very old school methods of gaining your information (and whatever cash you have in your wallet), but it still works.  Especially in a large crowd.  A thief can snatch your wallet or purse and disappear into a crowd in a matter of seconds.  Ladies, we all have a very personal safe that goes with us where ever we go.   It’s called a bra and it’s perfect for stashing cash, credit cards and your ID.  Gentlemen, forget the back pocket.  A thief with a razor can slice your back pocket off and be gone with your wallet in the blink of an eye.  Put your wallet in your front pocket.

Shoulder Surfers

Shoulder surfers can have a field day in a crowd.  With people all jammed together in a limited space; it’s normal that people will be close, bump into you etc.  A shoulder surfer can memorize all they need to steal your identity in a matter of seconds.  If you are filling out a paper check or using a debit card with a PIN be aware of anyone who seems to be overly interested in you.

ATM Awareness

ATMs can be tampered with.  Before using any ATM give it a quick once over if anything at all looks out of place-use another ATM.   Identity thieves have several methods of tampering with ATMs from Attaching skimming machines that record the information on your card, to using X-ray film to steal your actual card.  Look for items around the ATM that do not belong.  These items may be concealed cameras placed there to record your PIN when you use your card.  With the information on the skimming machine and the information from the camera a thief can clone your card.  If you put your card in a machine and it does not work or respond, feel around the card slot, you might just find that a thin strip of X-ray film has been attached to the card slot.  Whatever you do, don’t accept the help of the ‘good’ Samaritan.  That person’s goal is to get your PIN number and once you leave thinking that the machine has ‘eaten’ your card, the helpful stranger will remove your card and use it.

General tips

Think safety and crime prevention.  Use common sense crime prevention tips.

  • Before you head off to the store, empty your purse or wallet of anything that you do not need.  Don’t carry all of your credit cards with you and definitely leave the Social Security card at home.
  • Make sure that you have nothing of interest visible inside your car, including those gifts you just purchased.  Lock them in the trunk if possible.
  • If you feel something is suspicious, report it to the store manager.
  • If you are the victim of a crime, report it to the police.

Understand that identity theft spikes during the holidays just like burglaries and other crimes.  Be aware that everyone is at high risk and have your response plan in place before it happens.  LegalShield can help.