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Lawyers, Privacy, Both Worth Researching

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RALEIGH — Whether you are in a car accident, have problems with a home you just built, or are in a marriage that just is not going to make it, eventually, you may find yourself in need of an attorney.

Finding the right one, though, is not always easy.

A quick search of the North Carolina State Bar's Web site gives you specialists certified in specific areas, such as bankruptcy estate planning and family law.

The Bar's Web site also lists disbarments, suspensions and other disciplinary actions taken against lawyers.

The offenders are listed by both date and name, and explanations are included, so you can check out an attorney before hiring one.

While you may or may not need an attorney, your privacy is always a concern. You may not be aware of a new federal law, but chances are, you have been getting mail about it.

A lot of us have received notices in the mail lately, and have may have even thrown them away thinking they were junk mail, but if you do not act on these notices soon, more of your private information could be freely handed out.

The notices are the result of a new law which requires those institutions to send us their privacy policy, along with instructions on how to keep them from sharing our personal information with others.

Some ask you to mail in a card, while others list a toll free number. If you ignore the notices, the institutions can share information about your account, where you shop, and even information from your credit report with other companies.

If you threw away the notices by mistake, you can still "opt out" and get off all those pre-approved credit card mailing lists by calling the 800 number on your credit card or bank statement. You do have to contact each one individually.

Another way to limit some of the information sharing by credit-bureaus is to call a hotline number. That number is 888-567-8688. You will be sent a short form to fill out and return.