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Romance scams are a growing form of consumer fraud

No one likes to be duped, especially when it results in the loss of money. What may be even more painful than consumer fraud that costs someone money is a scam involving the heart. Unfortunately for those in Illinois and across the country, these kinds of scams are becoming more common and more expensive.

Romance scams typically begin on social media or dating sites and involve the creation of a fake profile the fraudster establishes to attract someone who is vulnerable. After developing a relationship with the victim over weeks or months, the fraudster creates a ruse to ask for money. This may be an emergency or the need for travel expenses, which the victim willingly pays under the assumption that the relationship is genuine.

Motor vehicle accidents at busy Illinois intersections

Car crashes happen for many reasons, including driver confusion and errors committed at busy intersections. Motor vehicle accidents that happen at stop signs, traffic lights and heavy traffic areas often happen at low speeds, but they can result in serious injuries for all parties involved. There are a few intersections in Illinois where the rate of accidents is higher than others. 

A few of the intersections mentioned as particularly dangerous are those through which many commuters drive in and out of town. When there is more congestion, the chance of an accident increases as a driver may not be fully attentive while at an intersection, or they may be in a hurry and prone to make reckless decisions. Police have even noted that some of these specific intersections are difficult to patrol, as it is difficult to make traffic stops without making it more likely an accident will occur.

Common bad faith actions of insurance companies

Having insurance can bring great relief to those in Illinois who suffer injury. Insurance can cover most expenses related to an accident injury, such as doctor visits, medication and hospital stays, but it is important for the policyholder to understand any exclusions. Submitting an insurance claim after an accident is not always an easy process, and insurers may employ many tactics to delay or deny a valid claim for coverage. When this happens, the insurance company may be acting in bad faith.

Bad faith is when the insurer intentionally looks for ways to disqualify a policyholder from receiving a legitimate claim. Such tactics are unfair, dishonest and, in many cases, illegal. Insurers have an obligation to investigate each claim and settle them quickly and fairly. However, an insurance adjuster may delay the claims process by taking a long time to begin the investigation or by requesting unnecessary documentation from the claimant.

Dog attacks may lead to personal injury claims

Dog owners have a critical responsibility to keep their animals under control. Even in their own homes, Illinois dog owners must ensure the protection of others from an aggressive animal. Lawful visitors who suffer injuries from a dog attack may have cause to pursue a personal injury claim in court, particularly if the victim is a child. A recent dog attack sheds light on the severe damage an animal can do to a child.

The child was under the care of one of the dog's owners. The owner carried the child into the house around 7 p.m. one evening when the dog lunged at the child. The animal, a black pit bull terrier, apparently bit the child in the face. Reports say the child underwent surgery and received 22 stitches to close the wounds left by the dog.

Civil rights still violated when seeking fair housing

Many in Illinois are still struggling to obtain fair housing. Despite decades of fighting for civil rights, people of color often face discrimination when buying or renting homes. Since the 1960s, when Martin Luther King fought for fair housing opportunities in Chicago, organizations have conducted tests to determine if black renters are denied the same rights as white people in similar circumstances.

Recently, one of these tests was conducted after a young black woman who was studying law tried to rent an apartment from a white woman. The landlord refused to allow the student to look at the unit, asked about her income and then told her there was nothing available. However, when a tester, who was a white woman of about the same age, went to the apartment, the landlord showed her around numerous apartments and gave her advice about getting a co-signer.

Beware of consumer fraud when holiday shopping online

The closer it gets to the holidays, the more frantically some Illinois residents shop. Taking advantage of online bargains and guaranteed fast delivery is incentive for consumers to spend more money. Those looking for unique gifts may stray away from known and trusted online retailers and shop at boutiques instead. However, the Better Business Bureau has issued warnings again this year to be aware of the many types of consumer fraud to which busy shoppers may be vulnerable.

More retails stores have chip readers, so brick-and-mortar shopping is much safer than in years past. However, online scams are on the rise, and fraudsters are becoming ever savvier. Some consumer advocates remind shoppers to deal only with websites that have the secure "https" and padlock icon in the address. Shoppers can also protect their bank accounts by using only credit cards and never debit cards when purchasing online.

Faulty seat belt a factor in fatal Illinois car crash

Occupants of motor vehicles are likely aware of the potential of being involved in an accident. However,  many passengers choose to protect themselves from the actions of a negligent driver by taking certain precautions, such as ensuring that their seat belts are secured. Unfortunately, a man in Illinois recently lost his life in a car crash that could ultimately result in a wrongful death personal injury claim.

The incident that led to the 26-year-old man's death reportedly happened one afternoon on a day in November. According to reports, the 18-year-old male driving the car in which the now-deceased victim was riding lost control. As a result, the car is said to have struck a utility pole before rolling several times.

Rear-end motor vehicle accidents leave victims helpless

One of the most terrifying and deadly types of accidents is the rear-end collision. An Illinois driver may be sitting still in traffic, see a vehicle coming too quickly behind and have that helpless feeling just before impact. Often there is nowhere to go and nothing the driver can do to avoid being hit. Many times, these motor vehicle accidents involve multiple vehicles when the impact of the first car sends the second car into a third.

Recently, a rear-end collision resulted in devastating injuries to an unsuspecting young driver. A 16-year-old had stopped his pickup truck to make a left turn across a rural road when another vehicle, driven by a 20-year-old, failed to stop behind him. The impact of the collision sent the pickup truck into the opposite lane where it collided head-on with a third vehicle.

Knowing when car insurance claim denials are in bad faith

Insurance companies are businesses with the purpose of making money. It is not unusual for an insurer to deny or undervalue a claim to avoid making a substantial payout. Still, Illinois drivers may seek the best deal on car insurance only to find the policy does not cover what they expected. While it may seem a claim denial is in bad faith, there may be other reasons why the insurer refused to pay.

The first action a policyholder should take after receiving a denial for a claim after an accident is to carefully review his or her possible role in the denial. Something as simple as missing a payment can quickly cancel the coverage, which may justify an insurer's decision to deny a claim. Perhaps the driver of the car was not on the insurance policy for the vehicle. Not all policies cover everyone to whom the owner turns over the keys.

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