Prevent Identity Theft From Affecting Your Taxes

MoneyTips

When your identity is stolen, you have so many potential issues to deal with — changing passwords, closing accounts, dealing with fraudulent charges, and placing fraud alerts with the credit reporting agencies — that you may forget about potential tax fraud. Armed with your personal information, identity thieves can file a fraudulent tax return in your name and receive a refund before you realize your information has been compromised. Sometimes taxpayers are unaware of the breach until they have problems filing their taxes.

What do you do if you fall victim to tax-related identity theft? Start by responding to any IRS notice as instructed. Your first hint that there is an issue could be a notice from the IRS asking you to verify your identity because of a suspicious tax return with your Social Security number.

Remember that almost all legitimate IRS contact will be through a letter in the …

How To Identify Tax Identity Theft

MoneyTips

Tax filing season is upon us. Soon you will be filing your paperwork and perhaps receiving a nice check — unless thieves file a return in your name first and falsely claim your refund.

Unfortunately, if a thief has your Social Security number and other relevant information, tax identity theft is very hard to prevent. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com, notes that “somebody could have your Social Security number and they could have been sitting on it for a while… you would have no idea until they go and file a bogus tax return under your Social Security number. You only find out at the point where your legitimate return gets rejected.”

While recent IRS efforts have resulted in a 57% drop in confirmed fraudulent identity theft tax returns from 2015 to 2017 and a 65% …

Super Bowl Numbers

MoneyTips

Are you ready for Super Bowl LIII (or 53, if you prefer)? On Sunday, February 3, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA, the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will meet to determine who hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy as the champion of the National Football League – thanks to two thrilling overtime conference championship games, the first time that’s ever happened in the same season.

You could pronounce “Super Bowl LIII” or last year’s exciting “Super Bowl LII” as “Super Bowl Lies”, but MoneyTips has Super Bowl truths for your pre-game prep.

Quarterbacks – We could have been treated to the oldest quarterback matchup in Super Bowl history (41-year-old Tom Brady vs. 40-year-old Drew Brees) – or the youngest (24-year-old Jared Goff vs. 23-year-old Patrick Mahomes). Instead, we have a matchup of the young gun (Goff) versus the wily veteran (Brady).

Brady Again? – Will Brady ever retire… or stop winnin…

15 Easy Steps To Prevent Identity Theft

MoneyTips

Thanks to large-scale hacks such as the Equifax and Yahoo breaches, identity thieves have no shortage of information to use in their criminal pursuits. Is your information among them?

“Identity theft can trash your credit score because there’s the risk that somebody takes your name, your Social Security number, and your solid credit rating, goes out, applies for a bunch of credit, and then doesn’t repay any of it,” cautions Bankrate.com Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride. “That can really just destroy what otherwise had been years of hard work on your part to build a solid credit rating.”

You may not be able to stop all identity theft methods, but you can take common-sense steps to protect your information and limit the likelihood of damage. In honor of Data Privacy Day (January 28), we present 15 preventative actions that you should take.

1. Check Your Accounts Regularly – Frequently review all credit and de…

How To Prevent The Shutdown From Hurting Your Credit Score

MoneyTips

If you’re a furloughed government employee or other worker sidelined by the shutdown – or worse, working without a paycheck – you’re probably at risk of missing payments or racking up large credit card bills. How do you keep your credit score from dropping as a result?

On-time payments are one of the most influential factors in your credit score, so let’s start there.

Hopefully, you have an emergency fund to cover short-term payments. If not, your shutdown goal is to minimize negative reports to the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Credit scoring systems don’t have any mechanism to make exceptions with missed payments, but lenders have some leeway in how missed payments related to the shutdown are reported.

Avoid all delinquencies, even if you have to run larger credit balances to do so. If delinquency a…

Credit Card Income Updates 101

MoneyTips

By Sandra Parsons

When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer collects personal information, including your income. It’s one of the factors they consider when deciding whether to approve or decline your application. If they do approve you, your income, along with your current debt load and credit score, helps them decide how high of a limit to assign you. Most people know this and expect to divulge their income when applying for a new card. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.

But has your credit card issuer ever asked about your income after your card is approved and active? For many cardholders, this is murkier territory. Here’s what you need to know about updating your income with your cre…

Government Shutdown Brings Mortgage Obstacles

MoneyTips

The Shutdown’s Housing Market Woes

It’s a great time to buy a home, and you’re ready. You’ve saved up a suitable down payment, found a home, and settled on a lender. As an added bonus, interest rates are at their lowest point in the last nine months – despite the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes.

There’s only one problem. The government shutdown has created obstacles to your mortgage – maybe in ways you hadn’t considered.

Loan Roadblocks

The shutdown effect is obvious if you’re a government worker suddenly trying to buy a home with IOU’s – but, otherwise, why would your mortgage application be affected? It may depend on the type of loan you’re seeking.

USDA loans, popular in rural areas, are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With the USDA shut down (at least as of this writing), no new applications are being accepted and scheduled loan closings have been put on hold. Homebuyers caught in the middle are be…

2 Out Of 5 Balance Transfer Cardholders Don’t Pay Off Their Balance In Time

MoneyTips

A balance transfer card with a 0% introductory interest rate can be an excellent way to consolidate high-interest debt and efficiently pay it down. It can also be a way to avoid reality and rack up even greater interest payments in the end.

A new study by CompareCards.com finds that too many Americans are taking the latter path. The CompareCards 2018 Balance Transfer Credit Card Report shows that 2 in 5 Americans that have had a balance transfer card failed to pay off the full transferred balance before the introductory period expired.

“That was disappointing to learn,” said Matt Schulz, Chief Industry Analyst with CompareCards.com. “That means that lots of people aren’t getting as much savings from balance transfer cards as they could, and that’s a shame.”

Balance transfer cards carry a high annual percentage rate (APR) after the 0% period. Any remaining balance from the tran…

To Stop Paying Interest Charges, Overpay Your Credit Card Bill

MoneyTips

Can you pay off your credit card bill in full and still be charged interest? Yes – depending on the timing of your payment.

As National Financial Educators Founder and Chief Education Officer Adam Carroll points out, “One of the greatest expenses we have in our life is the interest expense on debt.” Interest charges accrue according to the terms and conditions legalese of your particular credit card, which people rarely read until it’s too late. Generally, when the billing cycle ends, you will have a grace period to pay off that balance in full and avoid interest charges.

Your credit card statement will show the statement closing date, the amount due at that time, and the payment due date on that amount. Assuming your card has a