Friday, June 16, 2006

Petition: Right to protect one's self and family

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------

A peitition that is the first step to getting the laws changed because we need to be able to protect ourselves and family with out being jailed, when the law enforcement ignores the problem, and waits for someone to be seriously hurt or killed before they act....

Right to protect one's self and family

Target:Rick Boucher, Congressman, US House of Representatives
Sponsor: Christine Schaffner

People should be allowed to do what is reasonable to protect themselves and thier family. Too often, when someone does do such, they face jail time instead of the person who was harming them in the first place.Imagine how you would feel, if you had to go to the furthest part of your peoperty and let the intruder do as they please. Then you are told, that if you raise one hand in self defense against the attacker, then you'd be the one in jail.

Right to protect one's self and family

This country was founded by people who were willing to take a stand and face the issues that interfered with thier ability to protect thier families. Why is it then, now, people are afraid to protect themselves, because too often the criminals get off scott-free, and the victims are painted out to be the criminal.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Help in time of need


Friday, February 17, 2006

legal ethics

Getting to know your Attorneys and their Responsibilities
by: Karen Nodalo

Almost all lawyers are subject to severe standards of professional responsibility which are set forth in the codes of ethics, conduct and privileges, and rules of professional conduct recognized by state bar associations. Your lawyer may have other responsibilities to you, which depends on your case and the ethical rules that apply in your jurisdiction.

Your lawyer must stand for you ethically, enthusiastically and within the bounds of the law. He must competently analyze legal issues and exercise knowledge of the law applicable to your case. He must converse with you in a appropriate and effectual manner. He owes you, as the client, a duty of loyalty because he can't at the same time stand for you and another client with legal interests that conflict with yours. For so long as he continues to stand for you, your lawyer is essential to follow your instructions in managing your case unless those directions are against the law.

If a lawyer fails to put up with by the aforesaid rules, he can be closely prohibited by any bar organization of which he is a member. It's probable the lawyer may even be disbarred for grave violations. Criminal examination is also an option. And a failure to meet the terms with the rules may be the foundation for a misconduct action.

Your lawyer must keep your individual property apart from his own property, and must keep your money in an escrow account. Any time you command it, he must return your money or possessions. Except in unusual conditions, he is obligatory to keep client confidences confidential. Depending on the influence, lawyers may be proscribed from having personal associations with their clients. Except if he first obtains your informed written consent, he is prohibited from taking on illustration that is unfavorable to your interests.

When you converse with an attorney about a legal matter, your connections with him are confidential. This means that subject to some very inadequate exceptions, and unless you give authorization, he can't reveal any information you present to a third party. Such duties and errands may include: being honest with your lawyer, being accommodating with and approachable to your lawyer, being obtainable to your lawyer and attending legal measures, as requested, and paying your legal bills in a well-timed manner.

These duties and responsibilities are pretty common sense, so they may be indirect even without a retainer agreement that specifically reduces them to writing. In spite of, a failure to stand for by them may outcome in a lawyer deciding to finish your client relationship.

For more related articles, you may visit

About The Author

Karen Nodalo has graduated from the Bicol University specializing in Computer Science, she graduated with flying honors being one of the top notch students of the graduating class. She has been into writing for almost 5 years now, and has been into different topics. She has also been into student publications since her elementary years, giving her the much coveted exposure that writers of her kind battles for.

id theft

Identity Theft
by: Sara Chambers

Identity theft is a growing problem in the United States, occurring in small towns and cities alike. Identity theft, as defined by the federal government, refers to the use of another person's identity or identification to commit crime. Most often, the identity thief uses a person's identity to rob him or her blind, using credit cards or cash to purchase whatever they want.

How often does identity theft occur? Identity theft often occurs from stolen pieces of paper. Wallets are often stolen, and the combination of ID and credit cards can be used to steal one's identity. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center; studies from 2003 show that 7 million people suffered from identity theft within a twelve month period of time, equaling approximately 13.3 people per minute.

There are many things that you can do to keep yourself from experiencing identity theft. One of the first things you can do is protect your social security number. Do not get it printed on checks or on your driver's license. Next, purchase a paper shredder. Once you've purchased it, put it together, plug it in, and use it! When in doubt, don’t toss it out. Shred it! Shred anything with your social security number, name and address, or any other pertinent information on it. In addition, keep a close watch on your checking account and credit card statements. Report anything unusual as soon as possible.

Another place where information can and often is stolen is through the internet. Be sure to protect your password and learn how to place password protection on any documents you feel need secured. Invest in a firewall to keep other computers from accessing your internet connection.

In addition to this, beware of WiFi. WiFi enables individuals to log onto the internet with their laptops at various "hot spots" like coffee houses and restaurants. While convenient, it is imperative that you understand that others are on the same connection with others and thefts can takes place. Avoid checking your bank account information or even logging into your e-mail while on this type of internet connection.

About The Author

Sara Chambers is a marketing consultant and an internet content manager for


What the Credit Industry Doesn't Want You to Know About Bankruptcy
by: Tiffany Sanders

1. The “new” bankruptcy law that went into affect in October, 2005 isn’t very much more restrictive than the “old” law.

The law revision got a lot of press that made it sound like it would be much more difficult—perhaps impossible—to file for bankruptcy protection after the new law went into effect. It’s true that there are some additional steps and additional paperwork. Filing bankruptcy is a little more work and requires a little more preparation than it did before (although most of that work falls more on your attorney than it does on you). However, the end result is the same for most debtors. Once the means testing and the credit counseling session are over, the vast majority of people end up filing exactly the same kind of bankruptcy petition that they would have before the law changed. And for that very small percentage of people who may not be eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 is still available.

2. Most people who file for bankruptcy protection don’t lose any property.

The U.S. bankruptcy code provides exemptions that allow you to keep a certain amount of value in large property like your home and your automobile. In addition, there are extensive exemptions for clothing, furniture, and personal property. Bankruptcy law wouldn’t provide much protection if it left you without a place to live or a means to get back and forth to work! In addition, some states have exemptions available that go beyond those provided by the federal statute. Most people who are considering filing for bankruptcy don’t own a lot of high-ticket items—their property consists primarily of what they need to live and work. That’s exactly the kind of property that the bankruptcy law intends to protect from creditors.

3. You can rebuild your credit in just a few years after bankruptcy.

You may have heard that bankruptcy “stays on your credit” for ten years. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. The truth is that your credit score—the number that has the greatest impact on your ability to get new credit and secure favorable rates—is more influenced by recent activity. Very soon after you’ve filed bankruptcy, you’ll begin to get credit offers. You’ll want to exercise great caution in deciding which offers to accept, and when. Many of the creditors who will solicit your business right after bankruptcy will attach outrageous fees and charges to these accounts—the kind of unexpected, mounting costs that will put you right back in financial trouble. However, by judiciously accepting credit accounts you can handle and making payments that are timely and are more than the minimum required, you can begin to rebuild your credit. Most debtors who are able to keep their bills current after bankruptcy are able to re-establish their credit in 2-4 years. Sure, the bankruptcy will still appear on your credit report, but if your current credit is solid, that’s not likely to keep you from buying a home or a car or even obtaining some unsecured credit accounts.

4. Most of the people who file for bankruptcy protection are honest, hard-working people who have fallen on hard times.

The credit industry would love for you to believe that only deadbeats file bankruptcy. There’s a lot of mileage in that claim—it makes ordinary people reluctant to file bankruptcy when they need to, it creates an unsympathetic attitude toward those who do file bankruptcy, and it makes it easier to get support for legislation that will make it harder for people to file bankruptcy. And maybe it’s more comfortable for most of us, not to have to face up to the fact that circumstances in our economy are so desperate that 1 in 53 U.S. households had to file bankruptcy during 2005. The truth, however uncomfortable, is that most people who file bankruptcy don’t do so because they took vacations they couldn’t afford and bought luxury goods with their credit cards. Most people file bankruptcy for one of three reasons—or for a combination of these reasons: divorce, job loss, and extraordinary medical expenses.

5. Once you file for bankruptcy, your creditors can’t bother you anymore.

In most cases, when you file for bankruptcy protection, the court issues an “automatic stay”. The automatic stay is a court order that tells your creditors that since you’ve filed for bankruptcy protection, they can’t contact you anymore. They can’t call you, and they can’t send you threatening letters. If they’re garnishing your wages, they have to stop. If they were about to repossess your car, they’ll have to wait to see how the bankruptcy court resolves ownership of your car. Bankruptcy law even provides that creditors who violate the automatic stay can be required to pay damages—in some cases even punitive damages. There are exceptions in certain types of cases and for certain debts like criminal restitution, but in most cases and for most debts, the automatic stay will protect you from any creditor contact.

About The Author

Tiffany Sanders is an attorney who has published two books. Her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and web resources in the United States and Australia. She writes bankruptcy law news and articles for, where sponsoring attorneys provide extensive consumer information and resources related to bankruptcy filing and rebuilding credit after bankruptcy.

© 2006, Total Bankruptcy, Inc. This article may be reproduced in its entirety without limitation and without notice, except that any reproduction must include the entire article, which may not be modified in any way, and must include the author bio information contained herein, including the URL and, if published online, a live link to the URL included therein.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

can we end poverty? yes together we can and we are going to prove it

can we end poverty? yes together we can and we are going to prove it

Information about Your Legal Rights with Debt

Information about Your Legal Rights

If you owe money for personal loans, credit cards, and even home loans then you are considered to be the debtor. When and if you ever miss payments or errors appear on your account chances are debt collectors or the loan officers with contact you. When these types of problems happen under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act it insures that debt collectors must follow guide lines to treat you fairly and bans collectors for some collecting methods. Please note that legitimate debts are not excused under the law.
Here are some of the most common asked questions about your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Debts that are covered:
Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the Act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care or for charge accounts.

Debt collector defined:
Debt collectors are people any agencies other than the creditor, whom for fees attempt to collects debts owed to others. The 1986 amendment to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, this includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.

Legal debt collector contact methods:
Collectors may contact you in person, by telephone or mail, telegrams, or fax. Debt collectors must not contact you at unreasonable times such as before 8 am or after 9 p.m., unless by your permission. Debt collectors also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves.

How you can stop a debt collector from contacting you:
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives the letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact. The agency may notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action.

Debt collectors contacting others:
If you have retained an attorney, debt collector may not contact anyone other than your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live and work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such permissible third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector may not tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.

Debt collector and legal notices:
Collector must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe with in 5 days of contacting you, along with the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.

Debt collector must stop contacting you:
Collectors may not contact you after 30 days if you send the collection agency a letter declaring that you do not owe the debt. Please note a collector can renew collection activities if you are given proof of the amount owed, like as a copy the bill of the amount owed.

Prohibited types of debt collection practices:
Debt collectors may not harass or oppress or abuse the debtor. Examples debt collectors are not allowed to use:

Threats of violence against a person or harm your property or reputation.
Post a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts, other than to a credit reporting agency.
Uses of obscene and bad language.
Telephoning over and over to harass someone.
Calling without identifying themselves as to who they are.
Make public advertising of your debt.
Debt collectors may not use false statements when attempting to collect a debt:
Acting like they are attorneys or government representatives if they are not.
Making claims that you have committed a crime if you have in fact not.
Presenting them selves like they work for a credit bureau when in fact they don't.
Misrepresent the amount of your debt.
Misrepresent the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt.
Implying that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not.
Implying that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are.
Additionally debt collectors may not imply:

If you do not pay your debt you will be arrested.
They can attach or sell your property or seize, garnish, wages unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it legal.
Lawsuits will be taken against you when legally they can't be taken, or they do not intend to take.
Debt collectors cannot:

Release false credit information about you to anyone.
Send out official documents from a court or government agency which it is not.
Use untruthful names.
Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect debts:

Collect amounts greater than your debt unless the law allows it.
Deposit a post-dated check before the date on the check.
Try to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams.
Take your property with out it being legal.
Contact you by way of a postcard.
You decide where to apply payments:
When you owe more than one debt the payment you make will be applied to the debt you request. The collector can not apply your payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.

If the debt collector violates the law you may:
Sue a collector in a state or federal court within a year from the date the law was broken. You may recover money for the damages suffered along with court costs and attorneys fees. People also may also file class action suits against a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or 1% of the debt collector's net worth but it will be whichever less is.

Alleged violation can be reported to:
Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission is where you can report problems you have had with debt collectors. Most states have their own debt collection laws and the Attorney General's office will help you determine your rights.

We hope this guide has been helpful and informative it's intended as just an out line of some of the key facts, be aware that laws and regulations very from state to state and before you act we want to encourage you to check with your local laws and regulations. As we deem this information to be correct we also disclaim any liability or actions from any event that may arise from this material. For more questions about your rights you may want to contact the FTC at (202) 326-2502

Friday, January 20, 2006

Victims and Witnesses Who Report Fraud Crimes

Information for Victims and Witnesses Who Report Fraud Crimes

By Department of Justice

Federal law enforcement professionals are concerned about victims and witnesses of financial crimes. As a victim or witness, you probably have questions about how your case will be investigated, what services and information will be available to you, and how you can begin to cope with your financial losses. This brochure was designed to provide you with general information to answer these common concerns.

What can I do about my financial loss?
The first thing you should do is collect and save all paperwork that directly relates to your loss. If an arrest is made and a conviction is obtained, the judge will consider requiring the offender to pay you for your losses (called restitution).

Some losses are tax deductible. Because tax laws are complicated, consult a qualified tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service to see if your losses qualify.

Finally, if you believe the fraud perpetrator has assets, you may be able to recover some losses through a civil lawsuit. Contact your state or local bar association for the names of attorneys who specialize in this area of law to determine if your case is appropriate for civil action.

If you have additional questions about recovering your financial losses, contact the victim/witness coordinator at the phone number provided.

What if I am contacted by anyone other than criminal justice professionals about my case?
Although this rarely happens, if you receive harassing or other improper phone calls, mail, or actions from anyone as a result of your cooperation in the investigation of your case, contact your case agent immediately. Federal law provides for extra penalties for harassment or other threats against victims and witnesses.

If you are contacted by an individual claiming he or she can help you recover your losses, ask for the name of the person and the agency he or she claims to represent. Then contact your case agent or victim/witness coordinator immediately so he or she can help you verify the legitimacy of the individual or agency. Many fraud artists use this ploy to further victimize known victims, often using the names of official-sounding federal agencies.

How will I receive information about my case?
Federal crime victims have been granted a number of rights throughout their participation in the federal criminal justice system. As your case proceeds, each of your rights will be explained to you. Specifically, during the investigation of the case, you have the right to:

Be treated with fairness and with respect for your dignity and privacy

Be reasonably protected from the accused offender

Be notified of court dates

Be present at court hearings

Speak with the government's attorney

Learn of the offender's conviction, sentence, and imprisonment

Seek restitution

Some of these rights may only be available if your case is accepted for prosecution. To learn more about your rights, and at what stage in the justice process, you are eligible to receivethem, please contact your victim/witness coordinator or case agent.

If you ask to be kept informed about the status of your case, you will receive periodic updates from the case agent or victim/witness coordinator.

The investigation of a possible fraud crime is often complex, especially if it involves several law enforcement agencies and many victims. Your case is important, and the professionals involved want to give it all the attention it deserves. If you have questions about how your case is progressing, contact your case agent or victim/witness coordinator. It is important to keep justice system representatives advised of any change in your address or contact information.

If an arrest is made, you will be notified as soon as possible. Victim/witness coordinators can answer your questions, describe your rights, and explain your role in the justice process.

Why do I feel the way I do?
Victims of financial crime experience varying degrees of emotional trauma. You may feel some or all of the following:

Anger, resentment, and a sense of betrayal toward the offender for taking advantage of you

Frustration with criminal justice professionals

Shame, embarrassment, and guilt if you feel you contributed to your victimization

Fear for your financial security

Increased concern about your personal safety or that of your family

Some victims find it helpful to seek the services of a counseling professional, clergy member, or advocacy organization. Contact your victim/witness coordinator if you need help in locating such services.

What can I do to address financial or credit problems?
If your losses were severe and you are unable to meet your financial obligations, your credit rating may be affected. Consider some of these options:

Contact your creditors immediately. Creditors will often work with you to reduce or modify your payments.

Consult a nonprofit consumer credit counseling service, which may be able to negotiate new payment arrangements or consolidate or reduce payments or interest.

Submit a written statement to local and national credit reporting agencies about your victimization.


Securities and Exchange Commission 800-SEC-0330

Social Security Administration

Fraud Hotline 800-269-0271

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General 800-HHS-TIPS

U.S. Postal Service Crime Hotline 800-654-8896

The information above is only a partial list of reporting agencies. Please call the Federal Government Information Center (800-688-9889) for a list of additional government reporting and licensing agencies.

State and Local Reporting and Licensing Agencies
Please refer to your local phone directory to obtain these numbers. Some agencies provide victims with additional avenues for financial recovery, such as administrative hearings and reparation boards.

Important Case-Related Information
Investigative Agency

Case Agent

Phone ( )

Report Number

Victim/Witness Coordinator


Phone ( )

This project was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 96-VR-GX-K002, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U. S. Department of Justice, to the Police Executive Research Forum. Points of view are those of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Office for Victims of Crime is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Justice, and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.


Additional Assistance and Support

National Credit Reporting Agencies
Equifax 800-525-6285

P.O. Box 740256

Atlanta, GA 30374

Experian, Inc. 800-682-7654

P.O. Box 949

Allen, TX 75013

Trans Union Corporation 800-680-7289

P.O. Box 6790

Fullerton, CA 92834

To find local credit reporting agencies, consult your localBetter Business Bureau or phone directory.

Credit Counseling Services
National Foundation for Consumer Credit 800-388-2227

For additional credit counseling services near you, contact your local Better Business Bureau.

Support Services
American Association of

Retired Persons 202-434-2277

Community Elder Care Locator 800-677-1116

Neighbors Who Care 800-NWC-7770

U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Elderly and Handicapped 202-755-5318

National Hotlines to Report or File Complaints of Fraudulent Practices
National Association of Securities Dealers 800-289-9999

National Consumer League Fraud Information

Hotline 800-846-7661

National Fraud Information Center 800-876-7060

National Insurance Consumer Help Line 800-942-4242

Identity Theft : Fastest-growing Crime

Identity Theft : Fastest-growing Crime
by Michael Sanford
October 13, 2005

Identity theft is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent
forms of crime in the country, with approximately 10 million
victims a year. Cases include impostors using someone's
credit card number to make purchases, and social security
numbers stolen over the internet. Identity thieves are also
now robbing identities on a large scale, as seen by the
Choice Point and LexisNexis cases earlier this year, when
personal information from 175,000 accounts was stolen from
these two large data collecting companies.

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the
country with about 10 million victims a year, according to the
Identity Theft Resource Center.
The crime takes several forms, including impostors using
someone's credit-card number to purchase merchandise and
drivers giving someone else's personal information when
pulled over by police for speeding.
Cases of credit-card and Social Security numbers getting
stolen over the Internet are becoming the most common
instances of identity theft, but people do not need to own a
computer to be victimized.
Bridgewater was watching a New Year's parade in 2003
when she got a call from a man claiming to be with a credit-
card company.
For example, criminals recently gained access to 175,000
accounts from two data collecting companies: ChoicePoint
and LexisNexis.
While banks take security measures to protect customers who
bank online and use credit, ATM or debit cards, officials say
consumers themselves must take precautions.
Signed with an official eBay logo, the e-mail tells a consumer
that their eBay account has had "unusual activity" or is in
danger of closing.
A victim of identity theft will need a new credit card, driver's
license or Social Security card, depending on what
information was stolen and used.
Her days of casually tossing her purse about ended when a
relative stole personal information from her purse and rented
apartments in New Mexico, signed up for credit cards, bought
different cell phone plans and purchased a $43,000 pick-up
Kurrasch learned of the identity theft when her application for
a car loan was denied.

Identity theft has become and epidemic and the number one
crime in America. Millions of consumers have become
victims of identity theft in one way or another. The internet has
become a breeding ground for crimes of persuasion. Through
high-tech scams, fake websites and emails, computer
hacking, and telemarketing schemes, thieves are able to
obtain and sell your personal information on the black
market. According to one source if your FICO score is 550-
650 your information is worth $150 to $200.

With personal information thieves can drain your bank
account, obtain credit cards, mortgages loans, personal
loans, auto loans, and even deceive law enforcement and
commit crimes in your name. No one is safe!

According to the Denver Post 7/31/2005, American Idol Star
Rueben Studdard recently filed charges of identity theft and
fraud against his ex-manager.

What can you do if you become an identity theft victim?

You can do-it yourself, but it will take hundreds of hours,
thousands of dollars, and dealing with stress and mayhem
that¡¯s associated in restoring your identity. In today¡¯s busy
society; working, raising the children, paying the bills and
dealing with everyday life, it is almost impossible to find time
to deal with something else, especially if your identity is

Consumers are becoming more aware of the problem of
identity theft due to the costs involved in being a victim, but
The Capital Journal reports that few people realize the time
investment that can go into recovery: Around 600 hours of
work over months or years.
When consumers contact the Federal Trade Commission,
their primary concern is identity theft.
Identity theft robs people of more than just money.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, it now takes
a victim more than 600 hours of work, spread over months
and years, to recover from having their identity stolen.
That 600 hours represents nearly $16,000 in lost or potential
income, according to the resource center.
The average victim also ends up spending an extra $1,600 of
his own money to clear his name and clean his credit report.
It could be as simple as telling someone they've won a prize,
but in order to claim the prize the "phish" must provide credit
card information for shipping and handling.
According to advice from the FTC, if a prize is labeled "free,"
then no personal or financial information should be needed to
claim it.
Another scam is receiving a communication online from a
financial institution that suggests an account has been
violated and they need validation of personal information to
re-establish the account.
The FTC warns that no "legitimate" business will ask through
electronic means for validation of personal and financial
information and that in the unlikely event they do, they will
convey that information through a letter sent through the U.S.
Postal System.
All a scammer needs to do is create a suitable copy of a
letterhead for a business, a bank or even the Internal
Revenue Service requesting personal information.
Rarely does a legitimate business ask for such information
through e-mail or instant messages.
When approached over the Internet, the best thing to do is to
call the Internet provider and report the incident.

Free Articles and Content by
For more information on Identity Theft please visit the Identity Theft resource center.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What To Do If You Are Accused

What To Do If You Are Accused Or
Are Being Investigated For A Crime
Very often before formal charges are filed against a defendant there is the investigation stage of the case. This is the stage where law enforcement tries to gather as much evidence as they can to build their case against a suspect. At this point a suspect is either investigated or scrutinized by law enforcement or in some cases employers (in embezzlement cases) or even family members (in sexual assault cases). We refer to this as the pre-file phase of the case. Pre-file can be defined as the investigation stage of the case prior to charges being filed against a suspect/defendant.
The Pre-file Stage of a Criminal Case
The Pre-file stage of a case in many instances can be considered one of the most crucial stages of a criminal case. As a suspect in a pre-file case you are under investigation and have not yet been arrested, therefore you do not have any formal Miranda Rights. In essence, you don't have the constitutional right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and anything you say or do can and often is used against you. REMEMBER THE FIRST WORDS IN THE MIRANDA RIGHTS ARE, "YOU'RE UNDER ARREST".
Contact/Investigation by Law Enforcement
Very often law enforcement likes to take advantage of this time period to call in a suspect to discuss their side of the case. Many people naturally fall into the trap of trying to zealously maintain their innocence. In doing so, a suspect will run to the local investigator without realizing they are running headlong into an ambush. Police investigators don't make points by exonerating suspects. Very often law enforcement believes you are guilty before you even walk into their offices. If they didn't truly believe that they were going to, "get the bad guy", they wouldn't take the time to talk to you. What the investigator is trying to do is to elicit a confession, or at least get as much information from the suspect without the restrictions imposed by Miranda. Law enforcement is actually using the suspect in this situation to assist them in building their case against that same suspect.
It is imperative that you as a suspect and a potential defendant don't fall into this trap. If you are contacted by law enforcement to discuss allegations of criminal activity then you must contact a competent criminal defense attorney to accompany you to any meetings or discussion regarding the investigation. A competent attorney will be aware of your rights and will ensure that you don't do anything that will prejudice or hurt your case. Very often an attorney can even prevent charges from being filed. Our Law firm has been very successful in representing clients at this pre-file stage, and we have been very successful in getting the case closed before charges are even filed! If nothing else we can ensure that a client isn't forced into a full confession or manipulated into violating his own 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Investigation by those other than Law Enforcement
It is important for anyone that has been accused of a crime to realize that they do have certain constitutional rights. However, those rights and protections only apply to government. For example you have a 5th Amendment right not incriminate yourself to the government. You have a 4th amendment right not to be illegally searched by the government.
What if you are being questioned or accused of a crime by a non-government entity? What if your boss calls you into his office to discuss an allegation of theft or embezzlement from the company? What if your brother-in-law wants to talk to you about an allegation that your niece made saying that you touched her inappropriately. Simply put, none of the constitutional protections apply in this situation, because non-government parties are investigating you. The fact is private citizens can question you, investigate you and scrutinize you, and anything you say or do can and will be used against you. Quite often the reason these people are questioning you is because they already believe you are guilty and they are trying to elicit a confession.

Here again it is important in these situations that you speak an attorney who can be hired to intervene on your behalf. Our firm has been very successful in mediating these cases and resolving the conflict very often leading to a result where no charges are filed and law enforcement never even becomes involved. In other cases we can ensure that you as a suspect don't say or do anything that will lead to charges being filed as well as providing damaging evidence.

After reading this you probably realize how critical this stage of a criminal proceeding can be. If you have more questions, please contact us at The Chase Law Group.

Begging Your Trust in Africa...419 Scams

Begging Your Trust in Africa
by: Sam Vaknin
The syntax is tortured, the grammar mutilated, but the message - sent by snail mail, telex, fax, or e-mail - is coherent: an African bigwig or his heirs wish to transfer funds amassed in years of graft and venality to a safe bank account in the West. They seek the recipient's permission to make use of his or her inconspicuous services for a percentage of the loot - usually many millions of dollars. A fee is required to expedite the proceedings, or to pay taxes, or to bribe officials - they plausibly explain.

It is a scam two decades old - and it still works. Only last month, a bookkeeper for a Berkley, Michigan law firm embezzled $2.1 million and wired it to various bank accounts in South Africa and Taiwan. Other victims were kidnapped for ransom as they traveled abroad to collect their "share". Some never made it back. Every year, there are 5 such murders as well as 8-10 snatchings of American citizens alone. The usual ransom demanded is half a million to a million dollars.

The scam is so widespread that the Nigerians saw fit to explicitly ban it in article 419 of their penal code. The Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo castigated the fraudsters for inflicting "incalculable damage to Nigerian businesses" and for "placing the entire country under suspicion".

"Wired" quotes statistics presented at the International Conference on Advance Fee (419) Frauds in New York on Sept. 17:

"Roughly 1 percent of the millions of people who receive 419 e-mails and faxes are successfully scammed. Annual losses to the scam in the United States total more than $100 million, and law enforcement officials believe global losses may total over $1.5 billion."

According to the "IFCC 2001 Internet Fraud Report", published by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, Nigerian letter fraud cases amount to 15.5 percent of all grievances. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center refers such rip-offs to the US Secret Service. While the median loss in all manner of Internet fraud was $435 - in the Nigerian scam it was a staggering $5575. But only one in ten successful crimes is reported, says the FBI's report.

The IFCC provides this advisory to potential targets:

Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or other foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.

Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.

Do not give out any personal information regarding your savings, checking, credit, or other financial accounts.

If you are solicited, do not respond and quickly notify the appropriate authorities.

The "419 Coalition" is more succinct and a lot more pessimistic:

"NEVER pay anything up front for ANY reason.

NEVER extend credit for ANY reason.

NEVER do ANYTHING until their check clears.

NEVER expect ANY help from the Nigerian Government.

NEVER rely on YOUR Government to bail you out."

The State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs published a brochure titled "Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud". It describes the history of this particular type of swindle:

"AFF criminals include university-educated professionals who are the best in the world for nonviolent spectacular crimes. AFF letters first surfaced in the mid-1980s around the time of the collapse of world oil prices, which is Nigeria's main foreign exchange earner. Some Nigerians turned to crime in order to survive. Fraudulent schemes such as AFF succeeded in Nigeria, because Nigerian criminals took advantage of the fact that Nigerians speak English, the international language of business, and the country's vast oil wealth and natural gas reserves - ranked 13th in the world - offer lucrative business opportunities that attract many foreign companies and individuals."

According to London's Metropolitan Police Company Fraud Department, potential targets in the UK and the USA alone receive c. 1500 solicitations a week. The US Secret Service Financial Crime Division takes in 100 calls a day from Americans approach by the con-men. It now acknowledges that "Nigerian organized crime rings running fraud schemes through the mail and phone lines are now so large, they represent a serious financial threat to the country".

Sometimes even the stamps affixed to such letters are forged. Nigerian postal workers are known to be in cahoots with the fraudsters. Names and addresses are obtained from "trade journals, business directories, magazine and newspaper advertisements, chambers of commerce, and the Internet".

Victims are either too intimidated to complain or else reluctant to admit their collusion in money laundering and fraud. Others try in vain to recoup their losses by ploughing more money into the scheme.

Contrary to popular image, the scammers are often violent and involved in other criminal pursuits, such as drug trafficking, According to Nigeria's Drug Law Enforcement Agency. The blight has spread to other countries. Letters from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Congo, Liberia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Taiwan, or even Canada, the United Kingdom, Oman, and Vietnam are not uncommon.

The dodges fall into a few categories.

Over-invoiced contract scams involve the ostensible transfer of amounts obtained through inflated invoices to the bank account of an unrelated foreign firm. Contract fraud or "trade default" is simply a bogus order accompanied by a fraudulent bank draft for the products of an export company accompanied by demand for "samples" and various transaction "fees and charges".

Some of the rackets are plain outlandish. In the "wash-wash" confidence trick people have been known to pay up to $200,000 for a special solution to remove stains from millions in defaced dollar notes. Others "bought" heavily "discounted" crude oil stored in "secret" locations - or real estate in rezoned locales. "Clearing houses" or "venture capital organizations" claiming to act on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria launder the proceeds of the scams.

In another twist, charities, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and religious groups are asked to pay the inheritances tax on a "donation". Some "dignitaries" and their relatives may seek to flee the country and ask the victims to advance the bribe money in return for a generous cut of the wealth they have stashed abroad.

"Bankers" may find inactive accounts with millions of dollars - often in lottery winnings - waiting to be transferred to a safe off-shore haven. Bogus jobs with inflated wages are another ostensible way to defraud state-owned companies - as is the sale of the target's used vehicle to them for an extravagant price. There seems to be no end to criminal ingenuity.

Lately, the correspondence purports to be coming from - often white - disinterested professional third parties. Accountants, lawyers, directors, trustees, security personnel, or bankers pretend to be acting as fiduciaries for the real dignitary in need of help. Less gullible victims are subjected to plain old extortion with verbal intimidation and stalking.

The more heightened public awareness grows with over-exposure and the tighter the net of international cooperation against the scam, the wilder the stories it spawns. Letters have surfaced recently signed by dying refugees, survivors of the September 11 attacks, and serendipitous US commandos on mission in Afghanistan.

Governments throughout the world have geared up to protect their businessmen. The US Department of Commerce, for instance, publishes the "World Traders data Report", compiled by US embassy in Nigeria. It "provides the following types of information: types of organizations, year established, principal owners, size, product line, and financial and trade references".

Unilateral US activity, inefficacious collaboration with the Nigerian government some of whose officials are rumored to be in on the deals, multilateral efforts in the framework of the OECD and the Interpol, education and information campaigns - nothing seems to be working.

The treatment of 419 fraudsters in Nigeria is so lenient that, according to the "Nigeria Tribune", the United States threatened the country with sanctions if it does not considerably improve its record on financial crime by November 2002. Both the US Treasury's Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FINCEN) and the OECD's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had characterized the country as "one of the worst perpetrators of financial crimes in the world". The Nigerian central bank promises to get to grips with this debilitating problem.

Nigerian themselves - though often victims of the scams - take the phenomenon in stride. The Nigerian "Daily Champion", proffered this insightful apologia on behalf of the ruthless and merciless 419 gangs. It is worth quoting at length:

"To eradicate the 419 scourge, leaders at all levels should work assiduously to create employment opportunities and people perception of the leaders as role models. The country's very high unemployment figure has made nonsense of the so-called democracy dividends. Great majority of Nigerian youthful school leaver's including University graduates, are without visible means of livelihood... The fact remains that most of these teeming youths cannot just watch our so-called leaders siphon their God-given wealthy. So, they resorted to alternative fraudulent means of livelihood called 419, at least to be seen as have arrived... Some of these 419ers are in the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly while some surround the President and governors across the country."

Some swindlers seek to glorify their criminal activities with a political and historical context. The Web site of the "419 Coalition" contains letters casting the scam as a form of forced reparation for slavery, akin to the compensation paid by Germany to survivors of the holocaust. The confidence tricksters boast of defrauding the "white civilization" and unmasking the falsity of its claims for superiority. But a few delusional individuals aside, this is nothing but a smokescreen.

Greed outweighs fear and avarice enmeshes people in clearly criminal enterprises. The "victims" of advance fee scams are rarely incognizant of their alleged role. They knowingly and intentionally collude with self-professed criminals to fleece governments and institutions. This is one of the rare crimes where prey and perpetrator may well deserve each other.

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Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .

What To Do When You're A Crime Victim

What To Do When You're A Crime Victim


The 911 telephone system is standard nationwide to enable callers to reach emergency services by phone with a minimum of difficulty. If you have an emergency involving the safety of life or property, you are encouraged to make use of the system. In most areas, you may dial 911 from a pay phone without the need for coins. If your area has enhanced 911 with automatic number identification and automatic location identification, your name, address and telephone number will be displayed on a screen at the 911 operator's position when the connection is made. Help can be dispatched to your location even if you don't get a chance to say a word!


If you arrive at your home or business and feel that it has been burglarized, DO NOT ENTER, but go to another location and call the police. Let the police search the property to make sure that no suspect is still present. Upon entering your home or business, do not touch things unnecessarily as you may disturb or destroy fingerprint and other evidence. Inform the police of anything that has been moved from its original position so that it can be checked for prints. Notify the police if you find anything that is not yours that may have been left behind by the burglar such as tools, clothing, etc. (Driver's licenses and other identification have been left behind by burglars before!) Be prepared to provide the police with serial numbers and a complete description of all missing property. Tell the police if you have engraved any of the items with your driver's license or other personalized number.


You've heard it before and now here it is again: Never resist if you are the victim of a robbery. Do exactly as you are told to do in order to minimize your chances of being injured and to speed the departure of your assailant before he gets other ideas. The assailant, in most cases, doesn't want to hang around much longer than you want him to. Your money and other valuables can hopefully be replaced. If they can't be replaced don't let that thought cause you to hesitate. You certainly cannot be replaced. Try to obtain a good description of the suspect(s) and the direction and mode (on foot, vehicle) of escape. It's always a good idea to have a second billfold with a few dollars and a few important looking cards in it to give to an attacker should the need arise. Keep your real cash and cards in an interior pocket not easily accessible by the robber. Do not resist any attempt the attacker may make to search your pockets, however.


The object of any con game is to cause you to part with your money or other thing of value. Most con games are initiated by people who approach you on the street or call on you at your home. Be suspicious of ANY plan, idea, scheme, business deal or whatever that requires you to part with your money on short notice. If you feel you have been the victim of a con game or an illegal business practice, notify the police. Do not be embarrassed or hesitant to tell the authorities for fear of ridicule. The sooner you notify the police the greater your chances of recovering your property. You may not be the only victim of whatever group is operating, and your statements and those of other victims may help in apprehending the suspects.


If you are involved in a traffic accident and the other driver leaves the scene, immediately try to see and remember or record the license plate number and description of the vehicle and the driver. You may only have a few seconds to do this. Also try to notice where the damage is located on his vehicle. If you can SAFELY do so, and your vehicle is not disabled, and no one can do it for you, follow the suspect for a short distance to get the license plate number if you were not able to get it at the scene. The suspect will probably be exceeding the speed limit so do not get involved in anything resembling a pursuit. Don't compound the problem by committing traffic violations and causing another accident for which you may be held responsible. If you cannot get the information in a short distance, return to the scene and notify the police. If other motorists are nearby, try to find a volunteer to follow the suspect to get the license number. Ask witnesses to remain or at least to leave their name and address and a written description of the suspect vehicle and driver. Be suspicious of drivers who do stop following the accident but ask you or offer you money not to call the police. This should alert you to immediately start recording license plate and other information. These drivers may decide to leave quickly. Contact a crime prevention specialist at your local law enforcement agency. They will provide you with the latest information on crime prevention. Ask about an on-site crime prevention survey of your home or business. Also ask if your agency has a program to loan out engraving tools. If so, borrow one and mark your valuables with your driver's license number or whatever number your agency recommends.

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It Can't Happen to Me.....Can It?

It Can't Happen to Me.....Can It?
by: Denise Hall
We all know scams abound on the internet. The types we're probably most familiar with are the "get rich quick" schemes and the "Nigerian scam" letters. If you're smart and you've done your homework you'll steer clear of both.

But other types of fraudulent activity take place that we don't think about as often. In fact, we might not think about them at all until it happens to us or someone we know.

Do you know how easy it is for someone to steal your credit or debit card number and buy things that *you'll* be charged for?

True Story:

A friend of mine recently found a purchase on her debit card that neither she, nor her husband, had made. $75 was *stolen* from their bank account!

True Story:

Another friend discovered two $38 charges on her credit card statement that she hadn't made. The purchases had been made over the internet, but she had never bought anything online. Actually, the only thing she *ever* used that particular credit card for was to put gas in her car!

Did you know that customers can order a product or service from you, receive what they paid for, then tell their bank, credit card company or third party internet payment processor that they *never* made that purchase?

True Story:

*Two* of my friends, who own ad co-ops, received orders from customers for ezine advertising. The ads went out to the ezine readers, then the customers claimed they hadn't made the purchases!

It's highway robbery. No, make that "The Information Highway" robbery. But don't think it only happens online. It's been happening for years offline, as well.

These scenarios, and others, happen every single day. Are you prepared when it's *your* turn?

That's what I thought. You've never considered these things before, have you?

We're *all* at risk for this type of theft. Online and offline it's possible for each and every one of us to be ripped off by scam artists.

Internet business owners are especially at risk because, with the technology of computers, people really *can* make fraudulent purchases easily. They can also request fraudulent refunds just as easily.

As an online business owner you can find yourself with a real dilemma. How do you know that the person who's buying your product is the true owner of that credit card? How do you know that once a customer receives your product they won't falsely request a refund?

It's not an easy situation, is it? It falls into the catagory of "things that make you go hmmmmmm..." doesn't it?

There are methods you can apply to help you avoid such circumstances. There are also steps you can take to recoup your money if you're a victim of fraud.

For your own safety, please be sure you take measures to protect your personal money and your business profits. For more information you can get an excerpt from the e-book, Get Inside the Minds of Scam Artists! Discover the Tricks of Their Trade! by sending an e-mail to this address:

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Check Fraud

CHECK FRAUD by Les C. Cseh
YOU COULD BE ON THE HOOK!Did you know that the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) regulationsplace responsibility for forgery losses partially on bankcustomers, rather than solely on the banks? But in addition tothis exposure, there can be significant expenses and lost timeinvestigating the crime, not to mention damage to yourcredibility and reputation.Your only defence is to show that you have taken due diligence.One way to demonstrate this is by implementing careful practicesregarding your checks. Another is to use checks with wellimplemented security features.HOW BAD IS THE PROBLEM?The problem is so serious that the banks don't like to reveal theextent of the problem. Estimates range from hundreds of millionsto 10 billion dollars annually.In 1991, the FBI tracked over 26,000 cases, but this is just thetip of the iceberg, because the FBI mostly focuses on cases wherethe amount exceeds $100,000. Just one example comes from TheGreen Sheet (a publication to the Financial Services Industry),reporting an incident where a family had allegedly stolen morethan $1 million from area merchants since 1993 by writing checkson closed and non-existent accounts at 11 financial institutionsin Indiana and Chicago under 25 different names.In just 4 years, Northern Trust Bank has detected more than 3million dollars worth of counterfeit checks.WHAT KIND OF THINGS DO CRIMINALS LOOK FOR?It is an endless list, but here are some of the types of thingsthat someone looking to counterfeit or tamper might look for:* High volume bank accounts where a fraudulent check can easilyslip through.* Checks that are easy to reproduce using a color copier.* Checks that are easy to tamper with.* Easy access to checkbook or check stock.WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?By protection, I mean reducing the chance of someonecounterfeiting or altering your checks, as well as reducing yourliability when it occurs.Be aware that is is impossible to prevent fraud. But you cansignificantly minimize the risk using a two-prong approach. It iscritical that good procedures related to your check processingare put in place, and that you use a check that is difficult tocounterfeit or alter (see sidebar).* Reconcile your bank statement promptly. Now that bankstatements are available online, you can do this as frequently asyou feel is necessary for your situation.* Restrict access to your checkbook/check stock. Ensure that onlytrusted staff that need access have it.* Audit your checks. However, this can be difficult because oftenchecks are removed from the bottom or middle of the book orstack.* Use a custom design. While this isn't an affordable option formany businesses, look into it. The next best thing is to ensurethat your check supplier uses comprehensive security features.Remember though that a custom design is not a substitue forsecurity features.* Advise your bank branches' officials of the security featuresin your checks .. in person or in writing (and keep a copy of theletter on file!).* If you issue a large number of checks, particularly with a lowamount (eg. rebate checks), open a separate account and alert thebank staff of an upper limit for that account.THE BOTTOM LINEDon't take unnecessary chances. The more security you havethrough procedures and choice of check form, the less likely thatsomeone will tamper with your checks.

How to avoid getting disastrously dot-conned online.

How to avoid getting disastrously dot-conned online. by: Josey Teby
...It is estimated that citizens in the U.S. alone are losing as much as $1,000,000 DAILY to Nigerian scammers! As someone doing your business on the Internet, this article will show you how to stay protected online from the newer variations and twists of the scams that can defraud even the most scam-conscious individuals...
As an Internet user, have you received a letter, fax or e-mail asking you to help a Nigerian {or any other citizen who you previously don't know} with a bank transaction - and offering you a chance to share millions of dollars?
This is a typical Nigerian Scam which has been around for decades, but now it seems to have reached epidemic proportions with the use of the Internet.
While some people recognize that this scheme, also known as the -419 Advanced Fee Scam,- sounds too good to be true, unfortunately thousands of other people, daily, keep being victimized by this fraud.
It is not really their fault because daily these scammers keep coming up with newer twists and variations to the scams to defraud even the most scam conscious individuals.
Many people engaged in doing business on the Internet are increasingly becoming victims of this notorious scam despite all the warnings about scams in general.
*************How The Scam Works***************
In the Nigerian scam, scam artists entice their victims into believing they have been singled out from the masses to share in multi-million dollar windfall profits.
Typically, a company or individual receives an unsolicited letter, fax or email from a Nigerian claiming to be a senior civil servant.
In the email, the Nigerian informs the recipient that he is seeking a reputable foreign company or individual into whose account he can deposit funds ranging from $10 to $60 million, which the Nigerian government supposedly overpaid on a procurement contract.
In return, the recipient gets to keep a share of the millions.
There are dozens of different variations of this email originating from several countries, all involving a plea for help and a promise to share the riches.
But NOTE this clearly-
It doesn’t matter what the story is...
It doesn't matter what country is mentioned...
It doesn't matter how true it looks....
So far as you don't know the person before and he or she is offering you such an 'opportunity of a lifetime' of gaining millions of dollars within a short time for doing absolutely nothing...
Forget it...
... every single one is just a scam!
Laws passed in Nigeria outlaw the notorious Nigerian advanced-fee fraud letters. Victims of these scams have also included Nigerians... to show that not all Nigerians are involved in the scams.
In short, these scams started in Nigeria and has led to thousands of Nigerians losing their entire fortunes to these scammers. Many have been known to commit suicide for losing all they own.
Yes, even Nigerians themselves are victims!
The scams are perpertuated by just a few bad eggs from among the millions of honest Nigerians worldwide.
Such honest Nigerians have suffered in 2 ways from their few bad eggs in their midst.
One- by losing millions to the scammers themselves, Two- by being blacklisted by other people worldwide.
It is therefore important not to look at 'Nigerians' as the problem, but to look at the 'scammers' as the problem.
*******The use of the Internet for the scams********
Since April 1998, U.S. Postal Inspectors have seized and destroyed over 4 million Nigerian advance-fee fraud mails, resulting in an 80 percent decrease in the number of related complaints received by the Postal Service, law enforcement agencies, and consumer groups.
But with the Internet, these scam artists are now using emails to trap unsuspecting people, especially those with email addresses and websites...
... People doing their businesses on the Internet are more at danger of falling for these scams. These con artists do not target a single company or individual, but rather send out mass mailings, e-mails or faxes to as many people as possible.
Even Nigerians receive dozens of such emails on a daily basis... many still fall for the tricks.
The goal of the scammer is to delude the target into thinking he or she is being included in a very lucrative, although questionable, arrangement.
*********Some Characteristics of the Scam***********
An urgent email from an alleged Nigerian government official offers to transfer millions of dollars in "over- invoiced contract funds" into the victim's bank account.
The victim is asked to provide blank company letterhead, bank account information, and telephone and fax numbers.
The confidentiality of the transactions is emphasized.
Numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals, and logos appear to suggest the authenticity of the proposal.
Up-front or advance fees are requested for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees, or bribes.
Travel to overseas locations is encouraged to complete the transaction.
Imposters posing as real occupants or officials may use offices in legitimate government buildings in Nigeria to meet with the potential victims.
A problem with the transaction is staged, and the victim is urged to provide a large sum of money to save the venture.
It is easy to fall victim to this scam. Sometimes, it is impossible to tell a legitimate deal from an outright scam, especially if you do not seek outside help.
*********How to protect yourself************
Learn how to avoid the bad deals by educating yourself and following some basic, common sense principles as outlined in ebooks like
Always keep your private information private. Do not give your financial account numbers to strangers or companies with which you are not familiar. A scam artist can use this information to steal money from you just as easily as mugging you at gunpoint or in a darkened alley.
Avoid being the next victim - if you receive an offer in the mail or via fax that sounds too good to be true - throw it away!
If you get an email offer - delete it ...
Don't be of the opinion that the name 'Nigeria' must be mentioned before you are convinced it is a Nigerian Scam. These days, the sophisticated ones no longer mention the name- Nigeria. Also, other local criminals from other countries are now using the same tactics to dupe their own people.
Learn all you can about the scam so as to avoid falling for the newer variations and twists of the scams.
Better still, visit so that you will be entitled to the bi-monthly newsletter which will keep you continually updated on the latest moves and tricks of these Nigerian scammers in particular and other Internet related scams in general.
Remember, it is a wild wild west out there... scammers are having a field day at YOUR expense.
Don't let them!

Identity Theft Recovery: The Road Back

Not too long ago, a friend of mine mentioned that one of his coworkers recently recovered his stolen identity. I asked how long the process took. "Only two years" he replied.

Compared to my business partner's six year nightmare "only" maybe appropriate but like most victims of identity theft, he probably thought "when". As in, "when will I get my life back?"

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer nonprofit organization, reported that victims spend on average 175 hours trying to recover their identity, often over a period of years. Factor in out of pocket expenses, (usually over $1,500 according to the FTC) and recovery gets painfully magnified.

What are the steps to identity restoration? It starts with obtaining a police report. That report doesn't mean other law enforcement agencies have been contacted. Yet you must do a complete search of local and federal law enforcement databases too find out if anything else, including criminal activity exists on your identity.

You're also going to need the police report to contact the many and I mean many different agencies and organizations, including the Social Security Administration, The Federal Trade Commission, all of your financial institutions, the 3 major credit bureaus, the Passport Office,The Department of Motor Vehicles, the Post Office, as well as the Medical Information Bureau . All of these places must be sent a fraud notification alert. Concerning your financial institutions, get them to cancel your credit cards and close your bank accounts. Find out from your bank about any suspicious activity, such as accounts tampered with or opened fraudulently. Reopen new bank accounts with password verification.

Know your rights. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1992, you must be told not only what's in your file but if that information is being used against you. The Federal Trade Commission recently expanded the rights available to victims of identity theft, including your right to get negative information due to fraud blocked from your records.

This brings us to the credit bureaus. Make sure your credit report reflects the identity theft and gets flagged with a fraud alert. Many victims have received assurances that the matter would be resolved, however months and sometimes years later, the credit bureaus have not cleared their records. This without a doubt ranks as THE biggest headache for identity theft victims.

Once a negative gets put on your record, it seems the credit bureaus refuse to remove it, in spite of the countless documentation you provide to them. This can affect you well into the future when buying a house, car or any other big ticket item. If you are going to do this by yourself, constant follow up is critical. That goes for all the organizations but especially the credit bureaus. Be diligent until the matter gets resolved. Getting a lawyer wouldn't be a bad idea.

Stay Away from "credit repair companies". No matter what they advertise, there's usually nothing they can do to help you with identity theft. Some of them even offer to help you apply for credit under a new identity. Hello? When trying to eliminate fraud from your record you don't want to create more fraud!

Advise the utility companies. It's not just bank accounts and credit cards. Many identity thieves commit fraud by opening telephone accounts, purchasing cable television or establishing credit with the gas & electric companies, in the hopes it will go unnoticed for as long as possible.

If necessary get counseling. Identity theft can be a shattering experience mentally and emotionally. Victims and family members often feel violated. It's not their fault of course but the feelings remain. A network of support groups and counselors exists if you need it.

The road back from identity theft can take years, cost a lot of money,and cause much stress and pain . But with follow up, support and belief that the nightmare will end...the nightmare WILL end.

Fighting Identity Theft

Fighting Identity Theft
by: James H. Dimmitt
Chances are good that you know someone who has been victimized by the fastest growing crime - identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that there were 10 million cases of identity theft in 2002 alone. It’s estimated that someone’s identity is stolen every 79 seconds.

The bad news is with increasing amounts of personal information available to an experienced identity thief, it shows few signs of slowing down. The good news is that identity fraud is now a federal crime with stiff penalties for those who perpetrate these crimes.

Here are a few simple steps you can take now to minimize your risk:

1) Check your credit report annually, if not more often. Most victims of identity theft don’t realize they’ve been victimized until 14 months after the crime. By then the damage is done and you will spend a significant amount of time and money trying to correct it.

2) Keep your Social Security number private. Do not have it printed on your personal checks or drivers license. Do not share it with anyone, including merchants, unless they can provide a good reason for having it. Once someone has your Social Security number they have the key to unlocking your identity and using it fraudulently.

3) Shred offers for pre-approved credit cards that you receive by mail. Do the same with any receipts that contain account numbers or your Social Security number. Identity thieves are not afraid to go “dumpster diving” in order to obtain your personal information.

Identity theft has become the fastest growing crime because it is the most profitable crime. On average, the loss from identity theft is about $18,000.00. Taking these precautions now can you save you from becoming another statistic in the fight against identity theft.

identity theft

Submitted by PSECU's Loss Prevention & Security Division

Identity theft, sadly, it seems to be the buzzword these days. It’s almost impossible to turn on the news or pick up the paper without hearing about yet another person who has had all that they have worked for jeopardized by someone who has assumed their identity. But how did the thieves get this information in the first place? What can you do to protect yourself? Fortunately, there are some very easy things you can do to help safeguard your identity. By being aware of the common scams and following some of the tips below, you can help safeguard your identity:

Credit Union Tips:

If you have an older PSECU account (accounts opened before June 11, 2001) it is strongly suggested that you change your account number. The number will be changed to a randomly generated 10-digit number. To change your account number to a randomly generated number, call 717.234.8484 in Harrisburg or 800.237.7328 nationwide. At the menu prompt, enter 81 and follow the instructions. During the call, you will receive your new account number. You will also receive a confirmation letter with your new account number.
Changing your account number does NOT affect your account PIN or passwords. Any account number that is changed prior to 11:30 p.m. will be available under the new account number the next business day. Once changed, your number cannot be changed again.
General Tips:

Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) should be memorized. Never write a PIN on the back of a debit or credit card. Do not use PINs that can be easily guessed such as your date of birth or portions of your phone number.
Memorize your Social Security number and never carry your card with you unless you know you will need it that day for something specific.
Keep items with personal information secure. Always shred credit card receipts, unused pre-approved credit card offers, pre-printed catalogue order forms, insurance forms, expired credit cards or other items containing sensitive account and personal information.
Beware of phishing scams! Phishing is defined as the online solicitation of consumers' personal data by thieves who "bait" potential victims with emails and lure them to Web sites that appear legitimate. The Web site then asks you to enter personal information. The best thing to do if you receive an e-mail from a company asking for personal information is to contact them directly to make sure what you have received is legitimate.
Check your credit report. Once a year, get a copy of your credit report from any one of the three main credit reporting agencies and check for errors on the report.

Currently, the law permits the credit bureaus to charge you up to $9 for each report, but in 2005 consumers will be able to get one free copy of their credit report annually. To see if you are now eligible and to receive your FREE FACT Act credit report, Click Here!
PSECU has teamed up with Equifax to provide members with discounted low-cost credit reports. For more information, Click Here!
These are just a few of the steps you can take to help keep your identity safe and secure. If you would like to learn more about identity theft and keeping your identity secure, please review related articles in the PSECU Security Center, Click Here!

Terrorism: You can fight it!

Terrorism: You can fight it!

By David C Skul [ 31/10/2005 ]

"Keep your friends close but your enemies closer." Is a great expression said by Corleone in the movie "The Godfather Part II". Over the last 10-15 years terrorism has become our worst enemy, something that is closer to us then we could imagine. It is something that neither one of us wants to deal with.

Terrorism has been in our world for a pretty long time. But for us Americans terrorism is a very new concept, and we lack the ability to adapt and cope to it. Terrorism is a type of crime and avoiding becoming a victim means to understand the crime and the criminals involved in it.

If you want to understand terrorism and try to cope with it, the most important rule is to not worry. You will accomplish nothing positive and good fighting terrorism by worrying. More than that: it means that you didn’t prepare properly for it.

Try to think about what kind of people terrorists could be. You probably think they are some kind of mysterious invisible creatures, like phantoms and they have the ability to come out of nowhere bringing with their appearance death, fire and terror.

But this is not the truth! You only see them this way because people involved in terrorism spend a lot of time studying their victims in order to be able to exploit their weaknesses. Any criminal, including a terrorist, is in constant looking for ways to turn something you trust against you. Before they can arrange a terrorist attack, terrorism based organizations are watching and studying the habits and lifestyles of their victims for a great amount of time.

So they know very well our habits. Predictability is a thing that most us humans have in common. We fall in some routines driven by the way our society works, becoming very predictable. Predictability is the easiest weakness to exploit. That is why terrorism exploits the very most that weakness.

The good news is that we have complete control over predictability. That means you can prevent terrorism affecting your life by taking away the opportunity they desire the most.

The challenge of modern day terrorism that drives in the most speculations is how to prevent a terrorist attack. Anyway, preventing terrorism turning us into victims is almost impossible; avoiding this is the thing that we could possibly do.