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Identity Theft News

Identity Theft News

Frivolous or Well-Founded? 3 Key Characteristics of a Worthy Lawsuit

Frivolous or Well-Founded? 3 Key Characteristics of a Worthy Lawsuit

Recently, an inmate in a Colorado correctional facility filed an $88 billion suit against National Football League officials for an overturned call in the Dallas Cowboys - Green Bay Packers playoff game. The fan-turned-plaintiff asserts the game hinged on that call and someone should pay up for the mistake. Dallas media outlets surmise he arrived at his damages figure, $88,987,654,321.88, in homage to the receiver whose catch was over-ruled, Dez Bryant, jersey number 88.

FRIVOLOUS SUIT FUN FACTS: COFFEE IS HOT; BURGERS ARE MESSY

Frivolous lawsuits have become so common in the United States most Americans could recite the more shocking ones by heart.

Who could forget when McDonald’s was sued for serving its coffee too hot? A jury awarded the plaintiff in that case $2.86 million, prompting ABC News to call it “the poster child of excessive lawsuits.” More recently, a man has filed suit over the mental anguish he suffered when a McDonald’s employee handed over only one napkin with his order. He contends the experience has left him unable to work.

CRASH AND BURN: AMERICAN TAXPAYERS LEFT HOLDING BILL

The sheer number of frivolous lawsuits filed each year in the United States necessitated some sort of protection for corporations; few disagree on that score.  Many companies prefer to settle with their claimants, far-fetched as their lawsuits may be, rather than to tie up time and resources in protracted legal battles. Lawmakers put stopgaps in place to soften the blows and to ensure frivolous lawsuits wouldn’t take companies down for the count.

Legislators took a stab at financially protecting companies from these inevitable payouts and other payments that are legitimate costs of doing business.

“They are allowed to write off settlement payments that are not fines or penalties paid to the government as ordinary business expenses. But a tax loophole has enabled corporate wrongdoers to take advantage of that tax break, too. Some companies that have behaved terribly are benefitting handsomely by deducting amounts meant to punish them for bad behavior. The American taxpayer underwrites a huge percentage of the amounts paid as though any bad act is standard business practice. It’s just so wrong,” says Christopher Huntley of the Huntley Law Firm, the provider firm for LegalShield members in the State of Idaho.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group reports that at least 80% of the $42 billion BP has paid for its 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill that resulted in 11 deaths and unprecedented harm to the ecosystem is tax deductible, saving the company an estimated $10-$14 billion. That savings is money the company keeps and the government does not collect on behalf of taxpayers.  Americans who had no culpability in the disaster have, essentially, been enlisted to bankroll BP’s Victim Fund.

Even J.P. Morgan Chase, considered by many to be an architect of the 2008 financial crisis, announced a $13.7 billion settlement payout to the federal government, followed the next day by the CFO’s announcement that $7 billion of that figure would be tax deductible (so investors need not worry.)

Interesting Note: If the government settles a claim with a corporation and the settlement document doesn’t clearly state whether the amount paid is a fine or a penalty, the corporation is likely to try to deduct the entire payment no matter how large the payment nor how egregious the acts

SMALL CLAIMS COURT: JUDGE JUDY IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF REALITY

People often find themselves moved to sue their neighbors over property disputes, or mean teachers and administrators, or companies that have insulted them. Mr. Huntley cautions everyone to step back and really consider the situation carefully before taking matters to court. The expense, stress, and bad feelings left in the wake of such an event take a long time to dissipate.

One of the wilder frivolous lawsuits making the news lately stems from a five-year-old missing his friend’s birthday party. The host family incurred a $22 no-show guest fee, which they passed on to their absent guest’s family the following week. The fur began to fly, with both sides squaring off to go to court.

“Here’s the first question I ask: ‘Why are you doing this? Is it to change a circumstance or policy? Have you exhausted all other options? Or is this more for the principle of the thing?’ I will take cases with legal merit, but I find that people suing on principle often need to take a breather,” says Mr. Huntley, who emphasizes that the LegalShield service is ideal for calling to verify rights and the law, but not to file suit on anyone, be they inconsiderate guests or a corporation guilty of a reprehensible crime. “We refer clients to litigation counsel when the situation warrants a day in court, but 90% of the time, it really does not,” says Mr. Huntley.

ENTER: GUYS IN WHITE HATS

The hit parade of corporations who have unjustly benefitted from the tax loophole has angered lawmakers for years, but none has been able to get new legislation off the ground thanks to bipartisan struggles and the sustained efforts of business lobbyists. Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the loophole is the deduction of punitive damages. Last month Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont, introduced the “No Tax Writeoffs For Corporate Wrongdoers Act” in an effort to stiffen the penalties corporations must face when they have committed egregious acts. Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, and Senator Jack Reed, Democrat from Rhode Island, also plan to reintroduce similar legislation in this session.

“If you are offended by the idea of your taxes being raised so that a corporation can deduct an amount meant to punish it for wrong-doing, now is the time to call your representative in Congress,” says Mr. Huntley.

IDShield Investigator Insights: Social Media

April 20, 2017

Sharing on Social Media Today Can Impact Your Future

Many of us can’t remember life before social media. How did we make it through the day without our friends telling us how they were feeling or posting pictures of what they had for lunch?

 

While it seems like social media sites have been around forever, the first, Six Degrees, launched only 20 years ago, making social media a relatively new means of staying in touch. As social animals, our desire to connect with others is great, and social media, along with the proliferation of mobile devices, makes it easy to do. Since we like to think we can trust our friends, it’s easy to let our guard down when we’re commenting on a Facebook post or sharing vacation photos on Instagram.

 

IDShield Investigator Tips: Social Media

April 20, 2017

When It Comes to Staying Safe on Social Media, Listen to Your Mother

Twenty-one percent of adult internet users have had an email or social media account compromised.1 Applying some old-fashioned words of wisdom to our modern online lives can help prevent it from happening to you. Here are some tips from the Investigators at Kroll:

 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Danger Lurks Where Technology Intersects Public Safety

April 13, 2017

It’s 3 a.m., and you are awakened by the sounds of sirens blaring outside. All of the cell phones in your house start to chirp, and when you look down, you see an emergency notification with a warning to evacuate immediately. The alert says to head north and that all major roads will be used as one-way streets to enable a rapid evacuation. Twenty miles north of your town the same thing is happening, except in this case, the warning is telling everyone that they should head south.

Simple Steps to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

March 17, 2017

Despite the fact that the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranked cybercrime as the No. 1 national security threat, very few Americans take real steps to protect themselves, their family and their businesses against identity theft.

As the head of a company that helps consumers protect themselves from this issue, I've become increasingly aware of its perils, and how it impacts millions of people each year. I see identity theft as a growing epidemic that warrants immediate action. There are a number of simple steps to take, and some may seem obvious, but many people choose not to address the issue with preventive measures. How often do you back up personal and corporate computers, check your credit report and statements, or update your virus protection software?

When Consumers Get Smart, Scammers Get Smarter

March 16, 2017

So you think you’re pretty smart when it comes to scams. You know there is no wealthy Nigerian prince who needs money to escape – and there’s certainly no reward for sending him your hard-earned cash. You’re careful to not click on links or open attachments from email addresses you do not recognize. But as consumers become more aware, scammers become more savvy. They know we live online and on our phones, and they use both to get even the most wary individuals to fall for their scams. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

 

When it comes to phone scams, be smart with these tips:

Stay Calm and Trust No One: Protecting Yourself Against Scammers

March 16, 2017

Tax scams grab a lot of identity theft headlines, and for good reason: the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises that 25 percent of reported scams in 2016 were related to tax issues. But there’s more than one way to scam a consumer, and scammers are constantly thinking up new and more sophisticated ways to lure in victims. According to the BBB, last year’s fastest growing scams included:

 

Online Purchase Scams

These may involve sites selling fake merchandise, as well as sites that aren’t selling anything at all. By the time your “designer” duds have arrived, or you realize you’ll never get what you paid for, the scammers have your money as well as your name, address and credit card information, which is what they are really after.

 

Employment Scams