Request for Proposals

The Ventura County Law Library Board of Trustees is seeking an accounting firm to, on a contract basis, revise and update the Law Library’s financial procedures and processes. The Ventura County Law Library is a small government agency, created by statute and overseen by a board of 6 trustees. The Law Library is funded by court fees filed in Ventura County and receives annual revenue of approximately $550,000. The Law Library employs 6 people in one location.

By statute, Law Library funds are held by the County of Ventura, who provide basic accounts payable and receivable support in accordance with an MOU between the County and the Law Library.

Currently, the Law Library Director manages all aspects of the Law Library’s accounting using Excel. The Board and Director are seeking consulting to determine a more comprehensive technological solution for the Law Library’s financial management process; assistance in making sure the Law Library is following generally accepted accounting procedures; and advising related to properly showing the law library’s pension and other liabilities per the requirements of GASB statements 67 and 68.

Proposals will be accepted until December 1, 2016.

 

Please see the full RFP here: http://www.vencolawlib.org/beta/wp-content/uploads/VCLL-RFP-Accounting.pdf

 

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Voting Information and Guides

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Today is the last day to register to vote in CA! You can register online at the Secretary of State’s office.

Need help figuring out who to vote for? Need more information on all those propositions?

Ballotpedia is a nonpartisan organization that sticks to “just the facts” on national, state, and local elections.

The Ventura County Star is listing their endorsements here.

The Los Angeles Times has their endorsements in one place, too.

vote

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eCFR Information

We occasionally get asked for the Code of Federal Regulations. For those who are unfamiliar with this resource, the CFR is: “The codified version of the general and permanent rules and regulations published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the U.S. federal government. The CFR is organized into 50 titles which represent various subject areas.” (Per Hein Online.)

Cost and frequency of updates prohibit us from keeping it in print, but there are several ways to access it online. The Government Printing Office keeps an up to date version at: ecfr.gov. The site has several search options: you can search by title, or search inside the current CFR.

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Searching for older editions of the CFR or need to do research not enabled by the government’s official portal? Using one of the library computers you can access Hein Online, which has CFR documents dating back to its inception in 1938.

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When you select “Code of Federal Regulations” on the main Hein Online page, you are taken to a publication specific page that allows searching by text and citation, as well as locating by year, title, part, and section.

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The CFR collection in Hein is also able to be browsed by year, title, etc.. hein3

 

Again, Hein Online is available on any library computer. The next time you’re looking for CFR resources, stop by your local law library.

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Legal Aid Clinic at the Law Library Returns 9/6/16

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We are so excited to welcome back our volunteer attorneys in September. The clinic is first come, first served, and attorneys cover a wide variety of topics. From February to June, the clinic assisted over 200 people!

 

Interested in being a volunteer? Visit vclegalaid.org to get more information.

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Pleading Paper

We’ve had a few requests here recently for pleading paper. You may have seen pleading paper used before–it has a line of numbers down the left hand side, 1 through 28, and is used for legal filings.

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By far the easiest way to use pleading paper is to get it in a Microsoft Word Document format so that you can fill in your own details on a computer. The Ventura Superior Court makes a PDF version of pleading paper available on their website but it is not possible to fill it in on a computer.

We have made a Microsoft Word Document template of pleading paper available to download on our website.

The Courts’ PDF pleading paper, which cannot be filled in using a computer:  http://www.ventura.courts.ca.gov/local_forms/plead.pdf

Please be aware that different types of filings have different requirements for format, content, and length. Some resources for example filings can be found at the library in California Forms of Pleading and Practice, and in other books. The court self help center can also occasionally advise on filings.

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Free Credit Report

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Did you know that you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies [Equifax, Experian, & TransUnion]?

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You can order online from annualcreditreport.com [the only authorized website for free credit reports], call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.

To request your report online or on the phone, you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth when ordering your Credit Report. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address as well. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide credit reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

If you request your report online at annualcreditreport.com, you should be able to access it immediately. If you order your report by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228, your report will be processed and mailed to you within 15 days. If you order your report by mail using the Annual Credit Report Request Form, your request will be processed and mailed to you within 15 days of receipt.

Whether you order your report online, by phone, or by mail, it may take longer to receive your report if the nationwide credit reporting company needs more information to verify your identity.
But what about all those free credit websites?

Be aware that annualcreditreport.com is the only website that is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.

Annualcreditreport.com and the nationwide credit reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam. Forward any such email to the FTC at spam@uce.gov.

Are you concerned your identity may have been stolen? You should be aware of how to initiate a credit freeze.

Also known as a security freeze, this tool lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. That’s because most creditors need to see your credit report before they approve a new account. If they can’t see your file, they may not extend the credit.

A credit freeze does NOT:

  • Does not affect your credit score.
  • Prevent you from getting your free annual credit report
  • Keep you from opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance. But if you’re doing any of these, you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily, either for a specific time or for a specific party, say, a potential landlord or employer. The cost and lead times to lift a freeze vary, so it’s best to check with the credit reporting company in advance.
  • Prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. You still need to monitor all bank, credit card and insurance statements for fraudulent transactions.

How do I place a freeze on my credit reports?

Contact each of the nationwide credit reporting companies:

You’ll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. In California, a security freeze is free to identity theft victims who have a police report of identity theft. If you are not an identity theft victim and you are under 65 years of age, it will cost you $10 to place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus. That is a total of $30 to freeze your files. If you are not an identity theft victim and you are 65 years of age or older, it will cost you $5 to place a freeze with each of the three credit bureaus. That is a total of $15 to freeze your files.

After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.

How do I lift a freeze?

A freeze remains in place until you ask the credit reporting company to temporarily lift it or remove it altogether. A credit reporting company must lift a freeze no later than three business days after getting your request. The cost to lift a freeze varies by state.

If you opt for a temporary lift because you are applying for credit or a job, and you can find out which credit reporting company the business will contact for your file, you can save some money by lifting the freeze only at that particular company.

What if my identity has been stolen?

If you are a victim of identity theft, you should file a police report with the law enforcement agency closest to where you live.

Your local police or sheriff department must take an identity theft report if you have documents to show you were a victim. (California Penal Code Section 530.6)

When/if you go to the police station, bring supporting documents such as:

  • Copies of bills or collection notices
  • Credit reports with fraudulent charges
  • Bank or credit card statements

Make sure to write down the number on the police report. Your creditors may ask for the report number. Individual police departments have their own procedure for reporting identity theft.

Ventura Police Department Create an Online Identity Theft Report
Santa Paula Police Department Contact SPPD to file a report
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department (Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Thousand Oaks, and unincorporated areas) Contact the VCSD to file a report
Oxnard Police Department Contact OPD to file a report
Simi Valley Police Department Contact SVPD to file a report

 

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Winning the Lottery

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For Wednesday, February 11’s drawing, the Powerball has reached an incredible $485 million. Winning the lottery is a dream for many, but for some winners it’s been the cause of great misfortune, so much so that it’s believed there’s a “lottery curse.”

If your numbers come up tomorrow night, here’s a few articles with advice for you. The consensus is that the most important thing is to sign your ticket, and after that, to find reputable help–an accountant or tax lawyer–to plan out how you’ll get your money and what you’ll do with it. After that, the sky’s the limit…

Get some help with that payout.

12 Things not to do if you win the lottery

7 Money mistakes most lottery winners make

 

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Phone Scams


The library received a very interesting call the other day. A voice on the phone told us we were behind on our utility payments and if we did not send payment immediately, they would send someone to shut off our power. Those of you who have been to the law library might understand why this call was an obvious scam: we’re located in the Ventura County Government Center, a large complex with multiple buildings, and we don’t have a separate power supply from the rest of the building we are located in. However, the scammers were so rude, abrupt, and insistent that it’s easy to see why some people are intimidated into sending them money.

As tax season is among us, there will be an equivalent rise in the number of these scam callers claiming to be from the IRS, demanding payment by money order or credit card. Other callers pretend to be from the courts (the Superior Court of Ventura County warned about these scams last April) or the police department. Some even claim to be a relative in need of cash!

Things to remember, based on advice from fraud.org and local police departments:

  • Legitimate companies and government agencies will never ask for a money order or wire transfer;
  • If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a debt collector, ask for the person’s name and address, the company they represent and the original creditor (if indeed you have an outstanding loan). If they can’t provide this information, hang up;
  • If you’re concerned about the status of an unpaid debt, hang up and call the creditor back yourself at the phone number provided on your loan paperwork;
  • If the amount demanded is significantly more than the debt you owe, it’s probably a scam;
  • Check your credit report. If the debt the caller claims you owe is not listed on there, it’s probably a scam;
  • Don’t be intimidated if the debt collector is abusive or threatens legal action or arrest. Request that written notice of the debt be mailed to you and tell them that you do not wish to be contacted again about the debt. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector must respect this request.

Here’s where you can go to report these scams:

If you feel you are the victim of a crime please report it immediately to your local police department.

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Pneumatic tubes and other newfangled devices

Interesting news out of the year end report on the state of the Federal Judiciary from Chief Justice Roberts–

The Supreme Court will bypass the federal judiciary’s somewhat troubled electronic case-filing system in favor of its own, expected to come in 2016. But the chief justice’s accounting is perhaps most useful for what, with a bit of between-the-lines reading, it reveals about why, he admits, “the courts will often choose to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity.”

The history of the pneumatic tube and the Supreme Court’s slow adoption of it is discussed in the first few pages, making this anything but a dry read.

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Now Offering Westlaw Next

For the past few months VCLL has had access to Westlaw Next available to patrons and staff, and the response has been fairly positive. While change can be difficult, Next offers enough improvements and interesting features that the learning curve has not been as steep as some might have expected. Curious about how to use Next?

Hofstra Law Library recorded the following basic tutorial:

 

Next uses its single search bar to offer results without needing to narrow focus area. The search bar is powerful–it’s often compared to Google, and runs similarly. It can correct spelling, suggest search results, and picks up more results than ever before.

 

Stop by the Ventura County Law Library any time to test out Westlaw Next!

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