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Have you been a victim of one of the many forms of consumer fraud or business fraud? Some companies make false representations to their customers, and they may be liable for fraud. Laws designed to protect consumers and shield them from deceptive practices provide a legal framework for the dealings between individual consumers and the businesses that sell goods and services. These laws are intended to hold individuals and businesses accountable for deceptive and fraudulent practices.
If a company has cheated you, you may seek to hold the company accountable for the harm that you have suffered and recover compensation for your losses. You need the guidance of an experienced fraud lawyer and consumer protection lawyer. Let an experienced lawyer at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. review the specifics of your situation and discuss your legal options. In selecting Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., you will have the experience and skill of an Alabama law firm that other lawyers and legal publications have recognized for exceptional legal representation.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of fraud, contact our Huntsville, Alabama fraud attorneys for a free discussion of your legal options.
The following are common forms of fraud:
Insurance fraud is an increasing problem. Consumers may be victims of insurance fraud when an insurance company, agent or broker collects premiums for phony policies with no intent to honor claims. It also occurs when important information is not disclosed in an insurance transaction or false information is given in a claim.
Seniors are common targets of insurance fraud because many seniors are concerned about having enough health and life insurance. Be wary of health insurance scams or unsolicited phone calls or visits to your house by sales people claiming to be selling insurance from Medicare or the Social Security Administration. The government does not sell insurance policies. Unscrupulous sales reps often push fraudulent health insurance with claims they are offering union plans or ERISA plans that are exempt from state law. If the coverage is offered with low premiums and few questions about the applicant’s health, then that should be a red flag to be suspicious. Take your time buying insurance and be careful about sales offers involving cashing in your existing annuities or insurance policies to buy new annuities or insurance products.
It is important to buy insurance only from licensed agents and insurance companies. The Alabama Department of Insurance can provide registration information for companies licensed to sell insurance in Alabama. Unlicensed companies may not meet the State of Alabama’s financial requirements to sell insurance. Policies issued by unlicensed agents or companies not authorized to do business in the State of Alabama have no backing by Alabama guaranty funds and may not provide any benefits if the company disappears or goes bankrupt.
Insurance agents, doctors, chiropractors, car salesmen and others in positions of trust who seek to profit by making false or inflated insurance claims may commit insurance fraud. An unscrupulous agent may collect premiums and pocket the payments rather than submitting them to the insurance provider, causing the policyholder’s insurance to be canceled. You may only realize you have no insurance when you make a claim.
Health Care Fraud
When unscrupulous health care providers bill for services that were not rendered or provide false information to insurance companies about medical procedures performed, they commit health care fraud. Health care fraud also may involve a provider billing for a treatment that is covered by insurance rather than the treatment they actually provided that is not covered by insurance.
Patients may be victims of dishonest doctors who perform medically unnecessary procedures such as cardiac or spinal operations or unneeded diagnostic tests to inflate their billings to private insurance providers or to Medicare. If a doctor or hospital is more focused on how much to bill for services rather than caring for the patient, the patient may not be receiving the treatment needed. Medical fraud also leads to inaccurate medical records and increased out-of-pocket costs for patients. It is a good idea to review the explanation of benefits statement sent by your health insurance provider to be sure that you were only billed for treatment and services that you received.
Auto Dealer Fraud
Many car buyers rely on the sales person’s description of a vehicle in deciding whether to purchase a vehicle. Auto dealer fraud is an issue in Alabama. Auto dealer fraud may occur at any stage in the process of buying a new or used car, from deceptive advertising to sales to financing. Tampering with the odometer to make a vehicle appear to have fewer miles is a well known form of auto fraud. But there are many forms of auto dealer fraud.
You may be a victim of fraud if the price on the contract is different than what the sales representative said that you would pay or the interest rate is different. You may be a victim of fraud if you are charged for a service contract that you did not want or authorize. An auto dealer may misrepresent or fail to disclose relevant information about the condition of a used vehicle. In selling a new vehicle, dealers are required to disclose in writing to the buyer any material damage that has occurred to the vehicle whether or not it has been corrected. Failure to do so may represent deceptive trade.
An unscrupulous lender or mortgage refinance broker may offer to help homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments by proposing to renegotiate the terms of the loan in exchange for very high fees. Many times, they do not attempt to renegotiate the mortgage with the lender and simply take the fees, committing fraud for profit. Other fraud for profit schemes involve providing false information to homeowners who are facing foreclosure to suggest that a property may be transferred to an investor to save their home from foreclosure or have property falsely appraised to inflate the value, and then flip the property at the inflated price. This may involve fraudulent appraisals or falsified loan documentation. The property is foreclosed on after any equity is taken from the home.
Reverse mortgages allow elderly homeowners to tap the equity in their homes to provide additional retirement income, without having to sell the house. But unethical sales people may obtain a reverse mortgage using an elderly homeowner’s name, misleading the homeowner about the actual value of the house and keeping most of the money released for themselves.
Small businesses that have difficulty affording insurance coverage and businesses with risks that are hard to insure are susceptible to insurance fraud. An unlicensed company may try to sell fraudulent insurance products to businesses, such as commercial general liability policies, auto liability coverage, worker’s compensation coverage or contractor performance bonds.
When you or your business enter a contract for goods, services or property, you have a right to expect honest treatment. If another business or individual misrepresented a material fact and you relied upon that information in entering the contract and your business was harmed as a result, you may be a victim of business fraud.
Unscrupulous people and businesses that commit fraud may face criminal prosecution. But a criminal conviction of a wrongdoer will not help you recover financially if you have been a victim of fraud. You may have the legal option to pursue a separate civil lawsuit to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered as a result of fraud.
How Can Our Alabama Fraud Attorneys Help?
Our attorneys at Morris, King, & Hodge offer a free case review and will advise you of your legal options if you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud. When possible, we try to resolve fraud issues without going to court. But we are skilled courtroom attorneys and ready to go to court to hold accountable the party that defrauded you and advocate on your behalf if necessary. In some cases, a class action lawsuit may be brought for a group of people suffering a similar harm. If you believe that you or your loved one has been a victim of fraud, you need a knowledgeable lawyer who you can turn to for trusted guidance.
If you purchased a product or service and were promised benefits that have not been provided, you may be a victim of fraud. Morris, King, & Hodge serves clients in North Alabama, including Madison County, Morgan County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Cullman and Florence. To schedule a free case review, call us at (256) 677-4376 or (888) 445-3654.