News, Events & Publications

Consumer Tips to Avoid The Cold This Winter

The MA Attorney General’s Office recently released some tips to help protect consumers from common winter woes. Here are some key things you should know:

  • From September 16 through June 14, apartments need to be kept at a minimum temperature during certain times of the day:
    • 7 am – 11 pm: 68 Degrees
    • 11 pm – 7 am: 64 Degrees
  • If you are behind on your utility bills, you have a right to stay warm if:
    • You or someone in the home is seriously ill;
    • A child under 1 year old lives in the home;
    • Everyone in the home is over 65; or
    • You can demonstrate that you cannot afford to pay your utility bill.
  • Landlords are required to clear ice and snow from entry areas for apartments. However, tenants may be required by their lease to clear ice and show from walkways that lead only to their rental unit.

For more information, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer, and you think your rights have not been protected, please call us today at 617-742-0625 or submit an online request.  We make referrals to attorneys who practice in a variety of consumer protection areas.

Bankruptcy Scam Alert from the Attorney General

Massachusetts Attorney Genera Maura Healy has warned consumers of a new scam that targets those that have filed for bankruptcy or have begun the process of filing for bankruptcy.   In this scam, the scammer may pose as an attorney and instruct the consumer to wire funds, claiming it will satisfy their debts outside of having to file for bankruptcy.

The fraudulent callers often use personal information to make the scheme sound more authentic, even making their phone number appear to be that of the consumer’s actually attorney on caller ID.

The full details of the scam can be viewed here.

Consumers who receive these calls are advised to hang up and contact their bankruptcy attorney.   Here are some tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Remember that a bankruptcy attorney will never request an immediate wire transfer payment.
  • Ask questions that are difficult for the scammer to answer or verify.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone to callers.
  • Get in touch with your bankruptcy attorney and discuss further ways to avoid this scam.

If you or someone you know needs to speak with a lawyer, please contact the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or fill out an online request form.

‘Tis the season…for identity theft

As technology advances, the risk of identity theft to consumers grows. There are practical steps you can take to protect yourself online, such as regularly changing your account passwords and downloading information only from trusted sources.

But during the holiday season, shoppers are exposed to threats beyond their control. In 2013, a massive data breach between Thanksgiving and Christmas may have impacted as many as 100 million shoppers at Target. In a class action lawsuit against the company, 40 million people claimed to have had their personal information stolen by hackers.

If you are a victim of fraud, you have rights under the law. Our lawyers can help you navigate the path ahead if your identity becomes compromised.

If you need more information, or would like to speak with a lawyer, please contact the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or fill out our online request form.

Is Limited Assistance Representation a Good Option For You?

If you need help with a particular part of your case, such as filing a specific paperwork, or appearing at a certain hearing, a Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) Certified Attorney might be a good option to explore.   When you hire an attorney for Limited Assistance Representation, you hire them for the part of your case you need help with, rather than the entire case.  This may be an affordable option and alternative to traditional representation.  In Massachusetts, Limited Assistance Representation in the followings courts:

  • Probate & Family Court
  • Boston Municipal Court
  • Housing Court
  • Land Court

If you are looking for a lawyer that is LAR Certified, please call us today at 617-742-0625 or submit an online request to reach us.

If you are an attorney, and are looking to become LAR Certified, please find out more about the Boston Bar Association’s training series on Limited Assistance Representation here.

For even more information, check out the answers to some frequently asked questions from the Massachusetts Court System website, located here.

Legal Resources for Military Members, Veterans & Their Families

As we celebrate Veterans Day in November, many people turn their thoughts to the current and former members of the U.S. armed services.

Often, lengthy deployments result in financial hardship for servicemembers and their families.  For others, transitioning back to civilian life poses unique challenges.  Fortunately, help is available.  If you are (or a family member is) a veteran or on active duty and need legal assistance, we can help put you in touch with legal expertise in areas such as:

  • Bankruptcy,
  • Consumer debt & credit,
  • Disability benefits,
  • Domestic relations,
  • Labor and employment,
  • Trusts & estates,
  • Landlord/Tenant,
  • And more

If you need more information, or would like to connect with a lawyer please contact the Military & Veterans Legal Help Line which is housed at the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or fill out our online request form.  Please indicate your military affiliation when contacting us, so our intake specialists make the most accurate referral.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Throughout the U.S, October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which recognizes the women, men, and children who are impacted by domestic violence each year.

Those who are experiencing domestic violence have rights, and are protected under the law.  If you, or someone you know needs legal assistance related to domestic violence, the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service can help. We can refer you to an experienced lawyer that practices family law and has represented survivors of domestic violence.  Our lawyers can also help with filing restraining orders.  If you need more information, or would like to speak with a lawyer, please contact the Boston Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or fill out our online request form.

For more information about restraining orders, check out our news item on this topic, located here.

Home Care Workers Win Basic Wage Rights

With a landmark ruling from the DC Court of Appeals, home care workers will now be covered under federal wage and overtime rules. This means that the majority of the home care workers in the nation will have many new rights including:

  • Minimum wage;
  • Overtime payment; and
  • Travel time pay.

If you have any issues with your employer or have questions about your labor rights, it’s best to speak with an attorney. The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service can help. We refer callers to experienced attorneys, and have been a trusted public resource for over 60 years. To connect with us, you make speak directly with the intake staff by calling 617-742-0625, or by submitting an online request.

Important Things to Know about Landlord Rights & Responsibilities

September brings in new tenants for many landlords in the state. As a landlord, there are certain responsibilities that you should be aware of, but you also have certain rights and protections as well.   If you are having a problem with your tenants, it’s best to speak with a lawyer.

These are some issues that arise often for landlords:

  • The tenant has damaged or abandoned the apartment
  • The tenant is withholding rent and is claiming the unit is uninhabitable (bad conditions) or need repairs
  • Problems with fee agreements, such as:
    • Security Deposits
    • Rent issues (non-payment, rent increases, withholding rent)
  • You have been informed of your obligation to de-lead the apartment when there are children under 6 in the household
  • You are seeking to evict a tenant
  • There are issues surrounding a lease agreement (Tenant would like to terminate the lease, sub-leasing, etc.)

For more information about your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) has created a guide for landlords, which can be read here.

Please contact us at 617-742-0625 or submit an online request if you need to speak with a lawyer.  We make referrals to lawyers with flexible fees and payment plans.

Are you a tenant?  Read our post about Tenant rights!

Important Things to Know about Tenant Rights

September 1st is a big moving day around the state of Massachusetts.  It’s often a way for renters to have a fresh start in a new place, but it’s also time when tenants encounter issues with former and new landlords.  Just as renters have the obligation to follow the lease and pay the rent, landlords also have obligations. If you are having any problem with your landlord, it’s best to consult with an attorney.

Here are some issues that arise often for tenants:

  • Problems with fee agreements, such as:
    • Security Deposits
    • First month’s rent
    • Last month’s rent
    • Rent increases
  • The apartment is uninhabitable (bad conditions) or need repairs
  • The apartment has lead paint and there are children under 6 in the household
  • Housing Discrimination
  • The landlord enters the apartment without permission
  • Eviction Notices
  • Issues with the lease agreement; breaking the lease.

For more information about your rights as a tenant, The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) and the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has created two guides explaining your rights as a tenant before you move in and after you move in.

Please contact us at 617-742-0625 or submit an online request if you need to speak with a lawyer.  We make referrals to lawyers with flexible fees and payment plans.

Check back next week for a piece on Landlord rights!

 

Things to Know About Massachusetts’ New Paternity Leave Law

The new state law regarding Paternity Leave is big news for new parents in Massachusetts: now most employees across the Commonwealth are entitled to 8 weeks of unpaid parental leave. This new law is an update to the existing law that previously applied only to new mothers. The law now extends parental leave to new fathers and individuals adopting children. Here are a few helpful facts to know:

  • This law applies to businesses with six or more employees.
  • Parental leave does not just apply to having a newborn child: under the law, a parent can claim the parental leave for the adoption of a child under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if the child is mentally or physically disabled.
  • If you are going to be using parental leave, you must give your employer at least two weeks’ notice before you intend to leave your position, and also let them know when you intend to return.
  •  An employer can’t turn away an employee who has followed the rules and asks to return to their job following their leave – the employer must take back the employee in their previous position, or one of equal status and pay.

This new law provides a great opportunity for families to bond following the birth or adoption of a child.

If you are having issues with your employer regarding parental or medical leave, or as a small business complying with this new law, it’s best to speak to a lawyer. The Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service can help. We refer callers to experienced attorneys, and have been a trusted public resource for over 60 years. To connect with us, you may speak directly with the intake staff by calling 617-742-0625, or by submitting an online request.