RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

5 Tips to Avoid Tax-Related Fraud

January 28, 2016 1:18 am

Recent widespread data breaches have made taxpayers leery of identity theft and fraud this tax filing season—and they’re wise to exercise caution, says Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Consumer Protection at Experian.

“Tax season is a busy time of year for identity thieves. Those filing taxes, especially electronically, should educate themselves on what precautions need to be taken, and what assistance is available to them if they become a victim of identity theft,” Bruemmer says.

Preventative measures taxpayers can take include:

• Thoroughly researching any paid preparer or tax preparation software

• Ensuring that the computer used when filing electronically is on a secured network, and is protected with the most up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software

• Asking potential tax preparers to explain how they file and what steps they take to protect their customers’ information.

• Enrolling in credit monitoring and taking action by filing a fraud claim if an alert indicates potentially fraudulent activity

• Not responding to any emails or text messages from anyone who says they’re with the IRS, as the organization contacts individuals via mail and phone only.

According to results from a recent survey by Experian, 28 percent of survey respondents have been a victim or know someone who has been a victim of tax fraud. Forty-two (42) percent of survey respondents are concerned that someone can access their personal data through their tax return.

Despite that concern, just 12 percent of survey respondents are planning to check their credit reports to monitor suspicious activity, and a mere 6 percent of respondents plan to file their taxes on a computer with up-to-date antivirus software.

Additionally, 45 percent of survey respondents are unaware of the IRS-issued Identity Protection PIN. The IP Pin is a unique number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent misuse of their Social Security number, and protects against thieves attempting to file fraudulent federal income tax returns.

Source: Experian

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags:

3 Pro Tips for Water Heater Maintenance

January 28, 2016 1:18 am

Of all the household appliances requiring maintenance, your water heater is one you don’t want to neglect. Forgoing maintenance can not only be hazardous, but also costly, says Michael Petri, a Brooklyn-based plumbing and heating professional.

"We see hundreds of poorly maintained water heaters that need to be fixed or replaced around this time of year," says Petri. "Water heaters account for nearly 17 percent of a household's energy use, so it can get very costly if they aren't maintained properly or get too old."

To ensure the longevity of your water heater, Petri suggests the following tips:

1. Replace an Outdated Unit – Water heaters generally last between 8 and 10 years—after that, they may begin leaking, requiring frequent maintenance or repair work. If your model is outdated, consider replacing it with a new, energy-efficient alternative. Keep in mind that water heaters built after April 15, 2015 meet different energy standards than older models, and, as a result, are larger in size, so storage modifications may be needed.

2. Install Insulation – To ensure accurate water temperature and avoid damage from temperature fluctuations, insulate your water heater with a fiberglass wrap. These wraps, installed by a professional plumber, are safe and generally less expensive than other insulation options.

3. Inspect and Flush the Unit – Regularly inspect the water heater’s pilot light to ensure the system is heating properly. The light should always be blue—red or orange indicate a malfunction. In addition, have your water heater flushed at least once a year to remove built-up rust or sediment, which can inhibit the unit’s performance.

Source: Petri Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Tags: