Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Twitter can be an ugly place for women

We know that largely it is the bad guys who seem to get more press than those who are doing good. The people just going about their daily chores, minding their business, who have made some online connections, share a few photos and stories on social media, who are not on the public radar, are not immune to cyberbullies and trolls. But for anyone who has been in the #trending box or has had any sort of celebrity whatsoever -- these are the people who especially seem to attract the worst of the worst. Or you just have to be a female.

This story was recently shared by my media colleague +Alex Ruiz on Facebook:

It doesn't take much to elicit the ire of a troll. You only have to exist. And for some, if you're female, you are all that is wrong with the world. I guess these trolls must really hate their mothers.

You don't have to "feed the troll" to fight back. In fact, even a troll will admit that any response from his or her target will act as rocket fuel. Expect the abuse to lock into higher gear.

When the tweets get to the point that they are libelous or they egg on criminal behavior, what you can do is document every post with their Twitter handle beside it. Keep a detailed file and make two copies: one for you and one for your police report for when the abuse crosses the line from pure hatred to actual threats. Include any of their Twitter buddies who favored, replied, or shared their hateful tweets (with their Twitter handles), then go back and report and block all of their sorry little asses.

If there are too many, find someone to assist you or hire someone to take that task off your hand. The last thing you should do is close your Twitter account. I just want to scream when people do that. It means you let those bastards win. When one troll wins, they all win.

Although police departments are not necessarily equipped with the ability to fight Internet crime, or know what it is, still file a police report when it truly crosses the line to cyberbullying or you feel physically threatened. Having a police file number is a bit like a security blanket. Even if the police don't pursue the case, that piece of paper validates your experience, if nothing else, for yourself.

It's also good for you to know that some trolls are being jailed for their behavior. It doesn't mean they're sorry, but it does mean the laws are changing to your favor.

Hold your head high and spit in the trolls' direction. One of the best empowering tools comes from +Jimmy Kimmel Live with his Mean Tweets. There are others, but it is so important not to let a troll draw you into becoming like them.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When You Truly Can't Repay A Debt, Know Your Rights

You're one of the millions who were affected by the 2009/2010 economic fallout that suffocated the United States, and was felt by some industries in Canada. Then Canada spiraled into a recession.

Because things were great just prior to the downfall, your business was riding high. You had credit at your fingertips and things looked pretty rosy. Then all of a sudden, the shit hit the fan and you either lost your business or your job. Saddled with debt you were able to manage with the previous income, you now have no way to pay it back.

If you're over 50, well, you know the drill. Finding work that resumed the same kind of income you had has been sketchy. Maybe you found some piecemeal jobs to put food on the table and pay rent, but with very little left over to manage your bills. All your bills have gone to collections.

Some of your collectors were sympathetic to your plight, so even if you could only pay $25 every other month, it was something and it showed you were trying. Others were relentless to the point of abuse -- and some may have broken the law.

Maybe you already had a bankruptcy under your belt from decades prior and you don't have the money now to pay the larger fees required to file a second one.

No matter how hard you work to try and find the income, after downsizing, borrowing more, you can't make it work. Your only option is to ignore the debt. The collection calls continue and so does the abuse.

Years pass. Maybe you've moved or your house was foreclosed. Either way, you've had a break from the constant reminder. The calls have stopped. Then all of a sudden, a there is a knock at the door, or you learn that a bailiff wants to serve you a judgement order on a debt that is over two years old.

There is a statute of limitations

Check your province or state. In Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, there is a two-year statute of limitations. That means creditors are prohibited from legally suing you for unsecured debt.

Where some people screw this up is when they acknowledge the debt in writing, such as an emailed response to a creditor who decides to hound you electronically. The statute of limitations is in effect right after the last payment or acknowledgement of the debt. So if someone approaches you after two years or however long the limitation is in your area: shut up. Don't respond. Don't acknowledge. If they come to your door, don't accept the paperwork, don't even acknowledge your name. Bid them good day and shut the door.

They are not able to collect the old debt from you, even if you now have the money to pay it. Yes, it is up to the debtor to remove any of rotten credit from your report. But face it. Your credit is bad whether you pay it or not. Paying it doesn't make it miraculously disappear from your credit report.

If it seems that your debt has resurfaced and the collection process has started all over again, after the two years have expired, that probably means your debtor has illegally sold your debt to a third-party debtor.

When your debt gets to the collection stage, most states and provinces have similar legislation as to the personal conduct of a collector. In today's digital world, your debtor may even take to extremes and troll your social media accounts, publicly disclose your debt, and bully you. This is illegal.

Know your rights.