News

view:  full / summary

5 Holiday Scams to Avoid

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on November 27, 2012 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

With the holiday season upon us it isn’t just retailers looking to turn a profit. Scammers exploit the spirit of the holidays to help separate victims from their money. Many of these scams are used throughout the year but are given a new twist for the holidays.

 

  1. Bait-and-Switch – Scammers frequently use cheap tablets, smart phones, MP3 players, jewelry and gift cards as part of bait-and-switch scams. They may approach potential victims in a mall, on the street or through the Internet offering a deal that is too good to be true. They may even allow the victim to check out the item, but rest assured, after the money is exchanged the victim will not get the item they are expecting. Only purchase big-ticket items from respected retailers and avoid this common holiday scam.
  2. Hard Luck Stories – Scammers often take advantage of the holiday spirit of giving. They may send victims an email requesting assistance or approach victims in public. Scammers will often have an elaborate hard luck story and sometimes even use children to elicit sympathy from victims. Some scammers may also pose as stranded holiday travelers in need of assistance to get home for the holidays. Be wary of these scams and never give out your address, bank information or large amounts of cash to strangers.
  3. Charity Scams – Fake charity scams also take advantage of the spirit of giving. Beware of scam charity emails. Research a charity before making a donation and make sure they are legitimate. You should never make large donations in cash and always ask for a receipt when making a large donation.
  4. Gift Card Swap – The rise in popularity of gift cards has led to a new type of scam. Scammers will use high tech scanners to read the numbers off of the gift cards sold in the aisles of major retailers. They will then return the cards to the store shelf and monitor them to see when they are activated. Once activated, they will use the card numbers to spend the funds before the intended recipient has a chance to use the card. Whenever possible purchase your card from behind the counter of a retailer.
  5. Email Greetings – Holiday emails can sometimes be a Trojan horse for hackers. Do not open attachments from senders you do not know and be wary of strangely worded emails. Make sure your computer’s antivirus software is up to date and use it to scan anything suspicious.

7 Legal Tips for Holiday Shopping

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on November 21, 2012 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner consumers and retailers are ready to kick the holiday shopping season into high gear. Before you head out for the big sale or start shopping online, read these tips for safe and secure holiday shopping.

 

  1. Understand your finances before going to the store or shopping online. It is easy to throw your budget or financial planning out the window when confronted by the newest gadget or a great sale, but it is important to set and follow a strict budget for your holiday shopping. Do not let eager sales staff or your own excitement sell you on products that are outside of your budget
  2. Beware of retail credit card or quick loan offers you cannot afford. Many lenders use the holiday cash crunch to attract borrowers. Do not sign up for any new credit cards or loans without reviewing the rates and terms carefully. 
  3. Know the retailer’s return policy. Many holiday retail disputes stem from misunderstandings over the return or refund policies. Make sure you read and understand the store policies before purchasing big-ticket items. Some returns will require costly restocking fees and some sale items may not be eligible for return.
  4. Beware of service plans and warranties. Additional protection is offered as an add-on during checkout at many retailers. Before purchasing a protection plan or warrantee make sure you understand the terms, limitations and likelihood you will need the added protection.
  5. Shop online from trusted retailers. It is important to make sure you are on the correct website by checking the domain name in the browser. Sometimes unsolicited emails that link to products will actually direct you to scam sites designed to look like a trusted retailer. Make sure the website’s checkout is also secure. The domain name at the top or bottom of your browser should contain https://.
  6. Do your homework when using an unknown online retailer. Make sure the company has a physical address and a working phone number. Run their name through a search engine to make sure they have a good reputation.
  7. Never pay for items purchased online with wire transfers or money orders. These types of payment offer no tracking or protection in the event of a scam.

7 Critical Legal Tips for Homeowners

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on November 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Home ownership is an investment fraught with potential legal problems. The following tips are designed to help you plan for potential problems in the future and handle unexpected events when they occur. If you have questions contact your law firm today.

 

  1. Homeowner's Insurance – Having an adequate homeowner's insurance policy is extremely important. Buying a policy because it is the most affordable may be a recipe for disaster. Make sure your policy covers natural disasters common to where you live. You should review your policy yearly to make sure your losses will be covered in the event of a disaster.
  2. Important Information – Keep important information, such as insurance documents, warranties, deeds and wills in a safe location where they will not be lost or destroyed.
  3. Preventative Maintenance – Few things are more frustrating to a homeowner than unexpected and costly home repairs. Having major appliances as well as your home’s plumbing, electrical and roof checked before a problem arises can save money in the long run. If a costly repair is needed, seek out a second opinion and always get an estimate in writing.
  4. Home & Appliance Warranties – Home and appliance warranties are only as good as their fine print. Before signing up for a warranty have your law firm review the terms carefully for exclusions and hidden costs.
  5. Neighborhood Nuisance – Disputes between neighbors can quickly spiral out of control. Before taking matters into your own hands, understand the local laws regarding common neighborhood disputes such as litter, aggressive animals and loud noise. Contact your law firm and discuss your concerns with an attorney who understands the local laws.
  6. Mortgage Scams – The mortgage crisis led to a booming industry in mortgage relief scams. Be wary of forensic mortgage audits, loan modification guarantees and class action mortgage relief. Scammers use direct mail and phone calls to solicit victims. Do not sign any agreements or make any payments before speaking with your law firm.
  7. Renting – Before you consider renting your property make sure your mortgage allows the space to be used as a non-primary residence. Many homeowners’ insurance policies exclude renters. Review the terms of your mortgage and insurance carefully. Your law firm may also help review any lease or roommate agreements before they are signed.

What You Need to Know About Quick Cash Loans

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on November 5, 2012 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Quick cash loans are marketed as an easy way to get cash in the event of an emergency. Also known as pay day, title, cash advance, check advance, post-dated check or deferred deposit loans, they can cost borrowers a staggering amount in interest and fees. Borrowers should avoid quick cash loans whenever possible. It is important to understand the terms of any loan and discuss the consequences with an attorney before signing anything or accepting money.

 

A quick cash loan is a small loan that often does not require a credit check. The loans must be paid back quickly, usually within a few pay periods. If they are not paid back on time fees can multiply rapidly. In most cases the annual percentage rate (APR) on a quick cash loan averages about 400%, but it can be as high as 5,000%. A standard credit card has an APR of 12% and a standard loan APR is around 7%. In addition to high interest, quick cash loans can often involve extremely high processing and late payment fees. The fees may even exceed the total amount of the original loan.

 

There may be alternatives to quick cash loans:

 

  • A small loan from a credit union or local bank may offer better interest rates and more manageable repayment terms.
  • Shop for credit with the lowest interest rate and be sure to understand any additional fees.
  • If you have a 401K plan you may be able to take out an emergency loan against those funds. The interest rate is generally low and in some cases the interest may be paid back into your 401K.
  • If you need money quickly contact other lenders or your utility companies and request an extension on those bills.
  • Develop a budget and savings plan to help build a buffer against emergencies.

4 Legal Tips for Saving Money on Car Maintenance

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

Unfortunately every car breaks down at one time or another. The following legal tips will help you save money on vehicle repair and maintenance. 

 

  1. Warranty Terms – A new or used auto warranty is only as good as its terms and the company providing it. Nearly all used car dealers now offer third-party warranty coverage. Research the company behind the warranty on the Internet. Review used car warranty plans especially carefully. Understand what the warranty covers and does not cover and what regular service you are responsible for covering. If you violate even a small provision of your obligations under the warranty, you may inadvertently void the warranty. If you are paying for the warranty, make sure it is worth the cost. Consider whether the cost of the warranty and its limited terms outweigh its benefits. Ask yourself if you would be better off saving the price of the warranty and holding it back so that you can pay for your repairs directly?
  2. Find the Right Mechanic – It is important to find a mechanic who is trustworthy and familiar with your type of vehicle. Talk to friends, family and coworkers about where they take their vehicles. You may also check the Better Business Bureau or online reviews. Lawsuits between a customer and repair shop are common – and expensive. Reputable mechanics minimize lawsuits.
  3. Regular Maintenance – The best way to avoid costly unexpected repairs is to properly maintain your vehicle. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and have your mechanic regularly check the vehicle for problems. Knowing a potential repair is on the horizon will help you prepare for the expense.
  4. Second Opinions –If your mechanic says your vehicle needs a costly repair, get a second opinion before authorizing work and NEVER authorize work before getting a detailed, written estimate from the mechanic.

What You NEED to Know About Auto Insurance

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on October 11, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

There are many different types of auto insurance available. Finding the “right” auto insurance for you means finding the best balance between policy cost and accident benefits. To do this, you must: understand the different types of coverages available; determine which coverages are essential for you; decide if you want desirable but non-essential coverage and determine how much you can afford to pay.

 

For nearly all auto owners, liability coverage is essential. Your lender may require collision coverage if you financed the purchase. Medical payment coverage is highly desirable. Here is a summary of the major types of coverage typically available:

 

  • Liability coverage pays a party injured by your negligence in operating a vehicle;
  • Comprehensive coverage pays you (or your lender) for damages to your car or contents caused by fire, severe weather, animals, and similar hazards;
  • Collision coverage pays you (or your lender or body shop) for the repair of damages to your car that resulted from a collision, regardless of who caused the collision;
  • Gap insurance pays you the difference between what your car is worth and the amount you still owe on a loan or lease, in the event your vehicle is totally destroyed in an accident;
  • Medical payments coverage pays the medical bills of you and others in your car injured in an accident, regardless of fault in the accident.

Determine the amount of coverage you need.

  • Many states and provinces mandate the minimum amount of liability coverage an owner must carry. This minimum coverage may not be adequate to protect all of your assets in the event you cause a major personal injury. It is a good idea to buy enough liability coverage to protect all of your assets. If you are liable for injuries in an accident, the injured party may seek your personal assets if your insurance coverage is not enough to pay all the damages.
  • Do not pay for collision coverage in excess of the value of your auto. If your auto is older and greatly depreciated in value, you may elect not to buy collision coverage. Alternatively, you can save money on collision coverage by allowing a higher deductible. This will lower your insurance payment, but you will have to pay more out of your pocket to repair your car after an accident.
  • Medical payments coverage is usually not required, but it does pay medical bills, up to a stated limit, incurred as a result of injuries suffered in your car as a result of an accident.

Know the “fine print”.

  • Every insurance policy contains a list of events or damages excluded from coverage under the policy and requirements on the timing and method of notifying the insurer of an accident or claim. It is important to understand what your policy will not pay before you buy it.

6 Legal Tips for Auto Financing

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on September 22, 2012 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Most new or used car buyers cannot afford to purchase a vehicle with one-time cash payments. Fortunately, there are many options for auto financing. It is extremely important to understand what you are getting into before you agree to finance terms. If you have questions about your finance agreement or the finance process, call your LegalShield provider law firm today.

  1. Know your budget before selecting a vehicle or applying for financing. Buying a vehicle you cannot afford may have serious financial consequences. Review your monthly bills and determine what you can safely afford. Anticipate the unexpected, such as job loss or a major home repair; if something out of the ordinary occurs make sure you can still cover your car payment.
  2. Know the difference between leasing and purchasing. Leasing a car is essentially renting the vehicle from the leasing company. You are responsible for damage to the vehicle, are limited to a certain number of miles per year and other possible restrictions. Exceeding your allowed miles can incur additional fees. After the lease period is over the vehicle is returned to the dealership. Purchasing a vehicle means that once you have made the last monthly payment it is yours to keep.
  3. Making a substantial down payment on a new or used vehicle will lower your monthly payment and the total amount of interest you pay on your loan.
  4. Know your credit score before applying for a loan. An error on your credit report can increase your interest rate or cause you to be denied credit. If you need assistance with rectifying problems with your credit report contact your LegalShield provider law firm.
  5. Shop around for the best possible loan. You do not need to receive financing through the dealer. Your bank or credit union may offer a more favorable interest rate and terms. It may be beneficial to be preapproved for a loan before you begin shopping for a vehicle. However, often a new car dealer will offer very low interest rates as an incentive for you to buy a car from the dealer.
  6. Read the fine print in your financing documents. The terms of an auto lease or loan are written in legal terminology and may be difficult for a non-lawyer to understand.

What You Need to Know About Statutes of Limitation

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on September 4, 2012 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Statutes of limitation are laws requiring an injured or aggrieved party to file a lawsuit within a certain time frame or forever lose the right to sue. The length of time to sue varies based upon the type of injury, type of claim, potential defendant and other factors. Nearly all claims are subject to a statute of limitation and some may be as short as one year or even less.

 

It is extremely important to act in a timely manner before the expiration date. Attorneys often need several months to prepare a case for filing. Also, statues of limitation, especially in claims against a government entity, can be very complicated and difficult to interpret. As a result, it is very important to consult with your attorney promptly upon discovering a possible claim against someone else.

The content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. Readers should be aware that while certain principles outlined on this site may be similar to principles followed in their own state or province, laws can vary considerably.

Legal Tips Every Pet Owner MUST Know

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on August 29, 2012 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

It doesn’t take long for a new pet to become a member of the family. Along with the joy and fun pets bring to our lives, they also bring the occasional headache. These tips are designed to help pet owners.

 

Keep your pet under control at all times. You may be legally responsible for damages caused by your pet, especially if your pet has any history of biting humans, attacking other pets or showing a vicious character.

 

Know your state and local laws regarding pet ownership.

 

  • Does your locality have a leash law? If so, what does it require. Does your locality require a pet tag or license and various inoculations? Knowing and complying with pet laws will help you avoid citations and court appearances.
  • Does your locality enforce pet “nuisance laws”? These may include ordinances prohibiting excessive barking and require cleaning up after your pets. Knowing and complying with these rules will also help you avoid fines and potential problems with neighbors.
  • Do you intend to breed your pet? Laws governing breeding vary greatly between localities and states. If you plan to breed your pet make sure you understand the laws or rules in your locality.

If you are a renter be sure you understand the terms of your lease in regards to pets in your house or apartment. Do you have to pay an additional security deposit? Is there a limit on the number or weight of pets you can have? Understand the terms before you sign a lease or acquire a pet.

Do the math before buying pet insurance to be sure it makes sense for you and your pets. Read all policy terms before you purchase to determine if the insurance covers events that concern you the most.

Stay calm and rational when involved in a disagreement over a pet. Whether you are the pet owner or have been injured by someone else’s pet, it is important to handle the situation in a civil manner. Pet disputes can escalate quickly and lead to prolonged and unnecessary legal actions.

Generally speaking, it is not recommended to put instructions for the care of a family pet in your Will. If you are concerned about planning for your pet’s care after your death, call your LegalShield provider law firm to discuss your options with an attorney who understands the laws in your state or province.

6 Legal Tips for Surviving Your Hospital Stay

Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on August 22, 2012 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Whether you go to the hospital for a routine procedure or an emergency, there are steps you can take to help avoid medical and legal complications down the road.

 

  1. Have an up-to-date Medical Power of Attorney or Advanced Medical Directive (“Living Will”). These documents entrust decisions about your care to a person you designate in the event you cannot make medical decisions yourself. Advise your family of your designation so that person is notified when decisions must be made.
  2. Make sure your name, identifying information and all other information is completely accurate during hospital check in. Some problems involving hospital care begin as clerical errors. A seemingly small error can create a major treatment crisis. Reduce the chance of error by carefully reviewing your hospital admissions paperwork and checking your hospital wristband for errors.
  3. Understand your health insurance coverage before you get sick. It is important that you understand how much you may owe at discharge and all limitations and exclusions in your insurance policy. Your policy may require you to obtain preauthorization for medical procedures. In addition, you may need supplemental coverage or disability coverage in the event of a long recovery. Review your health coverage now. It is too late to make critical changes after you get sick.
  4. Save any documents you receive regarding your care or billing. Retain all of your hospital documentation in the event of a fee dispute, insurance dispute or medical malpractice claim. Documents can be easily misplaced in the confusion of care and recovery. Ask someone you trust to help you keep your documentation organized.
  5. Ask for a second opinion if you are unsure about your diagnosis or treatment. You have the right to speak with another doctor or caregiver if you are uncomfortable with the diagnosis or treatment recommendations being made.
  6. Advocate for quality care. It is important to speak up for yourself in the hospital. If you have a concern about the quality of care you receive, speak to a doctor or nursing supervisor. If you are unable to advocate for yourself due to the nature of your illness, medications or treatments, have a friend or family member stay with you. Many hospitals have a designated advocate on staff. If you feel your concerns are not addressed ask to speak with a patient advocate.


Rss_feed