Identity Theft

Top Money Posts: Week of March 7, 2016

My Recent Posts on Nerdwallet’s ‘Ask an Advisor’

From Around the Web

  • Market downturns can have an adverse affect on a retirement income plan. Here are my tips for dealing with this inevitability.
  • Here’s a quick look  at your other options for college savings besides a 529 plan.
  • Retiring at 40 is a tough goal to achieve. Learn 5 lessons from people who actually pulled it off.
  • Many people have concerns about paying for traditional long-term care insurance policies since they may never use them. To combat these concerns, insurance companies have developed hybrid LTC policies that combine life insurance with long-term care. Are they right for you?

Great Resources

  • Need a simple and easy to use tool to help you keep track of your budget. Take a look at (YNAB). Great for people who love tech that can help improve their life!
  • Got taxes on your brain? The IRS has a pretty good YouTube channel. It’s particularly worth checking out their videos on ID theft.
  • Use our retirement Check-Up tool to see if you are on track with your retirement savings goals.

If you like this post, you might also like my FREE report: “8 Steps to Organize & Optimize Your Financial Life”. Check it out here!

3 Mistakes That Leave You Vulnerable to Identity Theft & Tax Scams

Despite all the media attention, tax scams along with Identity theft continue to plague the american public, especially during tax time. In fact, according to MarketWatch  the IRS  has seen a “400% increase in phishing and malware this tax season” compared to last season. So, what mistakes are you making that could potentially cause you to fall victim?

Mistake #1: Emailing Sensitive Information

The one is a HUGE problem, and the one I am most passionate about. Since email is so ubiquitous and simple to use most of us don’t think twice about sending our personal information to our accountants, financial planners, bankers, attorneys, etc. The problem is that most email is not encrypted and therefore not secure. Even services like dropbox are questionable when it comes to sharing documents containing your social security number, account information, etc, particularly if you are not using two-step verification. Don’t get me wrong, having free email and using a file sharing service like dropbox is great, just don’t use email for sending any information someone could potentially use to access your accounts or credit cards, open accounts in your name, or file a return to claim your refund! Also, be sure to add the extra layer of protection with dropbox if you plan to use it. If you need to send sensitive documents or information regularly, you should upgrade from free email and document sharing to a more robust, secure and encrypted solution. However, if you only occasionally need to send this type of information electronically, the person requesting the information should have their own solution in place for you to collaborate with them. For example, at Weiss Financial Group we use the Secure Client Website by eMoney and our affiliate company Weiss, Orro, & Stern uses SmartVault. Make use of these tools, because the more precautions you take the less chance you have of becoming the next victim of ID theft or fraud.

Mistake #2: Responding to a Phone Call From the IRS Saying You Owe Them Money

First off, the IRS will NEVER call your house if you aren’t already working with an agent. So, if you come home and you have a threatening message on your answering machine (do people still have those?) DO NOT call them back. If by some lapse of judgement you do call them back, DO NOT give them your Social Security number or other personal info, and NEVER give them money. It is a scam! Surprisingly, this scam keeps popping up every year, and every year people fall for it. My wife and I actually came home to one of these messages on our answering machine last year (ok, I admit, I still have an answering machine!). Obviously we did not call them back, however the message sounded authentic and was quite threatening. Want to hear a sample of one of these phony messages? Click here to watch a video I found on YouTube of an actual message left on someone’s cell phone. To see what the IRS says about all this, click here for a short video from the IRS regarding these scams along with some helpful scam prevention advice.

Mistake #3: Clicking on an email from the IRS or a Bank Requesting Personal Information

Clicking on emails from unknown sources exposes you to all sorts of bad things including a potential computer virus. So, as tempting as it is, train yourself not to open them! As I said before, the IRS will not call you at home, likewise they will not email you asking for sensitive information. Unfortunately, emails are quite easy to forge and fool you into thinking they are authentic. Just remember that the IRS will not send you a threatening email, so if you receive one don’t open it, and definitely do not hit reply.

I hope this gives you the ammo you need to protect yourself from making any of these mistakes. Be alert and be smart. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out.


  1. This material was prepared, in part, by MarketingPro, Inc.


Top Money Posts: Week of January 18, 2016

Here are some articles I recommend checking out. I’ve also mixed in a few good one’s I shared previously in case you missed them.

From around the web:

  • With Powerball having reached record territory last week, I was asked by several friends (and my wife) what to do if they won all that money. For most of the people I work with, I’d give the same advice found in this NY Times piece that taking the annuity option is the best choice. However, this Money Magazine post makes a good counter argument for taking the lump sum. Wired magazine took an entirely different (and more fun) approach to answering this question with “How to Spend Your Powerball Winnings Like a Baller.” Regardless, even though it would have been great to be the winner, I agree with the Notorious B.I.G: “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”
  • The other big news has been the recent volatility in the stock market. Paul R. La Monica at says investors are overreacting. Nevertheless, it can be gut wrenching to watch the drops. Unfortunately, short term losses are the price we pay for the potential of long-term gains. If you need your money soon (12 months or less), you should avoid investing in the stock market.
  • As tax season approaches, tax scams will inevitably increase. Here are 7 Ways to Keep Your Tax Refund Safe From Thieves.
  • Microsoft has ended support for older versions of Explorer. Make sure you update your browser to help minimize the potential for viruses.
  • With high school seniors receiving acceptance letters over the past few weeks, many will need to take out student loans to pay for their dream college. But, how much is too much when it comes to taking out student loan debt?