maanantai 22. marraskuuta 2010

What to ask a potential Mesothelioma Lawyer

Selecting a mesothelioma lawyer to represent you in your lawsuit is a important decision to make. You should feel good about the people at the law firm that you deal with and be satisfied with their answers to your questions.

When deciding to hire an attorney for legal services, you should be confident that they have the experience and knowledge to represent you effectively. You might ask the following questions of potential mesothelioma lawyers who would represent you in an asbestos case:

How long has the firm been doing these kinds of cases?

How many mesothelioma cases do you handle currently?

How many mesothelioma cases have you overseen?

Will your law firm work on my case, or will my case be outsourced to another law firm?

How many cases like mine has your law firm taken to trial?

What kind of verdicts have you obtained?

If you take a case to trial, will an attorney from your law firm actually be responsible for representing me at trail?

With everything that has been going on since the diagnosis of the condition you may be tempted to just type in "mesothelioma attorney" into a search engine and pick one of the names that pop up arbitrarily.

Deciding which is the right firm to choose can be very challenging because you will find that there are a plethora of firms to choose from.

You may decide to just go with the first name on the list, many people do just that.

However, with all that is at stake do you really want to put your fate in the hands of someone you chose by making a hasty decision?

Find out how reliable the attorney's network is. If your attorney knows others across the country that will share their knowledge and research then it is more likely that a strong case can be built for you.

perjantai 19. marraskuuta 2010

Mesothelioma Lawsuits Determined Extensive Research in Treating MPM Cancer

With Mesothelioma incidence rates expected to double in the next two decades and an increasing number of lawsuits involving this type of lung cancer, scientists are more and more determined to develop an effective anti-MPM drug. With 2,485 malignant mesothelioma deaths in 1999, caused by exposure to asbestos and half as many lawsuits, researchers are put to the test. According to a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) report containing mesothelioma legal information and statistics, New York ranked fourth in 1999 in mesothelioma deaths, with 169, and New Jersey ranked eighth, with 111 deaths.

An eminent panel of international speakers at a symposium sponsored by Hospira at the 35th congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, concluded that Raltitrexed (Tomudex), in combination with Cisplatin, improves overall survival, compared with the Cisplatin treatment alone. Raltitrexed is currently licensed for the treatment of MPM in Portugal, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Further authorizations are expected for this drug in Europe, by the end of the year.

Researchers also seem to agree that a form of Vitamin E may be effective in inducing apoptosis, or cell death, and suppressing cancer growth in malignant mesothelioma. Studies lasting for the past five years show that alpha tocepherol, the most prevalent form of vitamin E in the body, as well as that administered as a supplement, is effective in fighting treatment-resistant breast cancer tumors, and could be just as effective in fighting mesothelioma.

MSP stands for a distinct type of lung cancer over exposed to asbestos fibres. Also known as “asbestos cancer,” mesothelioma is highly aggressive and is resistant to many standard cancer treatments. Currently there is no known cure for mesothelioma, and the average survival time varies from 4 – 18 months after diagnosis. Vitamin E is known for its antioxidant properties and for protecting skin cells from ultra violet light, pollution, drugs, and other elements that damage the free radicals in cells. Both Italian and Australian researchers reported that alpha-tocopheryl succinate, vitamin E, “efficiently kills malignant mesothelioma cells and sensitises them to the immunologic inducer of apoptosis tumor necrosis factor.”

What Is Pericardial Mesothelioma ?

Mesothelioma is a cancer on the epithelium that lines the lungs, the abdomen, or the heart. Pericardial Mesothelioma may be the cancer of the lining belonging to the heart, identified as the pericardium, hence the name pericardial mesothelioma.

This rare form of mesothelioma accounts for small percentage of all cases, roughly 5%. The pericardium has an extrememly essential role as it protects the heart from any damage. Really should an individual turn out to be afflicted with this cancer, they ought to take it quite seriously and seek specialized medical attention. If left untreated throughout the early stages of diagnosis, it can grow to be a terminal illness with a really low survival rate.

As with all forms of mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma is caused by inhaling asbestos. Individuals who are most at risk are construction workers and asbestos manufacturers. The wearing of a protective mask can support to minimize the inhalation of asbestos dust in to the lungs (since the asbestos fibres get lodged inside the lungs).
If you have noticed, the majority of workers aren’t correctly protected when working on construction sites – even in industrialized nations for instance the United States. One would expect to see otherwise, thinking that businesses follow OSHA directives. That isn’t the case all the time.

Throughout the middle with the 20th century (roughly between 1950-1970) asbestos was one from the most well-liked building materials, and scores of young males were exposed to it. Now, from the 21st century (some 50 many years later – the latency period of pericardial mesothelioma), these young men who are now over 60 many years of age are beginning to exhibit the indicators of pericardial mesothelioma. As a result, multi-million dollar lawsuits are being filed against the organizations that employed them.

The difficulty with pericardial mesothelioma is that its signs and symptoms only begin appearing inside the cancer’s latest phases, generating it even much more hard to treat. The primary warning signs are shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pains and a persistent cough. Other signs and symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma include nausea, weight loss and loss of appetite. One more challenge with these indicators is that they are similar to those of pneumonia (shortness of breath), and this tends to lead for the wrong treatment being administered to an individual afflicted with pericardial mesothelioma.

Remedy options for pericardial mesothelioma include things like chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and dual remedy. The survival rate is extremely low, and it is critical to tension that one’s chances of healing are increased should really treatment commence inside early stages of diagnosis.

maanantai 15. marraskuuta 2010

Getting a good Home Loan Interest Rate

Here are some simple tips to help you negotiate a good home loan interest rate.

1) First finalize your property, then choose your lender

A common mistake many people make is to take a pre-approved loan before finalizing property. You don't need to take a pre-approved loan to know how much you are eligible for. (Simply use our home loan eligibility calculator if that's all you want to know). Besides, imagine falling in love with a property and then discovering that the lender you chose will not fund that property due to some legal/document issues.

You are better off finalizing your property first and then applying for a home loan. Banks are known to reserve the best deals for immediate disbursement cases as there are targets to be achieved.

2) Go window-shopping, then bargain and then bargain some more.

Not only from the perspective of interest rates, but also the eligibility amount it is advisable that you shop around and play one provider against another. A home loan is large purchase decision; 0.2% knocked off your interest rate over a 20 year home loan can typically save you half a lakh! Apart from interest rates, also look out for various fees and charges - processing fees, pre-payment charges, legal fees, valuation fees and other hidden costs. So haggling is worth the trouble. Summon up all your bargaining powers and let banks compete for your business! Enjoy the journey.

3) Teaser rates may be good but understand them before you sign

The State Bank of India Home Loan scheme (popularly called the 8% scheme) is very good scheme but surely costs much more than 8% except in the first year. The success of this scheme has ensured that other banks also offer what bankers call 'teaser rate schemes a low initial rate but a higher rate after the first couple of years. Please evaluate the impact on overall cost of such rate changes over the entire loan tenure (typically 20 years). Our interest rate comparison tool gives you the average rate as well as the initial rate to help you understand them better.

4) Fixed or Floating - be vigilant

In some cases, a "fixed rate loan" may remain fixed only for a certain period of time, as the bank may have the right to arbitrarily change even the so called 'fixed rate'. Do your due diligence before signing anywhere. Likewise, if you choose a floating rate loan, check if the rates of your chosen lender have actually floated down in the years when interest rates were dropping like a stone. There are a lot of not-so-transparent banks in the market who float the rate up when the industry rates are going up but fail to float the rate down when the industry rates go down. To know whether the bank you are talking to offers 'transparent floating rates', ask for the bank's track record - especially in the falling interest rate regime of 2009 or of 2002-2003. Past behaviour is a fair indicator of how the bank will behave in future - whether it will pass on the benefit to you if and when the interest rates start moving down.

keskiviikko 10. marraskuuta 2010

vehicle insurance

Auto insurance, in exchange for a premium, will pay for damages incurred as a result of a traffic accident.
Vehicle insurance (also known as auto insurance, car insurance, or motor insurance) is insurance purchased for cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Its primary use is to provide protection against losses incurred as a result of traffic accidents and against liability that could be incurred in an accident.


1 Public policy
1.1 Australia
1.2 Canada
1.3 Germany
1.4 Hungary
1.5 Indonesia
1.6 India
1.7 Ireland
1.8 Norway
1.9 Romania
1.10 South Africa
1.11 United Kingdom
1.12 United States
2 Coverage levels
3 Excess
3.1 Compulsory excess
3.2 Voluntary excess
3.3 Basis of premium charges
3.4 Gender
3.5 Age
3.6 Driving history
3.7 Marital status
3.8 Vehicle classification
3.9 Distance
3.9.1 Reasonable estimation
3.9.2 Odometer-based systems
3.9.3 GPS-based system
3.9.4 OBDII-based system
4 Auto insurance in the United States
4.1 Coverage available
4.1.1 Liability Combined single limit Split limits
4.1.2 Full coverage Collision Comprehensive Uninsured/underinsured Motorist coverage Loss of use Loan/lease payoff Towing Personal Property Buying Online
5 Behavior based insurance
6 See also
7 Notes
8 External links
Public policy

In many jurisdictions it is compulsory to have vehicle insurance before using or keeping a motor vehicle on public roads. Most jurisdictions relate insurance to both the car and the driver, however the degree of each varies greatly.

Several jurisdictions have experimented with a "pay-as-you-drive" insurance plan which is paid through a gasoline tax. This would address issues of uninsured motorists and also charge based on the miles driven, which could theoretically increase the efficiency of the insurance through streamlined collection.


In South Australia, Third Party Personal insurance from the Motor Accident Commission is included in the licence registration fee for people over 16. A similar scheme applies in Western Australia.

In Victoria, Third Party Personal insurance from the Transport Accident Commission is similarly included, through a levy, in the vehicle registration fee.

In New South Wales, Compulsory Third Party Insurance (commonly known as CTP Insurance) is a mandatory requirement and each individual car must be insured or the vehicle will not be considered legal. Therefore, a motorist cannot drive the vehicle until it is insured. A 'Green Slip,' another name by which CTP Insurance is commonly known due to the colour of the pages which the form is printed on, must be obtained through one of the seven main insurers in New South Wales.

In Queensland, CTP is a mandatory part of registration for a vehicle. There is choice of insurer but price is government controlled in a tight band.

These state based third party insurance schemes usually cover only personal injury liability. Comprehensive vehicle insurance is sold separately to cover property damage and cover can be for events such as fire, theft, collision and other property damage.


Several Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec) provide a public auto insurance system while in the rest of the country insurance is provided privately. Basic auto insurance is mandatory throughout Canada with each province's government determining which benefits are included as minimum required auto insurance coverage and which benefits are options available for those seeking additional coverage. Accident benefits coverage is mandatory everywhere except for Newfoundland and Labrador. All provinces in Canada have some form of no-fault insurance available to accident victims. The difference from province to province is the extent to which tort or no-fault is emphasized. Typically, coverage against loss of or damage to the driver's own vehicle is optional - one notable exception to this is in Saskatchewan, where SGI provides collision coverage (less than a $700 deductible, such as a collision damage waiver) as part of its basic insurance policy. In Saskatchewan, residents have the option to have their auto insurance through a tort system but less than 0.5% of the population have taken this option.


Since 1939 it is compulsory to have third party personal insurance before keeping a motor vehicle in all federal states of Germany. Besides, every vehicle owner is free to take out a comprehensive insurance policy. All types of car insurances are provided by several private insurers. The amount of insurance contribution is determined by several criteria, like the region, the type of car or the personal way of driving.


Third-party vehicle insurance is mandatory for all vehicles in Hungary. No exemption is possible by money deposit. The premium covers all damage up to HUF 500M (about €1.8M) per accident without deductible. The coverage is extended to HUF 500M (about €4.5M) in case of personal injuries. Vehicle insurance policies from all EU-countries and some non-EU countries are valid in Hungary based on bilateral or multilateral agreements. Visitors with vehicle insurance not covered by such agreements are required to buy a monthly, renewable policy at the border.


Third-party vehicle Insurance is a mandatory requirement in Indonesia and each individual car and motorcycle must be insured or the vehicle will not be considered legal. Therefore, a motorist cannot drive the vehicle until it is insured. Third Party vehicle insurance is included through a levy in the vehicle registration fee which is paid to government institution that known as "Samsat". Third-Party Vehicle Insurance is regulated under Act No. 34 Year 1964 Re: Road Traffic Accident Fund and merely covers Bodily injury, and manages by a SOE's named PT. Jasa Raharja (Persero).


Auto Insurance in India deals with the insurance covers for the loss or damage caused to the automobile or its parts due to natural and man-made calamities. It provides accident cover for individual owners of the vehicle while driving and also for passengers and third party legal liability. There are certain general insurance companies who also offer online insurance service for the vehicle.

Auto Insurance in India is a compulsory requirement for all new vehicles used whether for commercial or personal use. The insurance companies have tie-ups with leading automobile manufacturers. They offer their customers instant auto quotes. Auto premium is determined by a number of factors and the amount of premium increases with the rise in the price of the vehicle. The claims of the Auto Insurance in India can be accidental, theft claims or third party claims. Certain documents are required for claiming Auto Insurance in India , like duly signed claim form, RC copy of the vehicle, Driving license copy, FIR copy, Original estimate and policy copy.

There are different types of Auto Insurance in India :

Private Car Insurance - In the Auto Insurance in India, Private Car Insurance is the fastest growing sector as it is compulsory for all the new cars. The amount of premium depends on the make and value of the car, state where the car is registered and the year of manufacture.

Two Wheeler Insurance - The Two Wheeler Insurance under the Auto Insurance in India covers accidental insurance for the drivers of the vehicle. The amount of premium depends on the current showroom price multiplied by the depreciation rate fixed by the Tariff Advisory Committee at the time of the beginning of policy period.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance - Commercial Vehicle Insurance under the Auto Insurance in India provides cover for all the vehicles which are not used for personal purposes, like the Trucks and HMVs. The amount of premium depends on the showroom price of the vehicle at the commencement of the insurance period, make of the vehicle and the place of registration of the vehicle. The auto insurance generally includes:

Loss or damage by accident, fire, lightning, self ignition, external explosion, burglary, housebreaking or theft, malicious act. Liability for third party injury/death, third party property and liability to paid driver On payment of appropriate additional premium, loss/damage to electrical/electronic accessories The auto insurance does not include:

1).Consequential loss, depreciation, mechanical and electrical breakdown, failure or breakage

2).When vehicle is used outside the geographical area

3).War or nuclear perils and drunken driving


The Road Traffic Act, 1933 requires all drivers of mechanically propelled vehicles in public places to have at least third-party insurance, or to have obtained exemption - generally by depositing a (large) sum of money with the High Court as a guarantee against claims. In 1933 this figure was set at £15,000. The Road Traffic Act, 1961 [2] (which is currently in force) repealed the 1933 act but replaced these sections with functionally identical sections.

From 1968, those making deposits require the consent of the Minister for Transport to do so, with the sum specified by the Minister.

Those not exempted from obtaining insurance must obtain a certificate of insurance from their insurance provider, and display a portion of this (an insurance disc) on their vehicles windscreen (if fitted). The certificate in full must be presented to a police station within ten days if requested by an officer. Proof of having insurance or an exemption must also be provided to pay for the motor tax.

Those injured or suffering property damage/loss due to uninsured drivers can claim against the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland's uninsured drivers fund, as can those injured (but not those suffering damage or loss) from hit and run offences.


In Norway you need a minimum of liability insurance to drive any kind of vehicle on the road.


Romanian law mandates Răspundere Auto Civilă, a motor-vehicle liability insurance for all vehicle owners to cover damages to third parties.

South Africa

South Africa allocates a percentage of the money from gasoline into the Road Accidents Fund, which goes towards compensating third parties in accidents.

United Kingdom

In 1930, the UK government introduced a law that required every person who used a vehicle on the road to have at least third party personal injury insurance. Today UK law is defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988, which was last modified in 1991. The Act requires that motorists either be insured, have a security, or have made a specified deposit (£500,000 as of 1991) with the Accountant General of the Supreme Court, against their liability for injuries to others (including passengers) and for damage to other persons' property resulting from use of a vehicle on a public road or in other public places.

It is an offence to drive a car, or allow others to drive it, without the insurance that satisfies the act whilst on the public highway (or public place Section 143(1)(a) RTA 1988 as amended 1991); however, no such legislation applies on private land.

Road Traffic Act Only Insurance differs from Third Party Only Insurance (detailed below) and is not often sold. It provides the very minimum cover to satisfy the requirements of the Act. For example Road Traffic Act Only Insurance has a limit of £1,000,000 for damage to third party property - third party only insurance typically has a greater limit for third party property damage.

The minimum level of insurance cover commonly available and which satisfies the requirement of the Act is called third party only insurance. The level of cover provided by Third party only insurance is basic but does exceed the requirements of the act. This insurance covers any liability to third parties but does not cover any other risks.

More commonly purchased is third party, fire and theft. This covers all third party liabilities and also covers the vehicle owner against the destruction of the vehicle by fire (whether malicious or due to a vehicle fault) and theft of the vehicle itself. It may or may not cover vandalism. This kind of insurance and the two preceding types do not cover damage to the vehicle caused by the driver or other hazards.

Comprehensive insurance covers all of the above and damage to the vehicle caused by the driver themselves, as well as vandalism and other risks. This is the most expensive type of insurance.

Vehicles which are exempted by the act, from the requirement to be covered, include those owned by certain councils and local authorities, national park authorities, education authorities, police authorities, fire authorities, health service bodies and security services.

The insurance certificate or cover note issued by the insurance company constitutes legal evidence that the vehicle specified on the document is insured. The law says that an authorised person, such as the police, may require a driver to produce an insurance certificate for inspection. If the driver cannot show the document immediately on request, and proof of insurance cannot be found by other means such as the Police National Computer, drivers are no longer issued a HORT/1. This was an order with seven days, as of midnight of the date of issue, to take a valid insurance certificate (and usually other driving documents as well) to a police station of the driver's choice. Failure to produce an insurance certificate is an offence. The HORT/1 was commonly known - even by the issuing authorities when dealing with the public - as a "Producer".

Insurance is more expensive in Northern Ireland than in other parts of the UK.[vague][citation needed]

Most motorists in the UK are required to prominently display a vehicle licence (tax disc) on their vehicle when it is kept or driven on public roads. This helps to ensure that most people have adequate insurance on their vehicles because an insurance certificate must be produced when a disc is purchased.

The Motor Insurers' Bureau compensates the victims of road accidents caused by uninsured and untraced motorists. It also operates the Motor Insurance Database, which contains details of every insured vehicle in the country.

United States

In the United States, auto insurance covering liability for injuries and property damage done to others is compulsory in most states, though different states enforce the requirement differently. The state of New Hampshire, for example, does not require motorists to carry liability insurance (the ballpark model), while in Virginia residents must pay the state a $500 annual fee per vehicle if they choose not to buy liability insurance. Penalties for not purchasing auto insurance vary by state, but often involve a substantial fine, license and/or registration suspension or revocation, as well as possible jail time. Usually, the minimum required by law is third party insurance to protect third parties against the financial consequences of loss, damage or injury caused by a vehicle.

One common misconception in the United States is that vehicles that are financed on credit through a bank or credit union are required to have "full" coverage in order for the financial institution to cover their losses in the case of an accident. While most states do require additional coverage to be purchased, some such as Pennsylvania only require Comprehensive and Collision to be purchased in addition to liability and not "full" coverage. Vehicles bought on cash or have been paid off by the owner are generally required to only carry liability. In some cases, vehicles financed through a "buy-here-pay-here" car dealership--in which the consumer (generally those with poor credit) finances a car and pays the dealer directly without a bank--also only require liability coverage.

Several states, like California and New Jersey, have enacted "Personal Responsibility Acts" which put further pressure on all drivers to carry liability insurance by preventing uninsured drivers from recovering noneconomic damages (e.g. compensation for "pain and suffering") if they are injured in any way while operating a motor vehicle.

Some states, such as North Carolina, require that a driver hold liability insurance before a license can be issued.

Some states require that insurance be carried in the car at all times, while others do not enforce this law. For example, North Carolina does not specify that you must carry proof of insurance in the vehicle; however, NC does state that you must have that information to trade with another driver in the event of an accident. Whether a state specifies you must have proof of insurance in the car or not, it's always advisable to have the information on hand in case an officer should request it.

Arizona Department of Transportation Research Project Manager John Semmens has recommended that car insurers issue license plates, and that they be held responsible for the full cost of injuries and property damages caused by their licensees under the Disneyland model. Plates would expire at the end of the insurance coverage period, and licensees would need to return their plates to their insurance office to receive a refund on their premiums. Vehicles driving without insurance would thus be easy to spot because they would not have license plates, or the plates would be past the marked expiration date.

Coverage levels

Vehicle insurance can cover some or all of the following items:

The insured party ( medical payments )
The insured vehicle ( physical damage)
Third parties (car and people) ( property damage and bodily injury )
Third party, fire and theft
In some jurisdictions coverage for injuries to persons riding in the insured vehicle is available without regard to fault in the auto accident (No Fault Auto Insurance)
Different policies specify the circumstances under which each item is covered. For example, a vehicle can be insured against theft, fire damage, or accident damage independently.


An excess payment, also known as a deductible, is the fixed contribution you must pay each time the car is repaired through the car insurance policy. Normally the payment is made directly to the accident repair "garage" (the term "garage" refers to an establishment where vehicles are serviced and repaired) when you collect the car. If one's car is declared to be a "write off" or "totaled" the insurance company will deduct the excess agreed on the policy from the settlement payment it makes to you.

If the accident was the other driver's fault, and this is accepted by the third party's insurer, you'll be able to reclaim your excess payment from the other person's insurance company.

Compulsory excess

A compulsory excess is the minimum excess payment the insurer will accept on the insurance policy. Minimum excesses vary according to the personal details, driving record and insurance company.

Voluntary excess

To reduce the insurance premium, the insured may offer to pay a higher excess than the compulsory excess demanded by the insurance company. The voluntary excess is the extra amount over and above the compulsory excess that you agree to pay in the event of a claim on the policy. As a bigger excess reduces the financial risk carried by the insurer, the insurer is able to offer you a significantly lower premium.

Basis of premium charges

Main article: auto insurance risk selection
Depending on the jurisdiction, the insurance premium can be either mandated by the government or determined by the insurance company in accordance to a framework of regulations set by the government. Often, the insurer will have more freedom to set the price on physical damage coverages than on mandatory liability coverages.

When the premium is not mandated by the government, it is usually derived from the calculations of an actuary based on statistical data. The premium can vary depending on many factors that are believed to have an impact on the expected cost of future claims. Those factors can include the car characteristics, the coverage selected (deductible, limit, covered perils), the profile of the driver (age, gender, driving history) and the usage of the car (commute to work or not, predicted annual distance driven).


Men average more miles driven per year than women do, and consequently have a proportionally higher accident involvement at all ages. Insurance companies cite women's lower accident involvement in keeping the youth surcharge lower for young women drivers than for their male counterparts, but adult rates are generally unisex. Reference to the lower rate for young women as "the women's discount" has caused confusion that was evident in news reports on a recently defeated EC proposal to make it illegal to consider gender in assessing insurance premiums.


Teenage drivers who have no driving record will have higher car insurance premiums. However, young drivers are often offered discounts if they undertake further driver training on recognized courses, such as the Pass Plus scheme in the UK. In the U.S. many insurers offer a good grade discount to students with a good academic record and resident student discounts to those who live away from home. Generally insurance premiums tend to become lower at the age of 25. Some insurance companies offer "stand alone" car insurance policies specifically for teenagers with lower premiums. By placing restrictions on teenagers' driving (forbidding driving after dark or giving rides to other teens, for example) these companies effectively reduce their risk. Senior drivers are often eligible for retirement discounts reflecting lower average miles driven by this age group.

Driving history

In most states, moving violations, including running red lights and speeding, assess points on a driver's driving record. Since more points indicate an increased risk of future violations, insurance companies periodically review drivers' records, and may raise premiums accordingly. Laws vary from state to state, but most insurers allow one moving violation every three to five years before increasing premiums. Accidents affect insurance premiums similarly. Depending on the severity of the accident and the number of points assessed, rates can increase by as much as twenty to thirty percent.

Marital status

Policy owners that are married often receive lower premiums than single persons. One reason is that marriage may be considered an indicator of stronger financial stability within the household.

Vehicle classification

Two of the most important factors that go into determining the underwriting risk on motorized vehicles are performance capability and retail cost. The most commonly available providers of auto insurance have underwriting restrictions against vehicles that are either designed to be capable of higher speeds and performance levels, or vehicles that retail above a certain dollar amount. Vehicles that are commonly considered luxury automobiles usually carry more expensive physical damage premiums because they are more expensive to replace. Vehicles that can be classified as high performance autos will carry higher premiums generally because there is greater opportunity for risky driving behavior. Motorcycle insurance may carry lower property damage premiums because the risk of damage to other vehicles is minimal, yet higher liability or personal injury premiums because motorcycle riders face different physical risks while on the road. Risk classification on automobiles also takes into account statistical analysis of reported theft, accidents, and mechanical malfunction on every given year, make, and model of auto.


Some car insurance plans do not differentiate in regard to how much the car is used. There are however low mileage discounts offered by some insurance providers. Other methods of differentiation would include: over road distance between the ordinary residence of a subject and their ordinary, daily destinations.

Reasonable estimation

Another important factor in determining car insurance premiums involves the annual mileage put on the vehicle, and for what reason. Driving to and from work every day at a specified distance, especially in urban areas where common traffic routes are known, presents different risks than how a retiree who does not work any longer may use their vehicle. Common practice has been that this information was provided solely by the insured person, but some insurance providers have started to collect regular odometer readings to verify the risk.

Odometer-based systems

Cents Per Mile Now(1986) advocates classified odometer-mile rates. After the company's risk factors have been applied and the customer has accepted the per-mile rate offered, customers buy prepaid miles of insurance protection as needed, like buying gallons of gasoline. Insurance automatically ends when the odometer limit (recorded on the car's insurance ID card) is reached unless more miles are bought. Customers keep track of miles on their own odometer to know when to buy more. The company does no after-the-fact billing of the customer, and the customer doesn't have to estimate a "future annual mileage" figure for the company to obtain a discount. In the event of a traffic stop, an officer could easily verify that the insurance is current by comparing the figure on the insurance card to that on the odometer.

Critics point out the possibility of cheating the system by odometer tampering. Although the newer electronic odometers are difficult to roll back, they can still be defeated by disconnecting the odometer wires and reconnecting them later. However, as the Cents Per Mile Now website points out:

As a practical matter, resetting odometers requires equipment plus expertise that makes stealing insurance risky and uneconomical. For example, to steal 20,000 miles (32,000 km) of continuous protection while paying for only the 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from 35,000 miles (56,000 km) to 37,000 miles (60,000 km) on the odometer, the resetting would have to be done at least nine times to keep the odometer reading within the narrow 2,000-mile (3,200 km) covered range. There are also powerful legal deterrents to this way of stealing insurance protection. Odometers have always served as the measuring device for resale value, rental and leasing charges, warranty limits, mechanical breakdown insurance, and cents-per-mile tax deductions or reimbursements for business or government travel. Odometer tampering—detected during claim processing—voids the insurance and, under decades-old state and federal law, is punishable by heavy fines and jail.

Under the cents-per-mile system, rewards for driving less are delivered automatically without need for administratively cumbersome and costly GPS technology. Uniform per-mile exposure measurement for the first time provides the basis for statistically valid rate classes. Insurer premium income automatically keeps pace with increases or decreases in driving activity, cutting back on resulting insurer demand for rate increases and preventing today's windfalls to insurers when decreased driving activity lowers costs but not premiums.

GPS-based system

In 1998, Progressive Insurance started a pilot program in Texas in which drivers received a discount for installing a GPS-based device that tracked their driving behavior and reported the results via cellular phone to the company. Policyholders were reportedly more upset about having to pay for the expensive device than they were over privacy concerns. The program was discontinued in 2000.

OBDII-based system

In 2008, The Progressive Corporation launched MyRate to give drivers a customized insurance rate based on how, how much, and when their car is driven. MyRate is currently available in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon and Texas. Driving data is transmitted to the company using an on-board telematic device. The device connects to a car's OnBoard Diagnostic (OBD-II) port (all automobiles built after 1996 have an OBD-II.) and transmits speed, time of day and number of miles the car is driven. There is no GPS in the MyRate device, so no location information is collected. Cars that are driven less often, in less risky ways and at less risky times of day can receive large discounts. Progressive has received patents on its methods and systems of implementing usage-based insurance and has licensed these methods and systems to other companies. Progressive has service marks pending on the terms Pay As You Drive and Pay How You Drive.

Auto insurance in the United States

Coverage available

The consumer may be protected with different coverage types depending on what coverage the insured purchases. Some states require that motorists carry liability insurance coverage to ensure that their drivers can cover the cost of damages to people or property in the event of an automobile accident. Some states, such as Wisconsin, have more flexible "proof of financial responsibility" requirements.

In the United States, liability insurance covers claims against the policy holder and generally, any other operator of the insured vehicles, provided they do not live at the same address as the policy holder, and are not specifically excluded on the policy. In the case of those living at the same address, they must specifically be covered on the policy. Thus it is necessary, for example, when a family member comes of driving age that they be added to the policy. Liability insurance sometimes does not protect the policy holder if they operate any vehicles other than their own. When you drive a vehicle owned by another party, you are covered under that party's policy. Non-owners policies may be offered that would cover an insured on any vehicle they drive. This coverage is available only to those who do not own their own vehicle and is sometimes required by the government for drivers who have previously been found at fault in an accident. Non-owners policies are also known as Named Operator Policies. The policies are useful for people whose drivers license has been suspended and they have to have insurance for their license to be reinstated.

Generally, liability coverage extends when you rent a car. Comprehensive policies ("full coverage") usually also apply to the rental vehicle, although this should be verified beforehand. Full coverage premiums are based on, among other factors, the value of the insured's vehicle. This coverage, however, cannot apply to rental cars because the insurance company does not want to assume responsibility for a claim greater than the value of the insured's vehicle, assuming that a rental car may be worth more than the insured's vehicle. Most rental car companies offer insurance to cover damage to the rental vehicle. These policies may be unnecessary for many customers as credit card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard, now provide supplemental collision damage coverage to rental cars if the transaction is processed using one of their cards. These benefits are restrictive in terms of the types of vehicles covered.


Liability coverage is offered for bodily injury (BI) or property damage (PD) for which the insured driver is deemed responsible. The amount of coverage provided (a fixed dollar amount) will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Whatever the minimum, the insured can usually increase the coverage (prior to a loss) for an additional charge.

An example of Property Damage is where an insured driver (or 1st party) drives into a telephone pole and damages the pole, liability coverage pays for the damage to the pole. In this example, the drivers insured may also become liable for other expenses related to damaging the telephone pole, such as loss of service claims (by the telephone company), depending on the jurisdiction. An example of Bodily Injury is where an insured driver causes bodily harm to a third party and the insured driver is deemed responsible for the injuries. However, in some jurisdictions, the third party would first exhaust coverage for accident benefits through their own insurer (assuming they have one) and/or would have to meet a legal definition of severe impairment to have the right to claim (or sue) under the insured driver's (or 1st Party's) policy.

In some jurisdictions: Liability coverage is available either as a combined single limit policy, or as a split limit policy:

Combined single limit

A combined single limit combines property damage liability coverage and bodily injury coverage under one single combined limit. For example, an insured driver with a combined single liability limit strikes another vehicle and injures the driver and the passenger. Payments for the damages to the other driver's car, as well as payments for injury claims for the driver and passenger, would be paid out under this same coverage.

Split limits

A split limit liability coverage policy splits the coverages into property damage coverage and bodily injury coverage. In the example given above, payments for the other driver's vehicle would be paid out under property damage coverage, and payments for the injuries would be paid out under bodily injury coverage.

Bodily injury liability coverage is also usually split into a maximum payment per person and a maximum payment per accident.

The limits are often expressed separated by slashes in the following form: "bodily injury per person"/"bodily injury per accident"/"property damage". For one example, California requires minimum coverage as follows:

$15,000 for injury/death to one person.
$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
$5,000 for damage to property
This would be expressed as "$15,000/$30,000/$5,000"

For another example, in the state of Oklahoma, drivers must carry at least state minimum liability limits of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.[citation needed] If an insured driver hits a car full of people and is found by the insurance company to be liable, the insurance company will pay $25,000 of one person's medical bills but will not exceed $50,000 for other people injured in the accident. The insurance company will not pay more than $25,000 for property damage in repairs to the vehicle that the insured one hit.

In the state of Indiana, the minimum liability limits are $25,000/$50,000/$10,000,[citation needed] so there is a greater property damage exposure for only carrying the minimum limits.

Full coverage

"Full coverage" is term name commonly used to refer to the combination of Comprehensive and Collision coverages (Liability is generally also implied.)


Collision coverage provides coverage for an insured's vehicle that is involved in an accident, subject to a deductible. This coverage is designed to provide payments to repair the damaged vehicle, or payment of the cash value of the vehicle if it is not repairable. Collision coverage is optional, however if you plan on financing a car or taking a car loan, the lender will usually insist you carry collision for the finance term or until the insured's car is paid off. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) is the term used by rental car companies for collision coverage.


Comprehensive (a.k.a. - Other Than Collision) coverage provides coverage, subject to a deductible, for an insured's vehicle that is damaged by incidents that are not considered Collisions. For example, fire, theft (or attempted theft), vandalism, weather, or impacts with animals are types of Comprehensive losses.

Uninsured/underinsured Motorist coverage

Underinsured coverage, also known as UM/UIM, provides coverage if an at-fault party either does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance. In effect, the insurance company pays the insured medical bills, then would subrogate from the at fault party. This coverage is often overlooked and very important. In Colorado for example, it was estimated in 2007 that 24% of drivers did not carry the state minimum liability limits required by law. Unfortunately, this number goes up significantly during recessions. In some areas, it is estimated that 1 out of every 3 drivers don't carry insurance. Usually the limits match the liability limits. Some insurance companies do offer UM/UIM in an umbrella policy.

In the United States, the definition of an uninsured/underinsured motorist, and corresponding coverages, are set by state laws.

Loss of use

Loss of use coverage, also known as rental coverage, provides reimbursement for rental expenses associated with having an insured vehicle repaired due to a covered loss.

Loan/lease payoff

Loan/lease payoff coverage, also known as GAP coverage or GAP insurance, was established in the early 1980s to provide protection to consumers based upon buying and market trends.

Due to the sharp decline in value immediately following purchase, there is generally a period in which the amount owed on the car loan exceeds the value of the vehicle, which is called "upside-down" or negative equity. Thus, if the vehicle is damaged beyond economical repair at this point, the owner will still owe potentially thousands of dollars on the loan. The escalating price of cars, longer-term auto loans, and the increasing popularity of leasing gave birth to GAP protection. GAP waivers provide protection for consumers when a "gap" exists between the actual value of their vehicle and the amount of money owed to the bank or leasing company. In many instances, this insurance will also pay the deductible on the primary insurance policy. These policies are often offered at auto dealerships as a comparatively low cost add-on to the car loan that provides coverage for the duration of the loan. GAP Insurance does not always pay off the full loan value however. These cases include but are not limited to: 1. Any unpaid delinquent payments due at the time of loss; 2. Payment deferrals or extensions (commonly called skips or skip a payment); 3. Refinancing of the vehicle loan after the policy was purchased; or 4. Late fees or other administrative fees assessed after loan commencement. Therefore, it is important for a policy holder to understand that they may still owe on the loan even though the GAP policy was purchased. Failure to understand this can result in the lender continuing their legal remedies to collect the balance and the potential of damaged credit.

Consumers should be aware that a few states, including New York, require lenders of leased cars to include GAP insurance within the cost of the lease itself. This means that the monthly price quoted by the dealer must include GAP insurance, whether it is delineated or not. Nevertheless, unscrupulous dealers sometimes prey on unsuspecting individuals by offering them GAP insurance at an additional price, on top of the monthly payment, without mentioning the State's requirements.

In addition, some vendors and insurance companies offer what is called "Total Loss Coverage." This is similar to ordinary GAP insurance but differs in that instead of paying off the negative equity on a vehicle that is a total loss, the policy provides a certain amount, usually up to $5000, toward the purchase or lease of a new vehicle. Thus, to some extent the distinction makes no difference, i.e., in either case the owner receives a certain sum of money. However, in choosing which type of policy to purchase, the owner should consider whether, in case of a total loss, it is more advantageous for him or her to have the policy pay off the negative equity or provide a down payment on a new vehicle.

For example, assuming a total loss of a vehicle valued at $15,000, but on which the owner owes $20,000, is the "gap" of $5000. If the owner has traditional GAP coverage, the "gap" will be wiped out and he or she may purchase or lease another vehicle or choose not to. If the owner has "Total Loss Coverage," he or she will have to personally cover the "gap" of $5000, and then receive $5000 toward the purchase or lease of a new vehicle, thereby either reducing monthly payments, in the case of financing or leasing, or the total purchase price in the case of outright purchasing. So the decision on which type of policy to purchase will, in most instances, be informed by whether the owner can pay off the negative equity in case of a total loss and/or whether he or she will definitively purchase a replacement vehicle.


Car towing coverage is also known as Roadside Assistance coverage. Traditionally, automobile insurance companies have agreed to only pay for the cost of a tow that is related to an accident that is covered under the automobile policy of insurance. This had left a gap in coverage for tows that are related to mechanical breakdowns, flat tires and gas outages. To fill that void, insurance companies started to offer the car towing coverage, which pays for non-accident related tows.

Personal Property

Personal items in a vehicle that are damaged due to an accident would not be a covered under the auto policy. Any type of property that is not attached to the vehicle should be claimed under a homeowners or renters policy. However, some insurance companies will cover unattached GPS devices intended for automobile use.

Buying Online

The Internet has significantly changed the process of buying auto insurance in the United States. Many consumers now opt to get quotes and even make purchases of auto insurance online. The main benefits to doing so are thought to be the ability to compare many different providers and policies at once to get the set of features that matches what you are looking for, and to get the lowest price. Under this model, consumers can get insurance from more traditional insurance providers (those with physical brick and mortar locations) as well as companies that only offer insurance online.[citation needed]

Consumers buying auto insurance online can get a quote, make a purchase, and print out cards and policy terms from their own computer in a relatively short amount of time, making it an increasingly popular option.[citation needed]

Behavior based insurance

The use of non-intrusive load monitoring to detect drunk driving and other risky behaviors has been proposed. A US patent application combining this technology with a usage based insurance product to create a new type of behavior based auto insurance product is currently open for public comment on peer to patent.

See also

Alcohol exclusion laws
Assigned risk
Extended coverage
Family purpose doctrine
International Motor Insurance Card System
Insurance Information and Enforcement System
No fault insurance
Omnibus clause
Public auto insurance

What is Mortgage Pre Approval Really Worth?

In 2004, at the height of the home buying boom, a survey came out from Campbell Communications indicating that fully 62% of the failed closings studied were due to home buyers being denied a mortgage – despite having “pre approval”. The company found that 39% of pre approvals issued by Internet-based lenders were invalid. Mortgage brokers were also showing significant signs of unreliability, with 27% of pre approval letters proving invalid. National lenders had their letters fail 19% of the time, while local banks dropped the ball on 14%. Credit unions weren’t far behind at 10% and the mortgage partners of real estate agents came in last with 9% found to be void.

A hot real estate market led many institutions to put through loans that should never have been allowed to get past the initial examination! However it is a cycle that can lead to some injudicious decisions – people want to buy homes, realtors don’t want to show homes to unqualified people, people go to lenders for pre approval… it is a nasty cycle that ends up with a lot of time wasted and sometimes a significant amount of money. It also set up unreasonable expectations on the part of the buyers – “I got pre approved and now I’m not approved at all?” which could very well have led many of them to less scrupulous lenders.

Some people think that the solution is a standardized letter of pre approval that is provided by a national organization such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) or another recognized national association that can issue out pre approval letters based on a strict examination of the buyer’s proof of income and assets.

Other people think it is incumbent on the lenders to tighten up their pre approval process so that unqualified buyers never get a letter that makes them and the real estate professionals they deal with think that they have a chance at a decent mortgage. It may be cruel, so the thought runs, but so is the time and expense taken to put through a home sale that doesn’t happen. And it prevents financial disasters like today’s recession.

Another key tip for buyers with pre approval is to stop everything. Don’t make a major purchase, don’t change jobs, don’t marry, don’t start trying for a baby – just focus on getting the home purchase finalized. Major changes in one’s financial outlook can be disastrous for the final approval of a loan.

Pre approval does not mean final approval. In fact, if it is from an unreliable source, it means less than the paper it’s printed on. To make sure that a pre approval is genuine, buyers are urged to deal with reputable lenders and brokers, to take critical stock of their financial situation and to avoid making major changes to their lifestyle in the time between pre approval and the closing. To not do so can mean significant amounts of time, effort and money wasted and possibly greater ramifications, like the straits that our economy is presently in.

maanantai 8. marraskuuta 2010

Identity Theft - Lawyers Explain

What exactly is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, Social Security number (SSN), bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information without your knowledge to open accounts, commit fraud or other crimes.
How can someone steal my identity?

Identity thieves may use any number of low and or high-tech methods to gain access to your personally identifying information.For example:

* They get information from businesses or institutions by:
o stealing records from their employer,
o bribing an employee who has access to the records,
o conning information out of employees, or
o hacking into the organization's computers.
* They rummage through your trash, the trash of businesses, or dumps in a practice known as "dumpster diving."
* They obtain credit reports by abusing their employer's authorized access to credit reports or by posing as a landlord, employer or someone elsewho may have a legitimate need for and a legal right to the information.
* They steal credit and debit card account numbers as your card is processedby using a special information storage device in a practice known as "skimming."
* They steal wallets and purses containing identification and credit and bank cards.
* They steal mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information.
* They complete a "change of address form " to divert mail to another location.
* They steal personal information from your home.
* They scam information from you by posing as a legitimate business person or government official.

What are the consequences of identity theft?

Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may:

* Go on spending sprees using your credit and debit card account numbers to buy "big-ticket" items, like computers, that they can easily sell.
* Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and SSN. When they don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report
* Change the mailing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on the account. Because the bills are being sent to the new address, it may take some time before you realize there's a problem.
* Take out auto loans in your name.
* Establish phone or wireless service in your name.
* Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
* Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
* File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred, or to avoid eviction.
* Give your name to the police during an arrest. If they are released and don't show up for their court date, an arrest warrant could be issued in your name.


To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, there are certain preventative measures you can take.

* Don’t give out personal information such as your SSN, mother’s maiden name, or account numbers over the phone or the internet unless you know the information is secure. You can recognize a secure website, as it has an https:// at the beginning of the web address (url) at the top of the page on which you are submitting your information. It also must have a picture of a lock in the bottom right corner of the page. If you don’t see both of these measures in place, do not submit your information
* Your home is your castle, but your personal information should be secure from visitors or outsiders who may come in to your home to perform service. Keep this information stored away where it can’t be easily found.
* Do not keep your Social Security Card or SS number in your purse or wallet; leave it at home in a secure spot.
* Your trash might become an identity thief’s treasure: a thief can go through your trash to find personal information from receipts, medical bills, bank statements or checks. Even those pre-screened credit card offers that you receive can be used if they fall into the wrong hands. SHRED ALL OF THESE BEFORE THROWING OUT.
* DO NOT open e-mails or attachments from e-mail addresses you are unfamiliar with. There are programs you can buy that will filter out junk e-mail and if you have an e-mail address through Hotmail(MSN), AOL, or Yahoo they offer certain protections against junk or spam e-mails.

How can I tell if I'm a victim of identity theft?

* Monitor the balances of your financial accounts. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
* Other indications of identity theft include:
o failing to receive bills or other mail, which may signal an address change by the identity thief,
o receiving credit cards for which you did not apply,
o being denied credit for no apparent reason, or
o receiving calls or letters from debt collectors or businesses about merchandise or services you did not buy.

Some of the signs mentioned above could be the result of a simple mistake, but you shouldn’t ignore these and just hope they will go away. Always follow up with the business or institution to find out exactly what is causing the situation.
Remedying the Effect of Identity Theft

The Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA) gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you are, the victim of identity theft. Here is a brief summary of the rights designed to help you recover from identity theft.


You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” in your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you. It also may delay your ability to obtain credit. You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling just one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies. As soon as that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then also must place fraud alerts in your file.
* Equifax: 1-800-525-6285;
* Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742);
* TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289;

An initial fraud alert stays in your file for at least 90 days. An extended alert stays in your file for seven years. To place either of these alerts, a consumer reporting agency will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number. We recommend that you file a reportwith your local, federal or state law enforcement agency (police department). This will show the credit bureaus, your creditors and others that you are very serious about your identity theft and will serve as back up documentation.

You have the rights to free copies of the information in your file(your “file disclosure”). An initial fraud alert entitles you to a copy of all the information in your file at each of the three nationwide agencies, and an extended alert entitles you to two free file disclosures in a 12-month period following the placing of the alert. These additional disclosures may help you detect signs of fraud, for example, whether fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or whether someone has reported a change in your address. Once a year, you also have the right to a free copy of the information in your file at any consumer reporting agency, if you believe it has inaccurate information due to fraud, such as identity theft. You also have the ability to obtain additional free file disclosure under other provisions of the FCRA.

You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information. A creditor or other business must give you copies of applications and other business records relating to transactions and accounts that resulted from the theft of your identity, if you ask for them in writing. A business may ask you for proof of your identity, a police report, and an affidavit before giving you the documents. It also may specify an address for you to send your request. Under certain circumstances, a business can refuse to provide you with these documents.

You have the right to obtain information from a debt collector. If you ask, a debt collector must provide you with certain information about the debts you believe were incurred in your name by an identity thief – such as the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt.

If you believe information in your file results from identity theft, you have the right to ask that a consumer reporting agency block that information from your file. An identity thief may run up bills in your name and not pay them. Information about the unpaid bills may appear on your consumer report. Should you decide to ask a consumer reporting agency to block the reporting of this information, you must identify the information to block, and provide the consumer reporting agency with proof of your identity and the police report if you did file one. The consumer reporting agency can refuse or cancel your request for a block if, for example, you don’t provide the necessary documentation, or where the block results from an error or material misrepresentation of fact made by you. If the agency declines or rescinds the block, it must notify you. Once a debt resulting from identity theft has been blocked, a person or business with notice of the block may not sell, transfer, or place the debt for collection.

You also may prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft. To do so, you must send your request to the address specified by the business that reports the information to the consumer reporting agency. The business will expect you to identify what information you do not want reported and to provide a police report.

If You're a Victim of Identity Theft

Sometimes an identity thief can strike even if you've been very careful about keeping your personal information to yourself. If you suspect that your personal information has been hijacked and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately, and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. Exactly which steps you should take to protect yourself depends on your circumstances and how your identity has been misused. However, three basic actions are appropriate in almost every case.
Your First Three Steps

First, contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus.

Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, as well as a victim's statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts. This can help prevent an identity thief from opening additional accounts in your name.

At the same time, order copies of your credit reports from the credit bureaus. Credit bureaus must give you a free copy of your report if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, and you request it in writing. Review your reports carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. Also, check the section of your report that lists "inquiries." Where "inquiries" appear from the company(ies) that opened the fraudulent account(s), request that these "inquiries" be removed from your report. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.

Second, contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

Creditors can include credit card companies, phone companies and other utilities, and banks and other lenders. Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a letter. It's particularly important to notify credit card companies in writing because that's the consumer protection procedure the law spells out for resolving errors on credit card billing statements. Immediately close accounts that have been tampered with and open new ones with new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. Here again, avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.

Third, file a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit card company or others need proof of the crime. Even if the police can't catch the identity thief in your case, having a copy of the police report can help you when dealing with creditors.
Your Next Steps

Although there's no question that identity thieves can wreak havoc on your personal finances, thereare some things you can do to take control of the situation. For example:

* Stolen mail. If an identity thief has stolen your mail to get new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers or tax information, or if an identity thief has falsified change-of-address forms, that's a crime. Report it to your local postal inspector. Contact your local post office for the phone number for the nearest postal inspection service office or check the Postal Service website.

* Change of address on credit card accounts. If you discover that an identity thief has changed the billing address on an existing credit card account, close the account. When you open a new account, ask that a password be used before any inquiries or changes can be made on the account. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. Avoid using the same information and numbers when you create a PIN.

* Bank accounts. If you have reason to believe that an identity thief has tampered with your bank accounts, checks or ATM card, close the accounts immediately. When you open new accounts, insist on password-only access to minimize the chance that an identity thief can violate the accounts.

In addition, if your checks have been stolen or misused, stop payment. You can contact the following major check verification companies to learn more about the services they provide in helping you track your stolen or misused checks.

SCAN: 1-800-262-7771
TeleCheck: 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188
CrossCheck: 1-707-586-0431
Equifax Check Systems: 1-800-437-5120
International Check Services: 1-800-526-5380

If your ATM card has been lost, stolen or otherwise compromised, cancel the card as soon as you can and get another with a new PIN.

* Phone service. If an identity thief has established new phone service in your name; is making unauthorized calls that seem to come from - and are billed to - your cellular phone; or is using your calling card and PIN, contact your service provider immediately to cancel the account and/or calling card. Open new accounts and choose new PINs.

If you are having trouble getting fraudulent phone charges removed from your account, contact your state Public Utility Commission for local service providers or the Federal Communications Commission for long-distance service providers and cellular providers (at 1-888-CALL-FCC).

* Employment. If you believe someone is using your SSN to apply for a job or to work, that's a crime. Report it to the SSA's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. Also call SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the accuracy of the earnings reported on your SSN, and to request a copy of your Social Security Statement. Follow up your calls in writing.

* Driver's license. If you suspect that your name or SSN is being used by an identity thief to get a driver's license or a non-driver's ID card, contact your Department of Motor Vehicles. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.

Secrets to a happy marriage, Stress-less money tips + See SJP's too-cute twins!

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sunnuntai 7. marraskuuta 2010

HHS awards $27 million for the support of pregnant and parenting teens and women

Affordable Care Act programs a key aspect of administration’s common ground agenda

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today awarded $27 million to support pregnant and parenting teens and women in states and tribes across the country. Of the funds, $24 million was awarded to 17 states and tribes through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act. Another $3 million in Affordable Care Act funds was awarded to 13 tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations through the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant Program.

“These programs provide states and tribes much needed assistance to support vulnerable teens and women who are pregnant and parenting,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “With this funding, states will link these families to health, education, child care, and other supports that can help brighten the futures of parents and their children.”

Created by the Affordable Care Act, the Pregnancy Assistance Fund is a competitive grant program which helps states and tribes support pregnant and parenting teens and women. The grants help fund a seamless network of supportive services to help pregnant and parenting teens and women complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing, and other critical support. In addition, states are encouraged to use the funds to address violence against pregnant and parenting women.

The Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant Program will help tribes develop and implement high-quality, culturally-relevant, evidence-based home visiting programs in at-risk tribal communities. Home visiting services provided under this grant will help to assure effective coordination and delivery of critical health, development, early learning, child abuse and neglect prevention, and family support services to these children and families in tribal communities through home visiting programs.

These programs affirm President Obama’s statement in his speech at Notre Dame that we must begin “reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoptions more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term.”