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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
April 15, 2019

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 9 Issue 4; April 2019


This is our monthly newsletter. We publish this for the benefit of FALDP members, legal document preparers, and friends. Published monthly since May, 2010


Announcements

Early Membership Renewal

Membership renewal is discounted through April 30th. Renew your membership by April 30, and pay only $55. On May 1, the early renewal fee increases to $65. and on June 1 increases to our regular rate of $75. *Remember, all members except for those who joined in March or April need to renew no later than July 31. On August 1, members who did not renew are removed from our roster and their information is removed from our site.

When you renew your listing goes up higher on the page. First come first served.


*A few members' membership fees are waived. These are members who registered for our last conference during our flash sale last year.


10th Annual Conference

Mark your calendar! This year on Saturday, September 14, 2019 we are hosting our 10th Annual FALDP Conference. We are celebrating our journey – where we started, where we are now, and where we're going – as a group, as document preparers and as business owners. The FALDP mission is a journey. We have only begun, there is much to do. We hope that the confidence gained through education and knowledge will empower consumers, so they may have a fighting chance to enforce or pursue their rights in a court of law.

It's not about the destination, but the joy of the journey.


  • When & Where: Our conference will be at the Fountain Beach Resort in Daytona Beach on September 14, 2019 – 9:00 – 5:00. Fountain Beach Resort is located at - 313 S Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118 Details of our agenda will be posted soon.

  • Cost - $95. for the conference.

  • Accommodations at the Fountain Beach Resort will be discounted to only $69. per night for conference attendees.

  • The conference registration form is up on our Annual Conference Page. Space is limited so register early!

    To mark the special occasion as our 10th Annual Conference, we're adding another event. Please come if you can. On the evening of September 13, 2019 we're inviting all conference attendees to join together for a dinner cruise on the Halifax. Cost is $29.95 per adult, discounts for children. Please visit the Dine and Cruise website for full details and to make your reservations independently.

    Please visit the Riverboat Cruise site to make your reservations and learn more.

    From the Riverboat Dine and Cruise Site:

    We will be doing a 2 hour dinner and river cruise on our beautiful Paddle Wheel Boat. Dinner is served ON the boat. The boat will leave promptly at your scheduled cruise time so please arrive between 45 minutes to 1 hour BEFORE your scheduled cruise to check in. LARGE GROUPS should come 1 and 1/2 Hours and ALL TOGETHER to check in if you want to sit all together. We begin boarding 1/2 hour before.There is NO reserved seating. It is FIRST come FIRST serve. IF YOU ARE NOT THERE IN TIME, THE BOAT WILL LEAVE WITHOUT YOU AND THERE ARE NO REFUNDS FOR MISSED CRUISES.

    UNLIMITED SOFT DRINKS ARE INCLUDED WITH DINNER. THERE is a full CASH BAR on board..Our address is Halifax Harbor Marina 125 Basin St. Suite 140, Daytona Beach, FL 32114


    Reminders

    FALDP logo: As of our last conference in October we decided that all members who have a website are required to display the FALDP logo on their sites. We are making a special marketing effort to distinguish FALDP members from document preparers who are not FALDP members. The goal is to show the world that FALDP members are the best possible choice for document preparation.

    Maintaining FALDP Certification – FALDP Certified members please make sure you have earned at least 10 CEU's prior to renewing your membership. We have always had this as a requirement, but have not fully enforced it until now. A list of ways to earn Continuing Education Units (CEU's) is on our site here - Certification Information. We also allow members to earn CEU's through activities related to our industry outside of our association. These can include attending conferences, webinars, etc; and public speaking.

    Business presence in Florida - Members who are not physically in Florida are required to maintain a business presence in Florida. This means if you are physically located out of state, you must either form a Florida corporation or Florida LLC, or register as a foreign entity. We check upon renewal, please make sure you're in compliance before you renew.


    Additions to our site

    We've added a couple of additions to our site. The first one is the addition of a new designation and badge that members can have placed alongside their listings on the county membership directory. In the coming months we'll be adding the designation to member's county listings who meet all criteria.

    Blue Ribbon A+ Badge

    As members renew, we're going through a checklist to see if we can add the Blue Ribbon A+ badge to their membership listing. All of the criteria must be present in order to display the badge, which members can also add to their sites.

    In order to display the badge with your member listing, you need to have all of the following in place:
  • Have a business website. A business Facebook page, or a Mini-page on our site, are good to have, but do not count as websites.
  • Pricing transparency. Display pricing on your website. At minimum, display a price range for a certain type of document preparation. For example - divorce document preparation $200 - $450. depending on your situation.
  • logo displayed on site – preferably on home page or About Us page. Preferably at least 200 x 200 pixels; or the same size or larger than any other membership logos displayed. (Displaying our FALDP logo on your site became mandatory as of our conference in October 2018).
  • Have a listing in the FALDP Member Directory - a place holder that we put up that shows only your contact information is not enough.
     
  • Knowledge of the forms you prepare and next steps.
  • Clear policies posted on your website, in contract, and/or posted in their office. To include turn around time frame, refund policy, disclaimers, etc.
  • Physical address or PO Box posted somewhere on your site.
  • Information about business structure – corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or limited liability company.
  • Site is in English or primarily in English. If in another language, either translated on the site or a translate this page button appears.
  • If a Certified Member - up to date on all CEU's.
     
  • Completed Avoid UPL! course and reviewed the course material at least once every year.


  • This becomes official when our renewal period began (early renewal began April 1), and as we update the membership listings if you have all of these things in place, the A+ Blue Ribbon badge will be added to your listing.

    Spanish Speaker Directory

    We added a sign up sheet inside the Members Only area where Spanish speakers can sign up to be included on the Spanish Speaker's Directory.We only have a few listed, so Spanish speakers, what are you waiting for? A simple way to increase your business exposure. If you've forgotten the login for the Members Only, just send an email to request it.


    Mandatory Course - Avoid UPL!

    Most members have completed this course by now. If you have not yet taken this course, please do so as soon as possible. This is a Members Only course. If you did not purchase this course when you joined, you can register and pay for it inside the Members Only area.Any member who has not taken this course by renewal time, will be required to pay for it a second time. Yes, this is a penalty. This course was designed to protect our members from falling into the vast sea of nothingness and confusion, also called a UPL investigation.

    Watch the updated course video: Avoid UPL! Course information and make sure you've taken the course! Members who joined on or before January 2018 paid the course fee at the time of joining. Many other members have taken the course throughout the year. But, some haven't. Those of you who may have joined or renewed during a special may not have paid for the course. And some of you did pay, but have not completed it. This course is NOT included in our Buy One Get One course special.

    UPL Alert!#@&!????

    So now the Florida Bar is demanding that a Florida document preparer remove the scales of justice from her site, claiming that the image might make consumers believe she is an attorney. This, despite the multiple disclaimers, clearly stating that she is NOT an attorney. Do you think the Florida Bar owns this symbol? Owns justice? Do you think we might characterize their stance as arrogant, or over reaching, or out of line ... or all of the above.

    Feature Article:

    Leaving Paypal Behind

    I used Paypal for years (since 2010) for both of my online businesses. Simple to set up. Good name recognition. For the occasional customer who preferred not to pay through Paypal, I made other payment arrangements. I lived through the high fees – 2.99% + .30 per transaction as a trade off for the convenience and name recognition.

    During all of those years, I had exactly one chargeback on one of my Paypal accounts. It probably was an unauthorized charge, because I finally realized that my customer must have been using a family member's card without permission. The family member, I think it was her aunt, realized what her niece had done and complained to her bank. I did the work and lost the money. The amount was $240. which is below my threshold to file a claim in small claims. And, since this was a one time occurrence in over eight years, I let it go, and continued business as usual.

    Business as usual continued until January 24, 2019, when I received a notice of an unauthorized charge on one of my Paypal accounts. I had prepared and sent documents to this customer, and she hadn't contacted me since. I assumed all was well. And it was. I called my customer and asked about her making the unauthorized charge complaint, and she immediately realized that she had made an error. For whatever reason, she didn't recognize the charge on her statement and had disputed it.

    My customer immediately contacted her bank to tell them of her error, and that she did not mean to report the payment as unauthorized. The payment was reversed and redeposited to Paypal, The amount was debited from her account. And then the fun began. I had swept the payment from my Paypal account into my bank account before my customer had erroneously reported the unauthorized charge. Paypal put my account in the negative and added a $20 chargeback fee. I started receiving collection calls from Paypal. I explained the situation each time. Each time the collector said that I needed to deposit money into Paypal because my account was negative. I explained again each time. The collectors would tell me that they would send my account to a third party collection agency or use the payment method on file. The payment method on file was my business bank account. The Paypal system would not let me unlink my business account. I told the last Paypal collector that I didn't want any more calls from Paypal and to send me whatever they wanted in writing. They said they didn't send things in writing. I said, ok, then quit calling me. I told them I was asserting my rights under the Fair Debt and Collection Practices Act. They said they never heard of it, but they quit calling. I closed my business account when I realized that according to Paypal's terms of service they can reach into my bank account.

    Finally, in the first week of April I received a Paypal notice saying the matter had been resolved. By then I had long since changed to another payment system. I tried Stripe briefly, but they changed their pay out schedule from two days to five days without warning.

    So I kept looking. I contacted my bank and was referred to TSYS.

    I'm a happy customer. And here's why:

  • Customer Service – I have an account representative who is there to help me all along the way. He has proven that he can and will help solve any issues, whether it is putting me in touch with the right tech support person or answering my questions.

  • Price – I am paying less and getting more. A lot less … a lot more.

  • Versatility - I can now accept ACH payments; take payment over the phone; and accept types of cards I never could before. TSYS can set up a system for completely online payments, face to face, or whatever meets your needs.

  • Professionalism – Let's face it, taking payments through Paypal or one of the other money transmitters does not exude professionalism or stability. Your customers' impressions of your business will improve when you use a professional merchant account such as TSYS.

  • See … my story DOES have a happy ending. Contact me, Ruth Tick, 800-515-0496 or staff@faldp.org so that I can tell you the rest of the story, and put you in touch with my awesome account representative to answer all of your questions. Be sure and tell him I sent you.


    Have you signed?

    Please sign and share!

    We have 427 signatures - help us reach 500!

    Slowly but surely, we're reaching our goal. Never forget about the story of the tortoise and the hare. FALDP published a petition asking the Florida Bar to do the following:

    1. Investigate UPL when there is consumer harm. Not when there is "potential" harm.

    2. If the Florida Bar demands that we follow their rules, make those rules clear, and set out in a fashion in which document preparers can easily find and refer to the rules.

    3. Lighten up on the investigation of document preparers altogether. We feel we are being bullied and harassed by an entity that does not supervise us. The Florida Bar is authorized to investigate UPL, but putting document preparers out of business is counter productive all around.

    4. Give us some recognition for what we do. We are part of the solution to the ongoing justice gap. Until consumers are being served fully, there is no need for us to be perceived as a threat to lawyers.

    The petition would not embed in this newsletter, here is the link to the change .org petition Every signature counts. We now have over 427 signatures. Please keep signing and sharing. Here are some of the comments:

    "Many people need help in the courts and cannot afford a huge retainer fee just to get any kind of justice."

    "Stop beating on the little people in the business,

    "Because most lawyers are greedy money hungry feet dragging blood sucking judgemental holier than thou wankers..
    "Attorneys are very expensive and there are many things that can be handled by an individual if they have the right forms."

    Slowly ... but surely, we'll reach our goal. Who won the race? The tortoise or the hare?


    FALDP Private Facebook Group

    About one third of our membership has joined the FALDP private Facebook group. We created it to make it easier to interact with each other. So far, people have given work referrals to one another; asked questions to the group; received help in locating a form; and discussed various issues. If you're working toward FALDP Certification, you earn one CEU just by joining the group. So, what are you waiting for? Look for the private group after going to the official FALDP Facebook page at FALDP,LLC on Facebook.

    Certification Reminder

    Don't forget. To earn and maintain your FALDP Certification you need to complete at least 10 CEU's per year. CEU's can be earned in a variety of ways:

  • Complete FALDP online courses;
  • Comment on FALDP videos;
  • Post on FALDP Facebook page;
  • Attend the Annual FALDP Conference;
  • Attend conferences and seminars related to our industry;
  • Answering questions on our "Ask the Members" forum;
  • Assist FALDP by translating web pages, answering the 800#, spotting errors on our site;
  • Designing and creating a fund raiser for the FALDP Foundation, Inc.
  • Other activities that you suggest




  • Virtual Providers

    We posted a video within the Members Only about becoming a Virtual Provider. The Virtual Provider designation is an upgrade to your membership. For just $30 annually your information and services can be displayed in 66 of the 67 Florida counties. We exclude Miami-Dade because of their local form requirement, and the difficulty in serving consumers virtually there. If your business model includes assisting consumers over the phone and over the internet, advertising your services as a virtual provider will expand your reach and increase your income. Become a Virtual Provider here. Virtual provider status runs with membership, the time lines are the same. We will send invoices to current Virtual Providers in June.


    Member's Announcements & Contributions

    Have something to share?

    We accept member's announcements and appreciate your contributions. If you have an announcement about your business, an expansion of services, moving your offices, or winning awards, please send us the information and we'll include it in our newsletter. Your announcement needs to be pertinent to your business, we are unable to include announcements about other trade associations, clubs or groups.

    If you would like to write an article, editorial, opinion piece, or web page please let us know. We are always in need of fresh information and insights.


    Don't have a site yet? Try Monarch Web Strategies

    Horizon Research Network is one of our associated sites that includes our design services. We build business websites for FALDP members for only $500, which includes your domain name and first month's hosting. And, have you seen our whiteboard animations? We do those too! Contact us for a custom quote.
    FALDP Contact Information:
    Main number – (941)237-0951
    Toll free - (800)515-0496
    Email – staff@faldp.org

    PLEASE LINK YOUR SITE TO WWW.FALDP.ORG
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