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Fall is right around the corner! As summer is winding down, the IRS wants you to be aware of common scams being encountered during the pandemic. Also included are tips to improve your credit score, and a review of alternative ways to budget so you can explore a method that works best for you. All this and some tips to save during your shopping excursions.
Please call if you would like to discuss how this information could impact your situation. If you know someone who can benefit from this newsletter, feel free to send it to them.
The IRS recently announced its 2020 edition of its annual Dirty Dozen list of tax scams with a special emphasis on aggressive and evolving schemes related to COVID-19 tax relief, including Economic Impact Payments. Here are six of the more common scams.
Phishing. Phishing refers to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal your personal information. Remember the IRS will never initiate contact with you via email about an outstanding tax bill, refund or Economic Impact Payment.
What you can do. If you receive any suspicious phishing emails, forward them to email@example.com.
Fake charities. Criminals frequently exploit natural disasters and other crisis situations such as this year’s pandemic by setting up fake charities to steal donations. Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by telephone, text, social media, e-mail or even in person.
What you can do. Verify the charity’s existence by searching for it using the IRS’s search tool.
Threatening phone calls from IRS impersonators. IRS impersonation scams include phone calls threatening arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay a bogus tax bill. The IRS will never demand immediate payment or ask for financial information over the phone.
What you can do. If you received a phone call, contact your local IRS office to verify whether you owe any taxes.
Social media scams. A scammer will use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to obtain personal information from you, then use that information to trick you into providing them with confidential information. For example, the scammer could impersonate a family member, friend or co-worker in an attempt to obtain financial information.
What you can do. Be careful of publishing confidential information on social media. Verify the identity of any person or organization that asks you for confidential information.
Economic impact payment or tax refund theft. Criminals file false tax returns or supply other bogus information to the IRS to divert refunds or Economic Impact Payments to wrong addresses or bank accounts.
What you can do. Contact a qualified professional to help walk you through how to report identity theft to the IRS.
Senior fraud. Senior citizens have become more comfortable with various technologies such as social media. This has opened the door for scammers to take advantage of senior citizens by using fake emails, text messages and fake websites to steal personal information.
What you can do. Be the eyes and ears for the senior citizens you come in contact with. According to the IRS, anecdotal evidence indicates that senior fraud decreases substantially when a trusted friend or family member takes an interest in the senior’s affairs.
You’re ready to take out a loan to buy a house, a car or get a credit card. You fill out the application and wait to hear back from your bank on its decision whether to loan you the money.
And then you get the dreaded phone call. Your credit score wasn’t high enough to approve the loan! Was there anything you could have done to get a higher credit score?
Getting and maintaining a high credit score is just like playing a game. But just like any game, you first need to understand the rules so you can create a winning game plan. Here are the rules of the credit score game you need to understand so you can get the highest score possible.
You can improve your credit score by understanding these rules and putting them into practice.
Shopping can be fun, but also drain your wallet. So how do you maintain a respectable wardrobe in a cost-effective way? Here are three tips to help you find your back-to-school and fall attire without breaking the bank.
Think versatility. Purchase items that can be paired with various articles of clothing and avoid apparel that is only occasionally useful.
For example, if you’re going to a beach party, don’t buy the Hawaiian shirt or sundress you’ll only wear once (or twice!). Instead, guys could buy a lightweight button down shirt that can later be paired with a t-shirt combined with either shorts or pants, and women could purchase a flowy maxi dress that could be combined with a sweater and different types of footwear fitting any occasion.
Stick to items you can mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe and wear often.
Do you really need this? Consumers often find something they like—maybe even for a good price—and toss it into the shopping cart regardless of whether or not it will really be used or needed. When you’re tempted to buy something new, ask yourself if you really need this or how often you will wear it.
To help yourself answer these questions, imagine a specific time in the future when you will wear the item. Imagine what else you will wear with it. Then think about what you have at home. If you have something that would do just as well, consider leaving the new article of clothing on the rack.
Asking yourself these questions doesn’t mean you can never buy something new, but it will help you make thoughtful spending decisions when it comes to new clothes.
Shop second-hand. Most shoppers prefer shopping for new clothes rather than buying second-hand. You may be surprised, however, by the stylish, quality items you’ll find for a fraction of the original retail price.
Consider taking the kids to a thrift shop and look for treasures at a fraction of the cost of one brand-new outfit. If you’re looking for name brand attire, hit up the local consignment stores. Some resale stores sell only name brand and designer items, so you won’t have to worry about filling your closet with cheap or out-of-style apparel. This doesn't need to replace your retail experience, it can simply compliment it.
As we collectively look for ways to save money during the pandemic, finding creative solutions in your wardrobe budget can really come in handy!
Which unique method of budgeting will work for you?
You have your own unique personality, preferences and lifestyle. Likewise, how you manage and organize your finances can have its own personality, including how you budget. Here are five different methods of budgeting, each with a distinct way of helping you organize your spending and finances.
The best budget approach? One that works for you and one that you will continue to use. So pick an approach and try it. It can really change how you spend your money.