The inventiveness of the human mind is a wonderous and wonderful phenomenon. There truly is no limit to people’s creativity in all fields, including the sciences, medicine, business, and the arts. And crime. 1 Add a pandemic – plus social media and the internet – to the mix and the opportunities to exploit others’ physical, psychological, and financial fears compound and continuously evolve. 2
How to prevent becoming a victim and suffering losses accordingly? (Much of the following is common-sense, which is good.) Let us start with the basic legal concept “Caveat emptor“, which translates from Latin to “Let the buyer beware“. And moves from a legal concept to what our elders taught us, “If it seems too good, it probably is.“
President Ronald Reagan stated our country must “Trust, but verify” 3 in regards to the foreign affairs of his day. In today’s particular period of history, however – and unfortunately, the President’s saying should be updated (hopefully only temporarily) to “Do not trust, and verify.” (Time will tell the duration of that unfortunate perspective.)
To implement that verification approach – which by the way also reflects a proactive risk management approach to avoiding fraud and scams), start by avoiding:
- Unsolicited calls, texts, e-mails, or ‘snail mail’ promoting medical safeguards
- Unsolicited similar outreach promoting financial, business, and insurance ‘opportunities’
- Infomercials for the same sorts of products and services
And be wary, as always, of unsolicited contacts (‘phishing expeditions’) requesting personal and private information, such as social security information, bank account and credit card numbers, e-mail and postal addresses, birthdates, and similar information about family members and work associates. information. Let us try a simple ‘rule’ on this topic: If you would not write the same data on a card and post it publicly, do not share it with unknown inquirers – no matter how worthy they may present themselves.
Please note the repeated use of ‘unsolicited’ above. That was intentional. It indicates one must be wary of delving into the unknown. It does not mean to avoid interacting with known sources. For example, one’s actual doctor, banker, accountant, or financial advisor. If they offer preventive tools to mitigate against pandemic-related risks, certainly ask questions and independently investigate (aka conduct ‘due diligence’) to ascertain your comfort level with the naturally inherent risk in every investment of time and resources (and body, mind, and spirit). And once satisfied with the quality of the offering, proceed cautiously but accordingly. That is how those people became your advisors in the first place, by proving the merit and value of their advice.
What if you, unfortunately, find yourself the victim of a scheme? There are a variety of governmental agencies available to assist. It is important to avail yourself of those resources at the first indication of a potential problem.
Here is a list of Federal and Florida agencies (plus one private agency) which can offer help and support:
- Federal Trade Commission or 877-FTC-HELP
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- FBI – Internet fraud
- FBI – Elder fraud
- Florida Attorney General
- Florida A.G. – Senior Protection Team
- Florida Chief Financial Officer
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Better Business Bureau
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with your inquiring of the agencies above before you engage in a pandemic-related preventive service. In fact, there is nothing wrong – actually it is a ‘best practice’ – to ‘take a breath’ (figuratively, of course), carefully consider your wants, needs, risk tolerances, and ability to absorb a loss, conduct your diligence, and then proceed once you are at peace with your decision.
One more thing. – Even after you move forward, be sure to actively monitor the outcomes, and prepare yourself to act flexibly and quickly if the good or service purchased does not produce the predicted result, for the anticipated cost, in the intended time-frame. Truly you do it all the time – you take an aspirin (or whatever NSAID you prefer), know its cost, and understand how long it typically takes to take effect. In the end, that is what is to be done in these situations, as well.
One. More. Thing. Bogin, Munns & Munns has undertaken to assist businesses who have potential business interruption insurance claims. 4
For information about Bogin, Munns & Munns’ response to Coronavirus readiness.
Note: Citations are given to the sources to respect the original authors’ copyrights.
1 For a few examples see https://www.boginmunns.com/?s=scams.
2 For information about the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic see https://www.boginmunns.com/?s=covid.
– For more information, call Philip N. Kabler of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns at 352.332.7688, where he practices in the areas of business, banking, real estate, and equine law. He has taught business and real estate law courses at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration and Levin College of Law and is the President-Elect of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.
NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.