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ADVICE TO SENIORS ON AVOIDING IDENTITY THEFT
Excerpted from the Consumer Action Handbook 2014
General Services Administration's (GSA) Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies
Seniors are vulnerable to identity theft. Here are some common schemes that ID thieves use to steal the identity of seniors.
An ID thief may call, making fraudulent offers for products, benefits or medical services. The caller will require you to provide personal information, such as your social security number, birthday, or Medicare ID number.
Tax ID theft
Phony tax preparers steal your social security number and sell it to scammers. ID thieves may also read obituaries so that they can file a tax return in the deceased person's name. This can be a problem for a surviving spouse, when he or she tries to file taxes later in the tax season. For more information contact the IRS'
Taxpayer Advocate Service at 1-877-275-8271 or visit www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Advocate-Service-6
Medical ID theft
In general, seniors have more contact with medical service providers that can take advantage of access to their insurance information to get medical services in your name or to issue fraudulent billing to you and your health insurer.
Nursing home and long-term care
Staff at these facilities have access to seniors' personal information on file, as well as the potential misuse or theft of seniors' finances (for example check books or bank statements in the senior's room) .You can report this fraud to the long-term care ombudsman in your state at www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman
Follow the steps listed in "Reporting Identity Theft" (p. 37) to report ID theft or report it to the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on Aging's Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470 or at www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline
LAW FIRMS, ACCOUNTANTS MADE $16M IN FEES OFF OF BANKRUPTCY CASE
Greg B. Smith
Law firms, accountants made $16M in fees off Interfaith Medical Center's bankruptcy
Interfaith Medical Center was in bankruptcy court for 18 months and racked up millions in fees for lawyers and accountants &emdash; many of which were questionable.
The hospital was mired in bankruptcy proceedings for months. A federal monitor singled out more than $700,000 in bills as questionable, including charges for meals, travel and even billable hours for the time spent tallying up the bills.
The cash-strapped hospital struggling to serve some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city &emdash; was the victim of a $16 million white-collar feeding frenzy.
Based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Interfaith has for years had one of the worst emergency room wait times in the state. Records from April show it took nearly two hours to see a doctor there.
The 287-bed non-profit facility &emdash; where patients are rarely insured and almost always rely on Medicaid &emdash; was for months mired in bankruptcy proceedings.
And a mentally ill patient managed to beat another patient to death in an Interfaith shower stall in 2013 because the staff lost track of them.
New Jersey Wife Teresa Giudice sues her bankruptcy lawyer for bankruptcy she claims he mishandled
She can't even do bankruptcy right ... and she blames it on her lawyer whom she is now suing.
Teresa claims in her new lawsuit -- obtained by TMZ -- he was a slacker who never even met with her prior to filing bankruptcy docs.
She also says he was sloppy as hell, not bothering to list key assets such as her cars, her rental property income and various bank accounts.
Giudice claims he's the reason she got nailed with bankruptcy fraud and that's why she's going to prison for 15 months.
Teresa says it's a classic case of malpractice, and she wants minimum 5 mil. By the way ... if you see any stories later today saying she's suing for $15 mil ... that's wrong. She makes the same claim 3 times.
We reached out to Teresa's lawyer ... so far no word back.
[Ed. Note: This is odd ... presumably Giudice is suing her bankruptcy lawyer for mistakes he allegedley made prior to filing the bankruptcy. But a cause of action for malpractice based on acts that happened prior to the petition being filed is property of the estate. Hence, only the trustee could sue for it and the proceeds, if any, would also be property of the estate. So, in most cases of bankruptcy attorney malpractice there is no reason for an agrieved client to sue - the money is just going to the creditors.]
Encore Settles Debt Collection claims - May Pay Huge Penalty
Christie Smythe Jan 9, 2015
Encore Capital Group Inc. (ECPG), a buyer of consumer debt, agreed to settle claims that it used improper collection methods in New York, the state's attorney general said amid greater nationwide scrutiny of the practice.
The San Diego-based debt investment firm obtained judgments against New York consumers for debts that were too old to collect, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement today.
Under the settlement, Encore will ask that more than 4,500 improperly obtained judgments totaling nearly $18 million be thrown out. It will reform its practices, and pay civil penalties of $675,000, Schneiderman said.
"New York has laws in place to ensure no one can prey on consumers, and debt collectors are required to follow those rules," the attorney general said.
The settlement follows other actions Schneiderman has taken over alleged improper debt collection practices. In May, he reached agreements with other large buyers debt, Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC and Sherman Financial Group LLC.
Lawmaker Says Fire tax-delinquent feds
Federal employees who refuse to pay their federal taxes should face consequences for their actions, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee said.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said that more than 100,000 federal employees do not pay their federal faxes every year, and one of his priorities in the new Congress will be to stiffen the penalties they face.
"We have roughly 100,000 federal workers on an annual basis that don't pay their federal taxes and that's just not acceptable," Chaffetz said.
ABI Report: Bankruptcy Filings Decrease by 12 Percent in 2014
Jan 06, 2015
The American Bankruptcy Institute reports that continued low interest rates and high filing costs deter consumers and businesses away from filing bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy filings in the U.S. totaled 910,090 in for calendar year 2014 (Jan. 1-Dec. 31), a 12 percent decrease from the 1,032,572 total filings during the same period a year ago, according to data provided to the American Bankruptcy Institute by Epiq Systems, Inc.
Noncommercial filings, 875,635 during calendar year 2014, represented an 11 percent decline from the 988,489 noncommercial filings during calendar year 2013, according to a news release from the American Bankruptcy Institute.
There were 34,455 total commercial bankruptcy filings during calendar year 2014, a 22 percent drop from the 44,083 filings during the same period in 2013.
[ed.njote: The drop in filings is consistent with the pattern of declining filings over a number of years.
CFPB Issues Warning to Consumers and Springs Into Action Against Student Debt Relief Scams
Amanda L. Genovese and David N. Anthony
December 11, 2014
On December 11, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an advisory warning to consumers about student loan debt relief companies. While the CFPB warns all student borrowers, in distress or otherwise, to steer clear of companies with aggressive marketing tactics that make promises that they can save student borrowers thousands of dollars on student loan debt, it is also taking steps to stop these companies from engaging in illegal practices.
Specifically, the CFPB, in a joint filing with Florida's Attorney General, shut down student loan debt relief company College Education Services and filed a lawsuit against Student Loan Processing.
The CFPB's advisory provides useful tips to help student borrowers recognize red flags frequently associated with student loan debt relief scams, including:
Upfront fees: Student loan debt relief companies should not require the payment of an upfront fee up or signing of a contract prior to explaining how they will be able to assist the student borrower. The CFPB notes that "[n]ot only is free assistance available through your student loan servicer, many times taking payment for debt relief services before providing help is illegal."
Promises of loan forgiveness or cancellation: Student loan debt relief companies will make false promises that they have the ability to negotiate with student loan creditors under federal student loan programs. This is a lie.
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