Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft Today

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. It occurs when someone steals your personal information, which can include your social security, driver’s license and credit card numbers and so on. Entities that have had their databases compromised include the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and University of Texas School of Business. The common fear among victims is that these thieves will use their personal data to access bank accounts, open new credit cards, obtain long distance calling accounts or take out loans.

In an effort to help fight identity theft, Congress added new sections to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA). Privacy, limits on information sharing, consumer rights to disclosure and accuracy are all addressed.

An Overview of FACTA:

o To self-monitor their credit history, consumers may obtain free copies of their credit report annually at http://www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
o Businesses must leave off all but the final five digits of a credit card number on printed store receipts.
o Employers must destroy all information obtained from a consumer credit report before discarding it.
o Consumers who suspect they are the victims of identity theft need only to notify one of the three credit reporting services (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) to initiate a nationwide fraud alert.
o Mortgage lenders must provide the credit score they use to determine a loan’s interest rate, regardless of loan approval.
o Companies must provide training for their employees and document when it was completed. It should outline what the consequences are for any violations.

Reasonable measures of destruction of personal information include:
o Burning, shredding or pulverizing documents so they become impossible to put back together or read.
o Erasing electronic files that contain any consumer reports so they cannot be recovered.

After reviewing company practices to ensure that they are designed to reasonably protect personal information, some companies are hiring outside firms that specialize in destroying personal records.

Penalties include:

o Civil liability – An employee can recover actual damages sustained if their identity is stolen from an employer. Or an employer could be liable for statutory damages up to $1,000 per employee.
o Class action lawsuits – If a large number of employees are impacted, they may be able to bring class action suits and obtain punitive damages from employers.
o Federal fines – An employer can be fined up to $2,500 per violation.

The law applies to any business that collects personal information or consumer reports about customers or employees to make decisions within their business. This most definitely applies to real estate brokerage offices. All records should be stored in a secure method so as to protect all personal data relating to agents and most definitely data pertaining to clients. Look at the next step in protecting your company from potential liability.

According to the FTC, a reasonable plan for a company to safeguard personal information includes:

o Designating an employee to coordinate and be responsible for the security program.
o Identifying material internal and external risks to the security of these personal data.
o Designing and implementing reasonable safeguards to control the risks identified in the risk assessment.
o Continually evaluating and adjusting the security plan in light of the results of ongoing monitoring and testing of the program, material changes to business arrangements.
o Creating a mitigation plan that kicks in when there is a privacy or security breach and there is a need to “repair it” immediately in the eyes of customers, government regulators and management.

Private individuals can take the following safeguard steps to protect their identity from theft:

o Burn or shred any financial papers, mail or credit reports that contain personal information. Never recycle that paper.
o Call 1-888-5OPT-OUT and request that credit card companies stop sending pre-approved credit card applications. Also, ask your credit card companies to stop sending you “convenience checks”. These are sent monthly by your credit card companies and your contact to cancel these will most realistically need to be a monthly phone call until the message is implemented. In other words, keep after them until you get resolution.
o Invest in a shredder that can destroy credit cards, CDs and staples.
o Delete any e-mail that asks for personal information and instruct your employees and family members to do the same.
o Hang up on any telemarketers who ask for your personal information. Instruct your family members to do the same.
o Limit the number of credit cards you hold, both business and personal. Review your monthly statements, financial records and bank statements as soon as they arrive. The sooner you report a suspicious incident the better.
o Companies should advertise their privacy policies on their website.
o Use credit cards instead of debit cards. $50 is your maximum liability for credit cards.

Food For Thought:

Statistics show that if there is a security breach, 20% of your customers will no longer do business with you, 40% consider not doing business with you and 5% hire an attorney to sue your company.

What Are the Major Causes of Crime and How Can Crime Be Prevented

The number of crime being committed in the United States of America is increasing day after day. There are many reasons as to why people commit crimes and it has been identified that there are no quick solutions to fix this problem in the country today. When people become victims of crime they usually consult the law enforcement agents. For example, people becoming victim of crime in the Chattanooga city may seek professional help from the Chattanooga attorneys. A Chattanooga attorney will be able to aid the person when it comes to dealing with court proceedings and other legal matters. Crime has a major impact on the society and there are many reasons as to why individuals indulge in criminal activities.

It has been revealed that kids who are being neglected by their parents choose the path of crime later in their lives. Peer pressure is also a major contributor to crime today. Students who are weak in education and are unable to perform up to the required standards often become criminals in future. Most of these unfortunate kids come from poor backgrounds where the parents are unable to afford for the clothes, books and other necessary things. These kids form groups and criminal gangs and resort to extortion, theft and fraud as a means of achieving material items which they had been deprived of.

Substance abuse such as drug and alcohol abuse has a strong influence on an individual’s ability to decide things. When people become addictive, they often commit crime to support their drug habits. Moreover, an addicted person can become a vulnerable target for another criminal due to his inattentiveness. The crime life has been made easier in the US through the easy access of handguns. In most reported cases of crime, the weapon which was used was a handgun which was either stolen or purchased from black markets.

Researches have also shown that most of the criminals are not well educated enough. This means that unemployment and poverty had caused them to become criminals so that they had means of supporting themselves and their families. Even if they had been employed at some point, the wages obtained from the workplace wouldn’t be enough to support a family. With that income it would be impossible to even cater for their basic needs and crime was the only profitable business that could help them in catering for their needs as well as their wants.

There are many ways in which crime can be prevented. Punishments and imprisonments are already in place to decrease crime levels. Another way is to reduce the opportunities of crime for the criminals. This can be achieved by better lighting, improved security systems, locking bars and guard dogs. Moreover, if people are given proper education then there will be an automatic reduction in crime rate as they will be able to get a job which will be able to provide for their basic needs and wants. There are also treatment programs available which influences people to make positive choices and refrain from criminal activities.

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Attorneys – Legal Information On Filing A Lawsuit

The constitution was put in place to protect your rights as a human being, occasionally people are treated wrongfully and need to protect their own rights. You do this by filing a lawsuit against those who have wronged you. Filing a lawsuit has many steps to take to accomplish what you want so knowing those steps is the best way to approach your case.

The very first step in filing a lawsuit is filing the original complaint and the issuing of a summons. These two things will outline what it is that has happened to you, who it is you are filing the lawsuit against, and also what you are wishing to receive from the court system as a sort of relief or payment for your grief. After these two things are filed and issued the clerk of courts then informs the person that is being issued the lawsuit of the suit. After informed the defendant is informed of this they will give their answer to the summons which will most likely be an acceptance of the lawsuit or a countersuit where they will claim that the matter was actually caused by the prosecution.

After the defendant has filed their answer with the courts the case is officially opened and the discovery process begins. The discovery process is when both sides will begin to gather evidence to back up their side of the matter. This evidence must be registered and exchanged so that both sides are protected in a lawful way and may not be ambushed by hidden evidence or a secret withheld witness.

At this point something called a pretrial conference may be held with the judge that will be presiding over the lawsuit. The pretrial conference is set in place to minimize delays in the courts and is usually set around a week before the trial actually starts. The pretrial conference is also used so that a settlement may be negotiated if that is what both the prosecution and the defense want.

After all these different steps have happened the trial is able to begin. Witnesses are able to be questioned from both the prosecution and the defense. And the evidence is presented from both sides so that the proper outcome may be decided. The judge will then give the jury instructions on how to deliberate on the matter. The jury will then decide and the case will either reach what is called a verdict or a deadlock.

Aim of Legal Directories and Legal Information Providers

There are certain problematic occasions when you need an attorney and comprehensive legal assistance. It is essential to take legal decisions seriously otherwise it could lead to severe consequences and even jail also. Whether you need a bail bond agent or an immigration attorney for your favor in court that can defend you. Therefore, it is always good to seek them for instant help. You can also search them online through online legal directories. Most of the people find attorney as and when needed through the online search directories for utmost convenience. It is the simplest method to search and locate a lawyer in your region through these legal resources.

In fact, these legal resources are the pure repository of the complete profiles of the attorneys, their experience, office address and their area of expertise. These resources also provide vital set of legal information to the public in order to make them aware about the legal terminologies. These directories itself serves as a catalog and provides enough information regarding, immigration law, bankruptcy law, divorce law, real estate law, intellectual property law, business law, tax law and other legal documents and forms. Even you can expect emancipation forms, guardianship forms, marriage forms, power of attorney forms (including, but not limited to, power of attorney durable, power of attorney – health care, limited power of attorney, power of attorney – childcare, power of attorney – revocation, and all types legal forms), name change forms, citizenship forms, passport forms, passport application, visa forms, federal tax forms and much more from these online legal resources.

The primary advantage is that you can find the best attorney for your DWI or any other legal difficulty, through online resources. In fact, you can find the renowned bail bond agent and bail Bond Company easily with the help of these websites. You can locate them and personally visit them to discuss criminal record (if any), history of showing up for past court appearances, and any other concerns. You can discuss the complete process and initiate it consequently. Moreover, you can access a list of the County jail locations and access to the County Jail Lockup system for your convenience.

Finding an attorney is supposed to be the common way that people adopt these days. It is not only an easy and simple way, but also the fastest means of getting legal information & assistance. Online law firm information providers or directories also offer free legal forms, guide for lawyers, the latest news and information that can be accessed free of cost. Anybody can access these directories for their personal reasons; however one thing must be noted that these legal directories cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, defenses, selection of forms or strategies. The very aim of these directories is to modernize legal technology and develop technologies that facilitate internet marketing for legal professionals.