What should I do if I feel I am being scammed on the phone?

A young woman called me by phone the other day, asking if I had enjoyed using the ADT security system connected to my house over the past three years. I told her I didn’t use ADT. She asked if I was sure. I said, “Of course, I’m sure. I don’t use a security system.” She thanked me and hung up. When I told my son later about my conversation, he said that I should have said nothing. Is he right?

Your son might be correct. The caller might have been fishing for information regarding the security features of your home. From a short exchange, the caller now knows that you did not have a security system at the time they called you. (more…)

What should I do if I feel as though a contractor is ripping me off?

A roofing contractor came to my house, told me that my roof was more than 15 years old and that I needed a new one. So, I paid him $8,000 to start the project, and $8,000 on completion. He and his guys started way back in June, and now it’s almost November. Half my roof is done, but the other half has no shingles or covering whatsoever. How do I get him to finish the job?

Consumers are often disappointed in the services a contractor provides or are ripped off by the individual or company they trusted to improve their home. It appears from your question that the roofing contractor came to you and solicited you for this project. We would stress that you should be weary of service providers who show up to your home uninvited and attempt to solicit your business. This is a tactic that is often used to make the homeowner feel pressured, via a face to face encounter, which causes them to agree to the services they are being offering. (more…)

Can online salespeople ask for my Social Security number?

On several occasions, I’ve been asked by an online salesperson to provide my social security number as proof of identification. Is this a legitimate request?

Thank you very much for your question. Your social security number is a key piece of information that a thief may want to steal and one of the most difficult pieces of identification to untangle. Your Social Security number, along with basic personal information that might be attainable online, may allow individuals to access credit on your behalf. A common result of this type of theft is that a new credit card is opened and used in the individual’s name. Victims of this identity crime often do not find out until they receive a new credit card bill.

DO NOT provide your Social Security number to anyone you did not directly contact. If you did not personally contact the company or individual seeking to establish or create a new account, it is unlikely that your Social Security number would be needed on the phone. For example, if you applied for a new credit card, bank account, or mortgage, your Social Security might be relevant. However, the vast majority of these applications would be in writing or would have taken place in person. Further, your bank, credit card company, and mortgage company already have your Social Security number on file. Therefore, they may ask you to confirm its last four digits, but should not need you to provide it to them again orally on the telephone.

Additionally, most companies do not need your Social Security number as proof of identification. If a business needs to verify your identity, ask them what other data would be helpful to ensure confidence about your identify without giving your Social Security number.

Finally, if you have any doubts, do not provide the information to the caller. Confirm with the caller who they claim to work for then hang up the phone and contact that company directly.

Contributor: Kerry Peck

Should I include care for my dogs in my trust just in case I pass before they do?

I have three beloved border collies (ages two to five) and I’ve been recently diagnosed with 3rd-stage lung cancer. Should I include care for my dogs in my trust just in case I pass before they do? I ask because my sister in Scottsdale told me that if I did nothing, the dogs would be euthanized a few weeks after my death.

That is a lovely consideration for your furry family members. Illinois does allow a trust for domestic or pet animals. It’s covered under the Pet Trust Act (760 ILCS 5/15.2). (more…)

Peck Ritchey, LLC to Sponsor AgeOptions Event

Peck Ritchey, LLC, is proud to be a gold-level sponsor of the 12th Annual AgeOptions Networking Reception and Silent Auction. The event will be held Thursday, September 22 at the Crystal Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The silent auction will feature electronic bidding via a smartphone app.

Proceeds from the event will go toward funding important programs that help older adults in suburban Cook County.

AgeOptions is a nonprofit organization founded in 1974. Its mission is to advocate for services for older adults and their families. To learn more about the event, visit this website.

How can I bring up the need for estate planning to my parents?

Sometimes I believe that Dad is afraid my brothers and I are trying to take control of his life by handling his estate and other financial or legal affairs. How can we help him understand that we want to help, not harm, him?

You are not alone! We hear this every day from adult children who are looking out and trying to advocate for their parents. “Having the talk” with your parents about their finances and estate plan is a delicate subject. No one likes to discuss their own disabilities, their decline, or plan for their own death. (more…)

The Basics of Elder Abuse

Millions of vulnerable seniors are victims of elder abuse every year. Abuse most often comes in the form of financial exploitation, physical or sexual abuse, active or passive neglect, confinement, isolation, or willful deprivation of medical care, food, water or physical assistance.

Oftentimes such cases are suffered through by individuals who have dementia or Alzheimer’s, or those who have a physical impairment that causes them to have a heavy dependence on others. These individuals can experience a sense of helplessness, but prevention programs to stop elder abuse are slowly becoming more common. The biggest step families can take to prevent elder abuse is to listen and stay educated about issues surrounding aging family members.

At Peck Ritchey, LLC, our Chicago elder abuse and neglect lawyers are committed to protecting the rights of Chicago’s elderly population and we will aggressively pursue action against those who exploit the elderly in Chicago. To discuss the particulars of your circumstances with one of our experienced attorneys, please call (855) 328-5787 today.

How often should I review and/or update my beneficiary designations on my various insurance and IRA accounts?

It is important to review and update your beneficiary designations as you move through different stages of your life or have life changing events. The most common changes and events that I see are marriage, divorce, birth of a child, your children becoming adults, and, ultimately, death. (more…)

Should my Power of Attorney for Property, my Healthcare Power of Attorney, and my Executor all be the same person?

Initially, the nominated agent for your Power of Attorney for Healthcare, Power of Attorney for Property and the Executor of your Estate do not have to be the same person. You may choose to identify the same person if in fact you rely on one person to make all of these decisions. It is not uncommon for a trusted person to serve in all three capacities. Common examples include: spouse; partner; child or parent to be named in all three capacities. (more…)

Kerry Peck interviewed by NYT about Sumner Redstone estate scandal

Recently, our very own Kerry Peck was asked by The New York Times to weigh in on the controversy surrounding Sumner Redstone’s estate. Peck told the Times, “the Redstone pattern is happening in epidemic proportions.”

“Caregivers in particular, often younger women, are ingratiating themselves into the lives of older men,” Mr. Peck said. “They meet them at places you’d consider safe, like senior centers, churches and synagogues. They start as caregivers, and then they become romantic suitors. We’re seeing these scenarios with stunning frequency.”

To read the whole story, click here (PDF opens in new window).

At Peck Ritchey, LLC, we respect and value everything that Kerry brings to the firm and, now, to this national conversation.

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