Tips for Protecting Yourself from Divorce Scams
Divorce scams are increasing in popularity and can happen to anyone. Scammers will use a variety of ways to con you out of your money. For example, they may ask for money upfront, or they may try to take your bank account information so that they can access it later on down the road. You mustn’t fall victim!
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from divorce scams:
Become Familiar with Possible Types of Divorce Scams and Fraud
Watch out for people who use a variety of identities to contact you. They may be acting as law enforcement, lawyers, government representatives, or private investigators. Remember that these types of officials will never ask for money from you upfront!
Ask your potential lawyer about his/her fee structure and how it’s paid: upfront? by installments? after the proceedings are over? This can help weed out any scammers looking for an easy way to take your money. However, be wary if they refuse to answer this question or say that all legal fees are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Beware of Emails from Unknown Sources
Be cautious when responding to emails asking you to download attachments or click on links. They may contain malware that can steal your data while you’re inputting sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and bank account logins.
Watch out for emails from unknown sources that ask for personal financial details to help process a refund of an overpaid government grant program.
Be wary if the sender asks for any of the following: Your full name, date of birth (DOB), social security number (SSN), or banking information- like routing/account number(s). If they do not want this type of information before starting their services, then chances are good it is a scam!
Research Fees Up Front
Do research beforehand about what fees will be charged by your potential lawyers ahead of time. This will help to ensure that hidden fees are not scamming you!
Read Reviews & Ask Friends
Get online reviews of any law firm you are considering and also ask friends if they have had a great experience with them in the past or know someone who has worked with this lawyer before. Of course, be sure to check for complaints as well- so make sure all your bases are covered when it comes to research!
Learn about Legal Disclaimers on Social Media Pages
This is something that many people don’t realize but once again, look out for signs of scams on social media pages that may be sending links leading elsewhere. If an attorney’s website includes disclaimers such as “We work hard to provide our clients only quality services” or “We are not a law firm,” the person running this account is likely, in fact, an attorney.
Be Careful with Non-Lawyers
This includes people who are claiming to be paralegals and legal assistants as they may lead you astray when researching procedures, asking for money upfront without understanding your case, or simply trying to take advantage of those who don’t have resources. Don’t worry– there ARE legitimate non-lawyer services available! One example would be “legal document assistants,” which offer a much less expensive alternative than hiring an actual lawyer. This type of service will help prepare documents such as wills, power of attorneys, powers of appointment on behalf of the client, but they won’t give legal advice.
Do Your Research on Non-Lawyer Services
As with anything, it’s important to do your homework before you commit. This means that if someone is claiming to be a non-lawyer service and they are asking for money upfront– make sure that the company has an A+ rating from the BBB (if not, don’t even bother) or call them up directly at their physical location in order to verify who they are! Also, make sure you know what services they offer and how much everything will cost BEFORE handing over any cash whatsoever.
Keep Track of All Conversations You Have With Legal Professionals
If this person says something like “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you any advice,” or “I’m sorry, but I can’t represent your case,”– this should be a red flag. If you find yourself in need of law services, it’s always best to hire an attorney through one of the many legal referral websites that exist today, such as Avvo or Legalzoom.com, and then pay for their services upfront!
Contact Your Financial Institution
If someone is posing as being associated with a bank institution (i.e., Bank) who says they have something urgent which needs prompt attention– hang up immediately because no legitimate financial institution will ever call about anything other than banking matters and not provide contact information at the end of the conversation if asked by phone!
The best way to protect yourself from a potential scam is to take screenshots of every conversation you have with the person who attempts to contact you.
There’s a lot to think about when you are getting a divorce, and when you are emotionally vulnerable there are plenty of people who will try to take advantage of you, steal from you, and put you off balance. From paternity tests, affidavits, and property disputes to the challenges of working out custody arrangements, doing what you can to keep your information safe will help you in the long run. Think about these things if you are considering or going through a divorce.