Consumer Law Task Force

Social Security benefits

We have some clients, both younger and older adults, who receive Social Security benefits in the middle of the month.  Many times this creates a problem with their rent being paid on time.  According to SSA.gov you can't change the date you receive your Soc. Sec benefits.  I know what the website states but has anyone been able to get a client's payment date for Social Security benefits changed and if so, how did you do it.

The seven reasons you will fall for a scam artist

Excellent analysis, and way overdue.  Share this with your friends and families.  Post it wherever you can post it.

One excerpt just to hook you into reading this:

... before I tell you what’s wrong with the tired old saw, “If it seems too good to be true, it is,” let me get this out of the way: I hate people who blame the victim. Yes, consumers can be dumb, foolish, and even greedy. None of these things should ever be construed as permission to steal from them. These are the kinds of excuses you hear from criminals and corporations all the time, and I hate them.  It’s always clear who the bad guy is: The guy who walks away with the money.  The test is easy: Any time you take someone’s money and that person is confused about why, you are wrong. Give the money back.

https://bobsullivan.net/gotchas/the-seven-reasons-you-will-fall-for-a-scam-artist-from-20-years-experience/

Surcharges on credit card purchases coming to stores now

I know, I know, this is an old story, but I just came acrossed it.  Exerpts: 

Everything you buy could potentially cost more starting this Sunday (1/27) when merchants will be legally allowed to add up to a 4 percent surcharge to every purchase made with a credit card.

Online sellers only have to disclose that a surcharge will be imposed on the page of the website where credit cards are first mentioned. In a typical online transaction, however, selecting the form of payment is usually the final step before completing the transaction. Consumer advocates believe this late a disclosure will turn off shoppers who may feel they were hoodwinked into almost completing the buying process before being advised that a credit card surcharge applies.

There are no disclosure requirements in the settlement agreement related to advertising. Shoppers thus may be lured to a retailer because of a price in an ad, only to learn once in the store that they really have to pay more than they expect.

 However ...

Debit cards and prepaid cards will not be subject to a surcharge.

http://www.consumerworld.org/pages/surchargeprs.htm

Baltimore Neighborhoods 55th Anniversary Celebration

Date: 
Wed, 05/21/2014 - 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Location
Location Name: 
Radisson Cross Keys
Address1: 
5100 Falls Road
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
MD
Contact
Name: 
Robert Strupp
Phone: 
410-243-4468
Sponsor: 
Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc

MVLS Celebrate Pro Bono - Save the Date

Date: 
Wed, 10/15/2014 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

On Wednesday, October 15th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service will Celebrate Pro Bono by honoring volunteers, student interns, law firms and supporters at our annual recognition reception at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law’s Westminster Hall in Baltimore.

This annual event, held in partnership with the UMD Carey School of Law’s Leadership in Public Service and Maryland Public Interest Law Project, honors those who have made noteworthy contributions to the delivery of pro bono legal services over the past year.  Guests will enjoy a catered buffet while networking with peers and listening to remarks from a yet-to-be announced keynote speaker.

The reception also kicks off Maryland’s participation in the American Bar Association’s national Celebrate Pro Bono Week (October 19-25).  Celebrate Pro Bono is free for attendees but advanced registration is required.  Register online.  Please contact Stephanie Austin at saustin@mvlslaw.org or 443 451-4065 with any questions.

Location
Location Name: 
UMD Carey School of Law - Westminster Hall
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
MD
Zip: 
21201
Contact
Name: 
Stephanie Austin, MVLS Direct of Development
Phone: 
443-451-4065
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Preventing Crimes against Seniors Virtual Conference

Date: 
Thu, 04/10/2014 - 9:00am - 4:30pm

Here is the link to register if it did not go through before.

The National Crime Prevention Council and the Bureau of Justice Assistance are sponsoring a virtual conference with information to help law enforcement, crime prevention organizations, victim service providers, and others recognize and respond to elder abuse and fraud against seniors. April 10, 2014 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Click here to learn more and register.

Elder abuse is an often unrecognized and underreported crime with devastating consequences. That’s why the National Crime Prevention Council and the Bureau of Justice Assistance joined forces to offer this comprehensive one-day, live event to help combat elder abuse. What you’ll learn:

•Get insight into the signs and symptoms of abuse and the roles and resources of agencies involved in elder abuse prevention.

•Learn strategies and multi-disciplinary models of response to help tackle elder abuse in your community.

•Discover tools to build community awareness surrounding elder abuse.

•Identify elder financial crime trends and how to avoid victimization.

•Learn about partnerships and resources for crime victims and how to prevent crime in the first place! Who should attend: Law enforcement, crime prevention leaders, community-based organizations, seniors, and anyone in the general public interested in protecting seniors

Sponsor: 
The National Crime Prevention Council and the Bureau of Justice Assistance

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc-BNI 55th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Meeting

Date: 
Wed, 05/21/2014 (All day)

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc., is celebrating! We are 55! SAVE THE DATE! May 21st. More information below and details to come! http://www.bni-maryland.org/Documents/05-21-14SavetheDateFlyer.pdf

Location
Location Name: 
Radisson Cross Keys
Address1: 
5100 Falls Rd
City: 
Baltimore
State: 
MD
Zip: 
21210
Contact
Name: 
Robert Strupp
Phone: 
410-243-4468
Sponsor: 
Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc

Enroll in Health Coverage at HealthConnectNow on March 1 at the B'More Healthy Expo

Please pass along this information froim Health Care Access Maryland to clients, friends and family:

Come to the HealthConnectNow! Enrollment Event from 10 am – 5 pm on March 1st at the B’More Healthy Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. HCAM’s Certified Navigators will be on hand to answer your questions and help you enroll. Visit us on Level 300!

Click here for the event flyer.

 

HealthConnectNow! Enrollment events will be scheduled across the state throughout March - check out the event list at www.marylandhealthconnection.gov for more dates and locations. Remember, open enrollment for Maryland Health Connection ends March 31!

(Sorry for the duplicate postings).

Extension of interpreters for court-ordered services

The Judiciary recently issued a policy to expand interpretation services to court-ordered services and programs, including:

-- Mediation

-- Court evaluations

-- Court-appointed attorneys

-- Self-Help Centers

and many more.

The attached list is intended to be inclusive. Please contact the Administrative Office of the Courts Program Services Unit at (410) 260-1291 for more information about coverage of particular services.

Feel free to bring to the attention of the Language Access Task Force if you think an interpreter should be appointed for a particular service, but a court refuses to assign one.

MD Judiciary's Language Access Plan

Here is the plan issued by the Maryland Judiciary as to their efforts to maintain and increase accessibility for limited English proficient clients in the courts.

Highlights include:

-- Plans to improve data collection re: LEP participation in the courts

-- Expand interpretation services to court-ordered services and programs

-- Hiring court-employed interpreters in several courts, including AA County, B. County and B. City, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's County

-- Improving the numbers of translated forms available on the courts' websites

 

 

AttachmentSize
MD Judiciary's Language Access Plan.pdf1.04 MB

Balto City: Low-income LGBT residents offered free tax preparation

www.baltimoresun.com/features/gay-in-maryland/gay-matters/bs-gm-low-inco...

baltimoresun.com

Low-income LGBT residents offered free tax preparation

Program a partnership of Free State Legal, Baltimore Cash Campaign

By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

11:58 AM EST, January 22, 2014

Two organizations in Baltimore have teamed up to offer free tax preparation help to low-income LGBT residents in Baltimore.

"I think the low-income community needs tax prep in general, not just the LGBT community," said Aaron Merki, executive director of Free State Legal, which provides free legal advice to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Marylanders. "But there are a lot of tax issues following marriage equality that might need special attention, so we felt this was a particularly important year to provide tax assistance to our client-base."

Maryland passed same-sex marriage in 2012, so 2013 was the first in which LGBT couples in Maryland were given certain rights. Other rights have recently been awarded to LGBT couples at the federal level as well, many of which can affect how couples file their taxes, Merki said.

Free State is partnering to offer the free tax preparations with the Baltimore CASH Campaign, an organization that helps families in Baltimore "maximize their financial opportunities and resources."

The BCC offers classes to residents throughout Baltimore, but its partnership with Free State is specifically geared toward the LGBT population, Merki said.

The need for legal advice in the LGBT community is rapidly expanding, Merki said. Free State is on track to handle between 350 and 400 cases this year.

"Our case load has been increasing quickly, I would say at a rate of 40 to 50 percent annually, and we expect that trend to continue," he said. "Most people think that following marriage equality, the fight is sort of over, and the opposite is actually true."

With court victories on marriage and other rights, LGBT organizations like Free State are charged with making the victories "applicable to the lives of individuals, which requires legal services," Merki said.

"We're only just ramping up, it's just getting started," he said.

Free tax preparation assistance will be offered every Thursday between Jan. 30 and April 4 on the first floor of the Chase Brexton Building, at 1111 N. Charles Street.

Assistance is available by appointment only. Interested individuals should call Free State between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily at 410-625-5428 to make an appointment.

Such assistance requires paperwork be brought to the appointment, including a social security card for each member of the family; a photo I.D. for each filer, W-2 forms for all jobs worked in 2013, a copy of last year's returns and various other documents.

 

 

Tax Identity Theft Webinar

Date: 
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 1:30pm - 3:00pm

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), IRS, and AARP present …

TAX IDENTITY THEFT WEBINAR

Tax identity theft is one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft in the U.S. Learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your friends.

In this free webinar, you will learn from the FTC, IRS, and AARP about:

• What tax identity theft is

• How to protect yourself and your family

• What resources are available

• What to do if you become a victim

When: Wednesday January 15 1:30 EST (English)  

and 3:30 EST (Spanish)

Where: visit ftc.gov/taxidtheft for login information 

FREE. NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED.

 

Sponsor: 
Federal Trade Commission

Consumer Law Task Force

Date: 
Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

If you are a member of the Task Force, find the GoToMeeting information at:

http://www.mdjustice.org/node/985

Be sure to sign in to see the page.

Locations of meetings for 2014:

Feb. 18  – Metro
April 22  – Baltimore
June 17  – Metro
Aug. 19  – Baltimore
Oct. 21  – Metro
Dec. 16 – Baltimore

for addresses of the above offices, go to: http://www.mdlab.org/contact.

Location
Location Name: 
See description for locations
Contact
Name: 
Jessica Quincosa
Phone: 
Jquincosa@mdlab.org
Sponsor: 
MD Legal Aid

MVLS March Madness themed Benefit-Save the Date

Date: 
Thu, 03/27/2014 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm

SAVE THE DATE for MVLS’ annual March Madness-themed benefit!  For more information, contact Stephanie Austin at saustin@mvlslaw.org or (443) 451-4065.

http://www.mvlslaw.org/lawyers/events/benefit-2014/ Save the Date.

M&T Bank Stadium, Southeast Club Level

March 27, 2014

Location
Location Name: 
M&T Bank Stadium, Southeast Club Level
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Some city foster care youths earn diploma in a day in Philadelphia

The Baltimore Sun has done an expose of the one-day “GED” program that Baltimore City sent youth to in Pennsylvania.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-foster-care-diplomas-20131123,0,6270528.story?page=1

Senate Aging Committee Launches New Anti-Fraud Hotline, Enhanced Website to Assist Seniors

– If you or someone you know suspect you’ve been victim of a scam or fraud aimed at seniors, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has set up a new toll-free hotline to help.

The hotline was unveiled today to make it easier for senior citizens to report suspected fraud and receive assistance. It will be staffed by a team of committee investigators weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. The investigators, who have experience with investment scams, identity theft, bogus sweepstakes and lottery schemes, Medicare and Social Security fraud, and a variety of other senior exploitation issues, will directly examine complaints and, if appropriate, refer them to the proper authorities.

Anyone with information about suspected fraud can call the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-855-303-9470, or contact the committee through its website, located at http://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.

As chairman and ranking member of the committee, Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have made consumer protection and fraud prevention a primary focus of the committee’s work. This year the panel has held hearings examining Jamaican lottery scams, tax-related identity theft, Social Security fraud and payday loans impact on seniors.

“If you’re contacted about an offer that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is,” Nelson said. “This new hotline will give seniors a resource to turn to for assistance if they think they’ve been victimized or have questions about fraudulent activities.”

“Ensuring that seniors are as equipped as possible to avoid becoming victims of fraud and other scams is among our committee’s top priorities,” said Collins. “This new hotline offered by the Senate Special Committee on Aging will help to identify and put a stop to the cruel scams that hurt seniors and their families.”

The hotline’s unveiling also coincides with the committee’s launch of an enhanced senior-friendly website. The site’s new features include large print, simple navigation and an uncluttered layout that enables seniors to find information more easily and conveniently. Online visitors can also increase text size, change colors or view a text-only version of the
site. To view the new website, visit www.aging.senate.gov.

New videos to help people represent themselves in court

The Maryland Access to Justice Commission released four new videos for the self-represented which can be viewed at the links below.  The videos were produced by the Office of Communications & Public Affairs.

        Tips for Your Day in Court: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjtipsforyourdayincourt20131016.wmv

        Service of Process: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjserviceofprocess20131016.wmv

        Finding Legal Help: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjfindinglegalhelp20131016.wmv

        Defending a Small Claim: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjdefendingagainstasmallclaim20131016.wmv

Find videos at the court website: http://mdcourts.gov/reference/videolibrary.html.

Insured Marylanders Have a Right to Appointments with Mental Health Providers Without Unreasonable Delay or Travel

From the Maryland Parity Project:

Maryland law Insurance Article Section 15-830 (d) requires insurance companies operating in Maryland to provide an adequate network of providers, including mental health and substance use disorder providers. The law requires insurers to authorize visits to an out of network provider if an appointment with an in-network provider can’t be found without unreasonable delay or travel.

What Can You Do If You Can’t Get An Appointment?

If you have been unable to get an appointment with a mental health or substance use disorder treatment provider listed in your insurance company provider directory, you can contact the Maryland Insurance Administration for help.

Contact Us for help in filing the complaint

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