News

4 Legal Tips to Help Save You Money in 2013

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on January 22, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Taking charge of your finances is a great way to kick off 2013. The following tips are designed to help you survey where you are, diagnose any potential problems and with the help of your law firm, resolve legal issues.

 

1. Review Your Credit Report – The best way to monitor your financial history and ensure the accuracy of your credit score is by reviewing your credit reports each year. In the United States, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that the three consumer credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—provide you with a free copy of their report once every 12 months. You may order your free annual credit report online at annualcreditreport.com (https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp) or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Canadians may view the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website by here (http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/consumers/creditloans/reportScores/index-eng.asp). The FCAC website offers information on how to obtain credit reports and correct errors. If you need assistance correcting inaccurate information on your report, call your law firm today.

 

2. Check Your Mail – Monitor your bills and any collection notices carefully. Ignoring collection notices will only lead to headaches, increased fees and potential legal action including wage garnishment. Even if you cannot afford to pay a bill in full, working out a reasonable payment plan with the lender or collection agency may buy you time and save you money in the long run. If you need assistance working out a payment plan or disputing an inaccurate bill, call your law firm and speak with an attorney.

 

3. Review Your Insurance Coverage – You need to periodically review your policies to insure they cover the essential investments in your property, changes in your life and recent purchases. If you need help deciphering the terms of a policy or disputing a denied claim.

 

4. Start Preparing Your Taxes – Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your tax return. In the rush to complete returns last minute, many filers omit deductions or overpay. Taking your time early in the year, organizing paper work and carefully reviewing returns will help make sure your filing is accurate.

The Five Big Scams and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on July 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Well disguised scams come at you from all directions – the internet, mail, even face-to-face contact. Scammers change tactics constantly in order to lure victims into their schemes. Understanding the biggest scams will help you avoid them.

 

Easy money is the oldest and still the best hook scammers use to lure victims. “International Lottery Winner”, “Money Escrow”, “Check Cashing”, “Nigerian Scams” are all classic “easy money” scams that claim thousands of victims each year. The promise of quick and easy money is hard to pass up, especially in these economic times, but remember, there is no such thing as easy money. In the end only the scammer makes the money. Run, do not walk, away from plans that promise you much money for little work.

Fear is the most effective means scammers use to force victims to make fast and disastrous decisions. Fear has proved especially effective against senior citizens insecure about their financial future. Claims that your bank account has been “hacked” and demanding account information quickly in order to “save” it are common. Most of these come under the guise of your bank’s letterhead or service mark. If you receive a regular mail, email or a phone call claiming your account has been hacked, immediately contact your bank independently and inquire about your account. Do not use a provided reply envelope, reply email website or telephone patch through to contact your bank. These are part of the scam.

Confusion goes hand in hand with fear as an effective way to make victims act quickly. Again, these scammers often target the elderly who may be easily confused and manipulated. When contacted by a stranger or in an unusual way with a demand that you act promptly, protect yourself by immediately breaking contact or by calling a trusted friend to discuss the matter before taking any action.

Faith and charity are the best human traits, but ones that scammers often rely on to bilk their victims. Do not make donations or offer assistance to “churches” or “charities” unknown to you who email, call or show up at your home uninvited. Never make a donation to a church or charity that you are not familiar with, no matter how compelling their “story”.

Jobs are difficult to find in a slow economy. Scammers use the promise of work to bilk individuals desperate for employment. Do not pay money to apply for a job! Do not give personal information to a “prospective employer” over the phone, mail or online. This is a major source of information for identity thieves. When you are contacted about an employment opportunity, meet with the prospective employer in person at their place of business and do some research on the employer before providing any personal information.


8 Legal Tips for Summer Travel

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on June 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

With summer upon us, many families are preparing to travel. Whether you are driving, flying or taking a cruise, it is important to be prepared. These tips will help you prepare for your summer travel plans.

 

  1. At Home– Ask the postal service to hold your mail. You may also notify local law enforcement that you will be away from home. Many police departments have programs that will have an officer drive by your home while you are away. Be careful mentioning that you will be away on Facebook or other social networks. Thieves sometimes use that information to target victims who are out of town.
  2. Protect Your Family– Leave a trusted friend or family member with a copy of your current will, power of attorney and insurance documents. If you do not have a current estate plan contact your LegalShield provider law firm today.
  3. Money – Avoid carrying large amounts of cash while traveling. Traveler’s checks and credit cards offer more protection in the event of theft. Contact your bank and credit card company to let them know you will be traveling and check on your credit limits. If you are exchanging money, use only authorized agents or banks.
  4. Airports – Understand airport security regulations before you leave for your trip. The United States Transportation Security Agency and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority websites offer a great deal of information about what you can and cannot take with you when you fly.
  5. Driving - If your plans involve driving in another country, state or province, make sure you understand local traffic laws. Also, make sure you are adequately insured.
  6. Timeshares – If you are considering a timeshare read our article about what you need to know from March 2012 first.
  7. Health – Know your health insurance coverage before traveling. If you are traveling to a remote area overseas you may consider purchasing additional traveler’s health insurance.
  8. ID Theft – Only carry the personal documentation necessary for traveling. Do not let your passport or other important documents out of your sight.

What You Need to Know About Spam Text Messages

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on May 17, 2012 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Spam text messages are a growing problem in the United States and Canada. Spam texts can be irritating, costly and a gateway for scammers. Here is what you need to know about text message spam.

  • Cell phone spam is on the rise because unlimited texting plans and cheap disposable phones are now more affordable.
  • Scammers who distribute text spam can be difficult to track and prosecute because they change phones and numbers frequently.
  • Cell phone providers are working to improve spam blocking, but spammers continue to find ways to circumvent the technology.
  • Users in the US and Canada can forward spam texts to their cell phone provider at 7726 (SPAM).
  • Users can also ask their provider to block text messages that originate from the Internet. This will not block cell-to-cell spam, but it will help eliminate some unwanted messages.
  • Do not visit websites or respond to offers contained in text message spam. Many “free offers” are actually phishing scams designed to steal your personal information.

6 Legal Tips to Secure Your Smartphone

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on March 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The number of Americans using smartphones is rising dramatically. As smartphone speed and technology improve, individuals are using their phone to access personal information. Many users now access and manage business and personal email as well as banking and other financial data from their phone. This can make a hacked or stolen phone a one-stop shop for would-be thieves and scammers. These tips will help protect personal information on your phone.

1. Set a screen lock and password for your phone. Leaving your phone without a password is asking for trouble.

2. Enable the remote location feature on your phone. This may help you track a lost or stolen phone. Not all phones have this feature built in, but there are apps available for purchase. Some will allow you to remove personal information from your phone after it has been stolen.

3. Only allow your phone to join trusted networks. Scammers sometimes set up fake wireless networks in public places to lure users into joining the network. This may allow the scammer to track any data to and from your phone.

4. Update your phone's software. Software updates frequently include security patches. Failing to update your phones software may leave you vulnerable to hackers.

5. Do not “jail-break” your phone. The practice of “jail-breaking” a phone involves opening up the operating system to applications that were not designed to work on it. This will make your phone vulnerable to hackers.

6. Only download well-reviewed and tested applications. Some apps may include malicious software designed to capture your personal information.