Categories
Budgeting Covid Financial Literacy Retirement

Pandemic Economic Pain Hits Women Harder

Too many Americans are struggling with the economic impact of Covid-19. This on top of the pre-existing social conditions that negatively impact women, is making things even grimmer for their retirement, as is explored in this New York Times article.


Unequal job losses now will translate into smaller nest eggs and Social Security benefits down the road.

By Mark Miller

During the first months of the pandemic, Leah Tyrrell found that she could pull off a balancing act: working in sales for a San Diego clothing maker and caring for her three young daughters at home. Her hours had been reduced, and working remotely in the morning left her time to be with the children the rest of the day.

“At the time, I thought I could tackle it,” Ms. Tyrrell said.That changed in Augustwhen her employer started asking people to return full time. Her company was flexible, but something had to give — and since her husband was bringing home a bigger paycheck, she quit work to help her girls, ages 9, 8 and 5, with online school.

“It was a very tough decision, but we just decided that, especially having a third child in kindergarten on the computer, I would need to sit and guide her through what the teacher was talking about,” she said.

Retirement is still on the distant horizon for Ms. Tyrrell, 43, but she hopes the long-term damage to her nest egg will be minimal. She participated in her company 401(k) plan, which had a matching contribution, and aims to resume saving when she goes back to work after the pandemic recedes.

“When I do go back, I hope it will be with a company that provides a match, but I’ll definitely lose at least a year of any kind of savings,” she said.

The hit to her retirement resources — and to those of other women in her shoes — could be considerably deeper.

Policy experts have long acknowledged a gender gap in retirement security. Women tend to earn less than men, and they are more likely to take time off from work to care for children or elderly parents. Even brief career interruptions diminish wage growth, retirement savings and Social Security benefits, which are determined by wage history. Women also tend to outlive men, needing to stretch resources over more years. In particular, they face higher health care expenses in retirement. 

Read the full article here:

www.nytimes.com/2020/12/11/business/women-retirement-covid-social-security.html

Categories
General

Latest Covid Assistance Dollars Means Scammers Are Working Overtime

Now that Congress has passed a last-minute Covid-19 relief bill, folks will start receiving assistance funds. And that means scammers are primed and ready to take as much of those funds as they can. Here’s an excellent article by Megan Leonhardt at CNBC that outlines the most common scammer tactics:


5 common stimulus check scams experts are warning consumers to watch for

by Megan Leonhardt @MEGAN_LEONHARDT

Americans lost over $211 million to Covid-19 scams and stimulus payment fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Since January, the agency has received over 275,600 complaints. 

While fraud activity is down from the highs recorded earlier in the year, it will likely pick back up now that President Donald Trump has signed the $900 billion pandemic relief package, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. 

That’s because the legislation includes provisions for a second round of stimulus payments, up to $600 per individual, including dependent children under age 17, if you’re an individual who earned less than $75,000 ($150,000 for those married filing jointly) in 2019. Stimulus payments start to phase out if you earned more than that, stopping completely for those with adjusted gross incomes of $87,000 or more ($174,000 for married couples). 

The IRS is expected to initiate direct deposits of stimulus payments before Thursday and send out paper checks and debit cards by Jan. 15. And while Trump signed the relief package slightly later than expected, a senior official told CNBC on Monday that the payments will go out on the same timeline. 

Yet the lingering uncertainty surrounding the second round of stimulus payments creates the “the perfect storm for fraudsters trying to make a dishonest dollar,” says Ashley Moody, Florida’s attorney general. On Monday, Moody’s office put out a notice cautioning the public about the increased potential for scams. 

“Scammers are always looking for new opportunities, like the passage of another round of federal stimulus, to rip off consumers,” Moody says. 

Here are five common red flags that experts say could signal a stimulus check scam. 

1. Unsolicited calls or emails

Spoofing technology has made it easier than ever for scammers to impersonate anyone, including government agencies. In order to protect yourself, most experts recommend that consumers avoid picking up any calls from unfamiliar phone numbers — let them roll into voicemail for further scrutiny.

“I’d be very wary of any inbound emails or phone calls that are supposedly from the IRS, Treasury Department, a state unemployment benefits agency, etc.,” says Ted Rossman, a credit industry analyst with CreditCards.com. If you do get a call or message that you think is from a government agency, initiate a separate means of communication, Rossman says. For instance, call the agency back at a number you trust or is listed on their official site, rather than replying directly to a call or email. 

If you do answer a call, and it’s about your stimulus payment, keep in mind that U.S. government agencies won’t ask you to pay anything up front to receive your funds. “Anyone who does is a scammer,” writes Jennifer Leach, associate director for the FTC’s division of consumer and business education. 

Additionally, government agencies “won’t call, text, email, or contact you on social media to ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number,” Leach says. Again, if you receive messages asking for this information, it’s likely a scam.

Read the full article here:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/29/stimulus-check-scams-here-are-red-flags-to-watch-for.html

Categories
Budgeting Financial Literacy

Understanding Cost Basis

Understanding your cost basis can save you pretty penny or three. Here’s a useful little primer on what cost basis is, and why it’s useful to understand, from the folks at Schwab.


Save on Taxes: Know Your Cost Basis

by www.schwab.com

Many people dislike thinking about taxes so much that they ignore the topic until filing season is upon them. Unfortunately, waiting until the last minute to deal with tax matters can lead to missed opportunities to potentially reduce your tax bill. 

Investors who include tax planning as part of their investing strategy could potentially see significant tax benefits over the long run, says Hayden Adams, CPA, director of tax and financial planning at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

You shouldn’t just be thinking about capital gains and losses. Savvy investors know how to manage the so-called “cost basis” and holding periods of their investments to help reduce gains that are subject to taxes. Knowing your cost basis can be a valuable tool.

What is cost basis?

Simply put, your cost basis is what you paid for an investment, including brokerage fees, “loads” and any other trading cost—and it can be adjusted for corporate actions such as mergers, stock splits and dividend payments. This matters because your capital gain (or loss) will be the difference between the cost basis and the price at which you sell your securities. This cost is pretty easy to calculate—if you don’t reinvest dividends or dollar-cost average when you invest.

Read the full article here: 

https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/save-on-taxes-know-your-cost-basis

Categories
Identity Theft Security

Protect Yourself From Phishing Identity Theft Scams

Identity theft via phishing has grown steadily in the last few years, and has now exploded due to the pandemic restrictions and the rise of online interactions.

Phishing was previously defined as: “the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers”.

However, phishing scams have become far more sophisticated than simple emails, and now are deployed more along the lines of clever social engineering and complex subterfuge. Phishing attempts can involve not just email, but phone calls, texts, social media interaction, or any combination of those.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to protect yourself from phishing, and the security experts at Kaspersky Labs have put together a thorough primer to help you out. Stay alert, and stay safe!


Phishing Prevention Tips

by Kaspersky Labs

Phishing prevention has become essential as more criminals turn towards online scams to steal your personal information. We’ve learned to dodge spam emails, but phishing emails can look deceivingly credible. Some are even personalized specifically for you. Since you will likely be exposed to a phishing attack eventually, you’ll need to know the red flags. Because scams are nothing new on the web, but phishing is harder to spot than you might think.

Across the web, phishing attacks have baited unsuspecting victims into handing over bank info, social security numbers, and more. Plus, cybercriminals have become even savvier with their disguises. Sometimes these scams hide behind voices you know and trust, like your coworkers, your bank, or even your government. If you so much as click a link, you could be the scammer’s next victim.

As we dive into how to prevent phishing, we’ll answer some important questions:

  • What is phishing?
  • Am I at risk of being a phishing target?
  • What types of phishing scams exist?
  • How do I spot a phishing scam?
  • What is phishing email?
  • What do I do once I’ve identified a phishing email?
  • What should I do to avoid being a victim of phishing?

What is Phishing?

Phishing persuades you to take an action which gives a scammer access to your device, accounts, or personal information. By pretending to be a person or organization you trust, they can more easily infect you with malware or steal your credit card information.

In other words, these social engineering schemes “bait” you with trust to get your valuable information. This could be anything from a social media login, to your entire identity via your social security number.

These schemes may urge you to open an attachment, follow a link, fill out a form, or reply with personal info. By that logic, you must be on guard at all times which can be exhausting.

The most common scenario is as follows: …[more]

Read the full article here:

https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/preemptive-safety/phishing-prevention-tips

Categories
Budgeting Credit

Free Weekly Credit Reports Now Through April 2021

Top national credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, are offering consumers free weekly credit reports through April 2021. To get your free report, go to annualcreditreport.com, the only officially sanctioned site for this.

Credit reports are now free, every week

by Cathlin Tully Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, Federal Trade Commission

If you’re feeling anxious about your financial health during these uncertain times, you’re not alone. That’s why the three national credit reporting agencies are giving people weekly access to monitor their credit report — for free.

This is some helpful news, because staying on top of your credit reportis one important tool to help manage your financial data. Your credit report has information about your credit history and payment history — information that lenders, creditors, and other businesses use when giving you loans or credit. 

Now it’s easier than ever to check your credit more often. That’s because everyone is eligible to get free weekly credit reports from the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. To get your free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. The credit reporting agencies are making these reports free for the next year.

If you’re one of the many Americans struggling to pay your bills right now because of the Coronavirus crisis, here’s what you can do: ….[more]

Read the full article here:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/05/credit-reports-are-now-free-every-week

Categories
Covid Identity Theft Security

Credit and Identity Thieves Are Exploiting COVID-19

Identity and credit thieves are taking advantage of the confusion during Covid-19 to target consumers in astronomical numbers. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself, including taking advantage of the new relaxed credit check rules that allow you to check your credit weekly for free.


Freeze credit, review credit reports weekly as thieves exploit COVID-19 pandemic

by Connie Thompson | KOMO News

Today, the FBI told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the number of fraud complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3) for the first 5 months of this 2020 is almost the same as for all of 2019.

Scammers and crime rings are tricking people out of hundreds of millions of dollars by exploiting the pandemic.

To quote the FBI’s Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division, “These threats are pervasive and have become more frequent and sophisticated over time.”

The Federal Trade Commission said it’s seeing a rise in identity theft complaints.

“The numbers are very high, particularly in Washington state,” said FTC Regional Director Chuck Harwood.

Freezing your credit is now a top recommendation.

“By freezing your credit report, you make it harder for anyone to use the information on that credit report, it’ll make it hard for them to open new credit in your name,” Harwood said.

But don’t stop there. You can now check your credit for free once a week with each of the three major credit bureaus instead of getting a free report just once a year.

“During the pandemic the credit reporting agencies have loosened the rules further and said that consumers may check each of the credit reports, each week,” Harwood said.

And with scam phone calls on the rise it’s more crucial than ever to …

Read the full article here:

https://komonews.com/news/consumer/freeze-credit-review-credit-reports-weekly-as-thieves-exploit-covid-19-pandemic

Categories
Covid Taxes

State By State Guide To Tax Deadlines For Filing & Payments During COVID-19

Forbes has put together an excellent guide to state-by-state tax filing and payment deadlines. We encourage all our Soesbe Financial clients, as well as the general taxpaying population, to file their taxes sooner rather than later, to ensure that any refunds you are owed can be disbursed in a timely manner.


Your Guide To State Tax Deadlines For Filing Returns & Making Estimated Payments During COVID-19

by Kelly Phillips Erb Senior Contributor Taxes

(Updated: June 12, 2020)

On March 20, 2020, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin extended the tax filing and payment deadline for federal income tax to July 15, 2020. This relief includes estimated payments for the first and second quarters. You can find more information and guidance here.

Some states have also extended filing and payment deadlines – but not all of them are extended to July 15, 2020. Additionally, not all state filing extensions apply to estimated payments (you’ll see the information about estimated payments in bold below). Here’s what we know so far:

Alabama: For taxpayers affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), the due date for filing state income tax, FIET, and BPT returns and making state income tax, FIET, and BPT payments due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, is postponed to July 15, 2020. Extension payments and Estimate payments due on April 15, 2020, have been postponed to July 15, 2020. However, the Order does not include estimated payments due after April 15, 2020. For example, a calendar year taxpayer’s second-quarter payment is still due June 15, 2020.

Alaska: Alaska does not have a personal income tax.

Arizona: The Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) announced it has moved the deadline for filing and paying state income taxes from April 15 to July 15, 2020. This includes individual, corporate, and fiduciary tax returns. Taxpayers who need more time beyond the July 15 deadline to file state income taxes should consider filing for an extension. Arizona’s delay in filing and paying state income taxes does not include an extension to pay estimated tax payments.

Arkansas: Governor Hutchinson announced the state deadline to file and pay individual income taxes has been extended to July 15, matching the federal extension. Arkansas did not extend the 2020 estimated tax payments. 

California: FTB has postponed until July 15, the filing and payment deadlines for all individuals and business entities for 2019 tax returns, 2019 tax return payments, 2020 LLC taxes and fees, and 2020 Non-wage withholding payments. California has also extended 2020 1st and 2nd quarter estimate payments to July 15.

Colorado: The income tax payment deadline has been extended for all Colorado taxpayers to July 15, 2020. All income tax returns that were required to be filed by April 15, 2020, are granted a six-month extension and are due on or before October 15, 2020. EO D 2020 010 grants an extension of time to pay until July 15, 2020, for any estimated payment due between April 15, 2020, and June 15, 2020, without penalty.

Read the full article here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2020/06/10/your-guide-to-state-tax-deadlines-for-filing-returns–making-estimated-payments-during-covid-19/#2c324e2c33c9

Categories
Identity Theft Security

Beware Stimulus Check Scams

Even though the stimulus bill has barely passed, scammers have started calling folks up, trying to get them to divulge confidential information such as bank accounts, social security numbers, and so forth.

DON’T FALL FOR THEIR TRICKS. The IRS will never call, text or email asking for information.

The IRS specifies on its website that no sign-up is required, and there is no need to call. The agency will post additional information, when it’s available, at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.


Beware stimulus check scams

By Tami Luhby, CNN

(CNN)The federal government hasn’t issued a single stimulus check yet, but scammers are already trying to steal the money from Americans.

These criminal efforts are prompting the Federal Bureau of Investigation, multiple state attorneys general and other agencies to warn Americans not to fall for phone calls, texts, emails or websites that ask for personal or financial information in order to receive the $1,200 federal payment.

“If someone claims to be from the government with a check for you, it may be a phishing scam that is illegally trying to obtain your bank account or other personal information,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Saturday.

“Do not pay anyone who promises that they can expedite or obtain a payment or a loan for you,” James continued. “If you are eligible for relief, you will not need to make any up-front payment or pay any fee to receive a stimulus payment.”

Most Americans will receive up to $1,200 per person in coming weeks, as part of a historic $2 trillion stimulus package President Donald Trump signed into law Friday.

Read the full article here:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/28/politics/stimulus-check-scams/index.html

Categories
Community Covid Sacramento

Sacramento Area Resources For Elders and Families

As we all do our part to shelter in place during these crucial weeks, there are many among us who require assistance with obtaining necessary services and provisions. The good people over at Safe Credit Union have put together an excellent list to help our community.


Sacramento area resources for 65+ and families

SAFE

by SAFE on March 24, 2020 at 4:01 PM

As the Greater Sacramento area follows shelter-in-place orders and other directives associated with COVID-19, many businesses and organizations have stepped forward to ensure that residents can obtain the basics such as food and health care.

Businesses considered essential remain open, including grocery stores, credit unions and banks, laundromats, hardware stores, and gas stations.

Here’s a list compiled by SAFE to help you find the resources you need. If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, or know of other services provided, please share in the comments below. We’ll be pleased to add them.

FOOD

Food banks

The National Guard is assisting local food banks to distribute food as the number of available volunteers shrinks due to shelter-in-place orders. The Sacramento Food Bank is helping to coordinate food distribution across the area. They advise calling before you go.

Read the full article here:

https://blog.safecu.org/sacramento-area-resources-to-help-you-during-covid-19-situation

Categories
Community Covid

COVID-19: A Good Quarantine Supply List

Sheltering in place during this COVID-19 crisis does not need to be overly stressful with a little planning and some smart shopping. Here’s an excellent list of things for your quarantine preparedness plans, from the folks at realtor.com.

Practice physical distancing, wash your hands often, and wipe down surfaces. Stay safe!

Your Essential Quarantine Supply List: What You’ll Actually Need for a Few Weeks at Home

By Larissa Runkle | Mar 23, 2020

By now you’ve surely heard that store shelves have been emptied of toilet paper and hand sanitizer—and we totally get that that stuff is very necessary in a quarantine. But those aren’t the only things you’ll need to settle in for a few weeks (or more) at home.

So what else do you need? With the number of U.S. states issuing “shelter in place” orders growing, we wanted to put together a definitive quarantine supply guide—before the panic buying gets any worse.

After speaking with several medical and shopping experts, we rounded up the must-have items you’ll need for an extended stay at home—much of which you can buy online (amen!).

Read the full article here:

https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/coronavirus-quarantine-survival-supply-list/