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WHAT YOU PROBABLY DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOUR ON-LINE BANKING ACCOUNT

There is a little known fact about on-line banking that created a recent client serious problems, and after some research, I discovered could someday hurt me.

For a long time I have wondered exactly what the “payment date” means in relationship to my on-line banking account. Is that the day that the bank sends a check or electronic debit to my creditor, or is that the day the creditor will make a withdrawal from my account? What difference does it make, you may say? In my circumstances here is the explanation:

My mortgage is due on the first of each month. I set up my on-line banking account so that the payment is made on the first of each month. That works great because I have a pay check that is deposited on the last day of each month.

My bank is so efficient that they tell me by email when they make an automatic payment from my account. Recently that mortgage payment was sent to my mortgage company on the 27th! Banks only allow payment to and from each other by paper check, so in order for my mortgage to be paid on the 1st, the mortgage bank has to have the check printed by my bank, and mailed before then.

I was concerned that toward the end of the month before my paycheck arrives, that my account might be running a little low, so I called my bank. Surely the check sent to the mortgage company would be dated the 1st – the day I authorized the bank to pay the bill — but I was wrong, it was dated the 27th!

So what this means is that if the mortgage bank gets the check the day after it is mailed, and they cash it, the amount will be taken from my account before my paycheck arrives, and I could overdraw my account, and be assessed an overdraft fee.

It might be a good idea to ask your bank exactly when an on-line banking disbursement is paid.

THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED – When you use online banking, and set up bill payments, be aware that payments may be paid a few days before your request, so make sure you have enough money in your account at all times to cover any on-line payments you have authorized.

LESSON TWO – Just because your bank informs you that a check has been sent to pay a bill, doesn’t mean that the debt is paid. It may only mean that the check has been mailed and depending on the creditor, it could be days or weeks before the check is cashed. This lesson is particularly important if you close a bank account, or withdraw authorization for a creditor to take payments from your account. If you close the account, or withdraw the authorization, it is of no importance that a check has been sent by your bank to the creditor. That check cannot be cashed if you have closed your account. So before closing an account, confirm that all checks and on-line payments issued have cleared your account.

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AUTO INSURANCE AND DUI IN ILLINOIS

When you are arrested for DUI, the Secretary of State makes an entry on your public driving record (abstract) that shows that you license is to be suspended for refusing to submit to breath or blood testing, or for taking a test and failing it. Your “Court Purposes” abstract will not include an entry for the arrest until you are found guilty, not guilty, or receive court supervision for the DUI. Court supervision is a court disposition in which even though you have pled guilty, or been found guilty, no finding of guilt appears on either driving record if you finish your (usually 12 months) of court supervision by paying your fine, completing alcohol treatment, and getting no new charges.

So meanwhile what’s your auto insurance company doing while all this is going on?

The Court Purposes Abstract is only available to law enforcement officers, state’s attorneys, and to the driver referred to in the abstract. If you get court supervision on the DUI, it is not a conviction and it is not on the public abstract, so the insurance company does not find out about the DUI court supervision when they request a copy of your public driving record. Usually such requests are made when one buys insurance from a new insurance company, or alters coverage, or any facet of an existing policy (maybe even a change of address). Your court supervision for a DUI, speeding, or most other traffic violations are reported on the Court Purposes Abstract, but not on the public abstract, because they are not convictions.

But if your insurance company gets a copy of the public driving abstract, there will be a listing for a statutory summary suspension for the DUI. This entry alone, regardless of whether you are guilty or not guilty of the DUI, can be expected to increase your auto insurance rates from around 40 to 100% (and 100% means your rates double). The length of time you pay the extra insurance charge penalty for the DUI depends on many things such as your age, your driving record, how long you have been with the company, etc.

The relationship between you and your auto insurance carrier is contractual, that means if either of you don’t like the deal you can cancel it according to the terms of the contract. Your contract might require you to periodically answer insurance company questions meant to disclose a DUI disposition, even if it does not appear on the public abstract. That answer could increase your insurance costs.

In short, a DUI can cost you thousands of dollars over many years, for increased insurance rates, along with numerous other related expenses. The Illinois Secretary of State estimates the cost of a DUI conviction (not court supervision which should be less) at $16,580. A DUI conviction will require 3 years of high-risk insurance for about $1,500 each year if you receive the right to drive after the DUI revocation.

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Illinois Sign and Drive Law

The media has been impressed with the new Illinois law known as “Sign and Drive.” The law is touted as beneficial because it allows you to just sign your name instead of surrendering your driver’s license after a traffic citation in this state.

Obviously, the vast majority of tickets written by Illinois law enforcement officers are speeding tickets. The average speeding ticket requires you to post cash bond at the time you are ticketed, or to give up your license to the law officer.

Years ago I learned that after the officer takes your license, it is sent to the local municipality, or usually to the local courthouse. The ticket and the license are stapled together, and a file is created to keep the documents accessible. The next time you are stopped for a moving violation, the officer will see those tiny holes in your license and know that you have been ticketed since your license was renewed. At that point, if he hasn’t already, the officer will run a check to see if you have any warrants, and can determine if you have committed traffic violations in the past. Many people believe that those holes in the license have resulted in people who maybe otherwise would not have been ticketed, to be the loser in situations where the officer might use his discretion and let you leave without a ticket.

Few people realize that even if you surrender your license after a traffic violation, you can reacquire the license by visiting the circuit clerk who holds the license, if you post a cash bond.

So back to the original question: just what does this new law mean? If you commit a petty offense while driving (tail light out, speeding just a little) the officer will let you keep your license – which as the statute intends, will let you use it for identification purposes. In the past we had to use a carbon copy of the ticket as an identification, and few of those copies were legible.

If you miss your court date, your license will be suspended. If you go to trial and are found not guilty, if your charges are dismissed, or if you pay your fine timely, you keep your license (and it will have no holes from being stapled).

If you commit a serious traffic offense (DWLS, speeding too far over the limit, DUI, etc) you will still be required to surrender your license to the police officer. This new law only applies to petty offenses, which means those for which you cannot go to jail.

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Cancel Illinois Wage Assignment

So you got one of those “quickie loans” from a place in a strip mall, to pay your mechanic, so he would fix your car, and you could keep working, and feeding your family. Because your hours at work have since been cut, the loan company is now taking money from your salary and you want to know if you can stop them.
The answer centers on whether the loan company is taking your salary by virtue of a court order, “a wage garnishment” or by your permission, “a wage assignment.”
When you got the loan, you were handed a bunch of papers and told to “sign here, and here, and here.” One of those papers was probably a contract between you and the loan company in which you authorized the loan company to deduct 15% of your net salary each pay period. Wasn’t that nice of you? The loan company did not have that right – until you gave it to them! Like any business or person in the United States, the loan company has the right to petition the civil courts for a wage garnishment, but to do so, they usually have to hire a lawyer, get a court date, have proper paperwork supporting their claim, and get a court order. Sometimes the court will deny the order if you do not make enough money, or if the complainant erred in their case.
But if in your haste to get the money, you gave the loan company permission to by-pass the court system, and to go directly to your employer using your “wage assignment” contract, the lender saves a lot of trouble, and maybe gets money they wouldn’t get if they were petitioning through a judge.
You can stop the wage assignment easily, by simply revoking the permission you gave the loan company. Send the lender and your employer a letter specifying the name of the loan company, the date of the loan, and that you are “hereby revoking any wage assignment arising from this transaction.” It’s a good idea to have a friend that reads the letter, sees you put the letter in an envelope, and watches you hand it to a loan company employee as you get the recipient’s name. While you’re at the loan company, explain that you are there to stop the wage assignment, but be sure to give them the letter. Or you can use certified mail – but that costs extra money.
Yes, the loan company can still petition the court for a wage garnishment, but that may take a couple months, and by then you might be current with the lender. And you may lose that business as a source of future loans, but there’s plenty more lenders who will offer high interest loans – next time, just refuse to sign a “wage assignment” contract.

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YOU CAN LOSE YOUR CAR DRIVER’S LICENSE FOR BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE IN IL

Illinois has passed the new boating under the influence (BOA) law that results in a suspension of your vehicle driver’s license for a BOA conviction. The new law becomes effective on January 1 of 2014. If you are involved in a boating accident resulting in serious injury or death, and you refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test requested by law enforcement authorities; or if you take such a test and drugs or alcohol at or beyond the .08 limit are detected – your right to operate a vehicle in Illinois will be suspended.

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BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE IN IL

You commit Boating Under the Influence (BUI) if you operate, or are in control (even if parked, and not moving) of a watercraft while your blood or breath alcohol concentration is at .08 or greater, or you are under the influence of alcohol or any other drug, legal or illegal, to a level that renders you incapable of safely operating a watercraft. In other words, even without a chemical test, if the arresting authority can convince a judge or jury that you were drunk, you can be convicted. If a blood or urine test result shows that you have ANY cannabis or controlled substance in your body you can be convicted. Remember that even if the drug in your system was prescribed, you can still be found guilty of BUI if it affects your ability to control the watercraft.

If there were no injuries arising from your first BUI, it is a Class A misdemeanor (up to 364 days in jail). If it is your second BUI, or if there were injuries, or if you are operating a watercraft while your right to do so is suspended or revoked, it can be charged as a Class 4 felony (possible years in prison ). It’s a class 2 felony if a death was involved. Have a child under 16 in the boat at the time and a conviction will cost you a minimum of $500 and you will have to do 5 days of community service. If an emergency response team is summoned because of your BUI, you will have to pay the costs for the team’s services.

If you take the breath, blood, or urine test, no suspension of your boating privileges for your first offense, but the next one will be a one year suspension of your boating privileges, not your right to drive a car (but be aware, some legislatures are looking at suspending driving privileges for BUI). Get court supervision for the first BUI, and you will still be suspended for the next one. A felony conviction is accompanied by a 3 year suspension.

If you operate a boat in Illinois, you are subject to the implied consent doctrine, meaning that you agree to take a blood, urine, or breath test if properly arrested for BUI. If the arresting officer can convince a judge that he had probable cause to arrest you for the offense, and you don’t take any or all the tests the officer demands, you can be suspended for 2 years. You will have 28 days to contest the suspension in writing.

For a more complete explanation of boating rules you can visit the website: http://www.boat-ed.com/il/handbook/ski.htm

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IL BOATING LAWS

For a more complete explanation of boating rules you can visit this website: http://www.boat-ed.com/il/handbook/ski.htm. Following are the highlights:

1) Unless you have a sailboat, an unpowered vessel operated on a private lake, or a vessel registered out of state used in IL for less than 60 days, your boat must be registered with the Illinois department of natural resources (IDNR). Registration is valid for 3 years, and expires on June 30. Contact the IDNR to register (866-867-3542).

2) All vessels manufactured after 1972 have hull identification numbers. Find yours, and write it down, keeping it in a safe place, away from the boat.

3) Children under 10 years of age may not operate any motorized vessel. Children between 10 and 12 may operate a motorized vessel, only if they are under the direct control of a parent, guardian, or someone at least 18 years old designated by the guardian to supervise the child. Persons 12 through 18 may operate a motorized vessel only if they are accompanied by an approved supervisor; of they complete a boating safety course accepted by the IDNR.

4) All vessels must have at least one Personal Floatation Device (PFD) for each person on board. All children under 13 must wear one. All Jet Ski users must wear one. If your jet ski has a wrist attached cut off switch, the user must attach it to her wrist.

5) All vessels with internal combustion engines must have fire extinguishers.

6) If your boat motor is too loud, you can be ticketed.

7) All motorized vessels must have an air horn, bell, or whistle that can be heard for at least one half mile.

8) Navigation lights must be used after sunset, before sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility. If your boat is anchored or moored in an area other than a designated mooring area between sunset and sunrise, you must display a white light above the boat that is visible for one mile.

9) Knowing the right of way rules can save lives. Learn them!

10) Boating accidents involving injury to anyone or with more than $2,000 in property damage must be reported to IDNR.

11) You must obey IDNR officers, or any law enforcement officers, and slow your boat first, and stop if so ordered.

12) If you are towing a skier, you must have a designated observer of that skier.

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How to Stop Quickie Loan Companies from Getting your Salary

So you got one of those “quickie loans” from a place in a strip mall, to pay your mechanic, so he would fix your car, and you could keep working, and feeding your family. Because your hours at work have since been cut, the loan company is now taking money from your salary and you want to know if you can stop them.

Under Illinois law, the answer centers on whether the loan company is taking your salary by virtue of a court order, “a wage garnishment” or by your permission, “a wage assignment.”

When you got the loan, you were handed a bunch of papers and told to “sign here, and here, and here.” One of those papers was probably a contract between you and the loan company in which you authorized the loan company to deduct 15% of your net salary each pay period. The loan company did not have that right – until you gave it to them. Like any business or person in the United States, the loan company has the right to petition the civil courts for a wage garnishment, but to do so, they usually have to hire a lawyer, get a court date, have proper paperwork supporting their claim, and get a court order. Sometimes the court will deny the order if you do not make enough money, or if the complainant erred in their case.

But if in your haste to get the money, you gave the loan company permission to by-pass the court system, and to go directly to your employer using your “wage assignment” contract, the lender saves a lot of trouble, and maybe gets money they wouldn’t get if they were petitioning through a judge.

You can stop the wage assignment easily, by simply revoking the permission you gave the loan company. Send the lender and your employer a letter specifying the name of the loan company, the date of the loan, and that you are “hereby revoking any wage assignment arising from this transaction.” It’s a good idea to have a friend that reads the letter, sees you put the letter in an envelope, and watches you hand it to a loan company employee as you get the recipient’s name. While you’re at the loan company, explain that you are there to stop the wage assignment, but be sure to give them the letter. Or you can use certified mail – but that costs extra money.

Yes, the loan company can still petition the court for a wage garnishment, but that may take a couple months, and by then you might be current with the lender. And you may lose that business as a source of future loans, but there’s plenty more lenders who will offer high interest loans – next time, just refuse to sign a “wage assignment” contract.

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NUCLEAR VETERANS ENTITLED TO GOVERNMENT COMPENSATION

I recently discovered that while in the U.S. Army, a friend became a “Nuclear Veteran.” No, he was not at Hiroshima nor Nagasaki. He became a nuclear vet while stationed near Las Vegas, Nevada, at Camp Desert Rock. It was there that over a three month period soldiers were required to experience a nuclear explosion so they would be prepared to attack after someone dropped a bomb. (this experiment was referred to by the military as “Operation Upshot Knothole”) Trenches were dug, the soldiers hid in them while nearby the bomb was exploded – some by cannon, some dropped from the air, and some from towers. During that time there were 11 bombs exploded. They described it as experiencing a bright light, like that from an arc welder. They were instructed to not look at the light, and to wait until after the shock wave and light had ended. At that time they exited their trenches.

He described seeing sheep near the explosions with burned eyes. Some of the government documents about operation Upshot Knothole describe some soldiers who were too near the explosions, and whose dosimeters registered too high. They were required to exit the dangerous area on foot as they walked over high radiation to awaiting trucks in the safe area.

Obviously, proximity to a nuclear bomb explosion can cause radiation damage to the human body as we learned from the Japanese. And remember that thousands of Americans visited the Japanese sites after the military entered Japan, and walked around the site of the explosion, breathing in all that radioactive dust.

The American government eventually admitted that radiation exposure may have caused these Americans health issues. Legislation was passed that created a presumptive list, a list of cancers, that if suffered by a person who was exposed to nuclear testing, or in some cases, working around nuclear materials, the government would presume the cancers came from the radiation exposure. These presumptive cancers are mostly related to breathing or ingesting the radioactive dust. If you or a deceased loved one has had one of these cancers, the government can provide you monetary compensation for your illness. If you have had other cancers, and your radiation exposure was high enough, you may also be eligible for compensation.

In a recent conversation with the daughter of a veteran who was dying from his exposure, I learned that not only the U.S. government is guilty of subjecting their soldiers to such testing. Most of us remember the testing that was done at Bikini Atoll and other sites in the Pacific. Soldiers from other allied militaries were present for some of those tests. England is making it difficult for their nuclear veterans to claim their compensation, too. This daughter of a victim explained that even the children born to nuclear testing veterans have suffered birth defects.

I have been helping my client pursue this matter to see if he is eligible for compensation due to his exposure. He was stationed at Desert Rock for the entire series of explosions, so we are concerned his dosimeter (a measuring device those near the explosions had to wear, that is supposed to record the extent of the wearer’s nuclear exposure) reading may be high. The government says they have dosimeter results on file for all the personnel who were near the explosions.

I have never been in the military, but I have battled with banks to help foreclosure victims try to keep their homes. I can compare the odyssey of nuclear veterans trying to get compensation, to that of foreclosure victims trying to keep their homes. It seems that those who collect information to decide who is compensated, are part of a process meant to wear the applicant down, so that he eventually gives up before completing the necessary documentation. If you are looking for something to do for the next year, and have a loved one who was a nuclear veteran, or who was a nuclear veteran and has passed away, you might want to try for the compensation. You will have to obtain proof the veteran was present at a nuclear site by review of his service records, obtain a dosimeter reading, complete application forms for either the Department of Justice, and/or the Veterans Administration, and acquire medical records of the veteran’s illness.

I will provide some of the resources I have used while trying to submit a claim:

Websites for nuclear vets and their families:
www.nuclearveterans.com/
www.naav.com/

Compensation Forms from the Department of Justice:
http://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca.html

Government press release about the compensation program:
http://www.angelfire.com/tx/atomicveteran/dtra.html

About radiation health exams available for veterans:
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/radiation/registry.asp

US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Diseases Associated with Ionizing Radiation Exposure:
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/radiation/diseases.asp

How to File a Claim:
http://www.dtra.mil/SpecialFocus/NTPR/NTPRHome.aspx

Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Information:
http://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca.html

Nuclear Test Personnel Review (NTPR) Program Helpline. 800-462-3683

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Banks Corrected Robo-filing Problems

You may have heard on the news that the many foreclosures that were delayed because the mortgage companies cut corners to file in a hurry — have now resumed their normal filing rate. Many mortgage companies filed foreclosures without following the proper procedures, so some lawyers, and some judges, stopped the foreclosures by requiring the filer to follow the law. It delayed the foreclosures for a few months, but as the news said today, those problems have been corrected. The banks have no new advantages, and if anything are probably being a little more carefull before filing foreclosures. Home-owners facing foreclosure over the last year, maybe got more time, but those in the future will probably have less of a chance to challenge the foreclosure successfully.

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