Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beware of “Dog Rescue” Scams

News reports continue to surface regarding international scam artists using internet websites, online classified ads and emails to offer puppies to Americans interested in purchasing or “rescuing” them.

In most of these scams, the puppies are offered at a price that is much lower than the prices charged by U.S. breeders or kennels, often only a few hundred dollars to cover “shipping expenses” for dogs that traditionally cost over a thousand dollars when purchased from a legitimate breeder.

The ads or messages offer many different explanations for the low prices. Sometimes, the puppies have supposedly been "rescued" from closed kennels or abusive breeders. Other scam artists even claim to represent missionaries or relief organizations attempting to place unwanted puppies in good homes or claim to be helping low-income communities raise money. Often, the scammers claim to be looking for good homes for puppies, asking only that consumers pay the cost of shipping the dog to the United States. However, once payment is made, the scammer never sends the dog, costing the consumer hundreds, or thousands of dollars, as well as emotional heartbreak.

There are several ways to help spot a scam. They include:

• Use of a “free” email service, such as Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL.

• Refusal to speak with you on the telephone or to give you a number to call.

• A contract that states they are not responsible for any injuries or existing medical conditions as soon as you gain possession of the dog.

However, the best way to avoid a pet adoption scam is to rescue your pet from a reputable local animal shelter. Locally, these include the Beverly Animal Shelter, in Waterloo, New York, and the Tompkins County SPCA, located just outside of Ithaca.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Before You Repair Your Home: Know Your Contractor

For most Americans, their home is their single biggest investment. Before hiring a contractor to repair or renovate their property, homeowners should check for consumer complaints against home improvement contractors here.

In the event of a dispute with a contractor, homeowners have many rights. If you think you were the victim of an unscrupulous home repair service, an attorney may be able to get you some or all of your money back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 17 is Constitution Day

On Sept. 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by thirty-nine brave men who changed the course of history. Now Constitution Day is a time for us to continue their legacy and develop habits of citizenship in a new generation of Americans.

Learn more about this event here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Home Equity Theft Prevention Act: Your Rights Under the Law

As of February 1, 2007, certain sales of homes that are in foreclosure or default are now governed by a New York State law known as the Home Equity Theft Prevention Act.

If your home is in foreclosure or default and you are planning to sell it, you should be aware of your rights under this law, and know what to expect from a legitimate buyer.

If your sale is protected by the law, and the buyer fails to fulfill any of the requirements listed below you may be able to void or legally cancel the contract you have with the buyer and the sale, even after it has been signed and executed. You may also be able to sue the buyer to recover any damages.

More information about the law can be found here.

Not all sales of properties subject to foreclosure fall under this law. However, if the sale you are considering falls under the Act, you should not enter into any agreement without first contacting a qualified attorney to give you information about your rights, options and other resources you should consider.