IRS Scam Phone Calls Continue – How to Identify Suspicious Calls

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”

The IRS reminds people that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:

 

  1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

 

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at tigta.gov.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Remember, too, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

Tips to Keep Your Tax Records Secure; Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

If you’re still keeping old tax returns and receipts stuffed in a shoe box stuck in the back of the closet, you might want to rethink that approach.

You should keep your tax records safe and secure, whether they are stored on paper or kept electronically. The same is true for any financial or health records you store, especially any document bearing Social Security numbers.

You should keep always keep copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for several years to support claims for tax credits and deductions.

Because of the sensitive data, the loss or theft of these documents could lead to identity theft and have an economic impact. These documents contain the Social Security numbers of you, your spouse and dependents, old W-2 income and bank account information. A burglar could easily turn your old shoe box full of documents into a tax-related identity theft crime.

Here are just a few of the easy and practical steps to better protect your tax records:

  • Always retain a copy of your completed federal and state tax returns and their supporting materials. These prior-year returns will help you prepare your next year’s taxes, and receipts will document any credits or deductions you claim should question arise later.
  • If you retain paper records, you should keep them in a secure location, preferably under lock and key, such as a secure desk drawer or a safe.
  • If you retain you records electronically on your computer, you should always have an electronic back-up, in case your hard drive crashes. You should encrypt the files both on your computer and any back-up drives you use. You may have to purchase encryption software to ensure the files’ security.
  • Dispose of old tax records properly. Never toss paper tax returns and supporting documents into the trash. Your federal and state tax records, as well as any financial or health records should be shredded before disposal.
  • If you are disposing of an old computer or back-up hard drive, keep in mind there is sensitive data on these. Deleting stored tax files will not remove them from your computer. You should wipe the drives of any electronic product you trash or sell, including tablets and mobile phones, to ensure you remove all personal data. Again, this may require special disk utility software.

The IRS recommends retaining copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for a minimum of three years to a maximum of seven years. Remember to keep records relating to property you own for three to seven years after the year in which you dispose of the property. Three years is a timeframe that allows you to file amended returns, or if questions arise on your tax return, and seven years is a timeframe that allows filing a claim for adjustment in a case of bad debt deduction or a loss from worthless securities.

Section 179 Tax Breaks PATH of 2015

For many small business owners, those long and annoying depreciation schedules will soon become a distant memory. Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH) of 2015, the maximum Section 179 deduction of $500,000 is restored retroactively — and extended forever.

As you’re probably well aware, Section 179 provides a current “expensing” deduction for qualified business property placed in service during the year. The Section 179 expensing deduction had been gradually raised from a modest $25,000 figure to its lofty perch at $500,000. But when this higher allowance officially expired after 2014, it was scheduled to plummet all the way back to the $25,000 amount in 2015.

At long last, the PATH Act – signed on December 18, 2015 — comes to the rescue. Consider these six benefits relating to Section 179.

  1. The new law revives the maximum $50,00 deduction retroactive to January 1, 2015. In other words, if a client placed in service qualified business equipment costing $100,000 last year, he or she can write of the entire amount on a 2015 return. There’s no need to even consult the depreciation tables.
  2. The PATH Act extends this tax break permanently and provides for future inflation indexing. The inflation adjustments will begin in 2016. (The IRS has yet to announce this figure.)
  3. If the cost of qualified property placed in service during the year exceeds an annual threshold, the maximum deduction is reduced on a dollar-for-dollar basis. As with the higher allowance, this threshold gradually increased from $200,000 to $2 million, but was scheduled to revert to $200,000 in 2015. The $2 million threshold is reinstated for 2015 and extended permanently, subject to annual indexing in 2016 and thereafter. (The IRS has yet to announce this figure.)
  4. Previously, taxpayers could claim off-the-shelf software as qualified Section 179 property instead of using the usual three-year cost recovery period. But this tax break also expired after 2014. The PATH Act retains this enhanced rule retroactive to 2015 and extends it permanently.
  5. The PATH Act permanently and retroactively reinstates the rule allowing taxpayers to elect o revoke the Section 179 deduction without obtaining the IRS’ consent. This provision had also expired after 2014.
  6. Before 2015, a client could elect 50% bonus depreciation in conjunction with a Section 179 allowance. But bonus depreciation generally expired after 2014. As with the higher allowance, bonus depreciation has been retroactively revived and extended, subject to a reduction over several years. For 2015 returns, you can still elect 50% bonus depreciation on the same property qualifying for a Section 179 deduction.

There is, however, one catch: Although the Section 179 election is available to most business clients, the deduction can’t exceed the net taxable income from all the businesses actively operated by the taxpayer. For this purpose, net income is figured without regard to expensing, the 50% deduction for self-employment tax and any net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards or carrybacks.

Thus, if a client’s taxable income tops out at $75,000 for 2015, the maximum Section 179 is limited to $75,000, even if the client acquired and placed in service $100,000 of qualified property. In this case, the $25,000 excess must be depreciated under the usual rules.

Taxes & Tax Services in Johnstown, PA

It is that time of the year again.  Christmas is over.  The tree is at the curb for trash pick up.  The New Year has just begun.  What’s next?  Taxes!  

There is a new tax service in Johnstown, PA, Asset Planning Tax Group.  Here at Asset Planning Tax Group, we take the guesswork out of tax preparation and offer strategies to optimize paying fewer taxes.  Whether you are single, married, or a student, come take advantage of what Asset Planning Tax Group has to offer.  No matter your age or income, we can help.  

When you are ready to have your taxes prepared either call for an appointment or drop off your information.  Asset Planning Tax Group will prepare and file your taxes correctly and efficiently.  When you pick up your return, useful future tax information will be included as a bonus to help you pay fewer taxes to Uncle Sam in the future.

We are conveniently located on Clinton Street in Johnstown, PA.  Our hours are 10 until 5 Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and 12 until 8 on Tuesday.  Take advantage of our website www.johnstowntaxes.com for useful blog information or contact us through email.  

So after you receive your W-2’s and 1099’s, be sure to make an appointment and see what APTG is all about.  Have your taxes prepared anytime from late January until April 15th.  

Tax Planning for the Self-Employed

What is it?

According to the IRS, you are self-employed if you carry on a trade or business as a sole proprietor, as an independent contractor, as a member of a partnership, or if you are otherwise in business for yourself. You can be a full-time employee and still have self-employment income from a side job. To determine whether particular income is self-employment income (rather than employee wages, for example), you should look at the source of your income and the extent of your involvement in the activity.

If you are self-employed, you should understand the self-employment tax. You should also be aware of certain tax planning opportunities.

Tax consequences

You must pay self-employment tax if you have more than a minimal amount of self-employment income. If you file a Schedule C as a sole proprietor, independent contractor, or statutory nonemployee, the income listed on your Schedule C is self-employment income and must be included on Schedule SE, which is filed with your Form 1040. Schedule SE is used both to calculate self-employment tax and to report the amount of tax owed. Self-employment tax is used by the federal government to fund Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The self-employment tax rate on net earnings is 15.3 percent (with 12.4 percent of this rate going to Social Security and 2.9 percent allotted to Medicare). All net earnings from self-employment in excess of $400 are subject to the Medicare portion of the self-employment tax. However, the Social Security portion of the self-employment tax applies only to net earnings from self-employment in excess of $400, up to and including $118,500 (for 2015, $117,000 for 2014). (The maximum is reduced if you have income from sources other than self-employment that has been subject to Social Security tax.)

Caution:         Starting in 2013, an additional 0.9 percent Medicare surtax applies to wages and self-employment income in excess of $200,000 for single taxpayers and over $250,000 for married couples filing joint federal income tax returns ($125,000 for married individuals who file separate returns).

Employees generally have income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax withheld from their paychecks. If you are self-employed, it is likely that no one is withholding federal and state taxes from your paychecks. Therefore, you should make estimated tax payments on your own to cover your federal income tax and self-employment tax liability. This will help you to avoid liability for penalties, interest, and substantial tax bills at the end of the year.

Planning opportunities

As a self-employed individual, you have a number of income tax planning opportunities, some of which are not available to employees. This discussion provides a brief overview of some of the tax planning opportunities you may wish to consider.

Shifting income/timing income

Shifting income to family members can be an important tax planning technique. If you run your own business, your ability to shift income to a family member who is in a lower marginal tax bracket can be a significant advantage. Your relative may benefit from the increased income, and you may benefit by the decreased tax liability. In addition, it’s possible that the overall amount of federal income taxes paid by the two of you would be lower. However, be aware that the IRS could question compensation paid to a family member unless the compensation was reasonable in amount, considering the services actually provided by the family member.

As a self-employed taxpayer, you also have greater control and flexibility regarding timing the receipt of your income.

Retirement plans

Establishing a retirement plan is another tax planning advantage for the self-employed. If you are self-employed and have no employees, a qualified retirement plan (such as a Keogh) may allow you to place pretax dollars into a retirement account to grow tax deferred until withdrawal. If you have employees, your business may have to provide coverage for them as well. The type of retirement plan that your business should establish depends on your specific circumstances.

Other benefit plans

Aside from retirement plans, there are certain other employee benefit plans–such as cafeteria plans and medical benefit plans–that are really intended to benefit your employees. Nevertheless, you may wish to have your business establish one or more such plans. Employee benefit plans play an important role in attracting and retaining employees. In addition, sole proprietors may derive certain limited benefits under these plans.

Business expenses and other deductions

Verify that your business is taking advantage of all of the deductions to which it is entitled, including deductions for certain start-up costs. For instance, did you know that you may be able to deduct a portion of the expenses for a business trip even when the trip is combined with vacation? While our discussions on deductions aren’t exhaustive, we’ve tried to pick out some key items that you should consider, including the use of a home office, automobiles, and business assets.

One major area of concern for many self-employed individuals is the high cost of health insurance. Fortunately, some of your health-care related expenses may be tax deductible. For instance, you may be eligible for the self-employed health insurance deduction, which would enable you to deduct the cost of health insurance that you provide for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. This deduction is taken on the front of your federal Form 1040 (i.e., “above-the-line”) when computing your adjusted gross income, so it’s available whether you itemize or not.

Contributions you make to a health savings account (HSA) are also deductible “above-the-line.” An HSA is a tax-exempt trust or custodial account you can establish in conjunction with a high-deductible health plan to set aside tax-free funds for health-care expenses.

Hobby classification

Sometimes it is unclear whether you are engaged in a trade or business or whether you are merely deriving occasional income from a hobby. Although income generated from a trade or business activity is taxable, losses from such an activity are generally fully deductible. For this reason, taxpayers sometimes try to classify a hobby as a trade or business. Consequently, the IRS closely scrutinizes purported trade or business activities that regularly show losses. If your business consistently shows a loss, you should be aware of the IRS’s rules for classifying activities as hobbies.

Tips to protect your financial accounts using credit bureaus

Tips to protect your financial accounts using credit bureaus

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you should contact one of the three credit bureaus to apply a “fraud alert” on your credit score.

This step is very important because it makes it harder for identity thieves from opening additional accounts such as bank accounts in your name. This also helps prevent identity thieves direct tax rebates to bank accounts that they have created or that open lines of credit in your name.

The IRS has partnered with the state tax agencies and tax industry to ensure that you understand the threats to your personal and financial information. By working in collaboration with you, we can make a difference.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, contact a credit bureau and that can help in many ways, even to protect their tax information.

The three major credit bureaus are (in English):

  • Equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance888-766-0008.
  • Experian.com/fraudalert888-397-3742.
  • TransUnion.com/fraud800-680-7289.

If you are a victim of identity theft, you need to contact only one of the three agencies to request a fraud alert. The credit agency you select should inform other agencies when a fraud alert is requested. You will receive a letter from each of the credit bureaus. The letter will confirm that a fraud alert be placed on your account already.

Fraud alerts are free and remain valid for 90 days but you can renew. These will provide warning signals to other businesses where thieves may be attempting to open accounts for legitimate businesses to take additional steps to verify identities.
There are three types of fraud alerts available:

  1. The initial fraud alert.If you are concerned about identity theft victim but not yet, this type of fraud alert will protect your credit from access not verified for at least 90 days. You may want to place a fraud alert on your account if you lost your wallet, social security card or if it is stolen or lost other personal or financial information.
  2. The extended fraud alert.For victims of identity theft, this fraud alert will protect your credit for seven years.
  3. Alert Active Military Service.For members of the armed forces that want to protect your credit while they are serving, this fraud alert works for a year.

In addition, you must request your free credit report immediately to ensure that identity thieves have not open additional accounts. Visit the website annualcreditreport.com, operated by the three credit bureaus, or call 877-322-8228.

If you want stronger protections or was part of a data breach, you may consider freezing your credit, made ​​employing these additional protections but usually charges a fee that varies by state.

A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze allows you to limit access to your credit report, which makes it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. To do this, you should contact each of the three credit bureaus.

What is the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert? A credit freeze puts a lock on your credit. A fraud alert lets creditors obtain a copy of your credit report provided that additional steps be taken to verify your identity.

At the moment he granted her request to freeze their credit, each credit bureau will send a letter with a personal identification number (PIN, for its acronym in English) or password. Keep this PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you later want to cancel the freeze.

If you request a line of credit, a mortgage or a job, you need to lift the freeze temporarily action credit for businesses to confirm your credit history. A fee is also charged for lifting the credit freeze action.

To learn more about what additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial information, visit www.Tax. Security. States. You can also read the Publication 4524, Safety Awareness for taxpayers (in English).

Every taxpayer has a number of fundamental rights to be taken into account when dealing with the IRS. These are the rights of the taxpayer. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect on IRS.gov.

Need a Tax Transcript? Plan Ahead.

IRS reminds taxpayers to plan ahead if they need tax transcripts
IR-2015-140SP, December 23, 2015

WASHINGTON – The IRS reminds taxpayers that the fastest way to get a copy of your tax transcript is requesting it online using the application on IRS.gov Sort Transcript. If you plan ahead, they should receive the transcript in the mail within 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request online.

The IRS continues to work in the near future reinstitute the functionality of the application that lets you view and print online with greater security and maintain the protection of their identity. Meanwhile, taxpayers can still request a copy online through transcription to obtain Sort by mail.

Although taxpayers should always keep a copy of your tax return for your records, you may need some information from tax returns filed for many reasons. This includes applicants for college financial aid or taxpayers who have applied for a loan to buy a house or start a business.

If a taxpayer is returning to college this January and is requesting financial aid should check with the financial aid department of the university if they need a copy of their transcript before school starts. Often, students get all the information they need from your tax return in the FAFSA through the IRS Data Retrieval (data recovery tool) tool.

Similarly, if a taxpayer intends to apply for a loan, you should ask your financial institution if a transcript is needed so you can plan ahead and keep it at the right time.

The fastest way to get a transcript is through Transcript Sort tool on IRS.gov. Although the IRS has temporarily halted the option to view and print transcripts online, Order Transcript still allows taxpayers to request your transcript online and receive mail. Taxpayers simply click on the button “Get transcription by mail” to order the hard copy of the transcript and have it sent to your address on file with the IRS. Among the options available:

  • To request a transcript online and that envidada mail, visit IRS.gov and use the tool Sort Transcript.
  • To order by phone, call 800-908-9946and follow the instructions.
  • To request a transcript of the personal tax return by mail or fax, please complete the 4506T-EZ form, short form to request a transcript of an individual tax return. Companies and individuals that need a tax account transcript must use the Form 4506T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

The IRS will mail the transcript to the address on your tax return last year. The transcript will be mailed an official document. No need to be “certified” as is the case with other types of documents. If a taxpayer has moved since the last time you filed a tax return to the IRS, you first need to file a Form 8822, Change of Address form to ensure that the transcript is sent to the correct address. Form 8822 is another reason why taxpayers should be planned in advance.

If a taxpayer is requesting financial assistance are encouraged to use the data recovery tool on the website of FAFSA to easily transfer information from the tax to its request for financial aid. The temporary closure of the tool to order transcripts does not affect data recovery tool. Taxpayers can also click on the help page FAFSA for more information.

If you are applying for a mortgage, most mortgage companies only require a transcript of the tax return for income verification purposes. Most of these companies participate in our IVES (fast Income Verification Service) program and may request (with the consent of the taxpayer) that a transcript be sent directly to the financial institution. If a taxpayer need to order a transcript, you must follow the process described above to be sent to the address the IRS has on file.

Remember to order a transcript online is the fastest option. For more information, read the datasheet IRS How I can get my transcript? (in English).

Online and Home Security

Talk to Your Family about Security Online and at Home

For families with children and aging parents, it’s important to make sure everyone guards their personal information online and at home.

It may be time for “the conversation.”

The IRS, state revenue departments and the tax industry have teamed up to combat identity theft in the tax arena. Our theme: Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

Especially in families that use the same computer, students should be warned against turning off any security software in use or opening any suspicious emails. They should be instructed to never click on embedded links or download attachments of emails from unknown sources.

Identity thieves are just one of many predators plying the Internet. And, actions by one computer user could infect the machine for all users. That’s a concern when dealing with personal financial details or tax information.

Kids should be warned against oversharing personal information on social media. But oversharing about home addresses, a new family car or a parent’s new job gives identity thieves a window into an extra bit of information they need to impersonate you.

Aging parents also are prime targets for identity thieves. If they are browsing the Internet, they made need to the same conversation about online security, avoiding spam email schemes and oversharing on social media.

They may also need assistance for someone to routinely review charges to their credit cards, withdrawals from their financial accounts. Unused credit cards should be canceled. An annual review should be made of their credit reports at annualcreditreport.com to ensure no new accounts are being opened by thieves, and reviewing the Social Security Administration account to ensure no excessive income is accruing to their account.

Seniors also are especially vulnerable to scam calls and pressure from fraudsters posing as legitimate organizations, including the Internal Revenue Service, and demanding payment for debts not owed. The IRS will never make threats of lawsuit or jail or demand that a certain payment method, such as a debit card, be made.

Fraudsters will try to trick seniors, telling them they have won a grand prize in a contest or that a relative needs money – anything to persuade a person to give up personal information such as their Social Security number or financial account information.

Choose a Tax Preparer Wisely

IRS Urges Taxpayers to Choose a Tax Preparer Wisely for the Filing Season Ahead

FS-2014-11, December 2014

More than half of taxpayers hire a professional when it’s time to file a tax return. Even if you don’t prepare your own Form 1040, you’re still legally responsible for what is on it.

A tax return preparer is trusted with your most personal information. They know about your marriage, your income, your children and your Social Security numbers — all of the sensitive details of your financial life. If you pay someone to prepare your federal income tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that person wisely. To do that, take some time to understand a few essentials.

Most tax return preparers provide outstanding service. However, each year, some taxpayers are hurt financially because they choose the wrong tax return preparer. Well-intentioned taxpayers can be misled by preparers who don’t understand taxes or who mislead people into taking credits or deductions they aren’t entitled to in order to increase their fee. Every year, these types of tax preparers face everything from penalties to even jail time for defrauding their clients.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax preparer:

  • Check to be sure the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Anyone with a valid 2015 PTIN is authorized to prepare federal tax returns. Tax return preparers, however, have differing levels of skills, education and expertise. An important difference in the types of practitioners is “representation rights”. You can learn more about the several different types of return preparers on IRS.gov/chooseataxpro.
  • Ask the tax preparer if they have a professional credential (enrolled agent, certified public accountant, or attorney), belong to a professional organization or attend continuing education classes. A number of tax law changes, including the Affordable Care Act provisions, can be complex. A competent tax professional needs to be up-to-date in these matters. Tax return preparers aren’t required to have a professional credential, but make sure you understand the qualifications of the preparer you select.
  • Check on the service fees upfront. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than others can.
  • Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into your bank account. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.
  • Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file and ask that your return be submitted to the IRS electronically. Any tax professional who gets paid to prepare and file more than 10 returns generally must file the returns electronically. It’s the safest and most accurate way to file a return, whether you do it alone or pay someone to prepare and file for you.
  • Make sure the preparer will be available. Make sure you’ll be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return – even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions come up about your tax return.
  • Provide records and receipts. Good preparers will ask to see your records and receipts. They’ll ask you questions to determine your total income, deductions, tax credits and other items. Do not rely on a preparer who is willing to e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
  • Never sign a blank return. Don’t use a tax preparer that asks you to sign an incomplete or blank tax form.
  • Review your return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions if something is not clear. Make sure you’re comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
  • Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. Paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.
  • Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. You can report abusive tax return preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or changed the return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. You can get these forms on IRS.gov.

Six Tips for a Strong Financial New Year

The holidays give you the chance to spend time with loved ones and friends, catch up on your favorite TV shows—and make resolutions for the new year. While it can be overwhelming thinking about what you’ll do differently next year, focusing on your financial future is a great place to start.

  1. Check Your Credit Report. Because it affects your ability to get a loan or job, and can help you avoid identity theft, you should check your credit report at least once a year. Reviewing it can also help you understand your credit score, a system used by banks, credit card companies, and other businesses to figure out how likely you are to pay back money you borrow.
  2. Manage Your Debt to Rebuild Your Credit. It’s never easy to face financial difficulties—but ignoring your debt may cause bigger problems. Learn the things to do right away if you cannot pay your credit card bills. Recovering from a financial blow can take time. While there are no shortcuts or easy fixes, following these steps can help you rebuild your credit. And remember, you don’t have to go it alone on the road to financial security. A credit counselor can help guide you to becoming debt-free.
  3. Protect Yourself from Scams. When a product or opportunity sounds too good to be true, it usually is. While scams change constantly, you can learn the warning signs that can help you spot frauds and scams.
  4. Know Your Mortgage Rights. How to finance a home can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. You can prepare for and manage this responsibility by knowing the rules that protect you when shopping for a mortgage and your rights once you have one.
  5. Don’t Rush Big Financial Decisions. When choosing between financial products and services, it’s easy to feel pressured into making snap decisions. To find the best deal for you, follow these five steps for making financial decisions. Before applying for a new credit card, think about how you plan to use it and shop around to find the best card for you. And if you’re looking for someone to help manage your money, check their background carefully. To find the best service for your needs, get to know your financial adviser.
  6. Save for a New Financial Goal. If your financial situation changes—your income goes up or down, or priorities switch—you may need to set new objectives for yourself. To figure out where you want your money to go in the future, learn how to plan your new money goal. Saving in creative ways, like setting aside part of your next tax refund can bring you closer to that goal.