According to a post written by Metro Atlanta CEO

Attorney General Chris Carr is warning consumers about scams in which criminals pose as representatives of vacation travel agencies, title companies or escrow agents to trick timeshare owners into paying up-front fees for timeshare resales that never happen….

The Better Business Bureau serving Metro Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia recently announced it has received complaints alleging that a timeshare reseller calling itself “Escrow Corp of Georgia” is scamming consumers. There is a legitimate company called ESCROW CORP. OF GEORGIA, which has nothing to do with Escrow Corp of Georgia. The only difference in the company names is that the legitimate business’ name is capitalized and has a period following “CORP.”

Read more here

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I was so proud to see the photo of my Storiboard Nation team member, Vanessa Razo, along with her parents, at the polls where they voted as first-time voters. Yes, you read that right. This was the first time Vanessa and her parents have voted. Not because they didn’t want to vote in the past, or didn’t support previous candidates. It also wasn’t because they were lazy. They didn’t vote because they couldn’t.

It took Vanessa and her parents 23 years to finally become U.S. citizens and be granted the right to vote. That’s 23 years of working, paying taxes and positively contributing to society, while having to jump through years of bureaucratic red tape. They relocated to the United States in 1993 and have been trying every single day to fully take part in the American dream.

Most people think the path to citizenship is easy breezy, like going to get a driver’s license….You just show up, take a short test, smile for the camera, and if you pass the test then you say an oath and become a citizen. If you don’t pass, you just wait a few days and try again on whichever portion of the test you failed.

Not even close!

Well not for the vast majority of residents who spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours so that they can proudly say they are an “American”. For the small percentage of privileged individuals who somehow get their status fast-tracked, even their process isn’t done in one week–but let’s not even go down that path.

The citizenship process looks very simple on paper:

  • Step One: Find Out Whether You Are Eligible. The first question is whether you have a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence for on average 5 years). …Green cards cost $340-$1,500
  • Step Two: Overcome Barriers to Your Ineligibility. …
  • Step Three: File USCIS Form N-400. …Filing fee is currently $595.00 plus $85.00 biometrics fee
  • Step Four: Get Fingerprinted. …
  • Step Five: Attend a Citizenship Interview. …Which includes English (ability to speak, read, and write it) and an oral U.S. History and Government test (the test proctor selects the questions)
  • Step Six: Attend the Oath Ceremony….This is the step most of us witness through news coverage (which makes it look like a one-day process)

These six steps can take numerous years to complete. For Vanessa and her parents, it took 23 extremely long years. It was no cakewalk. They are fortunate to now be citizens and have full access to the systems, processes, and privileges that other Americans have. Sadly, they have other family members and friends who are still waiting for the day when they can become citizens. I too have friends who are waiting. Some have been waiting for over 25 years. They continue to work, pay bills, pay taxes, pay legal fees, and contribute to our economy, while they wait patiently.

I pray that the results from our recent election does not discourage or intimidate them. Instead, I hope that it helps them to passionately focus on making their dreams come true in the land that has provided them various options, opportunities, and freedoms that their birth country did not provide.

I pray that Vanessa and her parents become more engaged in the political process and encourage others to remain focused and get involved in making sure that this country remains the multicultural home of the free and the land of the brave!

If you know of anyone who is going through the green card and citizenship process, tell them to not lose hope, and don’t get distracted by what they see, read, and hear through media outlets and social media…or even narrow-minded politicians. Tell them to just dig in deep and remember why they are here and why they want so badly to become an American. Our country desperately needs those positive vibes!

~Natasha

Attorney Garrett Sutton shared ten rules for protective asset protection planning, so that your family and your business can be protected from creditors, lawsuits, judgments, and divorce. Sutton wrote that you should consider:

  1. Planning your strategy before you’re sued. It’s too late to try to protect your assets once a lawsuit is filed. But a strong protection structure can possibly deter lawsuits.
  2. Separate your personal and business assets. This is especially true for sole proprietors.
  3. It’s risky being a sole proprietor. If you own a business then you are personally sued and aren’t insulated by your business. Consider becoming an LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, or LLP.
  4. A partnership can mean double the risk. You can be held liable for what your partner does or doesn’t do. 
  5. Protect yourself by using a registered corporate entity for asset protection. Do research on forming or converting your company into an LLC, LLP, S-Corp, or C-Corp.
  6. Maintain annual requirements so that your legal protection remains intact. That means making sure you’re holding your annual meetings and keeping minutes, keeping your company assets separate from your personal assets, and not signing business documents in your name.
  7. Protect your business and real estate assets in a business entity. Consider putting your rental and investment properties in an LLC
  8. Have a comprehensive commercial insurance policy. This can help you keep your property rather than lose it in a court-ordered settlement.
  9. Use entities as a second line of defense. Just in case your insurance doesn’t fully protect you, using entities for asset protection could possibly save you the added headache.
  10. Avoid incorporation scams, like the “We can incorporate your business for $99”.

Take the time to do your research and make sure that you do your part to protect your personal and business assets. You never know when you can be the party in a lawsuit or on the end of a creditor’s wrath.