Scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the downtown library, the forum will focus on “Identity Theft and Scams: How to Avoid Them and What to Do If You’re A Victim,” according to Jack Tapper, a Cleveland attorney who coordinates the ongoing Legal Forum series.
As in many past forums — the most recent of which drew a huge crowd to hear discussion on reverse mortgages — Tapper will serve as moderator and panelist. He will be joined by Gary Cordell, director of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, and Wayne Carter, assistant district attorney for the 10th Judicial District.
The forum is open to the public and admission is free. Although seating is first-come, first-served, all who plan to attend are urged to contact the library at 423-472-2163, ext. 126, to assure space remains available in the library’s Community Room.
Panelists will debate a full gamut of scenarios involving identity theft, scams and cybercrime. Issues scheduled for discussion include used car scams, telemarketing ploys, fraudulent prize offers, Internet advertising and email scams that not only are phony but are designed to obtain personal identity information, Tapper explained.
The trio of experts also will explore “... the various and nefarious ways you become a victim of identity theft and what to do about it, and the protections available to consumers through the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act designed to give you relief from unfair and deceptive business practices.”
This points to the inclusion of Cordell and Carter in the informative, and in somes cases eye-opening, discussions set for the forum.
Cordell accepted his state post in the Gov. Bill Haslam administration in March 2011. He came from the private sector with years of experience in operations management, finance and staff development. Cordell previously served as the finance director with the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee. He also was chief operating officer at Clayton Associates, a Venture Capital firm, and served as president of Cherokee Equity Corporation. Both are Tennessee companies.
He is a member of the Student of Integrity Scholarship Committee with the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee, and is a past chairman of the BBB’s board.
Carter’s participation on the panel will update audience members on types of identify theft crimes and scams. He is expected to discuss how the judicial district prosecutes these types of crimes while also briefing listeners on the range of legal penalties for convictions. The 10th Judicial District includes Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties.
“As director of the Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division in the Attorney General’s Office, panelist Gary Cordell has extensive experience in dealing with the kinds of complaints filed in his office and the latest fraudulent schemes hoisted upon the public and how to avoid them,” Tapper said. “As assistant district attorney for Bradley and surrounding counties, Wayne Carter knows what is happening in our community involving identity theft and fraud, and how to spot it.”
The coming Legal Forum not only will prove informational, it will open some eyes on the frequency of these types of crimes and who they are targeting, Tapper cited.
“The public will be surprised that victims are not only those who are in the senior citizen category, but also the young people not paying attention to the alerts surrounding their everyday experiences,” the forum’s moderator cited. “We hope this forum will help all who attend to better understand how to spot, confront and guard against fraudulent schemes and theft of their identity.”
Like past forums, the coming one will be informal and will be presented in a people-friendly approach, Tapper said. Audience members will be given the chance to participate and to interact with panel members in a question-and-answer session, he explained.
“This is the public’s chance to find out what everyone needs to know about the kinds of scams that are circulating,” Tapper noted. “Those in the audience will learn how to identify scams, what to do about them, and maybe most importantly, how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.”
Tapper will present an overview of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act “... that will enlighten consumers on protections available to fight against business people who fraudulently misrepresent their product and services.” He added, “Our panelists will show how to protect your credit report.”
One of the forum’s focal points will be to help audience members understand how to sniff out trouble.
“As always, this will be a great opportunity for all who attend to sharpen their skills and to raise awareness so they don’t fall for fraudulent schemes that leave them bewildered and drained of hard-earned money,” Tapper stressed.
In keeping with the tradition of the Legal Forums, panelists will not attempt to recruit business nor will they make suggestions nor legal recommendations on specific personal cases. Their purpose will be to provide accurate information in an unbiased format.
“We’re looking forward to an enthusiastic turnout as part of an ongoing public service project of our Bradley County Bar Association to support ‘equal access to justice’ for all citizens,” Tapper said.
Community Legal Forum panelists participate as unpaid volunteers. The forums are part of an educational series on legal topics of interest to the public. The forums are sponsored through the Bradley County Law Library Commission in partnership with the Bradley County Bar Association and the Cleveland Bradley Public Library.
The three-member Law Library Commission is comprised of representatives from the public library, the local Bar Association and the Bradley County Commission.