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

Americans' Financial Security Highest Since Recession

February 24, 2015 2:06 am

More than half of Americans (58 percent) have more emergency savings than credit card debt, up from both 2014 and 2013, according to a recent report from Bankrate.com. Overall, Americans are feeling better about their debt loads than at any point since June 2013.

Just 16 percent of Americans say that their overall financial situation is worse than last year, representing a new low. Approximately one in four Americans (24 percent) have more credit card debt than emergency savings and another 13 percent have neither credit card debt nor emergency savings.

Improvement was also reflected in all five categories of Bankrate's Financial Security Index: savings, debt, net worth, job security and overall financial situation. The report concluded that more Americans feel secure in their jobs than they did a year ago (24 percent). People are feeling better about their net worth by a similar margin. Men and women both note improved financial security compared to one year ago. Men continue to feel better about their security than women.

Even savings, long the laggard of financial security, is closing the gap. Whereas the percentage of Americans less comfortable with their savings used to routinely outnumber those who were more comfortable by a 2-to-1 margin, the divide has narrowed dramatically.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The 7 Most Common Tax Scams – and How to Avoid Them

February 23, 2015 12:06 am

Filing season means three things: taxes, refunds and scams. Taxpayers should know that they are legally responsible for what is on their tax returns, even if it is prepared by someone else. Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest for taxpayers, as well as possible criminal prosecution.

To avoid jeopardizing your standing with the IRS, steer clear of these seven schemes.
  • Phone Scams: Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things.
  • Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise. Taxpayers should be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information.
  • Identity Theft: Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft, especially around tax time. The IRS is making progress on this front, but taxpayers still need to be extremely careful and do everything they can to avoid becoming a victim.
  • Return Preparer Fraud: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.
  • Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via community groups and churches in seeking victims.
  • Fake Charities: Taxpayers should be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. Note charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations.
  • Abusive Tax Shelters: Taxpayers should avoid using abusive tax structures to avoid paying taxes. The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and everyone should be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true. When in doubt, taxpayers should seek an independent opinion regarding complex products they are offered.
Source: IRS.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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