Money Monday: Scammers and Fraudsters

African american couple shocked about computer virus and identity theft at desk at home
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Quite often I hear about someone losing money because of some scam. The interesting thing about fraud and scams is that while they appear in different forms they all require your personal identifying information. With artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, identity fraud and financial scams are only likely to escalate significantly. Today’s Money Monday is the first in a two-part series on financial scams. How can you protect yourself from what’s coming next?

According to an identity fraud study from Javelin Strategy and Research provided this year, losses from financial scams or fraud amounted to $20 billion in the year 2022. While the number of people losing $500 or less has decreased, the number of people who are losing $10,000 or more is increasing. This should come as no surprise since scammers and fraudsters are becoming more focused and sophisticated. Keeping up with scammers is simply like playing a game of whack-o-mo. Authorities are always steps behind the fraudsters. By the time the authorities figure out fraudsters’ operations, they are already off-creating a new scam or engaging in new fraud schemes.

Helpful Resources

I will begin with the end in mind. If you have been a victim of financial fraud and identity transactions you can visit the following places for assistance. The first is the Federal Trade Commission website, www.identitytheft.gov. On this website, you may complete an identity theft report which can help you prove to credit card companies, credit bureaus, and others that your identity has been stolen. You can also visit your local police station to file a report. The report will provide evidence of what has occurred. Another resource would be the AARP Watch Network whose hotline number is (877) 908-3360. This resource is available whether you are an AARP member or not.

Proactive Steps

While this step is not necessarily a resource, but a method of mitigating fraud and managing your credit, it has been an option most do not exercise or execute. I am referring to placing a credit freeze on your account. If you place a freeze on your account, it makes it less likely that someone can execute any fraudulent transactions even though they may be in possession of your social security number, date of birth, and other personal details. I would argue that it is not necessary to leave your credit unfrozen all the time since you’re not always applying for new credit, purchasing a vehicle, house, or something of that nature. When your credit is frozen, the chances of someone opening up new accounts or financial transactions in your name are almost zero. I would also argue that since freezing your credit is free, what do you have to lose? You will need to allocate some time to put the plan in place since you have to freeze your account with each of the credit reporting bureaus.

Identifying theft and financial credit matters are not just a subject for adults, but for children. Many children’s social security numbers and other personal forms of identification are used to open bank accounts, credit cards, and other transactions. Why wait until they become adults to address the matter? You can freeze your child’s account with the credit reporting bureaus if they are younger than 15. If your child is 15, but less than 18, they can freeze their own credit. They can do so by writing a letter to each of the credit reporting agencies.

The final point I will underscore here is that you can obtain a copy of your credit report or check on your credit weekly, through the end of this year, 2023, thanks to COVID-19 relief systems put in place during the pandemic. Free credit reports may not provide you with your credit scores, but will let you know if your credit identification has been stolen and whether someone has attempted unauthorized transactions in your name. Next week we will continue with financial credit scams part two.

WHAT’S UP!

Today’s What’s Up is about vehicle tax credits. With the Electric Vehicle ( EV) craze in full effect, here are some pointers regarding purchase. Start with language. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is the price the manufacturer suggests the dealer ask for the vehicle. If you are purchasing an EV and would like a tax credit watch this. If you are purchasing an SUV, pickup truck, or van whose MSRP is greater than $80, 000, you will not qualify for the vehicle tax credit of $7,500. With regards to sedans or clean cars, in order to qualify for the tax credit, the MSRP cannot be more than $55,000 for qualifying vehicles.

Next week, I’ll share with you a list of qualifying vehicles. And that’s what’s up!

Ruthven R. Phillip, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Assistant, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC. Give2Get Rich, LLC 2023. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.

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