illegal http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9583/all en-US 5 Common Money Moves That Can Get You Into Legal Trouble http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-money-moves-that-can-get-you-into-legal-trouble <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-common-money-moves-that-can-get-you-into-legal-trouble" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-498121804.jpg" alt="Woman making common money moves that can get her into trouble" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They seem like minor fibs: We forge our spouse's name on the back of a check. We inflate our monthly income when applying for that rewards credit card. We run a small business from home, and might fib about the size of our office in hopes of getting a tax break from the IRS.</p> <p>These may all seem like harmless white lies. But these seemingly innocent money moves &mdash; and others like them &mdash; can get you into serious legal trouble.</p> <h2>1. Signing Someone Else's Name on a Check</h2> <p>You want to deposit a check into your savings account. The only problem is that check is made out to your spouse, and they're not around. It seems like an easy matter to scribble your spouse's signature on the back of the check and then deposit the money into your joint savings account.</p> <p>But resist the temptation. It is illegal to forge someone's name on a check, even if that person asks you to do it.</p> <p>The same holds true if you want to, say, pay a bill on behalf of an elderly parent. In some cases, if you control this parent's checkbook, it might seem easier to forge your parent's name on the check instead of obtaining your parent's actual signature. This, too, is illegal, even if your motives for forging the signature are good.</p> <p>The odds are high that neither of these forgeries will ever be discovered or reported to the police, of course. But why take the chance?</p> <h2>2. Writing a Bad Check &mdash; On Purpose</h2> <p>It happens sometimes: You drain your bank account while you still have bills to pay. Your bank might have overdraft protection if you unknowingly write a check for more than your balance. But if you write a bad check on purpose, knowing that you don't have enough funds in your account to cover it, that is illegal.</p> <p>If you're caught, you could face a fine and maybe even jail time, depending on the severity of your crime. Even if you're not charged with a criminal act, your bank might charge you a hefty penalty for writing a bad check. And the shops that unknowingly took your bad check may no longer accept your business.</p> <h2>3. Lying on a Credit Card Application</h2> <p>That credit card might come with a tempting <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-bonus-cash-for-sign-up?ref=internal" target="_blank">sign-up bonus</a> or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">generous rewards program</a>. Dreaming of all the ways you can put those rewards to use, you decide to fib a bit on your application, in hopes of increasing your odds of qualifying for the card.</p> <p>Guess what? That's fraud. And it's illegal.</p> <p>You might be tempted to inflate your monthly income when applying for a particularly appealing credit card. But resist this temptation. Credit card companies only approve consumers who meet certain financial requirements. If you lie about yours, your credit card provider can pursue legal action against you, including fines and possible jail time.</p> <p>Sure, the odds are low that you'll face these penalties for lying on your credit card application. But avoid all of the risk by being honest about your age, income, and employment when applying.</p> <h2>4. Lying About Your Home Office</h2> <p>One of the benefits of running a small business from your home is you can take advantage of the home office deduction, which can reduce the taxes you pay each year.</p> <p>There's a catch, though: You must use your home office &quot;exclusively and regularly&quot; as your principal place of business. And you can only deduct the exact areas that you use for business.</p> <p>This means that if you use your bedroom as your office, you can't claim its entire area as a deduction, just the corner where your desk and computer sit. If you lie about the size of your home office, and the IRS finds out, you'll be hit with penalties and a higher tax bill.</p> <h2>5. Lying About Who'll Be Living in That Home You're Buying</h2> <p>It's not easy to lie on a mortgage application. Lenders will request copies of your bank statements, paycheck stubs, and tax returns to make sure that you're honest about how much money you make.</p> <p>But there is one lie that's not easy for mortgage lenders to discover: A fib about who will actually live in the home.</p> <p>You might be buying a home with the intention of renting it out as an income-producing property. That's fine, but you have to be honest with lenders about this. That's because lenders typically charge higher interest rates to buyers who are renting out homes instead of living in them. They also might require a higher down payment. By claiming that you will live in the home when you don't plan to, you might be able to land a lower interest rate.</p> <p>This is mortgage fraud, and it is highly illegal. If you're found guilty of committing this crime, you can face hefty fines and several years in jail.</p> <p>Don't take the risk. Instead, be honest and pay those higher fees if necessary.</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/5-common-money-moves-that-can-get-you-into-legal-trouble">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-we-are-likely-to-lie-for-money">6 Times We Are Likely to Lie for Money</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-simple-financial-upgrades-you-can-make-during-breakfast">6 Simple Financial Upgrades You Can Make During Breakfast</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/7-money-moves-you-will-always-be-thankful-for">7 Money Moves You Will Always Be Thankful 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/10-year-end-financial-moves-you-must-make-now">10 Year-End Financial Moves You Must Make Now</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/will-45-mortgage-rates-jumpstart-the-housing-market">Will 4.5% mortgage rates jumpstart the housing market?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance applications fibs fines forgery getting in trouble illegal lying money moves mortgages taxes white lies Thu, 16 Mar 2017 11:00:07 +0000 Dan Rafter 1906389 at http://www.wisebread.com 35 Bizarre Things You Can Be Taxed On http://www.wisebread.com/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516281044.jpg" alt="you can be taxed on these bizarre things" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Once the Yuletide log burns out and the New Year's ball drops, it's soon time for a less-joyful annual tradition: Calculating how much money you owe the Internal Revenue Service.</p> <p>We all know that Uncle Sam takes a share of our earnings, but have you considered other events in the past year that you may owe taxes on? You might be surprised at all the ways Uncle Sam can lighten your wallet.</p> <p><em>Note: I'm not an accountant. Consult a tax professional for advice on your personal situation.</em></p> <h2>1. You Caught a Baseball</h2> <p>You are the lucky fan who catches a historic home run ball from the outfield bleachers. The not-so-lucky part? The IRS could hold you responsible for the <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB118532191532076935" target="_blank">resale value of the ball</a> as soon as it hits your glove &mdash; even if you weren't planning to sell it.</p> <h2>2. You Found a Pot of Gold</h2> <p>You finally found the cache at the end of the rainbow. Or maybe you found a stash of rare baseball cards hidden in the wall of your home during a remodel, or a treasure chest while scuba diving in a shipwreck. Under the same regulation that applies to the baseball, the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch12.html" target="_blank">treasure trove rule</a>, that windfall is taxable to you the first year that you find it. Sadly, this means that you may be forced to sell all or part of your find even if you wanted to keep it.</p> <h2>3. You Held Up a Liquor Store</h2> <p>It doesn't matter if you got it illegally: Stolen money or property should be reported, lest a tax evasion charge be added to your legal woes when you get caught. Says the IRS, &quot;If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.&quot;</p> <h2>4. You Accepted Hush Money</h2> <p>The IRS is blunt on this one: &quot;If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.&quot;</p> <h2>5. You Dealt in Illegal Goods</h2> <p>If you made money dealing drugs or by any other illegal form of self employment, the IRS requires you to <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch12.html" target="_blank">report it on Schedule C</a>.</p> <h2>6. You Hit the Jackpot</h2> <p>Yes, you have to pay taxes on your lottery prize. Yes, if you have been buying lottery tickets all year, you can also deduct the expenses. But you have to keep a <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch28.html#en_US_2015_publink1000174141" target="_blank">diary of wins and losses</a>, and the IRS has specific instructions on how to do that.</p> <h2>7. You Stuck the Landing and Won Gold</h2> <p>It's estimated that Michael Phelps <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/08/15/olympics-victory-tax-gold-medal/88587636/" target="_blank">will owe $55,000</a> to the IRS on his Rio winnings &mdash; the medals and the cash prizes that come with each are taxable. Many other Rio champions will get off scot free, however. That's because Congress recently passed a law to exempt Olympians from &quot;victory taxes&quot; &mdash; but only for athletes who earn a million dollars a year or less. Phelps earned an estimated $12 million in endorsements alone in 2016, so he doesn't get that break.</p> <h2>8. You Got a McArthur Genius Grant</h2> <p>It would feel great to win this $625,000 no-strings stipend, or the approximately $1 million that comes with the Nobel Prize. That good feeling won't protect you from the tax bite, though. You're required to pay taxes on all such awards &mdash; unless you have them <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch12.html" target="_blank">directly transferred to a recognized charity</a>. That's what President Obama did with his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winnings.</p> <h2>9. You Are Gifted</h2> <p>Usually, the presents you unwrap over the holidays come to you tax-free, but there are some exceptions. Cash or a gift card from your boss is taxable as a fringe benefit. A hostess gift you receive as a thank-you for having a sales party in your home is <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/Taxable-Income-vs--Nontaxable-Income--What-You-Should-Know/INF26326.html" target="_blank">taxed as miscellaneous income</a>. <a href="http://blog.taxact.com/gift-tax-do-i-have-to-pay-gift-tax-when-someone-gives-me-money/" target="_blank">Personal gifts</a>, though, are generally safe from the tax man.</p> <h2>10. You Airbnb'd Your Pad</h2> <p>Just like regular rent payments, money you earn by hosting Airbnb guests is counted as <a href="http://assets.airbnb.com/eyguidance/us.pdf" target="_blank">part of your gross income</a>. The exception: You don't have to pay if you live in the home and rent it out for <a href="https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/Self-Employment-Taxes/10-Tax-Tips-for-Airbnb--HomeAway---VRBO-Vacation-Rentals/INF29184.html" target="_blank">two weeks or less per year</a>.</p> <h2>11. You Got Your Social Security Check</h2> <p>It may seem nonsensical that the government pays people and then <a href="https://www.irs.gov/help-resources/tools-faqs/faqs-for-individuals/frequently-asked-tax-questions-answers/social-security-income/regular-disability-benefits/regular-disability-benefits" target="_blank">collects tax money</a> on those payments, but that's how it goes. However, SSI, or disability benefits, are not taxable.</p> <h2>12. You Divorced Well</h2> <p>Alimony you receive from your ex is <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch18.html" target="_blank">taxable income</a>, but child support payments are not. For this reason, it's important to know how payments are categorized in your divorce settlement.</p> <h2>13. You Won a Scholarship</h2> <p>If you win a grant that covers your tuition and books, that's tax-free. But if it pays for <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch01.html#en_US_2015_publink1000178003" target="_blank">room and board or travel</a>, pay up.</p> <h2>14. Your Fantasy Football Team Won the Super Bowl</h2> <p>If you win at least $600 worth of cash and prizes from a business operating a <a href="http://newsroom.hrblock.com/tax-tip-it-may-be-fantasy-football-but-tax-implications-are-real" target="_blank">fantasy sports league</a>, they'll file a 1099-MISC with the IRS. But even if you win less or your league is informal, you are still supposed to pay on your winnings.</p> <h2>15. Triple 7s Came Up</h2> <p>Just like with the lottery, the IRS gets a cut of your casino winnings once they surpass the amount you document losing. Usually it's a <a href="http://www.efile.com/taxable-gambling-winnings-income-taxes/" target="_blank">flat 25%</a>.</p> <h2>16. You Spun the Wheel of Fortune</h2> <p>It's simple enough to pay the tax if you win a cash prize, but if you win a car or vacation, you still owe tax on its value &mdash; which can be tough to pay if you didn't <em>also</em> win cash. Because of this, it's often wise to take the cash equivalent of a prize if offered.</p> <h2>17. Your Debt Was Forgiven</h2> <p>The IRS is very specific about this: If a debt is cancelled as a gift to you &mdash; for example, if Grandpa says, &quot;Merry Christmas, you no longer owe me for that time I bailed you out!&quot; &mdash; you <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch12.html" target="_blank">don't have to pay taxes</a>. Otherwise, you <em>do</em>.</p> <h2>18. You Traded a Haircut for Cigarettes</h2> <p>This may surprise you, but if you receive goods or services in exchange for services you render, the IRS expects you to <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc420.html" target="_blank">include the value of those</a> in your gross taxable income.</p> <h2>19. The Boss Lets You Take the Ice Cream Truck Camping</h2> <p>If you drive your company car to work and home, or use it on weekends, this is a <a href="http://smallbusiness.chron.com/irs-taxable-fringe-benefits-company-car-15565.html" target="_blank">taxable fringe benefit</a> and you should be tracking and reporting your personal miles.</p> <h2>20. Your Bitcoins Doubled in Value</h2> <p>Bitcoin is a virtual currency that is represented by computer code, but it can be used to buy real goods and services. So of course, the IRS considers gains in this or <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/12/16/bitcoin-at-tax-time-what-you-need-to-know-about-trading-tipping-mining-and-more/#20c59ae46692" target="_blank">any other virtual currency taxable</a>. It's considered a capital asset like stocks and bonds, so if you buy Bitcoins low and sell them high, the difference is your profit. But it can be even more complicated than that: If you create new Bitcoins by mining, you have to count those as income, too.</p> <h2>21. You Got a Blogger Freebie</h2> <p>If a widget maker sends you their SuperWidget 2000 to review and you get to keep it, you just received a taxable payment. However, you don't owe taxes on the market value of the product &mdash; just what the company agrees it's worth. Make sure to put an agreed-upon value in your contract.</p> <h2>22. You Sold Stuff on eBay</h2> <p>If you occasionally sell your kids' outgrown clothes on eBay, you won't owe taxes because you most likely took a loss on the items. But if you create a resale business on eBay, you better believe you have to <a href="http://smallbusiness.chron.com/claim-ebay-sales-taxes-59661.html" target="_blank">report your profits</a>.</p> <h2>23. You Had a Yard Sale</h2> <p>Like eBay, most yard sale transactions are <a href="http://dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com/dont_mess_with_taxes/2009/05/are-garage-sale-proceeds-taxable.html" target="_blank">not income producers</a>, but if you're one of those people who holds a sale every weekend and resells stuff at a profit, do the right thing.</p> <h2>24. You're a Child Entrepreneur</h2> <p>Starting a small business, whether it's dog walking or selling handmade items, can be a great activity for a tween or teen. But don't expect them to be IRS-exempt just because they're kids. If the <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/does-uncle-sam-tax-lemonade-stands-2013-07-08" target="_blank">business earns more than $400</a>, file a tax return.</p> <h2>25. You Set Up a GoFundMe Campaign</h2> <p>This is one of those tricky gray areas. If you start a crowdfunding benefit for someone in need, the donations should be considered personal gifts. But if the gifts run into the large numbers, the crowdfunding site may file a 1099, reporting the transaction to the IRS. A word to the wise: If you are setting up a crowdfunding campaign for a needy friend, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-rhode/crowdfunding-to-help-a-sick-friend-can-lead-to-a-big-tax-bill-for-you_b_6615616.html" target="_blank">make sure it's in their name</a> so you don't end up wondering if you need to pay taxes on money you handed over to them. And consult an accountant before going down this route.</p> <h2>26. You Asked for Spare Change</h2> <p>There are differing opinions out there over whether quarters dropped in a panhandler's cup are considered earned income or a gift. Since panhandlers tend to live below the poverty line, they probably wouldn't owe any income taxes, either way. A more pressing issue for many would be whether the panhandling counts as earned income, qualifying recipients for the earned income tax credit, which could lead to a cash payment from the IRS even if the panhandler pays no taxes.</p> <h2>27. You Received Punitive Damages</h2> <p>Court settlements vary in their tax treatment. If you get a settlement in court to compensate you for a physical injury or emotional distress stemming from an injury, the money isn't taxable. But if you get paid for emotional distress not tied to an injury, or you receive punitive damages, <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4345.pdf" target="_blank">you have to pay</a>.</p> <h2>28. You Cashed in Your Life Insurance Policy</h2> <p>If you die, your beneficiaries probably won't be taxed on your life insurance payout. But if you cash it in while you're alive? Any <a href="https://www.ameriprise.com/research-market-insights/tax-center/tax-planning/taxation-of-life-insurance/" target="_blank">profit you made on the policy</a> &mdash; that is, the value in excess of premiums paid &mdash; is taxable.</p> <h2>29. Your Champion Pug Had a Litter</h2> <p>Whether you breed your dog as a business or a hobby, money made <a href="http://www.akc.org/content/dog-breeding/articles/tax-tips-for-dog-breeders/" target="_blank">selling puppies is taxable income</a>. However, it's also not cheap to breed and raise puppies, so once you deduct stud fees and all those vet bills, you may not actually show a taxable profit for your prize pups.</p> <h2>30. You Put on the Red Light</h2> <p>Just like dealing drugs, if you sell your body in a jurisdiction where that's illegal, you still have to <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2009/09/how_do_prostitutes_pay_their_taxes.html" target="_blank">report the income on Schedule C</a>. In fact, smart high-earning prostitutes declare their income to put themselves into the position to buy a house or get credit.</p> <h2>31. You Couldn't Get Out of Jury Duty</h2> <p>If you got $15 for sitting on a jury, that's taxable income, even if you turn it over to your employer. However, if you did turn it over to your employer, you also put in a <a href="https://apps.irs.gov/app/vita/content/17/17_08_005.jsp" target="_blank">deduction for the same amount</a> on your tax form so your gross income will remain the same.</p> <h2>32. You Got a Tax Refund</h2> <p>Last year's state and federal refunds are <a href="https://www.taxslayer.com/support/knowledgebasearticle324.aspx" target="_blank">taxable in some situations</a>.</p> <h2>33. You Exercised Stock Options</h2> <p>This is one that has gotten a lot of tech workers into financial hot water. If your company gives you stock options, that's not a taxable event. But when you exercise the option by purchasing stock in your employer at a discount, <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/optioninvestor/07/esoabout.asp" target="_blank">that is a taxable event</a> even if you don't sell the stock right away. This can go bad if the stock declines in value after you exercise the option, because now you may owe the IRS more money than you can raise by selling the stock.</p> <h2>34. Your Landlord Is Paying You to Get Out</h2> <p>In rent-controlled areas with high demand, such as San Francisco, it's common for landlords to buy tenants out. This is often referred to as a relocation assistance. This is taxable, but whether to treat it as regular income or a capital gain is dicey, so you may need professional help with that one.</p> <h2>35. You Are an Undocumented Worker</h2> <p>Despite a common belief that undocumented immigrants don't contribute to society with tax dollars, anyone working in the U.S. is legally required to pay taxes, papers or not. And they do pay. Studies show about half of people working illegally are paying income tax, resulting in about <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-03-01/study-undocumented-immigrants-pay-billions-in-taxes" target="_blank">$12 billion per year</a> in state and local revenue.</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/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on">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/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</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-freelancers-and-side-giggers-need-to-know-about-income-taxes">What Freelancers and Side Giggers Need to Know About Income Taxes</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-signs-you-probably-need-an-accountant">5 Signs You Probably Need an Accountant</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/clear-out-that-clutter-15-places-to-sell-your-stuff">Clear Out That Clutter: 15 Places to Sell Your Stuff</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/my-16-favorite-ways-to-get-rid-of-clutter">My 16 Favorite Ways to Get Rid of Clutter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes bizarre taxes eBay entrepreneurs gambling illegal income taxes IRS prizes real estate selling sports winnings Mon, 19 Dec 2016 10:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1855930 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-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/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-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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-your-child-from-identity-theft">How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft</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-your-credit-after-the-equifax-breach">How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Breach</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 Insider Trading Is a Lot More Common Than You Think http://www.wisebread.com/insider-trading-is-a-lot-more-common-than-you-think <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/insider-trading-is-a-lot-more-common-than-you-think" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_counting_cash_17235688.jpg" alt="Man learning what insider trading is" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've heard the term. You've seen the headlines involving celebrities like <a href="http://coveringbusiness.com/2012/05/15/what-martha-stewart-did-wrong/">Martha Stewart</a> and <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/pro-golfer-phil-mickelson-made-1-million-from-insider-trading-w207122">Phil Mickelson</a>. It has also been a focus for movies like <em>Wall Street</em> and <em>Boiler Room</em>. But do you actually know what insider trading is, and why it is illegal? Here is a breakdown of the practice that can land people in jail, and ruin careers.</p> <h2>What Exactly Is Insider Trading?</h2> <p>To be honest, it's not something that is a black or white issue. If you Google the term, you will get a result that is something like this:</p> <p>&quot;The illegal practice of trading on the stock exchange to one's own advantage through having access to confidential information.&quot;</p> <p>That all seems cut and dry, until you dig into a few of the terms.</p> <p>Now, an insider can be anyone who's ownership of the company stock is greater than 10% of the firm's equity, and/or someone who has access to information about the company that has not been made public.</p> <p>The problem comes with the legality of how and when you use that information. There is no law against an insider buying and selling shares of the firm that he or she works for (that would be ridiculous, and incredibly prohibitive, if you think about it). As long as these transactions are logged with the Securities and Exchange Commission (more commonly known as the SEC, who regulates trades and monitors for illegal activity), it's completely fine.</p> <p>However, once an insider takes undisclosed, or secret, information that he or she has and uses it for monetary gain, then it becomes an illegal activity. And in this instance, an insider is not just a person working directly for that company. It can be a spouse, a relative, a friend, or a colleague.</p> <p>One of the best ways to illustrate this is from the movie <em>Wall Street</em>. Bud Fox is a young stockbroker, and his father works for Bluestar Airlines. During a casual conversation, Bud's father reveals some information about the company that has not been made public. Bud gives this information to the infamous Gordon Gekko, who buys stock in the company, and makes a sizable profit when the shares rise in value.</p> <p>If you want another example, imagine you are chatting with a friend who works at a big company that is currently involved in a lawsuit. Your friend tells you that the lawsuit is going to be settled out of court, and the company will be fine. You go and buy shares in that company, and your shares rise when the lawsuit settlement is announced. Congratulations, both you and your friend are now involved in an illegal insider trading deal.</p> <p>This, in a nutshell, is illegal insider trading. Using undisclosed, insider information to take advantage of stocks and make money. However, it is <a href="http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-difference-between-a-hot-day-trading-tip-and-i.html">not the same as a <em>hot tip</em></a>, and that can muddy the waters a little. If you hear, through rumors or gossip, that a company like Apple or Google is going to have a great quarter, and you buy shares, you are not breaking the law. This tip has not come directly to you from an insider, and is not based on undisclosed information. It's simply a tip, like the Internet reporting that &quot;More Spirit is a favorite to win the Kentucky Derby.&quot;</p> <h2>Why Is Insider Trading Illegal?</h2> <p>This has been debated among professionals in the industry for decades. After all&hellip;who really loses from insider trading? Someone who works at the company gives a friend some information, they buy shares, the shares go up, and everyone makes money. There's no specific loser in this scenario. That money was not stolen. It was created by the stock market.</p> <p>However, insider trading creates a &quot;rigged game.&quot; If corporate insiders use the information they have to make money, then it would lead to a scenario in which only a chosen few would make most of the profits from the stock market. This would lead to a lot of people running away from the markets, because they know they will not be able to make any money, and the entire system would come crashing down.</p> <p>Basically, if insider trading were made legal, the stock market would experience a catastrophic meltdown, and businesses worldwide would be ruined.</p> <p>Think of it like a casino. If you knew that some people at the Craps table were allowed to a play with loaded dice, would you bother taking a turn?</p> <h2>How Do You Know if You're Doing It?</h2> <p>Here's the part you need to be aware of; you do not want to end up like Martha Stewart.</p> <p>The first question to ask yourself is, &quot;Does this feel right?&quot; Really, we all know when we're doing something a little shady, and although it's very easy to justify our actions, we know when something is wrong. However, if your conscience is clear, but you still want to make sure you're doing the right thing, consider the following points:</p> <ul> <li>If you are acting on information that has not been made public, you are almost certainly breaking the law. Don't do it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you are passing on undisclosed information to someone, and they use it to make money, you are both guilty of insider trading.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you receive a tip from someone, check to see if it is based on information that has been made public. If it hasn't, you could be in trouble.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you know someone who works at a company you want to invest in, do not ask a lot of questions. You may inadvertently get them to reveal insider information, and then you will both be in a lot of trouble.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you are worried about the trade, don't do it. Or, report it to the SEC.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you ever been tempted to use insider information to score a win on the stock market?</em></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/insider-trading-is-a-lot-more-common-than-you-think">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-creative-ways-to-invest-during-a-weak-market">5 Creative Ways to Invest During a Weak Market</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/learn-how-to-invest-with-these-5-stock-market-games">Learn How to Invest With These 5 Stock Market Games</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/the-easiest-way-to-invest-in-the-worlds-biggest-companies">The Easiest Way to Invest in the World&#039;s Biggest Companies</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/youre-wasting-up-to-42532-by-not-investing-your-gasoline-savings">You&#039;re Wasting Up to $42,532 by Not Investing Your Gasoline Savings</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-reasons-social-media-is-still-a-smart-investment">5 Reasons Social Media is Still a Smart Investment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment crime gordon gekko greed illegal insider knowledge insider trading martha stewart phil mickelson stock market Wed, 03 Aug 2016 09:30:44 +0000 Paul Michael 1757853 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways Greed Is Keeping You Poor http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-greed-is-keeping-you-poor <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-greed-is-keeping-you-poor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_seeing_money_000087743301.jpg" alt="Man learning ways greed is keeping him poor" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Greed is a particularly ugly sin. While there are positive characteristics of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/seven-deadly-sins" target="_blank">pride, or even envy</a>, it's almost impossible to use greed in any way that isn't an insult. It conjures images of fat cat CEOs hoarding millions, while their workers earn minimum wage. But although Ebenezer Scrooge and his ilk are portrayed as misers with serious money, greed can sometimes make you poor. Here are six examples of the way greed can eat away at your pot of gold.</p> <h2>1. Wanting It All</h2> <p>Not content with their lot in life, some people look at all those things they could have that make life even better. Or so they think, anyway. The latest smartphone. The upgraded car. The bigger house. The 80 inch flat screen TV. The huge deck. The patio. The yacht. Sadly, all those expenses have to be paid, and it can lead to crippling credit card debt, loans that cannot be paid back, and the eventual loss of everything to pay back creditors. As Tyler Durden famously said in Fight Club, &quot;the things you own end up owning you.&quot; So, be very wary of greed. Happiness from those items is fleeting anyway.</p> <h2>2. Living to Excess</h2> <p>More wine. More beer. More junk food. More everything! When greed manifests as the intense and selfish desire for food and drink, it can lead to a plethora of health problems. And as we all know, health care can be very expensive in the USA. Overeating, leading to obesity, is responsible for as much as $210 billion in healthcare costs in the United States. An obese adult spends 42% more on healthcare than someone with a healthy weight, and obesity can lead to many other illnesses.</p> <p>Then there's greed that turns to alcoholism, or drug abuse. While there are definitely other factors involved, including depression and other mental health issues, greed can contribute to a whole host of health problems from drug abuse. Recovery can be costly. And then there are the other problems stemming from an excessive lifestyle, including time taken off work, a lack of drive or motivation, and the sheer expense of maintaining that kind of diet.</p> <h2>3. Breaking the Law</h2> <p>Greed can make people do some strange things, which leads to committing unlawful acts. This does not mean they go out and rob banks, or scam people out of their savings online. It's more that they see an opportunity to make a lot of money for doing something they believe is harmless, albeit illegal. And then, they get caught, and face a prison sentence and a career in ruins.</p> <p>One example is Scott London, a once successful audit partner at a huge accounting firm. He was earning $900,000 a year, but it appears that wasn't enough. London decided to start selling sensitive information about some of his clients to a friend. This is known as insider trading, and it's against the law. Although he made just $70,000 from the deals (a lot for most of us, but for him, a drop in the bucket), he was caught by the FBI and sentenced to 14 months in prison.</p> <p>However, for others, it may be something smaller that leads to the poor house. Cheating on taxes, even just for a few bucks, is a federal offense. And shoplifting as little as three belts, or a couple of jerseys, has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/11/23-petty-crimes-prison-life-without-parole">landed people in prison for life</a>.</p> <h2>4. Avoiding Generosity</h2> <p>There is a misnomer that every rich person is greedy, and every poor person is not. This is actually not true, and financial guru Robert Kiyosaki has devoted a <a href="http://investmentwatchblog.com/robert-kiyosaki-forget-the-rich-the-poor-are-the-greedy-ones/">one-hour radio show</a> on this subject that is well worth listening to. The basic idea is this: Having a generous spirit, and giving back to the world, will pay dividends. Investing in people, and in projects that have real potential, will reap rewards. On the other hand, hoarding your possessions, never giving to charity, and stockpiling wealth is not a positive way to manage money. Being generous, and doing good, can build much greater wealth than saving every penny and watching it grow a few percent a year in a bank account.</p> <h2>5. Gambling Away Everything</h2> <p>You know the stories. You've seen the movies. Gambling can bring people great wealth in just a few seconds. But, for the vast majority, it's a losing proposition. Couple gambling with greed, and you have a recipe for tragedy just waiting to happen. Every year, millions of people try and get lucky, and for most, it's just a flutter. Win or lose, they walk away. But 2% of people who gamble get seriously addicted, and greed takes over. A win becomes an adrenaline rush. They want more. And more. They want to see the dollar signs multiply. Before they know what's happened, they have lost everything trying to win back the money they once had.</p> <h2>6. Finally&hellip; the Impact of Corporate Greed</h2> <p>Sadly, it's not personal greed, but corporate greed that is having an impact on our wallets. And in some instances, it keeps people in poverty. From the greedy politicians who take cash to vote against the public interest, to the outsourcing of jobs to other countries, America has a serious greed problem. Many of us feel it a little, here and there. But for some, it's the cause of great hardships.</p> <p>One recent example comes from Wendy's. After the recent minimum wage hike, and plans to raise it to $15/hour, the fast food giant responded with automated self-service kiosks. &quot;We continue to look at initiatives and how we work to offset any impacts of future wage inflation through technology initiatives, whether that's customer self-order kiosks, whether that's automating more in the back of the house in the restaurant,&quot; said CTO Todd Penegor (who was&nbsp;<a href="http://www1.salary.com/Todd-A-Penegor-Salary-Bonus-Stock-Options-for-WENDY-S-CO.html">compensated over $3 million</a> in 2014). The moral of this story &mdash; demand a living wage and you're out of a job.</p> <p>The defenders of this say that these jobs are entry-level, but with so many manufacturing jobs going elsewhere, and the employment of low-wage workers who do it &quot;cash in hand,&quot; it's getting harder and harder to find a decent paying job that doesn't require an education and a ton of experience; something many people never had the chance to get.</p> <p>Of course, the massive financial meltdown in 2008 was also caused by massive greed, and that impacted millions of homeowners and led to bankruptcies. It's safe to say that even if you are the least greedy person on the planet, you will still be affected by greed in your day-to-day life.</p> <p><em>Has greed cost you? Tell us about it in comments!</em></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/6-ways-greed-is-keeping-you-poor">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-ways-sloth-is-keeping-you-poor">6 Ways Sloth Is Keeping You Poor</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-ways-pride-is-keeping-you-poor">7 Ways Pride Is Keeping You Poor</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-ways-wrath-is-keeping-you-poor">5 Ways Wrath Is Keeping You Poor</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/6-ways-gluttony-is-keeping-you-poor">6 Ways Gluttony Is Keeping You Poor</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/flashback-friday-42-ways-the-7-deadly-sins-are-keeping-you-poor">Flashback Friday: 42 Ways the 7 Deadly Sins Are Keeping You Poor</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living charity excess gambling greed healthcare illegal losing money minimum wage poor seven deadly sins sins Fri, 03 Jun 2016 10:30:05 +0000 Paul Michael 1722968 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Questions Landlords Can't Ask http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_rental_sign_000024945777.jpg" alt="Learning which questions landlords cannot ask" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The rental market is tough these days, especially in big cities. You have to scan the classifieds, jump on opportunities, and be ready to say yes at a moment's notice. So the last thing you need is for some landlord to refuse you a lease because of questions he or she is actually not allowed to ask. Here are 10 of those questions. Getting asked any of them should give you pause.</p> <h2>1. Where Were You Born?</h2> <p>It may be an innocent enough question, especially if you have an accent and the landlord picks up on it. But it's actually against the <a href="http://www.fairhousingresources.com/Fair-Housing-Act-Full-Text.html">Fair Housing Act</a> to ask questions regarding someone's nationality. A landlord cannot ask about your parents' nationality or upbringing either, or your spouse's. This is all information that should have no bearing on your application, or your suitability as a tenant. If a landlord does ask, <a href="http://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/tenant-screening/rental-application-question-illegal/">the penalties can be severe</a>.</p> <h2>2. Have You Ever Been Arrested for Anything?</h2> <p>If a landlord is asking this, they're probably trying to protect themselves from someone who could be trouble. But, landlords are simply not allowed to know about your arrest record. They are entitled to know if you were convicted of a crime, and that will come up on a standard background check. However, since innocent people can be arrested and then set free, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-most-important-lessons-i-learned-about-money-when-i-became-a-landlord" target="_blank">landlords aren't entitled</a> to arrest records.</p> <h2>3. Are You Straight, Gay, or Bisexual?</h2> <p>This has absolutely no place in the conversation, and cannot be asked by the landlord. It's a direct violation of the Fair Housing Act, and by doing so, the landlord could face severe penalties. If sexual orientation ever becomes an issue, know that it's a violation of the law.</p> <h2>4. Do You Have Any Disabilities?</h2> <p>Many landlords may be genuinely looking out for you here. They may know that the wheelchair access to the building is very poor, or that it would be a tough building for a blind person to negotiate. That is all well and good, but it's not their concern. Someone with a disability has the same rights to rent a home or apartment as an able-bodied person. What's more, every apartment or home up for rent should be made available to a disabled tenant. If the landlord steers you to one particular apartment over all others, they could actually face legal action. When it comes down to it, a person's disability, even if it's severe, cannot be brought into question when renting. It's also worth pointing out that pet policies do not apply to service animals.</p> <h2>5. Tell Me About Your Kids</h2> <p>Another big no-no. Anything relating to kids, whether it's their ages, how many you have, where they go to school, or if you're planning to have any, it's all off limits. Once again, this is all down to the Fair Housing Act. Landlords could use that information to discriminate against a tenant (especially those who believe children will just cause a lot of noise and mess), and the law just does not allow that. You may naturally bring up kids in conversation (especially if you're interested in a park in the area, or local daycare centers), and that is your right. But the landlord cannot and should not initiate it. (By the way, some landlords have found a way to skirt this by assuming you have children, and simply asking for their names on the application. You do not have to complete that information.)</p> <h2>6. So, Do You Go to Church Around Here?</h2> <p>Once again, this may seem like an innocent enough question, but probing about your religion is a direct violation of the Fair Housing Act. The landlord may not mean anything by it, but the assumption could be made that he or she is favoring Christian applicants over all others. Perhaps the landlord is biased for, or against, Muslims or atheists. None of this should have any impact on your application. Your faith, or lack thereof, is your concern, and yours only. Should any question about religion come up, the landlord is breaking the law.</p> <h2>7. Are You Married?</h2> <p>You have to wonder why that would be any concern of the landlord. After all, married people do not necessarily make for better, or worse, tenants. Some married couples are model citizens, others fights constantly and may appear on an episode of <em>Cops</em>. But none of this is relevant anyway, because the landlord is not allowed to ask you anything about your marital status. Even a statement like &quot;I see you two are engaged,&quot; which may be prompted by seeing a ring, is not kosher. You do not have to answer this question, and the landlord asking it could get in trouble for doing so.</p> <h2>8. Are You On Welfare?</h2> <p>A landlord has every right to ask about income. After all, they need to know that you can pay the rent on time, without any trouble. But where you get that income &mdash; that's different. If you are on welfare, receive food stamps, and get other kinds of benefits or public assistance, you can keep that information to yourself. The landlord cannot pry, and cannot deny anyone tenancy based on that information. If he or she does, it's cause for an investigation by the local authorities.</p> <h2>9. How Old Are You?</h2> <p>Seems like a standard question, right? And most rental applications have a &quot;date of birth&quot; section for you to fill in. But, asking about your age is another one of those protected pieces of information covered in the Fair Housing Act. It's quite possible a landlord wants to rent only to people in a certain age bracket. This is against the law. The only time age can be introduced as a factor is if your application is for a senior community or retirement home. Other than that, it's a no go.</p> <h2>10. What Race Are You?</h2> <p>Similar to the nationality question, this is a huge violation of the Fair Housing Act. Even if it's posed as a compliment, (like &quot;You have beautiful olive skin, are your parents Greek or Spanish?&quot;), the landlord is stepping way over the line. No questions about your race can be asked, and if it comes up, you can report the landlord for discrimination.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been asked any of these questions? How did you respond?</em></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%2F10-questions-landlords-cant-ask&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F10%2520Questions%2520Landlords%2520Can%2527t%2520Ask.jpg&amp;description=10%20Questions%20Landlords%20Can't%20Ask"></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/u5180/10%20Questions%20Landlords%20Can%27t%20Ask.jpg" alt="10 Questions Landlords Can't Ask" 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/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask">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/the-11-best-websites-for-renting-your-extra-space">The 11 Best Websites for Renting Your Extra Space</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-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease">8 Moves to Make If You Need to Break Your Lease</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/7-ways-to-rent-an-apartment-with-bad-credit">7 Ways to Rent An Apartment With Bad Credit</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-easy-way-to-sublet-your-apartment">The Easy Way to Sublet Your Apartment</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-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing apartments discrimination fair housing act illegal landlords questions renting Tue, 24 May 2016 10:30:03 +0000 Paul Michael 1715216 at http://www.wisebread.com How to recognize and answer illegal interview questions http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-recognize-and-answer-illegal-interview-questions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-recognize-and-answer-illegal-interview-questions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/jail.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="375" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the United States job seekers are protected by a myriad of anti-discrimination laws.&nbsp; Despite these laws many potential employers still want employees that fit a&nbsp; narrow profile and they may ask probing questions to find out if you fit.&nbsp; Here is how you can recognize which questions are potentially illegal for an employer to ask, and what you can do if you encounter these questions.<br /> <br /> Generally, interviewers cannot ask you anything pertaining to your race, birthplace,&nbsp; religion, age, sexual preference, marital and family status, or health.&nbsp; For example, an interviewer cannot ask you how many kids you have or if you plan to have kids because that pertains to family status.&nbsp; They also cannot ask you how old you are during the interview process.&nbsp; You will probably have to provide your birthdate to human resournces after you are hired, but during interviews it is illegal to ask someone their age.<br /> <br /> Sometimes interviewers can be sneaky and ask you questions that would give them the answer to illegal questions.&nbsp; For example, instead of asking you your age, they may ask what year you graduated college and make an estimate.&nbsp; Also, instead of asking straight up if you drink or smoke, an interviewer could ask if you have been disciplined for tobacco use in the past.<br /> <br /> You should be able to recognize these personal questions because most of the time they probably sound unrelated to the job you are applying for and they can be very prying. &nbsp; Generally, if a question sounds too personal you should avoid answering it, or answer it in a way that relates to the job.&nbsp; For example, if an employer asks you if you have kids, you should probably say something to the effect that that you will be able to perform your job with or without kids.If you are asked about your age, then you can say that you are of legal working age.&nbsp; Basically, you should steer the conversation back to the job you are applying for.&nbsp; If an employer is insistent on asking you things you know is discriminatory, then you should state that you are uncomfortable answering these questions, and perhaps you should look for someone else to work for.&nbsp; An interview goes both ways, and if an interviewer makes you uncomfortable on a first meeting then working with him or her&nbsp; might be uncomfortable in the long term.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> As a rule of thumb if your personal life does not relate to the job you are applying for then you probably should not volunteer too much information. A little bit of small talk is okay, but you never know what strangers may be offended by, and keeping the focus of the interview on the job you want may be the best way to secure the job.</p> <p><em>Have you been asked probing or sneaky personal questions during an interview?&nbsp; How did you deal with it?</em></p> <div align="center"><SCRIPT charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_mfw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822/US/wisbre03-20/8001/2d9d9a15-a88c-4aa8-8e0b-1126b66d4706"> </SCRIPT> <NOSCRIPT><A HREF="http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_mfw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fwisbre03-20%2F8001%2F2d9d9a15-a88c-4aa8-8e0b-1126b66d4706&Operation=NoScript">Amazon.com Widgets</A></NOSCRIPT></div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-recognize-and-answer-illegal-interview-questions">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-write-a-resume-12-steps-to-your-next-job">How To Write A Resume: 12 Steps To Your Next Job</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/when-should-you-say-no-to-those-who-want-to-borrow-money-from-you">When Should You Say No to Those Who Want to Borrow Money from You?</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/welcome-to-the-real-world-my-best-advice-for-new-graduates">Welcome to the Real World - My Best Advice for New Graduates</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-10-kinds-of-people-who-get-rich-and-how-they-do-it">The 10 Kinds of People Who Get Rich (and How They Do It)</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/tips-for-finding-legitimate-work-at-home-opportunities">Tips for Finding Legitimate Work at Home Opportunities</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income General Tips illegal interview personal questions Fri, 03 Apr 2009 22:46:28 +0000 Xin Lu 3007 at http://www.wisebread.com The Jury Duty Scam – coming to a phone near you? http://www.wisebread.com/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/444587257_9b5e0ec86f.jpg" alt="jury duty phone scam" title="jury duty phone scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="374" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My wife forwarded me one of those &ldquo;hey everyone, don&rsquo;t fall for this&rdquo; emails this morning. I get one from a friend or relative at least once a week, and usually they&rsquo;re well-meaning but filled with gross inaccuracies or are just completely untrue. However, when I looked to my source for all things BS, snopes.com, I discovered this one was 100% true. It&rsquo;s called the Jury Duty scam. It&rsquo;s a smart, simple con that could clean you out.</p> <p>This scam has been around for a while (2005), but is relatively new compared to the Nigerian email scams and other similar cons. The premise is simple. Here&rsquo;s the write-up from <a href="http://www.snopes.com/crime/fraud/juryduty.asp">snopes.com</a> :</p> <blockquote><p><em>The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you&rsquo;ve failed to report for jury duty. He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.</em> </p></blockquote> <p>Allow me to break in here for a second. That last statement is incredibly powerful because it throws you completely off guard. You&rsquo;re now on the defensive, and in those situations you&rsquo;re more prone to do what you can to make things right. Now, part two of the scam:</p> <blockquote><p><em>The victim will often rightly claim they never received the jury duty notification. The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for &ldquo;verification&rdquo; purposes. Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim&rsquo;s Social Security Number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information &ndash; exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.</em> </p></blockquote> <p>If you live in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon or Washington State, you&rsquo;re in a state where this scam has already been reported. But that doesn&rsquo;t mean you&rsquo;re safe from this in any other town or city. </p> <p>Personally, this scam would never get to me because I know I&rsquo;m ineligible for jury duty. I&rsquo;m a Green Card holder, so I&rsquo;d already be clued in that something was wrong. You may also be someone who would just never fall for something like this. But the point of these scams is similar to the principle of junk mail and spam. For every 99 people that don&rsquo;t fall for it, 1 person does. If you have an army of people making dozens of calls every hour, you could walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars as an ID theft scammer in just one day. </p> <p><strong>What can you do? Arm yourself with knowledge. </strong></p> <p>First and foremost, the FBI issued a <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel05/092805.htm">warning</a> that states &ldquo;the judicial system DOES NOT contact people telephonically and ask for personal information such as Social Security number, date of birth or credit card numbers.&rdquo; The only time you will ever be called by a court system about jury duty is AFTER you have mailed back a completed questionnaire, and that is a rare occurrence. </p> <p>So, if you are called out of the blue and someone is demanding your personal info, just hang up the phone. Don&rsquo;t even get into a debate with these scumbags.</p> <p>In fact, this is a good rule of thumb for any phonecalls that you do not solicit; NEVER give out personal information to verify records of any kind. If someone insists on &ldquo;verifying&rdquo; information, they should already have it&hellip;so, you can ask them to read it out and give yes or no answers. If it&rsquo;s a scam, they clearly won&rsquo;t have it. </p> <p>Obviously, this does not apply to banks or credit card companies that YOU call, they should do an in-depth verification system before letting you have access to your accounts, with good reason. </p> <p>You&rsquo;d be well-advised, regardless of this scam, to keep an eye on your credit/debit cards and accounts for any unusual activity. And request a free copy of your credit report from <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp">annualcreditreport.com</a> , you&rsquo;re entitled to one from each of the credit reporting companies every 12 months. This is not to be confused with freecreditreport.com, which in my honest opinion is just a big, but perfectly legal, scam. </p> <p>You can also put a fraud alert on your credit report for further safety, although there is still some debate about how this affects your credit rating. I have one on mine, I like the higher level of protection. Bottom line folks, this is a scam that really works and it&rsquo;s only going to snag more people. Keep your wits about you, and have a safe day.</p> <p><strong>Other reading:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/newsmedia/05juryscam.pdf">http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/newsmedia/05juryscam.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=NewsItemDisplay&amp;item=20317">http://www.mncourts.gov/?page=NewsItemDisplay&amp;item=20317</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/the-jury-duty-scam-coming-to-a-phone-near-you">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/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</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-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</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/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</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/6-signs-your-college-is-a-scam">6 Signs Your College Is a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs credit fraud ID theft illegal scam warning Thu, 14 Aug 2008 21:25:23 +0000 Paul Michael 2331 at http://www.wisebread.com