Prep for Safe Tax Filing … and for Scammers

There’s good reason — several, actually — why Monday kicks off Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. As the tax-filing season gets under way for 2014 returns, the Internal Revenue Service faces massive budget cuts while two widespread tax scams continue. In addition to the epidemic IRS impostor scam, in which scammers pose as agents of that agency or the U.S. Treasury Department to extort supposedly “owed taxes,” there is another threat in the coming weeks: early filing of bogus tax returns to …

Elder Financial Fraud Just Keeps Getting Worse

A new survey is bringing renewed attention to the hideous crime of elder financial fraud — and the results show just how underreported it is. In a survey of 2,000 people, only 5 percent of people age 65 and up admitted to being swindled. Yet 19 percent of younger respondents (ages 40 to 64) said they knew of a family member or friend who’d been a victim of elder financial fraud, according to the survey by the Minneapolis-based life insurance …

5 Pet Scams You Need to Know

The dog days of summer go beyond just rising temperatures – at least for pet lovers. Pet scams are also heating up, and here’s what you should know about the most common schemes: Dognapping Born during the economic downturn of recent years, dognapping involves stealing dogs from unattended backyards and cars - and, more commonly, even in the company of their owners. Some are then held for ransom. In one recent well-publicized case, surveillance video captured a dognapping in progress at …

The Night My Smartphone Was Stolen

by Marlene Fanta Shyer I was waiting for the light to change on a corner of Times Square when I felt a jostle. My tote, which I always hold as close as a papoose, was open, but everything inside is always sealed behind zippers. My new smartphone, though, with its red battery protector/charger, was a beacon in its sleeve, just pleading to be snatched. Sure enough, I spun around and there were two teenagers, a boy and a girl, standing there, trying …

Hackers Go Upscale, Infiltrate Neiman Marcus Accounts

Hackers have gone from low-end to high-end retail, as luxury merchant Neiman Marcus became the latest to announce that it’s a victim of a data breach. This comes on the heels of a disclosure last month by Minneapolis-based discounter Target, which reported hackers gained access to payment card data on about 40 million credit and debit accounts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.  On Friday, Target updated its breach investigation, saying the names, mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers …