School bells are ringing once again as summer draws to a close. This month’s newsletter covers an array of topics from the recent warning of increased telephone scams by the IRS to helping identify when it is time to help parents with their financial management. Also included are circumstances when you need to make changes to your Healthcare Marketplace account and how to use the creation of lists to save money.
As always, should you know of someone who may benefit from this information please feel free to forward this newsletter to them.
IRS Telephone Scams on The Rise
90,000 complaints received regarding tax related telephone scams
Over $5 million in reported
Thieves are more sophisticated by using fake IRS caller IDs
In a recent announcement, the IRS cautions that the use of impersonating the IRS as a means to steal your identity and your money is on the rise. While this scam is not a new one, the IRS warns us of a growing trend in this form of theft.
The new practice of thievery
The use of the telephone to imitate an employee of the IRS is becoming more sophisticated.
|Spoofing caller ID. New telemarketing scams provide caller ID to make it seem that the IRS is calling you.|
|Use of threats. These new thieves are using threats to get you to pay them. The threats include loss of your drivers license and even jail time if payment is not made.|
|Angry tone. Often those masquerading as government employees use anger and intimidation to get your information. While this may play into your perception of the IRS, in reality the IRS does not communicate in this fashion.|
|Giving information. These new thieves demand pre-paid debit card or credit card information. They may also demand confirmation of other personal information.|
What you need to know
The IRS reminds us that initial contact on tax questions occurs through the mail, not via email or telephone. If you receive a call, do not provide any information to the caller. Instead, per the IRS, here is what you should do.
|If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.|
|If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Tax Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484.|
|If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.|
Make Lists: Save Money
Making a list and checking it twice. Santa uses this idea to discover who is naughty and nice. You too can use this simple idea to keep more hard earned money in your pocket.
|Make a destination list. Where would you like to go on vacation? Where would you like to retire? Create these lists and you not only have something to look forward to, but you can also start planning to make these destination goals a reality.|
|Make a charity list. How often have you given money to a charity based upon who calls you? It is hard to say no to any worthy charity. By targeting charities ahead of time you can ensure your limited funds go to causes that mean the most to you. When someone not on your charity list calls, tell them you give generously to budgeted charities once a year. Let them know you will gladly place them on your list for consideration during your next funding period.|
|Make a list of meals. Want to eat healthier? Want to save money by eating out less often? Create a menu and the related list of ingredients to make meals that are good for you and that are ready to go when you are.|
|Make a list of gifts. A simple idea to save money is to purchase gifts when the gift item is on sale, versus when you need to purchase the gift. Then keep a list of the gift items you purchase and use the list to source your needed gifts when the event arrives. The gifts on your list need to have broad appeal to make this idea work. Target gifts like baby items, popular books, every-day wedding gift ideas, and gifts on wish lists from your family.|
|Make a maintenance list. A great way to save money on repairs is to create a household maintenance checklist. From auto tune-ups to furnace filter replacement, staying ahead of these little things can help avoid major repairs due to forgotten maintenance.|
When to Notify the Healthcare Marketplace
|For the millions who now use the Healthcare Marketplace to purchase their health insurance, it is important to keep your information with them up to date. Not only does this help ensure you have the proper health insurance coverage, but it also ensures your healthcare Premium Tax Credit is properly applied.|
|changes in eligibility for employer or government sponsored health care coverage,|
|ANYTHING that impacts family size or composition,|
|ANYTHING that impacts your family income.|
Is it Time to Step in?
As the baby boomer generation ages so do the parents of the baby boomers. With this aging process there will come a time when a parent needs help. Much of the focus centers on managing things like transportation, mobility, health care, and home maintenance. Harder to spot is the need to help with bill payments and finances. This is because most of us keep this area of our lives separate from our children. So when is it time to step in and help or to ask for help? There is no right answer, but here are some warning signs that help may be needed.
|Major life changes. If a spouse passes away or there is a change in living situation, this might signal a need for help. Who pays the bills, coordinates filing taxes, or manages the retirement savings accounts? When these life changes occur, it is probably time to have a discussion with your loved ones.|
|Being fooled by solicitations. Notice what is sent out in the mail. Many direct mail solicitations are convincing and can easily deceive. Do you see responses to requests for money that are unusual? If you are seeing the barriers to these deceptive mail practices breaking down it may be a sign that help is needed.|
|Worry about bills. There are certain bills that are larger than others. If a parent expresses worry about making any of these payments you may need to offer help. Common large bills are property taxes, homeowners insurance, and loan payments.|
|Increased clutter. If the area of the home that serves as the office for paying bills starts to look cluttered, it may mean things are overwhelming. A quick look and offer to assist organizing the area may be a good starting point to see if help is needed.|
A word for the retiree
Being aware of your circumstances can be of assistance to your children during this transitional time. Consider identifying a trusted adviser who can help with financial matters when you deem it necessary. By planning now, the transition can be a smooth one.
As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your situation please feel free to call.