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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Self Regulatory Organizations Always Police Their Industries Well

Well of course that's not true.  None of them do, from the FCC to the SEC.  But some do a better job than others.
FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) seems to do a fair job considering their financial and political constrictions, as you can see below.  But out of 637,000+ brokers, they only examined 4500.  Or about 7/10 of one percent.  More instructional is the cases of theft and deception committed by specific brokers.  They're instructional because they all could have been prevented by more aware investors.
I invite you to explore their website at

FINRA Statistics Infographic

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Seven Steps for Making Identity Protection Routine

Ok, this is NOT a myth.  These steps come verbatum from the ever-helpful IRS.

RS Security Awareness Tax Tip Number 3, December 7, 2015                                EspaƱol
The theft of your identity, especially personal information such as your name, Social Security number, address and children’s names, can be traumatic and frustrating. In this online era, it’s important to always be on guard.
The IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure you understand the dangers to your personal and financial data. Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.
Here are seven steps you can make part of your routine to protect your tax and financial information:
  1. Read your credit card and banking statements carefully and often – watch for even the smallest charge that appears suspicious. (Neither your credit card nor bank – or the IRS – will send you emails asking for sensitive personal and financial information such as asking you to update your account.)  I would add that it pays to turn on notifications on your credit cards, especially for "credit card absent" charges.
  2. Review and respond to all notices and correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service. Warning signs of tax-related identity theft can include IRS notices about tax returns you did not file, income you did not receive or employers you’ve never heard of or where you’ve never worked.
  3. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit to get your free reports.
  4. Review your annual Social Security income statement for excessive income reported. You can sign up for an electronic account at  It's also important to check for zero earnings years when you did in fact receive wages.  That means your employer failed to report, and pay, payroll taxes.
  5. Read your health insurance statements; look for claims you never filed or care you never received.  And you might also contest charges that you feel are excessive.
  6. Shred any documents with personal and financial information. Never toss documents with your personally identifiable information, especially your social security number, in the trash.  Check my Event Schedule at for our annual Document Shredding and Identity Protection event.  The next one is this coming May.
  7. If you receive any routine federal deposit such as Social Security Administrator or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, you probably receive those deposits electronically. You can use the same direct deposit process for your federal and state tax refund. IRS direct deposit is safe and secure and places your tax refund directly into the financial account of your choice.  Even though a physical check may feel more secure, it isn't!
To learn additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial data, visit Taxes. Security. Together. You also can read Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.
Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on
Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos:
IRS Podcasts:

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Can Just Wait Until May to Revise My Social Security Strategy

Yes, you can wait.  But, unless changes made before 5/1/2016 to the "Social Security Benefit Protection and Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2015*" , you may regret waiting, especially if you have one of the key birthdays coming up.

But first, what provisions of Social Security did Congress not change?

  • The way in which benefits are calculated, based on earnings history, are unchanged.
  • The computation of worker, spousal & survivor benefits is the same.
  • The penalties and credits for early or delayed claiming are the same.
The major changes:

  • If you are 62 or younger after 12/31/2015 you will no longer be able to receive spousal benefits and then switch to your own later.  If you turn 62 by the end of this year, then you are grandfathered in to the current rule.
  • If you turn 66 before 4/30/2016 you may want to file and suspend before then, just in case you need to have file later, for example, for your spouse to file restricted.

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!

*Title VIII of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015