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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Steps to Take if You Suspect Identity Theft

Steps to Take if You Suspect Identity Theft

In May of this year, the IRS became the latest target of hackers, who accessed more than 100,000 taxpayer accounts.  How can you protect yourself if you suspect your identity is threatened?

The IRS recommends taking these steps:

1. File a police report.

2. Go to https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

3. Contact one of the following credit bureaus to place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit report:
Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285
Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289

4. Contact your banks and credit card issuer and close any accounts that have been opened without your authorization.

5. Contact Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov to create an account and check your earnings statement annually.

6. If you suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, respond immediately to any IRS notice, calling the number provided.  (Note that the IRS will contact you via US mail, NOT phone or email!)

7. Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Access form and mailing instructions here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf

8. Continue filing and paying your taxes, even if you must file by paper.

By: Honorine M. Campisi, Senior Tax Manager

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to Avoid Investment Scams

How to Avoid Investment Scams

Does someone you know have the “next big thing” and want you to come on board and invest in their business or idea?  WAIT!!  Have you fully investigated all the facts?  Here are a few tips to help you avoid the wrong investment.

1. Make sure that you understand their business plan.  What are they going to do with your money?  Is there a market for what they are selling? When and how will you get to see the profits?

2. Don’t be forced into investing if you aren’t ready.  If they insist you need to invest “right now!” than you should be careful.  All investments take time to develop.  Ask questions and consult a lawyer.

3. Talk to others who have invested.  Find out if the company has met the goals they expected.  Why did they become investors?  If you cannot get this information from the business be careful.

4. Talk to the company’s lawyers.  Do they have an attorney and do they understand the business and its plan?  Do you feel better after speaking with him?  Does he put your mind at ease?

5. Ask questions!  Have they gone to a bank for a loan?  Why do they need your funds?  Who else has been approached for funds?  Why haven’t others invested?

6. Don’t be shamed into investing.  If they make you feel “silly” for asking so many questions they might have something to hide or might be hard to work with.  The lines of communication should be open and honest.

7. Don’t feel like you are missing out if you don’t invest now.  Don’t let the company tell you this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  You do not want to be caught up in spending the money that you are going to make on company profits before they exist.  Step back and resist the fear and urgency.

8. Get to really know the person and business you are investing in.  Check them out and make sure that all you find out makes sense.

9. If you are investing a sizable amount, hire your own attorney.  Find one who can help you make sure the deal is legitimate and you are protected.  They should have experience in this field.

Follow these steps to avoid becoming a victim.  Make sure you do your due diligence and remember that if something seems too good to be true it probably is!

Happy Investing!

By Chris Murphy, Senior Accounting Manager