We Practice Law for Your Peace of Mind

Smart Home may not be such a smart choice

Author: Hogan Willig

August 10th, 2014

In an era where getting the latest and greatest technology is of utmost importance, we must be conscientious to step back and analyze the implications of living life in such a way. Technology can and has undoubtedly allowed our world to make major advances in almost every field of study. Nevertheless, our technology-driven world can also have security consequences that can affect each of us. The most common place technology introduces itself is inside our homes; our supposed “safe place”. But just how safe is it?

Smart technology has evolved to let users control a number of functions remotely from a computer, tablet, or smart phone. It is typical for the connection to be made via the internet, which is often not secured. An unsecured connection allows not only your personal information to be accessible, but also opens the door for a potential hacker to steal your valuables and even your bank account. Many use the latest applications (apps) to do simple tasks such as turn on lights or adjust the thermostat, but are also able to perform security measures such as turning on the alarm system or checking a bank account, with the simple push of a button. These great conveniences can make individuals extremely vulnerable. It is easy to unknowingly trade security for convenience while using these applications.

This is not intended to dissuade people from using technology, but rather to urge safe practice when using these great advances. The Target scandal of 2013, where millions of customer’s credit cards pins were stolen, provides a cautionary tale. If it can happen to a large scale corporation that employs thousands to provide security, it can happen to you.

However, there are measures that consumers can take to make themselves less vulnerable to these security intrusions. It is in the best interest of those who employ many smart devices around their home to hire a computer technician to configure a network that is different from the one used by personal computers. This network can then be setup to only communicate with the smart devices through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN). For around a $75 dollar fee and an hour of their time, an individual can save themselves from the slew of headaches that can be the result of a hacker. A simple step that everyone can preemptively take is to make passwords longer and more complex. To do this successfully, a password should be 10 to 15 characters long, use capital and lower case letters, and include numbers as well as a special character (.!?&* etc.) This simple step can resonate through all online activity to constantly keep you safe from the smart world we live in.

Caution in Co-signing

Author: Hogan Willig

June 7th, 2014

Speaking from a recent graduate’s point of view, getting approved for a loan at my age, on your own is a tough venture. Many companies offer lower interest rates and better loan terms with a co-signer.  Co-signing is when a parent, or individual, agrees to guarantee a debt on the student’s behalf. This meaning that they will be responsible for making the loan payments if the student does not. Often times, this is the obvious answer. However, financial planners have cautioned millennials and their parents to think about the implications of co-signing first. Som Hanvanich, a financial planner in Kettering, Ohio, states, “Adult children should ask their parents to co-sign only if they absolutely need to, and parents should agree to co-sign only if they absolutely could afford to make the debt payments.”

There are a few things that should be discussed before becoming a co-signer. Before taking out a loan, the student should plan how the funds are going to be paid back. There should also be a plan in place if the student can’t make the loan payments.  Most importantly, parents are cautioned to consider other alternatives before settling on becoming a co-signer. It is important to keep in mind that once the student has a stable income, it is wise to remove the co-signer from the loan. Otherwise there may be severe consequences for the individual. A report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, found that if the co-signer dies or files for bankruptcy, the student could be responsible for making the remaining balance of the loan payment in full. Co-signing can surely help a student in need, just be sure to consider other options and consequences before making the decision.

So Let’s Talk Private Student Loans!!

Author: Hogan Willig

September 18th, 2012

The instant you realize that you are financially overextended the walls of your reality start closing in fast. The financial burdens begin to dramatically take effect and the weight of the debt and the pressures associated with creditor collection efforts start taking its toll on you psychologically, mentally and oftentimes physically. So whether you seek information out via the internet, talking to friends and family, or seeking legal advice…invariably you start exploring your options.

Usually no matter what age you are or your position in life, a portion of an individual’s debt structure includes student loans. Whether you are the student, perhaps a friend which is the cosigner of a student, or in all likelihood a parent of a student, student loans are customarily included within an individual’s debt portfolio.

When I meet potential clients to discuss their financial issues and explore bankruptcy relief as an option, before I begin to discuss the topic of student loans, the person I am meeting with will say, “Yes, I know student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, BUT I have a private student loan!”. I nod in agreement because generally, unless there is a finding of undue hardship, federal student loans are not subject to a bankruptcy discharge. These loans are customarily recognized as Stafford, Perkins, FFEL and Plus loans. To contrast those with private student loans which are commonly issued by banks, credit unions, and schools.

However what most people do not know is that in 2005

Helpful Tip If You’re Facing Foreclosure

Author: Bruce Ikefugi

November 18th, 2011

Our real estate department handles all types of real estate related matters, including foreclosures.  This might be an unpleasant task, however the local lenders we represent are very understanding and sympathetic to their borrowers’ plights.  I have had our banks agree to postpone actions and sales, and to work out payment plans, or allow a home to be sold for less than the loan amount very often.

New York State Real and Personal Property Exemptions bring in the New Year!

Author: Hogan Willig

January 14th, 2011

At the end of 2010, Governor Patterson signed a new bill into law which set realistic limits on the current levels of exemption values which will reflect today’s values and households and bring New York State into accord with other states exemption statutes. This law will be a welcome face lift to the current Debtor Creditor statutes and the Civil Practice Law and Rules!

Debt Collectors’ Hidden Agenda

Author: Diane Tiveron

June 24th, 2010

In today’s economy, Americans have struggled to make a decent income or keep their jobs at all, a situation several Western New Yorkers can sympathize with. Despite this sympathy, there are an abundant amount of large corporations in the Buffalo area that seem to be profiting off the economic misfortunes of others and, surprisingly, the culprits are the debt collectors that promise to help us out of debt in the first place.


We Practice Law for Your Peace of Mind