Why Taxpayers Should Worry About Identity Theft

A month-long window of opportunity has opened up for scammers, and its timing is crucial for honest taxpayers. Here’s why: Identity theft. Documents that you need in order to file your 2015 tax returns should start arriving soon in your mailbox. Employers are required to mail W-2 and 1099 forms by Jan. 31; banks and brokerage firms may have later deadlines. With your Social Security number and other sensitive information, this paperwork provides identity thieves with enough details to open …

Top Scams of 2015

As 2015 closes, it’s the same old story: another 750 documented data breaches — roughly the same as in 2014, but this year involving records of at least 178 million Americans (up from 160 million). And, of course, scammers are working the phones as usual. “No matter the call — and our clientele is still inundated with telemarketing calls — the way people are targeted for scams is the same … with intimidation, fear and/or immediacy,” notes Amy Nofziger of …

When to Sell an Investment

I’m often asked when the right time is to sell an investment. There are actually two answers — a logical one and an emotional one. Let me explain by illustrating through one of the lessons in a course I teach. I teach behavioral finance to CPAs (and confess I am one). I give the class the following situation and then poll them on what they would do: You have been gifted $10,000 and decide to buy two stocks with it. …

When the FBI Calls, Hang Up?

In just one month, Linda Blase received 74 phone calls — 57 of them from illegal telemarketers or robocallers. “It’s rampant,” the Dallas small-business owner told the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging this week. “These callers are an unwanted intrusion into my home.” It’s been nearly a dozen years since the federal government launched the Do Not Call Registry, allowing consumers to request that telemarketers not call them. But advances in technology since then make it easy for disreputable …

Free Government Money? Uncle Sham Is Back!

Lucky me. Turns out I’m entitled to receive $3,200 in “free” government money. The reason, the caller explained: “Because you always file your IRS taxes on time.” Problem is, the named benefactor of that “specially selected federal grant” doesn’t pay his taxes because he doesn’t exist. Yes, the scammer dialed my actual phone number, but it’s listed under a fake name in public directories specifically to spot telephoning tricksters and Do-Not-Call no-goodniks. And like my phone directory pseudonym, unsolicited “free government money” is just …