More on MN Bill HF0343

Things have been so busy I feel like I have neglected my scam fighting blogger friends.  I did want to give you a quick update on a topic that is very dear to my heart . . . laws to protect scam victims.  As anyone who has read my story, website, blog or who has any interaction with me personally in the past 8+ years since I have started down this road of scam education and awareness knows that I am passionate about this issue.  I have been asking for laws to be changed from day one.  In the beginning, people just laughed and said that there was no way to change those kinds of laws or do anything to help scam victims, but that did not make me give up . . . I just kept talking to different people until found someone that DID listen to me.
Then things started to turn around.  I was able to speak with someone at Senator Franken’s office and they really listened to what I had to say.  We had several phone and email conversations, bouncing ideas off of each other.  Then around the same time I was asked by AARP of Minnesota and the BBB of Minnesota to come to a meeting that they were having to look at legislation that could help scam victims, or better yet, protect people from BECOMING scam victims.  I could not believe it . . . things were falling into place.  At that meeting I shared all of the ideas that my husband Jeff and I had from day one of beginning our site.  I told them that I am not a legal expert, but I know what would have saved us, and the people that come to our website for assistance, from becoming scam victims.  I showed them the “loopholes” that I saw in the way that things were currently run, with both banking institutions and money transfer companies.  I said that if they could close these loopholes, we could dramatically reduce this type of scams.
So I made sure that my contacts at the BBB, AARP and Senator Franken’s office all were connected to each other, and then I waited.  There were a few more emails and conversations, but after a while things kind of stopped going and I wondered if the whole idea fell through.  Then, at a Fraud Fighter’s Forum organized by the Minnesota AARP I saw it for the first time . . . HF0343.  If you would like to read the Bill, you can do so at this link.  https://www.revisor.mn.gov/revisor/pages/search_status/status_detail.php?b=House&f=HF0343&ssn=0&y=2011
Many of the items in this Bill are things that I have been talking about for years, so to see it becoming a reality was HUGE for me.  There are other scam fighting sites out there that are also backing this bill.  I think that is great that we can all join together on one common issue.  It does not matter who told you about HF0343, just that you know about it, and that we get it passed.  If it passes in Minnesota, we can then all work together to see it get passed in other states.
I was also able to be at a recent hearing about this Bill, and I shared with everyone there why I am so passionate about this issue and that if this Bill would have been law in 2002, I would not have been sitting in front of them speaking to them as a scam victim . . . if this Bill works as it is written, it would have saved my husband and I from becoming victims.
Also, there are some that have recently accused me of “stealing their thunder” and I believe most of it is due to a recent post I made telling all of you about this bill and asking you to send letters in to the authors.  This other group was asking people to send in letters, and instead of “re-inventing the wheel” I passed that information on to all of you.  I felt that I could do this because
1)      I also had been working with the same groups mentioned in the context of the letter
2)      I also feel passionately about this topic
3)      This group was asking for help in getting the word out
4)      Had I know that letters to the authors would “help” I would have put the word out a LONG time ago
To me, scam fighting and changing the laws is not about who “gets credit” for it . . . it is about all of us working together for the best outcome.  If I have some good info, and you want to share it, go ahead . . . share away!  That is how we get the word to spread and educate more people.

Consumers who help AG’s office could get up to $3K

I was just sent a link to this article from my good friend and fellow advocate, Denise Richardson (GiveMeBackMyCredit.com) and I just had to share it with all of you.
To summarize the article, The Indiana AG office wants victims of financial scams to be able to recoup legal costs through a program funded by violators of the state’s consumer protection laws.  Personally, I think this is a GREAT idea.  I know that so many scam victims don’t report the scams and just pay the money to make it go away instead of getting a lawyer to try to fight these cases . . . mostly because they cannot afford to get a lawyer.  This would allow them to get justice without it being an added financial burden on them.
Looks like there are a couple of lawmakers already backing this . . . Senator Richard Bray and State Representative Woody Burton.

RFID ~ protect your data

I have the pleasure of calling fellow scam fighter Denise Richardson my friend, and she introduced me to a product that can help protect everyone, and I had to share it with you.

First off, do you know what a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag is?  A RFID tag holds your name, credit card number and anything else that your bank or credit card company decides to embed on it.

Now this is where I say “Why don’t these people use their minds for good instead of evil” . . . I say this because there are also Radio Frequency Readers and Remote Frequency Readers that allow you to read, or skim, the information off of someone else’s RFID tags without ever touching the card that those tags are embedded on!  Yes, someone actually went out and created a hand held device that you can use to collect the credit card information of other people . . . people sitting next to you on the bus, or walking down the street.

So, how do the REST of us protect ourselves from those that are using their minds for evil instead of good, or those that have purchased the products that these evil thinkers have created?  There are companies like Kena Kai and Magellan’s that have wallets that actually block RFID reading products.  See . . . now THAT is someone using their minds for GOOD and not evil!

How did I find out about these wallets?  From Denise Richardson of GiveMeBackMyCredit.com If you would like to read what Denise has to say about these products you can read her blog on the topic.

NOVA Conference – summary

I found a video the other day that shows a summary of the NOVA Conference that I attended in August. It was a wonderful event, and I want to thank NOVA for putting this on.

http://www.youtube.com/v/8wVOkGYYA4M&rel=0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3

The little guy

If you know me, you know I am all for the little guy being able to stand up and tell big corporations “That’s not right!”  I get very frustrated when I see companies doing things that are morally wrong, and only doing them because they know they have so many lawyers that the little guy will not be able to afford to fight them in court for with is right.

My good friend Denise Richardson recently wrote this article about the fact that the Supreme Court with be making a ruling in November that could change class-action lawsuits.  Here is a portion of her article . . .

Sometimes a class-action lawsuit is the only way to force a corporation to assume its corporate responsibility. Access to the justice system and a fair shake under the law are the little guys’ safety nets. Without the threat of a lawsuit, corporations can engage in negligence or recklessness, and the consumer will have little to say in his own defense. Which is why AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the case coming up in the Supreme Court this November, has got my attention and should have yours.

In this case, the Court will decide whether the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state-law rulings that class-action bans are unconscionable. They will decide “whether corporations can ban class actions in the fine print of their contracts with consumers and employees.

There is a petition you can sign letting them know that you are against forced arbitration and feel the consumer should continue to have the right to class-action lawsuits at http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/

NOVA – National Organization for Victims Assistance

I wanted to thank NOVA for the wonderful conference that they put on in Salt Lake City, Utah August 22nd through August 25th, and for having me as a presentor for one of the workshops.  My co-presentor was Denise Richardson of GiveMeBackMyCredit.com

Not only did Denise and I get the chance to share our personal stories of how we went from victim to Victims Advocate, we attended several other presentations and were able to meet some amazing people, and I will be sharing that information with you in the upcoming days.

Elizabeth Warren: A must appointment to offset what passes for “truth” in banking

Harvard Law professor and bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren has shown her willingness to crack down on Wall Street’s predatory practices and advocate on behalf of consumers.
Sign the petition at http://www.citizen.org/warren-for-cfpb to show your support for consumer champion Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Also, read the article by my good friend Denise Richardson
Elizabeth Warren: A must appointment to offset what passes for “truth” in banking

Bloggers rights

I was reading an article today at the Consumer Law and Policy Blog about bloggers rights.  It was ironic that this article came out this week because at this time there is a heated conversation about a company on our message board, and we have been looking into our right to leave this information on our website.

Here is a portion of the article.

Quixtar (also known as Amway) brought suit in Michigan against Signature, a competitor, for tortious interference with contract and other torts, and claimed that Signature was conducting a “smear campaign” through anonymous Internet criticisms.  It sought discovery in Nevada from one of Signature’s senior staff members, who refused during his deposition to identify the authors of statements on several online sources.  The deponent opposed this discovery, arguing for the application of the Cahill  standard; the trial court initially questioned the basis for the deponent’s standing to raise the free speech rights of the Does but required notice to the Does so that they could decide whether to seek to protect their own rights, which they did. The district court then applied the Cahill standard in deciding that the Does from three online sources should be identified, but the Does from two other online sources protected from identification.

In another article on the Consumer Law and Policy Blog talks about the recent ruling by a federal judge that helps to protect the owners of websites where people may post complaints from lawsuits.  Here is a portion of that article.

Lawrence White created a simple, anonymous web site at careeragentsnetwork.biz to warn prospective small business owners to check carefully before investing their savings in a the “health care employee recruiting business” opportunity offered by a company called “Career Agents Network.”  Career Agents Network sued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, claiming that the domain name infringed its trademark and constituted cybersquatting.  Even though Sixth Circuit precedent foreclosed both causes of action, plaintiff moved ex parte for a temporary restraining order and obtained relief compelling the identification of White, and freezing the domain name, by concealing the controlling authorities from the Court.  The defendant got summary judgment (represented by private counsel)  by citing the controlling cases; but it cost the defendant nearly $20,000 to defend his rights.

We have all heard the phrase “Freedom of Speech”, but how much do we really think about that.  Is speech really “free” when lawsuits can be brought against owners of websites and end up costing them thousands of dollars for that “freedom”?

Here is something to think about . . . have you ever been in a public restroom and seen a person’s name and phone number written on the bathroom wall?  I know I have, sometimes with the comment “For a good time call”.  Now, using the same line of thinking as the people who bring these groundless lawsuits against bloggers and website owners, does the person who had their name written on that bathroom wall have a case against the establishment where their name was written on the wall?  Can they force them to paint that bathroom to cover their name and remove it from their wall?  No.  So why is it different when that “wall” is on the internet?

Legislation re-introduced to protect people from identity theft and account fraud

In today’s day and age, this one seems like a no-brainer to me. We NEED legislation to help protect people from Identity Theft and Account Fraud.

Senator Carper was one of the ones who introduced the legislation. The Data Security Act of 2010 would require entities such as financial establishments, retailers, and federal agencies to safeguard sensitive information, investigate security breaches, and notify people when there is a substantial risk of identity theft or account fraud.

Legislation re-introduced to protect people from identity theft and account fraud

It is changes like this that will help to protect people from becoming victims.

Bank of America Settlement

I found a great article on the Bank of America Settlement with the FTC.

In my last post I noted the beginnings of some positive movement by consumer protection agencies that have been largely dormant and, in some cases like the United States Trustee program, actively anti-consumer. A few weeks ago, as Katie Porter noted in a recent post, Bank of America (BOA) reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission with respect to certain mortgage overcharges, including overcharges in bankruptcy, on mortgages formerly serviced by Countrywide Mortgage. The settlement requires reimbursement to consumers who were overcharged. BOA, in addition to agreeing not to lie, steal, or file documents without reviewing them, will also have to follow notice procedures similar to those that are already required or are likely to be required for all mortgage companies once new Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1 becomes effective in December, 2011. The United States Trustee (UST) Program assisted the FTC in its efforts. This settlement is the first significant positive result of increased UST scrutiny of mortgage lenders, although the extent of the UST’s participation is not known.

To read the rest of the article go to http://www.creditslips.org/creditslips/2010/07/bank-of-america-settlement-with-ftc-raises-some-questions.html#more