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How to Avoid a Ripoff or Scam By: Redstone Law Group
Bad Lawyers & Legal Scams Individuals who are looking for legal help should look out for bad lawyers and potential legal scams. Many individuals have been taken advantage of by nefarious law firms and even individuals posing as lawyers.
Legal Scams For example, according to an article on the Newsday website by Robert Kessler, “A disbarred Hauppauge attorney was arrested Wednesday for lying to FBI agents about his role in a mortgage scam that purported to help owners save their homes from foreclosure, officials said.”
Finding Credible Lawyers Individuals may benefit by reviewing a potential law firm or lawyers credentials, testimonials and awards or accomplishments. This may provide insight into how the attorney performed previously.
Spotting A Ripoff or Scam To spot a potential ripoff or scam, it may be helpful to start by researching online for more information about the potential lawyer or law firm. Websites to consider evaluating can include: Avvo.com BBB.org Ripoffreport.com
What is Avvo.com? Avvo is a website that focuses on helping individuals research legal advice, find a qualified attorney and/or ask a lawyer a question free of charge. The website allows individuals to search for an attorney by name and then evaluate the attorney’s zero through ten point Avvo rating, contact information, peer endorsements, experience, education and more.
Avvo.com Considerations This website can be a great starting place to look when evaluating an attorney, but typically should not be one’s sole source of judgment for an attorney. Many older attorneys with 30 plus years of experience may have lower Avvo ratings since they do not actively engage with the Avvo website. Alternatively, many younger attorneys with more active engagement on the Avvo website and fewer years of legal experience may garner a 9 point rating or higher. Some attorneys have even filed lawsuits against Avvo.com because of this, so it is important to review additional information beyond just an attorney’s Avvo profile.
What is BBB.org? The Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit organization focusing on providing free business reviews, alerting the public to scams, and serving as an intermediary between consumers and businesses. Individuals can search for businesses and law firms on the BBB website and examine the company’s rating on a scale of A+ to F. Individuals can also inspect any submitted customer complaints and reviews on the BBB website. Individuals often consider businesses with an A+ BBB rating to be more trustworthy than businesses with an F rating.
BBB.Org Considerations It is important to note however, many individuals and businesses often question the validity of the BBB rating system. Some people assert the ratings may be manipulated both positively and negatively. According to a November 2010 ABC News article by Joseph Rhee, “To prove the point, a group of Los Angeles business owners paid $425 to the Better Business Bureau and were able to obtain an A minus grade for a non-existent company called Hamas, named after the Middle Eastern terror group.”
BBB.Org in Summary The previous example demonstrates why it may not be wise to use a company’s BBB rating as the sole source of judgment about a company or law firm. If an attorney or law firm is not “BBB Accredited” this does not definitively mean the company is untrustworthy. More often than not, the company is likely to be a reputable company that chooses not to pay the BBB for a service it deems unnecessary.
What is Ripoffreport.com? Ripoff Report allows users to submit free, un-moderated and uncorroborated complaints referred to as “reports” describing negative experiences individuals have had with a specific company or organization. The site encourages users to, “Read what you can and make your decision based upon an examination of all available information.”
Ripoffreport.com Considerations Some companies and organizations have numerous complaints about many of the same problems submitted by seemingly different website users. This may be indicative of poor business practices from the company. With that said, there are also important considerations to make when reviewing a company’s Ripoff Report. Sometimes rival companies competing in the same industry or disgruntled employees may write fraudulent reports about another company.
Ripoffreport.com Final Note On the home page of the Ripoff Report website, it clearly states, “Consumers, just because a company or individual is reported on Rip-off Report does not necessarily mean you should not do business with them. In many cases, it’s just the opposite. Just because a company is posted on Rip-off Report does not mean they are “bad.” At some point in time, everyone has felt like they’ve been ripped off…” With this in mind, individuals may wish to take a company’s Ripoff Report with a grain of salt, since it is often only a small part of the picture as a whole.
Reporting a Ripoff or Scam When communicating with the attorney or law firm, it can be helpful to let them know further action will be taken if the issue is not resolved. If no solution can be worked out with the attorney or law firm, then individuals may choose to report the lawyer or law firm to the local state Bar Association. Local state Bar Associations are often responsible for disciplinary actions with lawyers and law firms.
Reporting a Ripoff or Scam If individuals are still unsatisfied they may choose to petition their problem with the local state Attorney General. If the scam or ripoff is widespread across the United States and/or involves high monetary amounts, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may get involved. Alternatively, individuals always have the option to sue the offending lawyer or law firm in a civil lawsuit.
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