How To Avoid Being A Tax-Scam Victim

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To paraphrase the old adage, there are only three absolutes in life: death, taxes, and the rise of scams during tax season.

A major tax scam since 2013 involves phone calls by fictional IRS agents that demand immediate payment for alleged tax debts, threatening lawsuits or even jail time to those who refused to comply. The more sophisticated version of this includes spoofing a legitimate IRS phone number to fool caller-ID systems. The callers also have Social Security numbers and enough personal information to convince the taxpayer that the call is legitimate.

From October 2013 to March 2018, the Treasury Inspector General’s office identified 12,716 confirmed victims, who were swindled out of $63 million through this particular scam.

Other scammers use a carrot instead of a stick. Another significant scam claimed that consumers had been awarded a government grant for h…

More of Us Focused On Losing Debt Than Losing Weight

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Which would you rather do in 2019 – lose the spare tire around your waist or the excess debt dragging down your finances?

Americans clearly struggle with both debt and obesity. In late 2018, NerdWallet estimated the average American credit card debt at $6,929 for households with any credit card debt – part of a staggering $135,768 average including all debts (led by mortgages). Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent statistics from 2015-2016 lists America’s obesity rate at just below 40% – and if you think more recent data will show improvement, fat chance (pun intended).

A new survey by CompareCards.com finds that we’d rather have excess weight than excess debt. While 34% of Americans said losing weight was a 2019 priority, 41% said reducing debt was a higher priority. Perhaps the remaining one-quarter of Americans aren’t overweight or in debt – and if they are, they don’t mind being that way.

They’re also more likely to b…

Prevent Identity Theft From Affecting Your Taxes

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

Tax Identity Theft

MoneyTips

Computers and the Internet have become mainstays in virtually every area of 21st-century American life. There are tremendous benefits and conveniences to this, of course, but there are also some downsides — such as the increased risk of identity theft that arises as we share more of our personal information online.

In fact, identity theft has been called “the crime of the 21st century,” consistently ranking at the top of the Federal Trade Commission’s list of complaints every year. While there are many ways for identity thieves to strike offline, the Internet has made it that much easier for them to steal sensitive personal information from unsuspecting and careless individuals online.

A New Kind of Identity Theft

With tax-filing season now upon us, there’s another kind of identity theft you should be watching out for: tax identity theft. In this…