• JC Serrano

Fight Back: Business Law Attorneys for Consumer Fraud

Updated: Jun 5

Find A Business Litigation Lawyer for Fraud Claims Against Corporate Entities

Consumer fraud is characterized as an unreasonable, deceptive, or illegal business practice that benefits a corporation or individual at the expense of customers. Banking, insurance, consumer goods and services, manufacturing and distribution of faulty products, and telemarketing are all examples of areas where consumer fraud can occur.

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1. Bank Fraud

Bank fraud is a major crime in California and in the United States. Fraud is difficult to spot. Most people only know they've been scammed after they've lost a significant amount of money. Banking fraud, which can be perpetrated by a bank clerk, financial advisor, or insurance agent representing a bank, affects all customers. An individual convicted of one count of bank fraud faces a federal prison term of up to 30 years.

Banking fraud can take place in a variety of ways:

  • Bank Fraud is the use of fraudulent methods to obtain money or assets from a financial institution is known as bank fraud. Bank fraud is committed by investment advisers, bank managers, and others who appear to be helpful.

  • Tax evasion occurs when an individual or company intentionally fails to comply with their legal obligation to file taxes.

A bank can sell an investment or financial product to a customer without fully revealing all of the product's details, or it can charge illegal and hidden fees in connection with a service.

Surrender costs and fees are not properly or adequately disclosed in insurance, financial or banking products, or savings, such as deferred annuities offered by a bank.

Consider the following examples:

  • Overdraft fees or other costs that the bank has arranged in a specific order to optimize charges to the customer

  • Customers or investors, like senior citizens, who are sold deferred annuities or other unsuitable insurance policies by bank brokers, financial advisors, or bank insurance agents

  • Selling unsuitable investments to customers (which may include insurance products and deferred annuities) is a breach of fiduciary duty. Unscrupulous bank employees who don't strictly follow the "know your customer" rule and recommend financial products with inappropriate risks or fees often target senior citizens.

Identity theft, fraudulent checks, phishing, forged banking documents, and credit card skimming are some of the most popular forms of bank fraud. As technology advances, the methods for illegally obtaining the money that is not yours evolve. Every year, a new scheme or scam emerges, causing hardworking people to lose their money. If you've been a victim of bank fraud, a Business Law Attorney can help you build a case to get your money back.

Define "Annuities"

Annuities are sometimes purchased as part of a well-rounded retirement package to provide a source of income after an individual has stopped receiving a paycheck. A annuity payout package can be set up for a short period of time or for life, and this is where the problem starts for senior citizens.

Any payout that is set up to be spread over a long time must have arrangements for what could happen to the remaining funds if the beneficiary dies or becomes incapacitated. Since the premium is charged upfront, the terms of the arrangement are critical to ensuring that the annuity purchaser does not lose money.

In most fraudulent annuity plans, insurance companies may attempt to persuade an elderly client to enroll in a costly or impractical plan (usually one with a higher premium and a longer payout period) in the hopes of avoiding paying out the whole premium and accumulated interest in the long run. Rather than pushing you into a costly package that will not provide you with the fullest financial benefits, your bank can work with you to decide the right plan for your lifestyle and age.

2. Card Fraud

Certain credit card companies are charging their cardholders for extra services without their permission or knowledge. Services can also be denied or canceled if the cardholder requires the services' benefits.

Such fraudulent practices include credit card companies failing to obtain written consent from cardholders and failing to provide required written statements before charging them. When credit cardholders discover fraudulent charges and call to report them, operators wrongly claim that the charges would not have been made if the cardholder had given their consent.

Understand the terms and conditions of your credit card.

Despite recent federal regulations aimed at protecting consumers from deceptive practices, credit card companies continue to charge outrageous fees and bury their rules and regulations in the fine print. If you use credit cards, you now have a slew of new and expanded protections against credit card companies' deceptive practices.

The Risks of Hidden Fees on Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards, also known as reloadable cards, are promoted as a less expensive alternative to credit cards, debit cards, and conventional banking. Low-income consumers, those who are unable to obtain credit, and those who have limited access to banking will benefit from these prepaid cards. Prepaid cards are a boost to the banking industry because an estimated 80 million people fall into one of these groups. On the other hand, prepaid cards come with a slew of fees that make them prohibitively costly. Consumers can become even more in debt as a result of these secret fees.

  • Fees for activation

  • Fees for upkeep

  • Fees for ATM withdrawals

  • Fees for balance inquiries

  • Fees for inactivity

Some prepaid card companies exacerbate the problem by unfairly reporting on the consumer's credit rating if the account is closed, locking them in a vicious loop.

Initiation fees, annual maintenance fees, cash withdrawal fees, fees to add funds, shortage fees, and overdraft fees are among the prepaid card's secret fees. Some prepaid card companies exacerbate the problem by unfairly reporting on the consumer's credit rating if the account is closed, locking them in a vicious loop.

Despite the fact that these fees can be disclosed in small print on the cardholder agreement, most prepaid card users do not read the fine print and are unaware of the various fees involved. Prepaid cards have the same appearance as regular plastic credit cards. Prepaid cards from leading discount retailers are among the best. A major credit card's logo can appear on each of these cards.

Payday Loans

They are also known as payday lenders because they give borrowers in financial distress high-cost, short-term loans or cash advances. Predatory lenders prey on low-income borrowers and elderly people seeking Social Security payments. Some payday lenders charge borrowers interest rates of up to 400 percent or more on their payday loans. On the other hand, other payday lenders provide their borrowers with a line of credit on a prepaid card rather than cash.

The maximum amount a borrower can loan in California is $300. For this $300 loan, the maximum fee a lender can charge is $45, which equates to a 460 percent annual percentage rate on a two-week loan. On the other hand, a car loan is likely to have an interest rate of 8%. The payday loan industry is profitable for predatory lenders, but it is financially crippling for consumers.

Unfortunately, this quick fix can lead to long-term ruin. Suppose a borrower does not repay the full amount of a payday loan or cash advance before the end of the period (usually two weeks). In that case, the lender will charge the borrower extra fees, and the borrower will not receive any additional funds.

Some payday lenders require borrowers to sign over their paychecks or social security benefits, giving them exclusive access to the borrower's earnings. Many unsuspecting borrowers, especially seniors and elders, are becoming entangled in a payday lender debt cycle.

Insurance Fraud Examples

  • Insurance, financial, or banking products/investments that do not correctly or fully report surrender charges or other penalties, or that misrepresent or contain an illusory incentive or death benefit that penalizes the deceased and his or her relatives, such as deferred annuities.

  • Long-term care and life insurance fraud, including claims against insurance providers and brokers for long-term care and life insurance fraud. Please notify us if your premiums have been increased to an unjustifiable level.

  • Health insurance companies/HMOs/PPOs that offer unequal or disproportionately higher and possibly unjustified reimbursement rates for certain facilities or providers in-network versus out-of-network.

  • Discriminatory practices in issuing insurance policies and the number of premiums paid to minorities, women, and other protected groups of persons and failure to issue policies or denial of claims for these groups.

  • Insurance brokers that purchase or replace insurance policies without reason in order to earn commissions.

  • Billing practices that cause a client or the government to pay more than they should (including Medicare and Medicaid fraud)

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Unethically Targeting Seniors

Unscrupulous insurance brokers and businesses often target seniors. Speak with a Business Litigation Lawyer if you believe you have been a victim of insurance fraud. We can easily assess your situation and notify you of your options.

Litigation About Annuity Abuse

Deferred Annuities, also known as fixed annuities, are long-term investments that typically do not enable withdrawals for 10-20 years or longer and can come with exorbitant fees if taken early. The buyer of these annuities usually pays a premium in exchange for a guaranteed rate of return for the first year.

Then, for the remainder of the annuity's life, a lower minimum assured rate of return is given. The delayed receipt of money separates this form of an annuity from others. Furthermore, many annuities are written in such a way that it is easy for financial practitioners or agents to overlook the technical specifics of the different fees and charges.

Unfortunately, annuities are increasingly being offered to senior citizens and the elderly aged 60 and over. Many of the funds available for annuity transfers are held by senior citizens who are enthralled by the prospect of a steady return on their money in a "safe" investment.

Long-term savings, such as annuities, are usually not considered a viable choice for elderly people who may need immediate access to their funds for medical treatment or other emergencies. Unfortunately, in many instances, payouts or withdrawals are not permitted before the annuitant has reached the end of his or her life expectancy.

What Are These Financial Annuity Lawsuits For Seniors And Elders About?

Lawsuits have been filed alleging that some insurance companies and banks target seniors and use scare tactics to persuade them to invest their life savings in deferred annuities, which may lock up savings for 10-20 years (even in the event of an emergency), carry exorbitant surrender charges and severe tax penalties, and complicate estate problem, among other things. Annuities are often described as "guaranteed" and compared to "secure" money in the bank that pays a better return in appealing but deceptive sales pitches to seniors. The annuity contract's muddled terminology often obscures the crippling payments that can be incurred if money is needed to be withdrawn as the senior citizen ages.

What Is An Annuity?

Insurance plans are annuities. Annuities are intended to start paying out after a long period of time, often as long as 10-20 years. Many of these annuities, particularly deferred annuities, restrict annuitants' access to their initial investment for a number of years unless they are prepared to pay substantial "surrender" charges and penalties. Many senior purchasers will be unable to access funds locked in deferred annuities in the event of medical emergencies or other financial difficulties as a result of these substantial surrender costs and penalties, putting their principal and earned interest at risk.

Furthermore, many of these annuity plans are sold by brokers who are compensated handsomely for such purchases, potentially creating a conflict of interest. As a result, most insurance providers, as well as industry guidelines, agree that annuities for people over the age of 60 must be carefully tailored to their needs. The case claims that Defendants are aware of, or should be aware of, the fact that many of the financial products they market to seniors over the age of 60 are completely inappropriate for the demographic they are targeting, namely seniors. Banks or free estate, or financial planning workshops are often used to sell deferred annuities.

Who Is Qualified To File A Financial Abuse Lawsuit On Behalf Of Seniors And Elders?

The cases are intended to be filed as a class action. You may be entitled to bring or enter a case if you are 60 years old or older (at the time of purchase) and have bought an annuity from a bank or after attending an estate or financial planning seminar.

Fraudulent Investments in Annuities

If people (including the elderly) are sold the wrong form of an annuity, they can quickly become victims of annuity fraud. If you believe you have been a victim of annuity fraud, you can arrange a free, confidential consultation with one of our pre-screened California Business Law Attorney. We will discuss your situation with you and provide you with expert legal advice that will help you.

What are Annuities and How Do They Work?

Deferred Annuities, also known as Fixed Annuities, are long-term investments that typically ban or delay withdrawals for a period of 10 to 20 years. Early withdrawals from deferred or fixed annuities are often subject to exorbitant fees. When anyone buys this type of annuity, they pay a premium in exchange for a "rate of return" that is normally guaranteed for the first year. The minimum guaranteed rate of return normally decreases after the first year and remains low throughout the annuity's term. The delayed payment of the purchaser's money distinguishes deferred and fixed annuities from other types of annuities.

Furthermore, many of these annuities have policies and contracts that are designed to be perplexing. Unfortunately, this makes it possible for financial practitioners or agents to brush over or even ignore the technical specifics of various secret charges and fees.

Financial practitioners and annuity-issuing insurance providers are increasingly encouraging the increased selling of annuities to seniors and the elderly. Many senior citizens are enticed by the promise of predictable returns and "secure" investments, but the reality is that many long-term investments, such as annuities, are neither appropriate nor lucrative for them.

This is because elders may need unanticipated immediate access to their funds for a variety of expenses, medical emergencies, or other reasons. Since deferred and fixed annuities enable the elder to wait a long time to access their funds, elders who buy these annuities will not be able to access or use their funds when they are needed. Most tragically, many annuities do not authorize payouts or withdrawals until far beyond the life expectancy of the elderly purchaser.

What Makes Annuities Unsuitable For Seniors In California?

Annuities, life insurance policies, are typically designed to provide a return on investment after a long period of time, which can range from 10 to 20 years. Several of these annuities, particularly deferred annuities, can restrict a buyer's access to their initial investment paid for a long time.

If the annuitant wants to access his or her money during this period, he or she will be charged exorbitant and previously undisclosed surrender fees. Seniors are effectively trapped in deferred annuities as a result of these scenarios: they must either go without their money or pay exorbitant fees to access it. In the case of an unanticipated medical or financial emergency, this problem may be particularly devastating to seniors.

Another thing about annuities is that they typically pay out large commissions to the brokers who market them through banks or dubious "estate planning seminars." This increases the agent's desire to sell annuities and can create a conflict of interest when it comes to selling annuities to the elderly. Because of this possible conflict of interest, insurance firms and industries must specifically tailor their annuities to the needs of people over 60.

Defendants were supposed to have known or should have known about the unsuitability of the insurance policies targeted and marketed to seniors in previous litigation. This is why it is important to have an accomplished Business Law Attorney by your side.

Fraudulent Long-Term Care Insurance

Tax eligible (TQ) and non-tax qualified (NTQ) plans are the two major forms of private long-term care insurance policies available in the United States.

A person must be unable to per