Fighting crime with info
May 06, 2013 | 480 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In a society where the most unscrupulous of scam artists are preying on innocent consumers through any means available — postal mail, email, telephone and the Internet most readily come to mind — it is refreshing to know others stand ready to defend against such abuses.

Even more reassuring is these enemies of wrongdoing are professional people who are giving their time and expertise free of charge.

One example is the next Community Legal Forum scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library.

Known for relevant topics that are attracting growing crowds, these forums are brought to our community in a mindful partnership between the Bradley County Bar Association, the Bradley County Law Library Commission and the public library. The most recent came last fall when a three-member panel — which included a prominent mortgage executive — explained in intricate detail the growing fervor over reverse mortgages.

It was a telling discussion that helped crowd members better understand if reverse mortgages were a good fit for their needs or for their aging parents’ comfortable retirements.

Such candid debate is expected Tuesday when three panelists — each of whom is participating as an unpaid volunteer — will openly discuss “Identity Theft and Scams: How to Avoid Them and What to Do If You’re A Victim.”

Moderator will again be Jack Tapper, a Cleveland attorney who coordinates the ongoing series of legal forums on behalf of the local Bar Association. Tapper, who sits on the three-member Law Library Commission, will also serve as one of Tuesday’s panelists. He will be joined by two experts in their respective fields: Gary Cordell, director of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, and Wayne Carter, assistant district attorney in the 10th Judicial District.

Considered by many a worsening menace to innocent — and all-too-often unsuspecting — consumers of all age groups, especially the elderly, scam artists are the lowest of the lows of humanity and their practices are despicable at best.

To knowingly deceive another of hardearned income or lifelong savings through the convenience and secrecy of modern technology is society at its worst.

Thankfully, community initiatives exist whose organizers are willing to talk openly about how to defend against such crimes, whether their perpetrators are abusing the convenience of cyberspace or are employing older generation tools like the telephone. In some cases, it is as simple as advertising fraud.

Regardless of the tool used, fraud is fraud and identity theft is fast becoming one of the worst, and most rampant, types.

Tuesday’s forum will shed light on a variety of illicit practices like medical, tax-related and child identity theft. The panel also will discuss credit ratings, how to maximize partnerships with established credit agencies and how to avoid the traps set by some of those alleged “free” credit-report services that market themselves through questionable offers.

Telephone scams will be discussed as will legal options in the face of false advertising like “bait and switch” methods in which a cheaper product is suddenly not available and the buyer is presented with a more expensive alternative. Even the new-car “Lemon Law,” and its equivalent in the pre-owned vehicle industry, will be explored.

Legal forum admission is free; however, those planning to attend should call the library at 423-472-2163, ext. 126, to assure seating is still available.

Once a best-kept secret, these legal forums are growing in popularity because the subject matter is relevant and the panelists are spot on in their understanding, and their assessment, of the issues.

We urge attendance.