scams http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/300/all en-US 5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018 http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/worried_unhappy_man_talking_texting_on_phone_displeased.jpg" alt="Worried unhappy man talking texting on phone displeased" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;">Tax season is underway. While no one really enjoys doing their taxes, everyone looks forward to getting a tax refund. It's no wonder why. According to the IRS, over 80 percent of tax returns resulted in a refund for tax year 2015. And the average refund was a whopping $3,120.</p> <p>However, all that money makes tax season one of the busiest times of the year for scam artists. Each year, criminals target taxpayers to steal their personal information or their tax refunds.</p> <p>Most scammers prey on vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or first-time tax filers, but anyone can be at risk. These are the top tax scams you should be aware of in 2018. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <h2>1. Threatening phone calls</h2> <p>A common tax scam involves aggressive phone calls. You'll receive a call &mdash; sometimes from a number that shows up on caller ID as from a Washington D.C. area code&mdash; and the person on the line will claim to be a representative of the IRS.</p> <p>They can be very convincing. They may know your full name, your mother's maiden name, and even the last few digits of your Social Security Number.</p> <p>That person will say you're behind on your taxes or filed a fraudulent return. They may threaten you with immediate arrest, going so far as to say police are on their way to your home. They'll say the only way to avoid jail is by making an immediate payment with a credit card over the phone.</p> <p>Know that the IRS does not communicate over the phone and does not threaten taxpayers with jail time. If there is a problem with your return, or if you do owe money, you will receive a notification in the mail. If you receive these calls, hang up right away.</p> <h2>2. Information phishing</h2> <p>Similarly, you may receive calls or emails from so-called IRS representatives or tax preparation software companies. They may claim that there's a problem with your return or refund and that they need to verify your information to fix the issue. They'll ask for personal information like your Social Security number, birth date, and place of employment. Then, they use that information to file a fraudulent return in your name to claim your refund.</p> <p>Remember, the IRS will only send you information through the mail. If you're unsure if an email is real, open up a new browser window and log into your account that way, or look up your tax preparer's phone number and call that person directly.</p> <h2>3. Requests for gift card payments</h2> <p>Another scam involves a call from an IRS impostor who claims that your return notification letter was returned as undeliverable. That person will tell you your bill is overdue and that you must make a payment immediately.</p> <p>Instead of asking for your credit card or personal information, they'll ask you to send them a prepaid gift card or debit card. Know that the IRS does not accept payments in this format.</p> <h2>4. Identity theft</h2> <p>Identity theft is a serious issue. You may think that canceling and replacing your credit cards is all you need to do, but the problem can be much more involved than you think. Thieves can use your personal information to submit a fraudulent tax return and collect your refund.</p> <p>If you went through any form of identity theft, or if your personal information was stolen, it's a good idea to place a fraud alert on your credit reports and notify the IRS. If you suspect tax-related identity theft &mdash; for example, when you try to file your return you get a notice that your return has already been filed &mdash; you'll need to fill out IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and follow the mailing instructions on the form.</p> <p>Moreover, it's a good idea to complete and submit your tax return as soon as possible to ensure thieves cannot submit a return in your name. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-you-should-file-your-taxes-as-soon-as-possible?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Reasons You Should File Your Taxes as Soon as Possible</a>)</p> <h2>5. Tax preparer fraud</h2> <p>Fraudulent tax prep &quot;professionals&quot; often advertise their ability to get you the largest refund possible. They do this by falsifying information on your return, such as adding nonexistent dependents, claiming credits or deductions you don't qualify for, and reporting incorrect income. They'll also typically base their rates off a percentage of your refund.</p> <p>The IRS encourages you to ask your tax preparer questions about anything suspicious or confusing, and to look into their credentials and certifications before agreeing to hand over your return. All legitimate tax preparers should have a PTIN (preparer tax identification number).</p> <p>It's important to carefully vet your tax professional and to closely look over any forms before signing. Regardless of whether you've been scammed or not, <em>you</em> will still be on the hook for any fraudulent information reported on your return.</p> <h2>Verifying any IRS activity</h2> <p>Some scam artists can be very convincing. If you're not sure whether it's a con or not, hang up or close your email. Call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040. You'll be connected with a real representative who can review your account and let you know if there's anything they need from you. They can also help you report any fraudulent activity or scams.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%2520Tax%2520Scams%2520You%2520Should%2520Know%2520About%2520for%25202018.jpg&amp;description=5%20Tax%20Scams%20You%20Should%20Know%20About%20for%202018"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Tax%20Scams%20You%20Should%20Know%20About%20for%202018.jpg" alt="5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes con artists emails fraud gift cards identity theft IRS phishing phone calls scams tax refunds tax returns tax scams Tue, 30 Jan 2018 09:00:05 +0000 Kat Tretina 2095898 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Mistakes That Make a Bad Credit Situation Worse http://www.wisebread.com/3-mistakes-that-make-a-bad-credit-situation-worse <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-mistakes-that-make-a-bad-credit-situation-worse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young_couple_in_bad_financial_situation.jpg" alt="Young couple in bad financial situation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While bad credit isn't an indictment of a person's character, it can certainly be a struggle in today's economy. Those with bad credit know that financial life becomes more challenging and can be more expensive in general.</p> <p>Your credit is officially bad if you're one of 68 million Americans with a FICO score that hovers near 600 or below. The good news is there are practical steps people can take to improve their credit scores. Paying your bills on time and working diligently to pay off debts are good ways to start.</p> <p>But people with bad credit need to, above all else, be patient. Falling into the lure of quick fixes can lead to the following mistakes and compound your problem of poor credit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast</a>)</p> <h2>1. Falling for debt relief or credit repair scams</h2> <p>The Federal Trade Commission released a survey in 2013 showing that of the 25 million people victimized by fraud, an estimated 1.5 million and 1.7 million Americans were scammed by debt relief or credit repair scams, respectively.</p> <p>Often the disreputable agencies behind these scams prey on people in dire financial circumstances by promising overnight fixes and charging large sums of money upfront before any work has been completed &mdash; both of which are illegal.</p> <p>The FTC warns consumers to avoid working with any debt relief or credit repair agency that sets off red flags. Notable warning signs include a company that:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Insists you pay money upfront to do any work on your behalf.</p> </li> <li> <p>Requires that you don't contact the credit reporting companies directly.</p> </li> <li> <p>Suggests you dispute accurate information on your credit report.</p> </li> <li> <p>Tells you to falsify any information on your applications for credit or a loan.</p> </li> <li> <p>Will not explain your legal rights when explaining their services.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Cleaning up your credit will be the result of improved financial habits like paying your monthly bills in a timely manner and making more than the minimum payments. These improved habits will need to be consistent over a period of time. Knowing this will help those with poor credit resist the temptation to seek quick fixes and be taken advantage of by predators. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a>)</p> <h2>2. Not learning how to use credit responsibly</h2> <p>It's understandable that 68 million Americans fall into the poor credit bucket. But, your story doesn't need to stop there. Those with poor credit must take the initiative to educate themselves about the benefits of good credit and to learn what concrete steps are needed to fix their credit.</p> <p>The largest factors that make up your credit score are payment history (35 percent) and how much you owe (30 percent). Again, paying on time and paying down your balances is the best thing you can do to improve your credit score.</p> <p>If you prefer to work with a professional, opt for nonprofit credit counselors. To ensure you are working with a reputable agency:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Locate a local service from associations like the <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/" target="_blank">National Foundation for Credit Counseling</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p>Check with your state's attorney general and the FTC to ensure there are no complaints or pending regulatory action against the agency. While a complaint doesn't necessarily signify a fraudulent agency, do your own research.</p> </li> <li> <p>Make sure you understand what services the counselor performs and know your rights as a consumer before you sign any agreements. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-it-s-time-to-see-a-credit-counselor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Signs It's Time to See a Credit Counselor</a>)</p> </li> </ul> <h2>3. Avoiding the problem and hoping that things will get better</h2> <p>This by far is the worst action someone with poor credit can take. Problems neglected will only get progressively worse and cost more time and energy to address in the future &mdash; when avoiding them is no longer an option. Whether you face a lawsuit, a wage garnishment, or are eventually forced to file bankruptcy, financial issues that have resulted in poor credit will eventually bubble up to the top of your must-do list.</p> <p>It's best to contact your creditors directly if you have trouble paying. Set up a payment arrangement or request a change in the terms of your payment agreement. Changing the due date and requesting an interest rate reduction are simple requests that can often be addressed by customer service representatives. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-negotiate-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Ways to Negotiate Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>Know that burying your head in the sand will not help and is an unproductive mistake that people with bad credit make. Work with the creditor involved or a reputable credit counselor to arrange a workable solution. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F3-mistakes-that-make-a-bad-credit-situation-worse&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F3%2520Mistakes%2520That%2520Make%2520a%2520Bad%2520Credit%2520Situation%2520Worse.jpg&amp;description=3%20Mistakes%20That%20Make%20a%20Bad%20Credit%20Situation%20Worse"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/3%20Mistakes%20That%20Make%20a%20Bad%20Credit%20Situation%20Worse.jpg" alt="3 Mistakes That Make a Bad Credit Situation Worse" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/toni-husbands">Toni Husbands</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-mistakes-that-make-a-bad-credit-situation-worse">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-youre-bad-at-money-and-how-to-fix-it-asap">8 Reasons You&#039;re Bad at Money — And How to Fix It ASAP</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-buyers-remorse-into-better-financial-habits">How to Turn Your Buyer&#039;s Remorse Into Better Financial Habits</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-types-of-overspenders-which-one-are-you">5 Types of Overspenders — Which One Are You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them">8 Real Life Calamities That Can Drain Your Finances (Plus How to Defend Against Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-most-likely-to-give-you-lousy-credit">5 Things Most Likely to Give You Lousy Credit</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance avoiding bad credit bad habits credit mistakes credit repair debt relief overspending scams Tue, 09 Jan 2018 09:00:07 +0000 Toni Husbands 2084279 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young_man_using_a_laptop.jpg" alt="Young man using a laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Unlike your bank accounts that are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for losses up to $250,000, there is no such universal protection for your retirement funds. If you get hacked, thieves can gain access to your retirement account and transfer funds into their own pockets.</p> <p>What would happen if your investment account was hacked and funds were stolen? Many brokerages have customer protection guarantees in case of unauthorized account activity, but customers are responsible for taking certain action before and after the hack to qualify for reimbursement of stolen funds.</p> <p>Investment brokerage policies vary on the subject of restoring losses from unauthorized activities. In general, customers are responsible for promptly detecting and notifying the brokerage of unauthorized activity, and for showing that the security lapse was not their fault.</p> <p>Here are steps you can take to protect your retirement account.</p> <h2>Monitor investment accounts</h2> <p>Unlike a checking account or credit card account that is typically monitored fairly closely, a transfer from an investment account can easily go unnoticed for months until a quarterly statement. The first step in getting funds restored to your retirement account after a hack is to notify the brokerage that unauthorized activity has occurred.</p> <p>Instead of waiting for a quarterly account statement in the mail, you can access your account electronically to check for unexpected activity. Some brokers allow you to set up alerts and receive notifications by email if a transaction has processed.</p> <h2>Protect account access credentials</h2> <p>There are several important security measures you can take to prevent a thief from accessing your retirement account.</p> <h3>1. Set up two-step verification</h3> <p>An easy way to boost the security of your access credentials is to sign up for two-step verification with your brokerage. This means that in addition to your password, you&rsquo;ll need a one-time numeric code that is sent to you via text message or email when you try to log in. This adds a layer of security; simply having your login and password is not enough for a thief to gain access to your account.</p> <h3>2. Beware of phishing scams</h3> <p>Criminals often send out emails that appear to be legitimate asking for login information. They may also try to trick you into clicking on a link that leads to a fake website designed to capture your username and password when you try to log in. Some internet security products verify that websites are authentic and post a warning when you try to access unconfirmed sites, in order to provide protection from phishing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-phishing-scams?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Avoid Phishing Scams</a>)</p> <h3>3. Don't sign in on a public Wi-Fi connection</h3> <p>Avoid using public computers to access your retirement account, and avoid logging in over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. You should also avoid reusing the same password for multiple accounts.</p> <h3>4. Don't share your login with anyone</h3> <p>Think twice before sharing your access credentials with others, even companies such as Mint or Personal Capital that use your login to help monitor your account. If a company that has your login information gets hacked, and your access credentials are stolen and used to drain your account, this loss may <em>not</em> be covered by the recovery policy of your broker. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes?Ref=seealso" target="_blank">Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes</a>)</p> <h2>Secure your computer</h2> <p>Hackers can steal retirement account access credentials directly from your computer. Install anti-virus and anti-malware software, including a firewall, to prevent thieves from breaking in. Use a login for your computer to keep others from accessing your files. After a hack, investigators from the brokerage may want to examine your computer to see that you were using reasonable security features when determining whether you were at fault for the hack.</p> <h2>Policies of major brokers for hacked accounts</h2> <p>Account restoration policies in response to unauthorized activity vary by broker. Following are links to policies at major firms so you can check to see what is required to get retirement funds restored after a hack.</p> <ul> <li> <p><a href="https://www.fidelity.com/security/customer-protection-guarantee" target="_blank">Fidelity</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/legal_compliance/schwabsafe/security_guarantee.html" target="_blank">Charles Schwab</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.scottrade.com/documents/pdf/osc.pdf" target="_blank">Scottrade</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://personal.vanguard.com/us/help/SecurityOnlineFraudPledgeContent.jsp" target="_blank">Vanguard</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://us.etrade.com/e/t/home/securityguarantee" target="_blank">E*trade</a></p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://www.tdameritrade.com/security/asset-protection-guarantee.page" target="_blank">TD Ameritrade</a></p> </li> </ul> <p>In general, you are responsible for monitoring and protecting your own retirement account by keeping your password secure and taking reasonable security precautions on your computer or other devices. If the hack and resulting loss occurs due to breach of the brokerage's computer system, you'll likely get your funds restored based on the policies of most brokerages.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Protect%2520Your%2520Retirement%2520Account%2520From%2520a%2520Hack.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Retirement%20Account%20From%20a%20Hack"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Your%20Retirement%20Account%20From%20a%20Hack.jpg" alt="How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-travel-rewards-points-were-stolen-now-what">Your Travel Rewards Points Were Stolen. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ucla-security-breach-affects-800-000-people-not-just-students">UCLA security breach affects 800,000 people (not just students)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Retirement fraud identity theft passwords phishing protections retirement accounts scams security breach stolen funds Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 2048695 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/anonymus_with_laptop.jpg" alt="Anonymous with laptop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you get mugged, you know immediately that you're the victim of a crime. But with identity theft, you can be victimized for years before you realize what's happening. And the longer the criminal uses your name, Social Security number, and credit, the more damage is done. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a>)</p> <p>With the recent Equifax breach exposing the personal information of as many as half of Americans, we could be in for an identity theft epidemic. Keep alert for these signs that your identity has been stolen, so you can stop the damage before it goes too far. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach?ref=seealso">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a>)</p> <h2>1. Strange bills or statements arrive</h2> <p>It's very important to always open your mail, even if it doesn't look important. A bill or statement from an unfamiliar service provider or credit account can often be the first sign of identity theft.</p> <p>&quot;You may think it's just junk mail, but you might discover it's an invoice for a surgery in a state where you don't live,&quot; warns Ann Patterson, program director of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance. &quot;That is a very good indication that you've been a victim.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Bills stop arriving</h2> <p>On the flip side, make sure you are receiving all bills and statements you normally receive. If one falls off, it could be that a criminal has changed the address on that account, which could help them establish other accounts going to a different address.</p> <p>If your mail dries up altogether, that's a sign that a thief may have filed a change of address request at the post office &mdash; they could be getting all your mail with all the sensitive information found there.</p> <h2>3. Odd charges on credit accounts and checking accounts</h2> <p>Credit card companies have gotten good at alerting customers to fraudulent attempts to make charges, but they can't catch 'em all. Keep a keen eye on your credit card and bank statements. The first charge an identity thief makes may be small, because they're testing to see whether the card is active. There are also scammers out there who make their money by processing many small charges on many credit accounts.</p> <h2>4. Your find yourself getting rejected for things</h2> <p>Your health insurance company rejects your claim because you're over your annual limit &mdash; but this was your first claim. You're turned down for a new credit card or your charges are denied at the store. You apply for life insurance and are charged a higher rate due to a pre-existing condition that you don't have. The ATM won't give you any money.</p> <p>Don't brush off any of these events. It could be a fluke, or it could be a sign that something sinister is going on.</p> <h2>5. You receive suspicious phone calls</h2> <p>A neighbor of mine recently received a phone call that purported to be from her bank. The caller read back a list of recent transactions, which set her mind at ease that the call was legit, even though she knew that caller ID numbers can be spoofed. She was then tricked into sharing a PIN with the caller.</p> <p>What might be happening if you get a call like that? You may already be a victim of identity theft, with the criminal already accessing your bank account. They may use the information they already know to trick you into giving them more information, or the access they need to start stealing money.</p> <h2>6. You receive strange texts or emails</h2> <p>If you are smart, you've set up two-factor authentication on important accounts. This means that you have asked your bank or other service providers to email or text you before allowing you to sign onto your account or take other actions, such as transferring out money. The text may provide you with a one-time code that you need to type into the website to log in, for example.</p> <p>If you receive a text or email with a PIN when you didn't request one, this is a big red flag that someone has your login credentials and is trying to take control of your account. Contact the company immediately through the phone number on your statement. And change your password.</p> <h2>7. Creditors and collections agencies start calling you</h2> <p>You got a call from a car dealership warning that your payment is late. The only problem is you didn't recently buy a car, and you have no current car payments. This is a huge red flag. Do not simply write off such calls as errors or wrong numbers.</p> <h2>8. You don't receive your tax refund, or the IRS notifies you that you filed two tax returns</h2> <p>The Department of Justice reports that people have stolen billions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury by filing tax returns using stolen identities, and pocketing the refunds. Just make sure it's really the IRS contacting you, instead of a scammer posing as the IRS. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <h2>9. There are accounts you don't recognize on your credit report</h2> <p>If any of the above warning signs occur, you should definitely request a free copy of your credit report and study it carefully. If there are any credit accounts listed there that you didn't open, your suspicions will be confirmed.</p> <p>Even if you didn't experience any warning signs, you should check your report regularly, especially in light of the Equifax breach. You can request a free report from each of the three agencies once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com, so if you request one every four months, you'll be able to stay pretty on top of things. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F9%2520Signs%2520Your%2520Identity%2520Was%2520Stolen.jpg&amp;description=9%20Signs%20Your%20Identity%20Was%20Stolen"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/9%20Signs%20Your%20Identity%20Was%20Stolen.jpg" alt="9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-freeze-your-credit">How to Freeze Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data">3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance banking breach Equifax fraud identity theft mail fraud protection scams stolen credit cards warning signs Tue, 03 Oct 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 2029964 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Help Your Parents Retire http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-parents-retire <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-help-your-parents-retire" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/all_grown_up_but_still_her_mother's_daughter.jpg" alt="All grown up, but still her mother&#039;s daughter" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the toughest transitions into adulthood is when you realize that you need to help your parents instead of the other way around.</p> <p>Add money into the mix, and that can make an already awkward transition feel even more uncomfortable. Money is often a taboo topic in families, and parents sometimes have trouble letting go of the idea that you are a child rather than someone who can help them with financial planning. It may feel easier to just assume Mom and Dad have everything covered for their financial future, and let the chips fall where they may.</p> <p>But helping your parents prepare for retirement is one of the best gifts you can give the people who raised you. That's because even the most financially savvy planners may run into issues, questions, or problems that they are not sure how to handle. You can help your parents get ready for retirement, and grow closer in the process.</p> <p>Here's what you need to know about helping your parents retire.</p> <h2>Prioritize your own retirement savings</h2> <p>Most parents know that it's smarter to save for retirement before putting money into the kids' college funds. After all, students can take out loans for school, but there are no loans for retirement. Adult children should prioritize retirement savings over paying for their parents' retirement needs.</p> <p>It may seem strange to prioritize your own retirement as a part of helping your parents retire, but it's an important first step in financially protecting your entire family. Taking care of your parents' retirement instead of saving for your own means that you will simply be passing money problems from one generation to the next. By putting your own retirement savings first, you are teaching your kids how to responsibly plan for their own financial futures.</p> <p>Being prepared to have your parents use their assets for as long as they last will also allow you to make the best use of programs like Medicaid, which requires long-term care recipients to have exhausted their own assets before it kicks in. Rather than exhaust your own finances, plan to protect your future retirement so your kids are not left with another tough decision in 30 years.</p> <h2>Introduce the initial conversation</h2> <p>To be able to help your parents retire, you need to know where they stand financially so you can best help them fill in the gaps and prepare for that major transition. If you're lucky, your parents have already looped you in on what they have saved, where it is, what plans they have for the future, and who they trust as their financial adviser to make the decisions. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-youll-encounter-when-taking-over-a-loved-ones-finances?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Things You'll Encounter When Taking Over a Loved One's Finances</a>)</p> <p>Where it gets tricky is if your parents shut down any money conversations and change the subject to &quot;something more pleasant.&quot; If you know your parents will not feel comfortable talking openly about their money planning with you, frame the conversation as an opportunity for you to learn together.</p> <p>For instance, you might mention that you want to look over your 401(k) information and would love to chat with them about how they handle their retirement accounts. In addition, you could invite them to read a book with you about financial planning so you can use the information as a jumping off point for personal discussion.</p> <h2>Talk about the day-to-day details</h2> <p>Knowing where your parents hope to live and how they intend to spend their time in retirement will give you (and them) a baseline understanding of how much they will need in retirement. Encourage Mom and Dad to talk about how they want their lives to look in retirement. Do they want to stay in place, move closer to grandchildren, or sell everything and live in an RV?</p> <p>In addition to helping you get a better sense of their financial needs in retirement, these conversations will also help your parents enjoy the anticipation of planning for retirement.</p> <h2>Learn more about Social Security and Medicare</h2> <p>While spending an afternoon navigating Social Security and Medicare's websites is no one's idea of fun, taking the time to determine your parents' eligibility for these programs can help you better understand what to expect from their government entitlements. You and your parents can check out the eligibility questionnaires at <a href="http://www.medicare.gov/" target="_blank">Medicare.gov</a> and <a href="http://www.benefits.gov/" target="_blank">Benefits.gov</a> to find out what benefits are available and whether your parents qualify.</p> <h2>Meet with a financial adviser</h2> <p>No one expects you (or your parents!) to know everything about the complexities of planning for retirement. Together with your parents, take the time to interview and hire a financial adviser to help with the details of building your parents' retirement.</p> <p>A financial adviser is also in a good position to help your parents make sure their estate planning is up-to-snuff and that all of their accounts have properly named beneficiaries. Even if Mom and Dad are uncomfortable talking about these issues with you &mdash; who wants to think about their own deaths, after all? &mdash; having a trusted financial adviser can help make sure they have all the necessary estate planning paperwork in place.</p> <h2>Keep talking</h2> <p>If money conversations are uncomfortable, you might feel like having that single afternoon of financial planning with your parents is sufficient. But checking in with your parents regularly is an essential part of helping them prepare for retirement. This lets them know you are there to help them with any difficult issues or decisions.</p> <p>Continuing the conversation can also help <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams?ref=internal" target="_blank">protect your parents against scams</a>. According to a 2015 True Link Financial report on financial elder abuse, annual losses from elder fraud totaled over $36 billion. By staying connected with your parents and offering to help them with financial decisions, they will be less likely to fall victim to a predatory scammer because you will be there to help sniff out anything untoward.</p> <h2>Paying it back to Mom and Dad</h2> <p>Your parents took care of you throughout your childhood (and maybe a little into adulthood, too). Now it's your turn to look out for them. Give your parents the gift of some help with retirement planning, so they can relax and enjoy the end of their career and the beginning of the next phase of their lives.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-help-your-parents-retire&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Help%2520Your%2520Parents%2520Retire.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Help%20Your%20Parents%20Retire"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Help%20Your%20Parents%20Retire.jpg" alt="How to Help Your Parents Retire" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-help-your-parents-retire">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-while-caring-for-kids-and-parents">How to Save for Retirement While Caring for Kids and Parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easiest-ways-to-catch-up-on-retirement-savings-later-in-life">7 Easiest Ways to Catch Up on Retirement Savings Later in Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-its-time-to-retire">8 Signs It&#039;s Time to Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-overcome-these-4-common-retirement-fears">How to Overcome These 4 Common Retirement Fears</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-roadblocks-to-retirement-and-how-to-clear-them">7 Roadblocks to Retirement (And How to Clear Them)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Retirement assistance caregiving financial help medicare parents saving money scams social security Tue, 12 Sep 2017 08:00:06 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2019028 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/senior_woman_giving_credit_card_details_on_the_phone.jpg" alt="Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was a child, my grandmother often watched me while my parents were away. One day, I was sitting at the kitchen table while she made a sandwich for me, and the phone rang.</p> <p>My grandmother answered, and a deep, muffled voice said &quot;Mom? Thank God, I need help.&quot; The man, claiming to be my dad, told her he had been stranded and horribly injured, and needed her to drive to his location with money.</p> <p>My grandmother was shaken, but promised to send help right away. She quickly hung up and tried to get a hold of my mom. Thankfully, my dad was the one to answer the phone, completely healthy and carefree.</p> <p>I look back and still shudder at what could have happened if my grandmother had driven to where the man told her. It was my first introduction to con artists who take advantage of the elderly, but it continues to be a major issue. In fact, losses from elder fraud cases cost more than $36 billion in 2015, according to a True Link Financial report on financial elder abuse.</p> <h2>Preying on the elderly</h2> <p>The elderly are targeted by con artists because they tend to be less familiar with the latest technology and trends. They're less likely to recognize an email from a fraudulent &quot;bank,&quot; for example, asking for personal information. Worse, many seniors are simply lonely and isolated. Scammers prey on that. A kind, friendly voice on the other end of the phone can be convincing. And once a scam is complete, the victims often feel so bad about falling for it in the first place that it prevents them from reporting the crime to the police or even family members. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>How to protect your loved ones</h2> <p>Shielding your elderly parents or relatives from harm can be difficult, especially if they live alone. These four tips can help prevent con artists from successfully targeting them.</p> <h3>1. Have a family code word</h3> <p>Come up with a family code word to use when there's a real emergency. Pick an odd word that has meaning to your family and is easy to remember. That way, if someone calls claiming to be a family member in need of help, your elderly relative can prompt them for the code word to verify their claim.</p> <p>If my family had a code word and my father really needed help, stating our designated word would have shown my grandmother it was a legitimate crisis. A scammer would have no idea, and would be revealed as soon as they couldn't relay the word.</p> <h3>2. Encourage them to ignore the phone</h3> <p>Many scammers will call just to find out if a person lives alone. Program your loved ones' phones with the numbers of family and friends, and encourage them to not answer the phone if they don't recognize the number.</p> <p>If a caller leaves a voicemail saying they're with a particular company &mdash; for example, a bank or credit card issuer &mdash; show your relative how to verify the number by looking up the company online, rather than just blindly returning the phone call. Taking that extra step to check a bank or credit card company's information can save your loved one from falling for a trick.</p> <h3>3. Help monitor accounts</h3> <p>If your relative is comfortable with this, offer to check over credit card or bank statements. Review them periodically for odd purchases. This is not quite the same as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-youll-encounter-when-taking-over-a-loved-ones-finances" target="_blank">taking over your loved one's finances</a>; it's just providing a second set of eyes. If your homebody great-aunt suddenly has charges for a Vegas shopping spree, for example, you'll be able to alert her and help dispute the charges right away.</p> <p>Some banks will let even you monitor the account, but won't give you access to the funds, which can give your loved ones peace of mind.</p> <h3>4. Check AARP's Fraud Watch Network</h3> <p>Some scams are regional, affecting only certain cities or neighborhoods. And the latest iterations of fraud can evolve over time, preying on the unsuspecting.</p> <p><a href="http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/" target="_blank">AARP's Fraud Watch Network</a> reports on fraud trends both nationally and locally. If you sign up for their alerts, you will receive notifications about scams happening in your area. By getting those alerts, you can warn your elderly relatives and friends about potential con artists and how they work.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Protect%20Elderly%20Loved%20Ones%20From%20Financial%20Scams.jpg" alt="How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs con artists elderly family members fraud identity theft phone scams protecting relatives scams technology Mon, 04 Sep 2017 08:30:06 +0000 Kat Tretina 2012632 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Expensive Mistakes of the Newly Retired http://www.wisebread.com/9-expensive-mistakes-of-the-newly-retired <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-expensive-mistakes-of-the-newly-retired" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-172208749.jpg" alt="Finding expensive mistakes of the newly retired" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Transitioning to retired life on a fixed income will undoubtedly have a few bumps in the road. This is a brand-new chapter of life for you, and it's reasonable to expect some challenges ahead. The last thing you want to do, however, is compromise your nest egg with costly, easily avoidable mistakes. After all, you need that money to get you through the rest of your life.</p> <p>As such, consider these costly mistakes of the newly retired so you don't follow suit.</p> <h2>1. Not balancing your portfolio</h2> <p>Retiring doesn't mean you have to stop investing. You can still dabble in the stock market, but perhaps not as aggressively as you once did. Risky bets could cost you your life savings, which means that you'll either have to go back to work past age 65, or put your hat out on a street corner. Neither of those options sound great in the golden years of life, so it's important to ensure your retirement portfolio is balanced.</p> <p>&quot;Annuitizing a significant portion of one's retirement income can complement a portfolio of stocks and bonds,&quot; says Jim Poolman, executive director of the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council. &quot;Fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) can serve as part of a balanced financial plan because they do not directly participate in any stock or equity investments and [they] protect your principal from fluctuations in the market.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Not changing your lifestyle after retirement</h2> <p>Your spending habits as a retiree will need to change if you're going to make it for the long haul. This is especially true if you're not receiving any kind of monthly payments, like Social Security or disability, to help with bills. You can live off what you have in the bank (hopefully; otherwise you shouldn't be retiring yet), but you may have to downsize and rethink your spending strategy.</p> <p>This means you need to start learning how to save money on everyday expenses, and re-evaluate your budget to find places for cuts. Don't expect yourself to suddenly drop 30 percent or more of your spending. Work your way to it by making small cuts at a time before you retire.</p> <h2>3. Not evaluating risk</h2> <p>When you start saving for retirement, you may have a certain monetary goal in mind &mdash; either based on what financial sources have told you, or what you've calculated you'll need based on your lifestyle. But you may not be accounting for the ups and downs of Wall Street and inevitable inflation.</p> <p>&quot;Revisit your retirement plan to make sure your savings reflect your new needs, and adjust for market conditions,&quot; Poolman advises.</p> <h2>4. Spending too much money too soon</h2> <p>When you retire, what you have is what you have. Unless you still have income coming in somehow, you have to mind your money and avoid the temptation to spend it on splurges, especially if you find yourself bored in the first year of your forever vacation.</p> <p>&quot;Before finalizing your retirement, you must take into consideration that you will only be living on a fixed amount of money,&quot; Andrew Fiebert, co-founder of Listen Money Matters, says. &quot;Oftentimes the amount of retirement savings looks pretty large, but retirees must keep in mind that money will have to last a very long time &mdash; hopefully a very, very long time.&quot;</p> <p>The enticement to spend your money can be almost irresistible, but discipline is vital. Depleting your money beyond the interest that it earns will hurt the principal and leave you with nothing after just a few years.</p> <h2>5. Loaning money to adult children</h2> <p>I get it &mdash; you love your kids. But at what cost?</p> <p>According to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll, a whopping 61 percent of parents in the U.S. admitted to <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/05/21/5-helping-adult-children/" target="_blank">helping their adult children financially</a>. That may be well and good if you have that kind of disposable income lying around (though it only fortifies your children's reliance on you; learn to say NO!). However, if you already need to cut back because you didn't save enough to live an easy, breezy retirement &mdash; which applies to most Americans &mdash; providing handouts, the payback of which you may never see, could put you in a financial pickle.</p> <p>Don't be afraid to cut your grown children off. If you don't have the extra money, neither do they.</p> <h2>6. Taking Social Security benefits too early</h2> <p>The overriding argument against claiming Social Security benefits too early is that you won't receive your full benefit potential. That could come back to bite you later in life.</p> <p>If you decide to claim Social Security benefits before you reach your full retirement age, you'll receive a smaller monthly payout &mdash; up to 30 percent less. If you absolutely need that money before your benefits fully mature, then by all means do what you have to do to survive. You'll be better off, however, the longer you wait.</p> <h2>7. Not taking required minimum distributions after age 70-&frac12;</h2> <p>Starting at age 70-&frac12;, you must take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA each year to satisfy rules set forth by the IRS. If you don't, you'll pay penalties.</p> <p>You can calculate your required RMD by dividing your IRA account balance as of Dec. 31 of the prior year by the applicable distribution or life expectancy. Qualified charitable distributions can satisfy your RMD, by the way, which you would report on Form 1099-R on the calendar year in which the distribution is made. Do good and save yourself the penalties while you're at it.</p> <h2>8. Falling victim to money scams</h2> <p>Scammers love retirees and the elderly. Why? Because they've usually got money to burn, and they're much easier to fool than the average working-age person. Sad, but true.</p> <p>There are plenty of scams out there, too, and they're getting more intricate all the time &mdash; like one where the scammer poses as the victim's grandchild and begs the grandparent to send money. To prevent yourself from being scammed, remember these two major rules: Never provide personal information over the phone or via email, and never wire any money unless you've spoken directly to your family member or friend who is requesting the transfer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>9. Failing to account for the unexpected</h2> <p>The reality of retirement is that while you'll certainly have more time to kick back and relax, life isn't necessarily going to get easier &mdash; and you have to prepare for that. Everyone will die eventually, and it's smart to plan ahead not only for end-of-life accommodations, but also long-term medical care.</p> <p>You may live a long and healthy life, but eventually you'll need someone to care for you &mdash; whether that's in a family member's home or a professional facility &mdash; and that will cost money. Hedge your bets by looking ahead and putting those funds aside now. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-long-term-care-insurance-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-expensive-mistakes-of-the-newly-retired">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-retirement-struggles-nobody-talks-about-and-how-to-beat-them">5 Retirement Struggles Nobody Talks About — And How to Beat Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-its-time-to-retire">8 Signs It&#039;s Time to Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-overcome-these-4-common-retirement-fears">How to Overcome These 4 Common Retirement Fears</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-moves-now-that-youll-regret-when-you-retire">5 Financial Moves Now That You&#039;ll Regret When You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-retiring-with-debt-isnt-the-end-of-the-world">Why Retiring With Debt Isn&#039;t the End of the World</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement expenses investing loaning money long term care Mistakes newly retired required minimum distributions scams social security Wed, 10 May 2017 09:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1940416 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Real Life Calamities That Can Drain Your Finances (Plus How to Defend Against Them) http://www.wisebread.com/8-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-515237628.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all work hard for our money, but if we're not careful, it can be ripped right out from under us. From getting scammed on the internet, to medical emergencies, here are eight situations that can make you broke in an instant &mdash; plus a few ways to protect yourself.</p> <h2>1. Getting scammed</h2> <p>Maybe you're smarter than the average scammer, but loads of people are too trusting and naive. In fact, someone claiming to be from eBay scammed my own mom out of a few hundred dollars via email once. She thought the email was legit because at the time she was selling items on the auction site, and she assumed the request for her banking information was not only sanctioned, but part of the company's protocol.</p> <p>&quot;Scammers target seniors because they're considered wealthy, trusting, and typically unwilling to report scams,&quot; says Roger Cowen, owner of Cowen Tax Advisory Group in Hartford, Connecticut. &quot;Common scams include callers pretending to represent Medicare or the IRS to get your personal information, and fake charity workers asking for donations.&quot;</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>The best way to stave off online and phone scammers is to verify that you're dealing with a reputable organization before providing any financial information. Many institutions never send emails requesting such information, and it's a policy you should adopt for yourself &mdash; never provide bank account, Social Security, or credit card numbers over email.</p> <p>If you've received a phone call asking you to verify any financial information, double check the source before handing it over to the person on the line. Jot down their name and tell them you'll call the company back at the verified number you have in your records. Beware of fake websites as well (these links are usually embedded in scam emails) by checking the domain name to make sure it's correctly spelled. Look for <strong>https:// </strong>to precede any domain that has your financial information. The &quot;s&quot; means the site is security-fortified and usually legitimate. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam" target="_blank">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a>)</p> <h2>2. Tax penalties</h2> <p>Getting a bill for back taxes can be devastating. You'll not only owe whatever taxes you avoided in the past &mdash; which may be substantial if you've filed inaccurate returns for years &mdash; you may owe interest and penalties as well.</p> <p>This can happen not only to filers who outright lie in an effort to buck the system, but also to well-intentioned filers who make errors on their returns.</p> <p>In either case, you'll be required to pay up in a short period of time &mdash; or go to jail. Being broke or behind bars could be your only options.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>If your taxes are complicated, hire a reputable accountant, report your income and deductions accurately, accept your tax liability, and pay it. If it's a large sum, you may qualify for a payment plan. Moving forward, ask your accountant for estimated tax vouchers so you can pay ahead of time to lessen the burden when you receive the actual numbers in April. Otherwise, if you know you're looking at a sizable tax bill, save as much as you can so you can settle up with the IRS as soon as possible. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax Audit</a>)</p> <h2>3. Divorce</h2> <p>Sometimes divorce is amicable, but for many people it isn't &mdash; and that usually means somebody has to pay up. This is primarily the case when one spouse earns more than the other, or if one partner is unemployed.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>If you're getting married and one of you has a noticeably higher net worth, get a prenup. Do not walk down that aisle without it. It's not the most romantic piece of paper you'll ever sign, but you'd be a fool not to. Don't let your future spouse guilt you out of the idea, either. Love is grand, but sometimes it'll take you for everything you're worth. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-decide-to-get-divorced?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Decide to Get Divorced</a>)</p> <h2>4. Death</h2> <p>No, not your death. If you're not adequately prepared for the death of a partner, child, or parent, you could end up in a sticky financial situation. There may be medical expenses leading up to the death, and afterward you'll need to cover funeral expenses and settle debts on behalf of the estate.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Life insurance is the best way to protect yourself in the event that your spouse, parent, or child dies. If you're the beneficiary, you'll receive your policy payout, which creditors typically cannot come after, to cover expenses and any debts for which you may also be on the hook, like a mortgage. Use this money to satisfy loans that the deceased may have had, especially if you've co-signed for them. If it's your spouse that has passed away, you may be losing half your household income &mdash; maybe even more than that &mdash; so it's important to use the policy money wisely. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-life-insurance-isnt-just-for-old-people?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Is for Everyone</a>)</p> <h2>5. Market crash</h2> <p>Many people have improved their lot in life by taking financial risks. But if you're an investor at any level, you worry about going bust. Any number of things can happen that will affect your bottom line, depending on how deep your investments go. The stock market can crash, taking your life savings with it. The real estate bubble can burst, leaving you on the hook for houses you can't sell. The worst part is there are often no warning signs. One day you're swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, and the next day you're looking under couch cushions for loose change.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Don't put all your eggs in one basket, don't overextend your credit, don't take on more expense than you can afford, and, above all, don't get cocky with your money. Devise a plan to weather a financial crisis so you'll be prepared well ahead of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-prepare-for-a-stock-market-dive?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Ways to Prepare for a Stock Market Dive</a>)</p> <h2>6. Natural disaster</h2> <p>While we can sort of predict the weather, we can't predict the outcome. Any number of things can happen to you, your home, or your personal property during a bad storm or natural disaster that may leave you strapped for cash or even facing a total rebuild.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>If you live in an area where certain calamities are possible, purchase the proper insurance. Your homeowners insurance may cover certain events, but you may require special policies for others, like floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Consider what you're at risk for and put a policy in place. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-surprising-things-your-homeowners-insurance-doesnt-cover?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Surprising Things Your Homeowners Insurance Doesn't Cover</a>)</p> <h2>7. Spending more than you make</h2> <p>Sometimes, your biggest financial enemy is yourself. We like our things in America, and many of us will go to great lengths to get those things &mdash; including spending more money than we have. According to NerdWallet, the average household has $134,643 in debt. Households that carry credit card debt pay about $1,300 a year in interest alone on balances that average $16,748. These statistics represent an 11 percent debt increase over the past decade. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Find ways to make more money or live on less (or both). There are many ways you can introduce a second source of income to your household, like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space" target="_blank">renting out your extra space</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-extra-money-driving-for-uber-or-lyft" target="_blank">driving for ride-sharing operations</a>, or pet sitting. But if you don't want to work constantly, consider cutting back on your overall expenses. You don't need everything you see, and the faster you recognize that the better off your bank account will be. Plus, you might even be happier as a result.</p> <h2>8. Medical emergency</h2> <p>American health care is in flux right now, which means that you have to be extra vigilant in making sure you're covered. Just one trip to the hospital can set you back financially for years if you're not prepared, perhaps even more if you require long-term care.</p> <h3>How to protect yourself</h3> <p>Cover yourself. You may have to bite the bullet on the premium, but at least you're insured. You can go to the doctor or hospital when you need to, and your care will (hopefully) be covered to an affordable extent. Not having insurance, on the other hand, may very well be a death sentence &mdash; or at least you'll wish it were when you get the bill in full.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-real-life-calamities-that-can-drain-your-finances-plus-how-to-defend-against-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-you-need-to-update-your-will">6 Times You Need to Update Your Will</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fair-way-to-split-up-your-familys-estate">The Fair Way to Split Up Your Family&#039;s Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-you-disrespect-your-money">10 Ways You Disrespect Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-signs-your-identity-was-stolen">9 Signs Your Identity Was Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance audits death disasters divorce emergencies fraud going broke life insurance market crash medical bills overspending scams Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1931272 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-479413254_0.jpg" alt="Man learning how to recognize predatory lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Predatory lending has long been a problem for consumers. There is no exact definition of a predatory lender, but in general, these lenders either try to overcharge consumers for loans, or talk them into riskier loans that come with higher interest rates. Predatory lenders have one goal: They want to make as much money as possible on their loans, regardless of whether the loan product actually makes financial sense for the consumers.</p> <p>How, exactly, do people fall for this? It's actually not surprising when you understand the degree of manipulation predatory lenders will use. By targeting mainly elderly, low-income, or simply uninformed victims, these financial predators bank on convincing folks with poor or no credit that they have no other options for obtaining financing.</p> <p>If you don't fit the above criteria, don't think you're completely off their radar, either. Should you ever lose your job, need cash for an emergency, or suddenly find yourself facing steep medical bills, you just might be the next target of a predatory lender.</p> <p>Worried that a predatory lender might have targeted you? Here are the warning signs.</p> <h2>The Lender Wants You to Sign Now</h2> <p>Honest lenders will never pressure you to sign loan documents before you are comfortable. Legitimate lenders give you time to study the paperwork and research the fees and rates associated with the loan.</p> <p>Predatory lenders want you to sign paperwork as quickly as possible. That way, they can stick you with their high-cost loans before you have the chance to research lower-cost alternatives. Never do business with a lender who pressures you to act quickly. The odds are high that such a lender is a predator.</p> <h2>The Interest Rate Suddenly Rises</h2> <p>Predatory lenders like to entice new customers by advertising below-market interest rates on their websites or print ads. But when you actually call these lenders, you're told that you don't qualify for these low rates. Once these lenders have you on the phone, they'll try to convince you to sign up for a loan with a far higher rate.</p> <p>Don't fall for this trick. Companies that advertise interest rates that are far lower than their competitors are usually not trustworthy. The odds are high that these are predatory lenders trying to trick gullible borrowers.</p> <h2>They Tell You Not to Worry About Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Legitimate lenders rely heavily on your FICO credit score to determine if you should qualify for a loan and at what interest rate. This score tells lenders how well you've paid your bills in the past.</p> <p>Beware of lenders who say that your credit score doesn't matter or that they can approve you for a loan no matter how low your score is. Lenders who make these promises will charge you sky-high interest rates because they know that you're desperate for a loan. You're much better off working to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">improve your credit score</a> than taking out a costly high-interest-rate loan. Pay all your bills on time and pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible. Slowly, but steadily, your credit score will start to rise, and you can avoid the high rates of predatory lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>The Lender Asks You to Lie</h2> <p>Making false claims about your income or debt on a loan application is a crime, and you could face significant fines if you do. Predatory lenders, though, might encourage you to inflate your income or provide other false information.</p> <p>Ignore this temptation. No legitimate lender will ask you to lie on an application. Instead, lenders will take extra steps to make sure that the information you do provide on an application is true. For instance, they'll ask you to provide copies of your most recent paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and tax returns to verify your income.</p> <h2>Your Lender Tries to Talk You Into a Riskier Loan</h2> <p>Be careful if your lender continues to push a loan that sounds risky. Maybe you want to apply for a fixed-rate loan with a term of 15 or 30 years. If your lender pressures you to instead apply for an interest-only loan with a balloon payment &mdash; or something equally as complicated or risky &mdash; walk away. Legitimate lenders will never try to talk you into a loan that you don't want.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-good-credit-is-better-than-a-boyfriend">6 Ways Good Credit Is Better Than a Boyfriend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Panic If Your Credit Score Drops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debunking-8-common-credit-score-myths">Debunking 8 Common Credit Score Myths</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs credit score interest rates lies loans manipulation predatory lending risk scams warning signs Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:31:34 +0000 Dan Rafter 1901334 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Tell if That Home Business Opportunity Is Really a Pyramid Scheme http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/women_chatting_tablet_506624473.jpg" alt="Women learning if a home business is a pyramid scheme" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Work from home! Get out of debt! Make a full-time income selling products you love! Such are the promises of companies and their agents looking to recruit people to be distributors or &quot;consultants&quot; for them.</p> <p>These types of &quot;job opportunities&quot; are called multilevel marketing (MLM), and most people who sign up never realize the benefits. If you're considering becoming a distributor for an MLM company, beware of the many warning signs that you could end up making little to no money, or worse, adding to your debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/multi-level-marketing-the-future-or-folly?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Multi-Level Marketing: The Future or Folly?</a>)</p> <p>Tupperware, Avon, and Mary Kay are some of the best known MLM firms, though they sometimes shun that term in an attempt to distance themselves from controversy-laden companies such as Herbalife and Amway. Both of those companies have been accused of making inflated earnings claims and of being pyramid schemes. The main difference between MLM companies and true pyramid schemes is that the primary purpose of a pyramid scheme is recruiting other distributors, rather than making direct sales. Pyramid schemes are illegal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-work-from-home-jobs-you-should-avoid?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Terrible Work-From-Home &quot;Jobs&quot; You Should Avoid</a>)</p> <h2>What Are MLM Companies?</h2> <p>MLM companies, also called network marketing or direct selling companies, incorporate a business model in which representatives make money in two ways. The first is direct sales to consumers &mdash; often friends and acquaintances &mdash; through parties, social networks, and other web sales. The second income source is commissions from sales made by team members you recruit, also known as &quot;down line&quot; distributors.</p> <p>IBISWorld estimates the direct selling industry makes $41 billion in revenue and employs about 800,000 people. Intense competition from mass merchandisers has kept growth to a modest 0.6%.</p> <h2>MLM Promises Are Tempting</h2> <p>The sales pitches of MLM companies can be alluring, especially for stay-at-home moms, students, and the unemployed. Just imagine, they exclaim, a work day that includes jumping on social media, talking up strangers at the grocery store, or networking with friends. By selling products you love and believe in, you could earn extra money while enriching others' lives. And if you could convince a few friends to become distributors beneath you, you could have your own business &mdash; becoming the &quot;boss&quot; for the first time in your life. The promise is this: If you pour your heart into your business, get people to sign up beneath you, and never give up, you can (and will) become successful &mdash; no matter what.</p> <p>And when it comes to recruiting new distributors, some MLM companies pull out the big guns. It Works! &mdash; a company that sells body wraps, supplements, and personal care products &mdash; advertises huge cash payouts for new distributors who meet specific sales goals. How huge? The company frequently advertises bonuses of $15,000 or more for their top tier sellers, although it's hard to find concrete data on how many sales you need to make to earn these bonuses, or how they are paid out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-part-time-jobs-to-do-while-your-kids-are-at-school?ref=seealso" target="_blank">17 Part-Time Jobs to Do While Your Kids Are at School</a>)</p> <h2>The Problem With Multi-Level Marketing Operations</h2> <p>While people can and do earn huge sums of money with MLM companies, there are myriad pitfalls to avoid. First, it can take a ton of sales to get anywhere near the mind-blowing income levels posted on corporate websites. And to reach the highest ranks of earners with any MLM, you may need to recruit dozens of people to work beneath you (with them recruiting people to work beneath them as well).</p> <p>Secondly, as we mentioned before, the line between MLM firms and pyramid schemes is fuzzy. In a pyramid scheme, the price of the products sold is inflated, making them hard to sell and causing the vast majority of participants to lose money. The <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0065-multilevel-marketing" target="_blank">Federal Trade Commission (FTC)</a> warns of the similarities, noting:</p> <blockquote><p>Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it's probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.</p> </blockquote> <p>Even if the company is legitimate, most MLM companies require a &quot;buy in.&quot; You'll need to pay a certain amount of cash upfront to sell their products. While these &quot;starter kits&quot; normally cost a nominal amount (a few hundred dollars), they will certainly start your business in the red. If you're trying to make money to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay off debt</a>, that's the last thing you need. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-signs-the-job-is-too-good-to-be-true?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Signs the Job Is Too Good to Be True</a>)</p> <h2>How Much Do MLM Distributors Really Make?</h2> <p>If you make money right out of the gate, then a nominal investment could be money well spent. Unfortunately, most distributors for MLM companies barely eek out a profit, let alone earn a full-time income from home. You can find proof directly on their websites.</p> <p>Let's go back to It Works!, the body wraps and personal care products company. According to its <a href="https://www.myitworks.com/Legal/Income/" target="_blank">2015 annual income disclosure statement</a>, 82% of its representatives had been with the company for an average of one month and were still on the first rung of the payment hierarchy &mdash; distributor status. Their monthly earnings ranged from a low of $1 to a high of $3,847, with a monthly average of $54.</p> <p>Income grows incrementally up the ranks, and tends to coincide with longer time spent growing the business. But income growth is slow, and the percentage of distributors who stick around more than a month drops dramatically. Only 7.8% of It Works! sales people are at the Executive level. They've been there an average of three months and earn an average of $231 a month. About 0.6% of reps are at Double Diamond level, making an average of $4,741 a month after 13 months of effort.</p> <p>Of course, some huge, mythical incomes do exist. According to the disclosure, the top tier income earner (. 02% of all distributors) &mdash; Ambassador Diamond &mdash; pulls in around $37,583 per month.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the average income for all It Works! Distributors was only $227 per month in 2015.</p> <p>And It Works! is far from the exception; their distributors actually make more than those working for many other MLM companies. Check out these annual income figures from other multilevel marketing disclosures for more proof:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://issuu.com/thirtyoneleader/docs/income-disclosure-statement-2015" target="_blank">Thirty-One Gifts</a>: a company that sells organizational totes and monogrammed bags. In 2015, the average consultant (92.1% of distributors) earned $548 per year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://meltascent.com/download/scentsy-income-disclosure-statement/" target="_blank">Scentsy</a>: a company that focuses on candles and wax warmers. In 2014, the average lowest-level rep, called an Ecsential Consultant, earned $81 per year, while the average Certified Consultant (one level up from Ecsential) earned $463 per year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://www.advocare.com/opportunity/" target="_blank">Advocare</a>: a company that sells nutritional supplements and diet products. In 2015, the average annual compensation paid by Advocare to active distributors was $1,586.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.beachbodycoach.com/uploads/fckeditor/mdbody/File/downloads/statement_of_independent_coach_earnings.pdf" target="_blank">BEACHBODY</a>: a company that sells fitness products and nutritional shakes. In 2015, the average BEACHBODY coach earned $502.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://www.isagenix.com/~/media/compliance/earnings-statement/us-en-earnings-statement.pdf" target="_blank">Isagenix International</a>: a company that focuses on nutrition and diet products. In 2015, 87% of Isagenix business builders earned between $702 and $2,101, on average per year.</li> </ul> <p>As you can see, the average &quot;little guy&quot; is not making bank with any of these companies. In fact, your average distributor may be earning $100 per month or less. If they're a hobbyist who signed up for product discounts, then that might be fine by them. But when someone signs up to follow their dreams, the reality of not earning much can burn.</p> <p>MLM supporters argue that the reason so many people don't earn more is because they aren't really dedicated to building the business. Barriers to entry are very low, so many people sign up, then lose interest and give up in a way they wouldn't if they were building a regular business in which they'd had to invest more.</p> <p>But there are also real challenges to growing a viable business using the MLM model, even for committed salespeople. For example, many MLMs ask you to focus your sales efforts on family members and friends, which can be awkward and presents a limited pool of customers. Even if you expand your sales network, the products may be overpriced, making them difficult to sell.</p> <p>Lastly, it's not easy to grow your sales if your MLM is overly saturated with distributors already. And if you happen to recruit a distributor (the key to earning commissions), they then often become your competition.</p> <h2>Tips for Vetting an MLM Company</h2> <p>Just like anything else, it pays to do some research before you sign up for a multilevel marketing company. As the FTC notes, it's smart to not only consider the products, but to learn more about the company itself.</p> <p>Questions to ask should include:</p> <ul> <li>How long has the company been in business?</li> <li>What is its standing with the BBB?</li> <li>Has the company been sued for deceptive business practices?</li> <li>What are the company's annual sales?</li> <li>What percentage of average sales are made to distributors, as opposed to retail consumers?</li> </ul> <p>Beyond those considerations, the FTC suggests making sure you understand compensation structure, terms and conditions, and potential business expenses. Also, get all the company's details, including their refund policy, in writing.</p> <p>The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also offers an array of tips for people vetting a MLM and trying to avoid a pyramid scheme. According to the SEC, you should:</p> <ul> <li>Watch out for MLMs that don't appear to offer a product or service. If you can't figure out what a MLM sells, run.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be leery of MLMs that promise huge returns in a short amount of time. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be skeptical of companies that offer compensation for little work. Terms like &quot;easy money&quot; and &quot;passive income&quot; should be a red flag.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Look for proof of retail sales. Ask to see documents that show how the MLM generated revenue from the selling of its products to people outside the program.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Think long and hard before you &quot;buy in.&quot; Question the value of any opportunity that makes you purchase a product to get started.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Watch out for complex commission structures. If it's hard to understand how you'll get paid or you can't figure out how commissions work, beware.</li> </ul> <p>Lastly, the FTC and SEC both suggest avoiding MLMs that place a heavy emphasis on recruiting members to work beneath you. The hallmark of a pyramid scheme is when you make more money recruiting than you do for product sales.</p> <p>Check out these <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/multilevel-marketing" target="_blank">FTC</a> and <a href="https://www.sec.gov/enforce/investor-alerts-bulletins/investoralertsia_pyramidhtm.html" target="_blank">SEC</a> pages for further details on how to vet a multilevel marketing company. While these companies do offer a path to earning extra income, the reality is that most of that income goes to the very top few earners, not to the average distributor like yourself. And if you don't wind up earning much, the costs of buying a &quot;starter kit&quot; and hosting parties could easily leave you in the red.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Consumer Affairs businesses distributors MLM multilevel marketing pyramid schemes sales scams self employment work from home Fri, 03 Mar 2017 10:30:39 +0000 Holly Johnson 1902525 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-157397600.jpg" alt="Woman making sure her private info stays private" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a world where so many of us share everything from the birth of a child to our weight loss goals on social media, privacy might seem like a moot point. But the reality is, growing identity theft threats make safeguarding personal details more important than ever.</p> <p>The good news is, there are simple things you can do to keep yourself safe. It is just about paying attention to where your personal information could leak out, and plugging the holes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Your Credit Card May Be Sharing Your Private Info</a>)</p> <h2>1. Destroy Unneeded Paper Documents</h2> <p>Any junk mail that contains a credit offer. Old documents with your signature, Social Security number, date of birth, or other identifying details. Old tax returns. Convenience checks from credit cards. These are some of the most sensitive items that you should never dispose of without shredding. Buy a <a href="http://amzn.to/2jwjGhw" target="_blank">crosscut shredder</a> or take your documents to a business shredder to destroy, or burn the paper in your fireplace.</p> <h2>2. Safeguard Your Mail</h2> <p>The <a href="https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/TipThieves.aspx" target="_blank">U.S. Post Office recommends</a> that you pick up your mail promptly after delivery and always put the mail on hold if you go out of town. Some folks take it a step further by investing in a locking mailbox or renting a post office box away from their residence. Remember to protect outgoing mail as well, by dropping it into a secure mailbox or handing it to the carrier, instead of leaving it out for the carrier to pick up.</p> <h2>3. Be Wary of Online Forms</h2> <p>You may be asked for your name, email address, home address, phone number, date of birth, and other personal information many times a day on the Internet. And often, it's legitimate to share that information &mdash; for instance, when signing up for a food delivery service. But when asked for personal details, ask yourself who's behind the request &mdash; a reputable brand, or a company you've never heard of? Is the sign-up really necessary?</p> <h2>4. Don't Overshare on Social Media</h2> <p>First of all, know who you're sharing with when you post something on social media. On Facebook, you can choose to share a post with the public, with all your friends, or only a subgroup of friends. Personally, I don't know all the people I've accepted friend requests from very well. So most of the things I post &mdash; especially potentially compromising information such as an upcoming surgery or vacation &mdash; are only shared with a select group of close friends and relatives.</p> <p>Second, there are some things you don't want to share with anyone &mdash; not even relatives. Hundreds of thousands of people each year have their <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/21/identity-theft-victims-may-know-the-culprit.html" target="_blank">IDs stolen by someone they know</a>. Never post a photo of personal documents, like a new passport or even a kid's report card. Beware of documents that may be visible in the background of snapshots, like that tax form stuck to your fridge with a magnet.</p> <h2>5. Conduct Periodic Audits of Your Online Info</h2> <p>This sounds complicated, but it's actually easy. First, Google your full name. Look yourself up on &quot;people search&quot; websites, especially <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/01/12/youve-probably-never-heard-of-this-creepy-genealogy-site-but-its-heard-all-about-you/?utm_term=.620bcefdccc0" target="_blank">FamilyTreeNow</a>, which allows people to search for personal data without paying or signing up for an account. A lot of the info you will find on these sites are public records, but that doesn't mean you want to make it easy for potential data thieves to aggregate all public info about you for free. Opt out of all such sites, which may take some time clicking around, but is worth it.</p> <h2>6. Be Suspicious of Everyone Who Handles Your Information</h2> <p>Your children's school and your doctor's office probably aren't out to rob you, so you might feel comfortable sharing any information they ask for. Here's the thing, though: Do you know if they're storing those documents securely or disposing of them properly when no longer needed? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft</a>)</p> <p>One way to limit your exposure to this risk is to give as little information as possible. Yes, every school form might ask for your child's medical insurance ID, but is it really necessary? At the doctor's office, decline to write your Social Security number on paperwork. They don't need it on every piece of paper in your file.</p> <p>Another way to limit your exposure is to ask staff how papers are handled and secured, and to push for better safety in the likely event that there's room for improvement.</p> <h2>7. Keep Your Computer Clean</h2> <p>Logging onto bank, mortgage, and credit accounts to pay bills, check balances, and transfer money is incredibly convenient. It can also be incredibly dangerous if you do it on a compromised computer. Be wary of what you click, whether it's an app you download or a link or attachment in email, because if your computer gets a virus, it could do more than slow it down. Hackers can use such Trojan horses to slip a keystroke logging program onto your computer, recording everything you type, including usernames and passwords. Never log onto banking and other sensitive sites using public Wi-Fi connections.</p> <p>Besides avoiding clicking dodgy links and regularly scanning your computer for malware, you can safeguard your online banking data by regularly changing your passwords, and by making your passwords really hard to guess.</p> <h2>8. Limit What You Carry Around With You</h2> <p>Stealing your purse or wallet is another way thieves can get ahold of your private information. Don't carry anything more than you need &mdash; one or two credit cards and your driver's license should do. Leave your Social Security card at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a>)</p> <h2>9. Opt Out of Junk Mail</h2> <p>You can sign up to <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email" target="_blank">stop credit and insurance companies</a> from sending you preapproved offers, which could be used to take out accounts in your name. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-remove-yourself-from-mailing-lists-and-eliminate-junk-mail?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Remove Yourself From Mailing Lists and Eliminate Junk Mail</a>)</p> <h2>10. Don't Get Caught by a Phisher</h2> <p>Beware of impostors asking for your bank password or other information. You may already know that if you get an alarming email purportedly from your bank, you can go straight to your bank website and log on, or call them, instead of clicking the link.</p> <p>But increasingly, phishers are reaching victims by phone as well. So many people have been tricked into installing malicious software or giving up credit card numbers by fake &quot;Microsoft tech support&quot; calls that <a href="https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx" target="_blank">Microsoft set up a page</a> warning the public about them. The Internal Revenue Service has set up a <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-urges-public-to-stay-alert-for-scam-phone-calls" target="_blank">similar warning</a> about criminals who call posing as IRS agents and ask for money or personal data. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs data emails identity theft malware personal information phishing phone calls scams security viruses Thu, 02 Mar 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1898692 at http://www.wisebread.com Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-509629604.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people aren't really thinking of filing taxes just yet, but they are starting to collect the information needed to file by the April deadline. That means the scammers are out in force again, ready to trick millions into submitting personal information, or to make payments that will go into the pockets of thieves.</p> <p>These six scams are the biggest offenders, and once again, they'll be used widely this year. Watch out for them.</p> <h2>1. The &quot;You've Got a Refund&quot; Email</h2> <p>Who doesn't love getting money back from the IRS? When you get this one in your inbox, you could certainly be fooled into thinking it's legitimate. Unlike many of the phishing emails, it appears to have decent grammar, it's well formatted, and it has something of an official look to it. What's more, the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/phishing_email.pdf" target="_blank">refund isn't huge</a>. If it had stated you were getting many thousands back, you may pause for thought. But a small sum, under $100, is less likely to trigger alarm bells. It all seems legit. But, it's not. And by clicking the link in the email, you are going to a fraudulent site designed to collect personal and banking information.</p> <p>As the IRS clearly states on its website, it will never initiate contact with taxpayers over email, text messages, or social media channels. The main contact is snail mail, and while you may get actual calls, they will be easy to verify (more on that later).</p> <p>Do not look at the &quot;from&quot; email address, either. These can be simulated to look like they have come from an official agency. Look at the link address in the email; this will definitely be going to a site that tries to look official, but isn't, such as <a href="http://www.irs-gov.com/refund" title="www.irs-gov.com/refund">www.irs-gov.com/refund</a>. The bottom line: Any kind of &quot;you've got a refund&quot; email from the IRS is a scam, and should be <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing" target="_blank">reported to them immediately</a>.</p> <h2>2. The &quot;The Bill Was Lost in the Mail&quot; Call</h2> <p>If you receive a call from the IRS saying you owe money, it's a scam. That's just a hard fact. The IRS clearly states on its website that it will never call you if you owe taxes, without first sending you a bill in the mail. Of course, thieves are getting wise to this being common knowledge, and are now saying that the bill must have gotten lost in the mail.</p> <p>At this point, you may well be put into a world of self-doubt; and that's when the scammer jumps on the opportunity. They hear the hesitation in your voice, and start alarming you. They will say that as the bill has been long overdue, you are now in serious trouble. You have to pay the back taxes immediately or risk going to jail. It's at this point that many people become so scared that they pay up. This is all a con, and you can easily verify this.</p> <p>For starters, a real IRS agent will not ask for money over the phone. If this is the request, hang up. They also will not threaten you with arrest or deportation. You can also ask for their IRS badge number and call back number. The scammer will hang up on you.</p> <h2>3. The &quot;Affordable Care Act&quot; Email</h2> <p>One of the downsides of the Affordable Care Act is that it is still quite new, and therefore, has many unknowns. There is even a page on the IRS website dedicated to the intricacies surrounding the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act/individuals-and-families/the-affordable-care-act-whats-trending" target="_blank">new health care law</a>; and that is perfect fodder for a scammer. Where there is doubt, there is a chance to profit.</p> <p>The scam will come as an email (and in some rare cases, a letter) alerting you to something called a CP2000 notice. It's worth noting that this is, in fact, a real type of notice. But in this case, it's completely fake. The big giveaway is that it is issued from an Austin, Texas address, with a phony payment voucher number called a 105C.</p> <p>The scam uses language designed to scare you into paying the bill, and here's another huge red flag &mdash; the check should be made payable to &quot;I.R.S.&quot; at an Austin Processing Center address. If you receive anything like this via email, forward it to the IRS. They are currently <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-and-security-summit-partners-warn-of-fake-tax-bill-emails" target="_blank">investigating this nasty scam</a>.</p> <h2>4. The &quot;Please Verify Your Tax Information&quot; Call</h2> <p>Not all IRS scams are designed for immediate profit. This one is designed to harvest your personal information, which can then be used for identity theft, or to actually grab a refund owed to you before you even claim it. In 2013, the IRS paid out over <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-119" target="_blank">$5.8 billion in stolen tax refunds</a>, and the problem is not going away.</p> <p>As the scammer is not asking you to pay a bill, it can feel much less threatening. The fake agent will be very polite, and will say that the IRS needs to verify some information on a tax return you previously filed. They may even have some personal information that makes it sound like they have your file right there in front of them. But, the information they really want, like your SSN or bank details, will not be available.</p> <p>Questions will start out simple: &quot;I have your name as John S. Doe, could you spell that please?&quot; But this will quickly lead to &quot;And could you verify your social security number for me?&quot; At this point, the scammer won't have anything to work with, and is hoping you simply parrot back the response.</p> <p>Remember, the IRS will not call you asking for this kind of information. If you do have an issue with a former return, you will get an official notice in the mail, asking for the information to be verified. And if you doubt that, call the IRS directly.</p> <h2>5. The &quot;IRS Taxpayer Advocate&quot; Email</h2> <p>In 2014, the IRS warned of a new scam that was designed to solicit personal information, leading to identity theft and stolen tax refunds. This is known as the &quot;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-new-email-phishing-scheme-falsely-claiming-to-be-from-the-taxpayer-advocate-service" target="_blank">IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service</a>,&quot; and comes complete with a legitimate-looking case number, and language designed to grab sensitive personal and financial information.</p> <p>The email, which comes with a &quot;from&quot; address designed to look real, tells you that a former tax return you filed was flagged for review due to a document processing error. Once again, you will always be notified of any problems like this via regular mail, not email.</p> <p>The email will then say that you must click on a link to submit the missing or erroneous information, which will expedite the filing of the return to avoid any fees or charges. Of course, that link leads to a page hosted by the scammer, designed to collect and abuse your information.</p> <h2>6. The &quot;Federal Student Tax&quot; Call</h2> <p>A new tax scam surfaced last year, and it sadly tricked a few unsuspecting people into handing over iTunes gift cards, W-2 information, or tax return data. If that sounds a bit obvious, it's all done in a way that makes it feel legitimate.</p> <p>The scammer will call a student and tell them that they owe &quot;Federal Student Tax,&quot; which must be paid immediately. There's no such thing as the Federal Student Tax. It's a complete fabrication.</p> <p>However, the scammers have become much more sophisticated. For example, they are using caller ID spoofing to make the call look like it is coming from an official government line. Plus, information made available on the dark web can give them all sorts of information about the student's background. Together with a very professional sounding &quot;agent,&quot; this can all work to convince the student the tax must be paid. And often, they request the money in the form of gift cards, which is another huge red flag. Again, the IRS won't call and ask for money. If this is happening to you, or someone you know, tell them to hang up and <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing" target="_blank">report the incident to the IRS</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/most-popular-ways-americans-spend-their-tax-refunds">Most Popular Ways Americans Spend Their Tax Refunds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-choose-the-best-tax-preparer">How to Choose the Best Tax Preparer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes emails fraud IRS phishing scams safety scams tax refunds theft Wed, 25 Jan 2017 11:00:08 +0000 Paul Michael 1878111 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-479413254.jpg" alt="don&#039;t fall for these investment scams" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's nothing wrong with putting your money to work for you. Investments can be the difference between making ends meet, and making a mint. But remember your mom's advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.</p> <p>Following this warning is one of the best ways to avoid financial scams. Here's a list of some infamous investment frauds, and ways to spot red flags. Pay attention. Make your mom proud &mdash; and your wallet happy.</p> <h2>The Classic: Pyramid Scheme<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Many pyramid schemes come across as multi-level marketing opportunities. Investors pay fees to join and then make money from direct sales. Backers also get a cut of profits from folks they've recruited to the program. But pyramid organizers need this new money to pay off earlier investors, and often, the scheme collapses under its own weight. There's not enough money to make payoffs. Participants see investments and returns disappear.</p> <p>Pyramid schemes often spread through social media, websites, online ads, and group pitches. Be alert to these warning signs.</p> <ul> <li>You're told you'll make a lot of money quickly, but you won't have to put in much effort.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>You have to pay a fee to join, and your main role is getting others to sign up.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Any product that's sold has little value outside the scheme.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>You can't find evidence, such as professionally audited financial statements, of sales profits. Money comes from recruitment.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Profits come from within the program. Your earnings depend upon other participants, not on outside sales.</li> </ul> <p>Lots of money, little work: this is exactly what your mother was talking about.</p> <h2>Risky Business: Energy Scams<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Legitimate investment opportunities in oil and gas development come with no guarantees. They need lots of money and time, and proceeds are uncertain. Developers might drill and drill with little return for their efforts. Investors can lose everything they put in. And that's with authentic energy exploration. If the whole purpose is to separate you from your money, participants don't stand a chance.</p> <p>So how do you separate real energy investment deals from scams? Be on the lookout for these warning signs.</p> <ul> <li>Company offices are in one state, drilling is in another, and investors don't live in either. You can't easily visit the corporation or well site. If fraud is suspected, the geographic range creates a nightmare for law enforcement investigators.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You receive a surprise email or phone call. You don't hear a lot of facts, just tremendous pressure to commit. You're warned that if you don't immediately jump in, you'll miss out. Real energy companies don't fish around for investors.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Little risk, high returns: Is that what you've been promised? Run away, because that's not how it really works in the energy business.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Some get-rich-quick scams use current events as lures. If high gas and oil prices are currently in the news, investors might be convinced the time is right. But remember, well development is a long process.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>If the company is secretive and doesn't want you to talk to anyone about your investment opportunity, there's a good reason for that. It's a shady proposition. You should be encouraged to consult others and investigate the deal. And all your questions should get answers &mdash; in writing. If you get shut down, close your wallet.</li> </ul> <p>Energy development is a business, not a mystery. All aspects should be open and aboveboard.</p> <h2>I'm Just Like You: Affinity Sham<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Affinity fraud targets participants based on a specific characteristic, such as age, religious affiliation, or ethnicity. Schemers present themselves as members of the same group in order to create an immediate relationship. Some hustlers are so good they enlist recognized leaders of the community. Unfortunately, these respected notables wind up falling prey to the scam &mdash; and unintentionally drawing others in.</p> <p>You might feel a connection to the individual trying to get you to invest, but that's what these con artists count on. Be wary.</p> <ul> <li>Don't invest just because you have an association with the promoter &mdash; even if it's someone you trust. That person may have been duped. Do outside research. If that's discouraged, say no. Real investments hold up against scrutiny.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Avoid online opportunities that show up in chat groups, bulletin boards, or websites exclusive to your group. The Internet is a quick and easy way to target a specific audience.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Steer clear of any investment that guarantees low risk and high returns. The two just don't go together. Valid deals don't promise them.</li> </ul> <p>The bottom line here &mdash; listen to your mother. When it comes to changing your socks, eating your vegetables, and avoiding fraud, she knows best.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sale-aftermath-beware-of-paypal-chargebacks-0">The Sale Aftermath: Beware of PayPal Chargebacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme">How to Tell if That Home Business Opportunity Is Really a Pyramid Scheme</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Investment advice energy scams fraud money protection multi level marketing pyramid schemes scams Wed, 21 Dec 2016 10:31:29 +0000 Anum Yoon 1858984 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_phone_park_621595942.jpg" alt="Man learning how to spot a charity scam from a mile away" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to donating to charity, people have good intentions. They want to give to a worthy cause, but unfortunately, so many individuals do very little research before opening up their checkbooks.</p> <p>While many charities are legitimate, there are several that should be avoided. They are the ones that rate low, with the majority of their funds being funneled into the pockets of CEOs or marketing efforts. For example, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is one charity that is low-rated by <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten.detail&amp;listid=8">Charity Navigator</a>, yet has one of the highest paid CEOs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprisingly-easy-ways-you-can-support-charity?Ref=seealso">Surprisingly Easy Ways You Can Support Charity</a>)</p> <p>Here's how to make sure your donation is winding up in the right hands.</p> <h2>Make Sure the Name Is Right</h2> <p>Some notable low-rated charities have made it a point to choose names similar to popular nonprofit organizations. For example, Cancer Research Institute is a highly rated charity, but Cancer Survivors' Fund and American Association for Cancer Support are both low-rated charities, according to <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/charitable-donations/best-and-worst-charities-for-your-donations/">Consumer Reports</a>. Both of the low-rated charities have important sounding names, and it can be easy to confuse them when there are so many to keep track of.</p> <h2>Avoid Callers</h2> <p>Don't give in to pesky callers asking for donations. Often telemarketers are hired by select charities to help raise funds. However, the charity does not get all of those funds. Instead, a lot of your donation will end up going to the marketers rather than your cause. Definitely do not give any personal information, such as your credit card or Social Security number to any charity. Most importantly, if anybody pressures you to give money, then it is best to walk away.</p> <h2>Know Where the Money Goes</h2> <p>The highest rated charities are very transparent about where their money goes. You should be able to see the organization's annual expense reports or the charity's Form 990. Churches and other big religious groups are not required to file 990s, so be sure to check them out at <a href="http://www.ministrywatch.com/">Ministry Watch</a>, a website that helps alert donors to fraudulent religious charities. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-giving-to-charity-is-good-for-you?ref=seealso">5 Ways Giving to Charity Is Good for You</a>)</p> <h2>Don't Donate Cash or Give Through Wire Transfers</h2> <p>Never give any charity cash or send money through wire transfers. If the charity insists on cash or a wire transfer, it should make you suspicious of the organization. But what about religious tithing? While dropping cash in your local place of worship's donation bucket doesn't mean you are donating to a scam charity, it is still wiser to write a check or donate online. This will allow you to keep track of your charitable giving for tax purposes. If you do give cash, try your best to get a receipt.</p> <h2>Be on Alert</h2> <p>During the holidays, more for-profit charities are likely to increase their marketing. Expect more calls and emails that will appeal to your emotions. Of course you want to help wounded veterans, homeless children, and abused pets but if you have never heard of the charity, then don't rush into donating. Charity scams also are more likely to pop up after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane.</p> <p>Ask a charity if they are registered, and if they claim they are, then get the registration number. Also know that most respectable charities do not ask for donations via email, unless an individual has already signed up for the mailing list.</p> <h2>Do Some Research</h2> <p>Before you donate a large sum of money to any charity, spend a few minutes researching the organization. You should be able to find the rating of charities on the <a href="https://www.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau</a>, <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/">Charity Navigator</a>, <a href="https://www.charitywatch.org/">Charity Watch</a>, <a href="http://www.give.org/">BBB Wise Giving Alliance</a>, and <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/">Consumer Reports</a>.</p> <p>It is best to decide at the beginning of the year what your annual charitable giving will be and which charities you want to donate to. This then puts you and your budget in the right place for donating money and helping those in need.</p> <p>Charity scammers take advantage of people's goodwill and desire to help. However, these scammers can steal more than just your money. They can steal your identity if you give out too much information. Give to causes you care about while also protecting your bank account and personal information.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-charities-you-can-trust-with-your-holiday-donations">8 Charities You Can Trust With Your Holiday Donations</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs charity donating fraud Giving Back scams theft things to watch out for wire transfers Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:30:07 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1849882 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/data_breach_58553266.jpg" alt="Learning what to do if your identity gets stolen" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that in 2014, 17.6 million Americans aged 16 or older were <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit14_sum.pdf">victims of identity theft</a>. That, alone, is a scary fact. And to be honest, when anyone says the phrase &quot;identity theft,&quot; most of us picture lives being upended, years of court cases, and bank accounts being wiped out.</p> <p>But let's look a little deeper into this issue, because while it is definitely something to keep on your radar, identity theft is a broad term. Plus, these days, with so many people being affected, there are more resources available than ever before to help you out. So before you go into full-blown panic mode&hellip;read on.</p> <h2>It's Highly Unlikely Someone Will Actually &quot;Steal&quot; Your Identity</h2> <p>Of the 17.6 million Americans that were victims of identity theft in 2014, only 4% of them actually had their personal information used to open a new account. Think about that for a second, and you should already be feeling much more calm. The chances of someone actually pretending to be you, opening up account everywhere in your name, and sinking you into a world of pain, are very slim indeed. Sadly, media outlets and the news don't like to cover that, because it's not sexy, and it doesn't get ratings. That's why the identity theft stories you hear about are horrific. But in reality, it is highly unlikely that you will have your literal identity stolen.</p> <h2>Identity Theft Is a Very Broad Term</h2> <p>The phrase itself puts most people in a cold sweat, but it covers a lot of different aspects of the crime. The vast majority of identity theft crimes, around 86%, are tied to the misuse of a credit card or bank account. That's it. Someone grabs your digits, takes out some cash, and calls it a day before the card gets canceled. Or, they withdraw a bunch of money and move on to someone else's account. Either way, it's quick and dirty, but rarely goes beyond that level of theft. And as the next point proves, it's not worth worrying about&hellip;</p> <h2>Credit Card and Bank Account Misuse Is Covered</h2> <p>If someone manages to get hold of your credit card, either by stealing or cloning it, they will undoubtedly go on a shopping spree. But you don't have to worry. While the initial shock of seeing thousands in charges you didn't accrue is horrifying, you are not on the hook for it. Card issuers and bank accounts cover you <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0213-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards">for most (and generally all) of the theft</a>. You will get all of those funds put back onto your account, usually very quickly, and the card issuer or bank will take the hit and investigate the crime. Sadly, very little of this money is recovered from the thieves who did the spending. Unless there is CCTV footage of them committing the crime, and significant evidence to track them down, they'll get away with it. But rest assured, you won't have to foot the bill.</p> <h2>Over 52% of Identity Theft Victims Resolve the Problem in a Day or Less</h2> <p>Not years. Not months. Not weeks. Just one day. That should come as great comfort if you're worried about the time and expense it could take to sort out the mess some nasty crook has created for you. And here's further cause to relax&hellip;only 9% of victims spent more than a month trying to get their lives back on track, and even then, it was not a month taken off work, fighting eight hours a day, seven days a week. It is simply a process that can take time to get right.</p> <h2>This Is a Common Problem, So You'll Get Help</h2> <p>When identity theft first popped up, it was hard to get card issuers and banks to listen to the facts. But these days, that has all changed. There were more victims of identity theft in 2014 than <a href="https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/property-crime/property-crime">there were property crimes</a>, so it's definitely on law enforcement's radar. Most credit card companies monitor accounts very closely, and track your spending habits. They will often shut down a card immediately if they believe there is suspicious activity going on &mdash; for instance, an unusually large purchase, many purchases in one day, or purchases made out of state.</p> <p>If your card is stolen, report it the moment you notice it is gone, or has been cloned. If you see a new account has been opened in your name, report that immediately. These companies want your business, and they are setup to handle this kind of crime.</p> <h2>It's Easy to Stop Identity Theft in Its Tracks</h2> <p>These days you have resources and tools to monitor your accounts and your credit reports. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) puts this kind of protection into two basic categories.</p> <h3>Credit Monitoring</h3> <p>This tracks activity on your credit reports, and notifies you if a company checks your credit history, a new account is opened in your name, a debt collector reports a late payment, your credit limits change, or your personal information changes. It's worth noting that this isn't actually protection, but a warning. However, once you're alerted, you can act on that information.</p> <h3>Identity Monitoring</h3> <p>This alerts you when personal information, including your driver's license, passport, Social Security number, medical ID number, or bank account information, is used in ways that don't show up on your credit report.</p> <p>You will already know of major identity theft protection sites and services out there, including LifeLock, CompleteID, IdentityGuard, and IDShield. Your bank account and credit card issuers may also have their own version of identity theft protection for you to take advantage of. All of these services require a nominal monthly fee, but for the peace of mind offered, it's worth it.</p> <h2>Criminals Need More Than Just Your Personal Information</h2> <p>If you see a news story talking about a data breach, take the time to find out what has actually been stolen. As Time reported in 2015, criminals can do very little with your name, birth date, and email address. Even with your address and phone number on top of that, they aren't going to be able to do much without a SSN and/or account numbers and passwords. The most they can do is some kind of &quot;phishing&quot; scam, where they will use your personal information to try and get money out of you in some way, via phone or email. But use your common sense, and never respond to a cold call or email. Always contact a business yourself to verify this.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-retirement-account-from-a-hack">How to Protect Your Retirement Account From a Hack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tax-scams-you-should-know-about-for-2018">5 Tax Scams You Should Know About for 2018</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-elderly-loved-ones-from-financial-scams">How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Consumer Affairs credit monitoring data breach fraud hacked identity theft illegal phishing scams social security stolen money Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1819826 at http://www.wisebread.com