New from the Money Scoop

The Latest News About Credit Latest News

Questions to Ask a Credit Counselor

What services do you offer?

Look for an organization that offers a range of services, including budget counseling, and savings and debt management classes. Avoid organizations that push a debt management plan (DMP) as your only option before they spend a significant amount of time analyzing your financial situation.

Do you offer information?

Avoid organizations that charge for information.

In addition to helping me solve my immediate problem, will you help me develop a plan for avoiding problems in the future?

What are your fees?
Are there set-up and/or monthly fees? Get a specific price quote in writing.

What if I can’t afford to pay your fees or make contributions
? If an organization won’t help you because you can’t afford to pay, look elsewhere for help.

Will I have a formal written agreement or contract with you?

Don’t sign anything without reading it first. Make sure all verbal promises are in writing.

Are you licensed to offer your services in my state?

What are the qualifications of your counselors? Are they accredited or certified by an outside organization? If so, by whom? If not, how are they trained? Try to use an organization whose counselors are trained by a non-affiliated party.

What assurance do I have that information about me (including my address, phone number, and financial information) will be kept confidential and secure?

How are your employees compensated?
Are they paid more if I sign up for certain services, if I pay a fee, or if I make a contribution to your organization? If the answer is yes, consider it a red flag and go elsewhere for help.

Source;The FTC

Don’t Open Bogus Email that Claims to Come From the FTC

Email That States It’s From the FTC’s “Fraud Department” Has Virus Attached

A bogus email is circulating that says it is from the Federal Trade Commission, referencing a “complaint” filed with the FTC against the email’s recipient. The email includes links and an attachment that download a virus. As with any suspicious email, the FTC warns recipients not to click on links within the email and not to open any attachments.

The spoof email includes a phony sender’s address, making it appear the email is from “” and also spoofs the return-path and reply-to fields to hide the email’s true origin. While the email includes the FTC seal, it has grammatical errors, misspellings, and incorrect syntax. Recipients should forward the email to and then delete it. Emails sent to that address are kept in the FTC’s spam database to assist with investigations.

The virus appears to install a “key logger” that could potentially grab passwords and account numbers. More information about bogus emails, phishing, and virus protection is available at

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click

Source; The FTC

The Dollar on Christmas Eve

Shopping in San Francisco

Shopping in Beverly Hills

Identity Theft Prevention

Identity Theft can affect consumers in many ways, but there are also many ways to keep your identity from being "hijacked," and to assist you if you have been a victim of it:

* Protect your Social Security number (SSN), credit card and debit card numbers, PINs (personal identification numbers), passwords and other personal information.
* Protect your incoming and outgoing mail.
* Keep your financial trash "clean."
* Keep a close watch on your bank account statements and credit card bills.
* Avoid identity theft on the Internet.
* Exercise your new rights under FACTA to review your credit record and report fraudulent activity.


The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) preserves and promotes public confidence in the U.S. financial system by insuring deposits in banks and thrift institutions for at least $100,000. They do this by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to the deposit insurance funds; and by limiting the effect on the economy and the financial system when a bank or thrift institution fails.

The FDIC is an independent agency of the federal government. It was created in 1933 in response to the thousands of bank failures that occurred in the 1920s and early 1930s.

The FDIC is funded by premiums that banks and thrift institutions pay for deposit insurance coverage and from earnings on investments in U.S. Treasury securities.

The FDIC insures deposits only. It does not insure securities, mutual funds or similar types of investments that banks and thrift institutions may offer.

To protect insured depositors, the FDIC responds immediately when a bank or thrift institution fails.

MSNBC- Current Updates

The Latest from the Wall Street Journal

Kiplinger- Advice


Copyright laws protect drama, literature, music, graphics, architecture, sculptures, and other "intellectual works". These laws are designed to ensure that an artist is recognized and compensated for his work. They also prevent other people from passing the work off as their own.

The person or company holding the copyright is the only one legally able to reproduce, change, publish, sell, distribute, or perform the copyrighted material.

The author or the creator of the work usually owns the copyright. Often an employer automatically holds the copyright if an employee creates the work while at work.
Copyrights last anywhere from 67 to 95 years, depending on when the copyrighted item was created, and when the copyright was issued.

If you want to use part of a work that you know is copyrighted, be sure to correctly and thoroughly recognize the creator of the work.

For more information about copyright laws, visit the U. S. Copyright Office's website at

Buying Online

BEFORE you buy: First, know your consumer rights, and beware of all the common scams and complications of an online purchase.

• Check the online/protection
• Comparison shop on the web for the product. Consider shipping and handling fees.
• Know the full business mailing address.
• Be familiar with website security.Look for a padlock with a closed lock at the bottom of the screen and a web address will read “https.”

Save all the information relating to your purchase on your computer.

Returning Holiday Gifts

Don’t remove electronics or similar products from their boxes. Many merchants charge as much as a 15 percent restocking or "open box" fee for returns of electronics products or large-ticket items.

Don’t wait too long to return the item. Many stores now have a limited time frame from the date of purchase in which you can make a return.

Be organized with your returns. That means putting items from the same store together.

Many stores will not allow returns after 30 days. Don't wait that long!

Quick Consumer Tips

1. A deal that sounds too good to be true usually is!
2. Extended warranties or service contracts are rarely worth what you pay for them.
3. Say no to credit insurance offers.
4. There is no universal three-day cooling-off period. Don't be misled into thinking that you have an automatic three days to cancel a purchase.
5. Think twice before sharing personal information.
6. Beware of payday and tax refund loans because interest rates on these loans are usually excessive.
7. Not all plastic cards offer the same protections.
8. Real estate agents represent the seller – not the buyer.
9. Home improvement and auto repairs are the subject of frequent complaints- get a second opinion.
10. Think twice before you rent-to-own because interest rates on rent-to-own purchases can be very high.
11. Don't buy under stress. Those under stress are especially at risk of being victimized. Avoid making big-ticket purchases during times of duress.
12. Be cautious of Buy Here, Pay Here car lots. .
13. Work-at-Home ads usually don't pay off.

Source;Consumer Action Website

Trust Funds

Trusts can be appropriate for people with minor children or those who want to avoid having their estate go through probate upon death.

Consult a licensed attorney experienced with estate planning and trust matters before making any final decisions

A trust establishes a legal entity that holds property or assets for the person who created it.

The person who creates the trust can be called a grantor, donor, or settlor. When the grantor creates the trust he or she appoints a person or entity (like the trust department of a bank) to manage the trust. This person or entity is called a trustee.

The grantor also chooses someone who will ultimately benefit from the trust.This person is the beneficiary. In some situations the grantor, trustee, and beneficiary can all the same person. A trust is a good estate planning tool because after death because a trust doesn’t go through the probate process like a will does.

Reasons for setting up a trust include:

* Providing for minor children or family members who are inexperienced or unable to handle financial matters
* Providing for management of personal assets should one be unable to handle them oneself
* Avoiding probate and immediately transferring assets to beneficiaries upon death
* Reducing estate taxes and providing liquid assets to help pay for them
* Since the terms of a will are public and the terms of a trust are not, privacy also makes a trust an attractive option.

Some things to consider when setting up the trust include:

* The grantor has the right to specify exactly how the money in the trust is invested. The grantor and the trustee might have very different ideas about investment strategies, so make sure this gets clearly defined.
* The grantor has the right to specify exactly how the assets should be divvied up down to details like including an annual cost of living adjustment for the beneficiary or paying for travel expenses for others to visit the beneficiary in the case of illness.
* Always be sure to include a “trustee removal clause” – trusts that don’t have this clause take away the beneficiary’s right to fire the trustee if unsatisfied with the service being provided. Remember that the grantor can always add a provision that requires the beneficiary to select a new trustee from legitimate bank trust departments. Contact your state’s Department of Financial Institutions to get a list of licensed trust departments.
* If the grantor wants to ensure that upon death any assets that remain outside of the trust are transferred to it, he or she should consider having a “pour-over” will to accomplish this.

Upon establishment of the trust the grantor must complete the process of setting up the trust by transferring his or her assets into the trust. Failure to do this properly makes the trust null and void. This means that upon the grantor’s death the state will decide who gets the assets and cares for minor children.
An older man holding a briefcase yelling into his cel phone.Protect Yourself From Trust Scams and Fraud

Source;Federal Citizen Information Center

Kiplinger Headlines

Kiplinger- Your Money

Get organized in '08

Schedule to totally clean up your office.

Take everything off your desk and set things on the floor.
Throw away any piece of paper that you haven't touched for a month.
Go through your "in" basket and distribute everything you can.
Easy rule- touch a paper only once.
Recycle print media that you will never use.
Clean out your filing cabinets.
Get calendar smart. Put a new calendar where you will see it daily.
Get list smart. Keep a pad of paper on your desk and when you start your day, make out your list.

Sort through your mail. Immediately through away what you deem as 'junk'.

Schedule a specific and consistent time in your week to do the things that you have to do- such as pay bills. .

5 Tips to Set Priorities

1. Use a paper-based, electronic or computerized list to keep track of your tasks, instead of relying on your memory. A list will give you a clear idea of what you need to accomplish.
2. Which tasks could you handle another day? If you would face no consequences by moving a task forward, move it ahead another day or another week.
3. Know the difference between important and urgent. Important means a task needs to be done while urgent means it must be done immediately. Knowing the difference between the two will make prioritizing easier.
4. Realize that you can't do everything. This will help you to realistically prioritize your tasks.
5. Determine if postponing the task would affect other projects you are working on. Tasks and projects can have a domino effect. If you do one task, yet fail to do another, you may have wasted effort on the first task.

Brought to you by SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business."

Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination

* Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
* the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;
* the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older;
* Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments;
* Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government; and
* the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces all of these laws. EEOC also provides oversight and coordination of all federal equal employment opportunity regulations, practices, and policies.

Source; OSHA

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation's highways.

The Highway Loss Data Institute shares and supports this mission through scientific studies of insurance data representing the human and economic losses resulting from the ownership and operation of different types of vehicles and by publishing insurance loss results by vehicle make and model.

Both organizations are wholly supported by auto insurers.

Together, these organizations provide consumers with beneficial information to help them make educated purchases.

Licensing systems for young drivers

Drivers younger than 18 are at significant risk on the road because they lack both the judgment that comes with maturity and the skill that comes with experience.

Graduated licensing is a system designed to delay full licensure while allowing beginners to obtain their initial experience under lower risk conditions. There are three stages: a minimum supervised learner's period, an intermediate license that limits unsupervised driving in high-risk situations, and a full-privilege driver's license available after completion of the first two stages.

Beginners must remain in each of the first two stages for set minimum time periods. Forty-four US states and the District of Columbia currently have all three stages, but the systems vary in strength.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety assigned licensing systems points for the key components of graduated licensing. Good systems scored 6 or more points. Fair systems scored 4 or 5 points. Marginal systems scored 2 or 3 points. Poor systems scored less than 2 points. Regardless of point totals, no state was rated above "marginal" if intermediate license holders could be younger than 16 or it allows unrestricted driving before age 16, 6 months. The following schedule was used to assign points.

Learner's entry age: 1 point for learner's entry age of 16
Learner's holding period: 2 points for ≥6 months; 1 point for 3-5 months; none for <3>
Practice driving certification: 1 point for ≥30 hours; none for <30>
Night driving restriction: 2 points for 9 or 10 pm; 1 point for after 10 pm
Passenger restriction: 2 points for ≤1 underage passenger; 1 for 2 passengers; none for 3; where supervising driver may be <21,>
Driver education: Where completion of driver education changed a requirement, point values were determined for the driver education track
Duration of restrictions: 1 point if difference between minimum unrestricted license age and minimum intermediate license age is 12 or more months; night driving and passenger restrictions were valued independently

Source; The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety

US driver licensing procedures for older drivers

Initial licensing procedures vary substantially in the United States.

Applicants' driving records are checked to ensure there are no suspensions or revocations and, if not, upon payment of renewal fees new licenses are issued. Most states require renewal applicants to appear in person and to pass a vision test. The significant differences are the length of time between renewals and the existence of provisions in 26 states and the District of Columbia designed to guarantee that older adults continue to meet license requirements.

Renewal procedures for older drivers include accelerated renewal cycles that provide for shorter renewal intervals for drivers older than a specified age, typically 65 or 70; a requirement that they renew their licenses in person rather than electronically or by mail where remote renewal is permitted; and testing that is not routinely required of younger drivers (vision and road tests, for example). These special renewal procedures for older drivers apply in addition to the license renewal procedures that exist in all states for dealing with licensed drivers of any age who no longer meet the standards for licensure because of physical or mental infirmities.

The licensing agency may allow the person to retain the license, refuse to renew the license, or suspend, revoke, or restrict the licenser after reviewing a person's fitness to drive. Typical restrictions prohibit nighttime driving, require the vehicle to have additional mirrors, or restrict driving to specified places or a limited radius from the driver's home. Where the renewal cycle is not shorter for older drivers, licensing agencies have the authority to shorten the renewal cycle for individual license holders if their condition warrants.

For more information, and to see the procedures in each state, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Cellphone laws

6 states have a jurisdiction-wide ban on driving while talking on a hand-held cellular phone. Those states are; California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah, and Washington and the District of Columbia.

In 6 states Localities are allowed to ban cellphone use. Those states are; Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Localities that have enacted restrictions on cellphone use include: Chicago, IL (with some opposition); Brookline, MA; Detroit, MI; Santa Fe, NM; Brooklyn, North Olmstead and Walton Hills, OH; and Conshohocken, Lebanon and West Conshohocken, PA.

In 8 states localities are prohibited from banning cellphone use. These states are; Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah.

In 14 states and the District of Columbia the use of all cellular phones while driving a school bus is prohibited

The use of cellular phones by teens in the graduated licensing system is restricted in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Source; Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Latest News from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety

2007 Top Safety Pick award winners: award criteria are tougher;


Large car

  • Audi A6 manufactured in Dec. 2006 and later

Midsize cars

  • Audi A4
  • Saab 9-3
  • Subaru Legacy equipped with optional electronic stability control


  • Hyundai Entourage
  • Kia Sedona

Luxury SUVs

  • Mercedes M class
  • Volvo XC90

Midsize SUVs

  • Acura RDX
  • Honda Pilot
  • Subaru B9 Tribeca

Small SUVs

  • Honda CR-V
  • Subaru Forester equipped with optional electronic stability control


These vehicles earned good ratings in front and side crash tests. They have electronic stability control, standard or optional. They would have won 2007 Top Safety Pick awards if their seat/head restraints also had earned good ratings. Instead rear crash protection is rated acceptable, marginal, or poor (Honda reports that the seat/head restraints in the only Civic model with electronic stability control wouldn’t be rated good).

Acceptable rear protection

  • Audi A3
  • BMW 3-series 4dr
  • Lexus IS 250/350

Marginal rear protection

  • Acura TL
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Lexus ES 350
  • Lexus GS 350
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota RAV4

Poor rear protection

  • Honda Accord 4dr
  • Infiniti M35
  • Nissan Quest
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Sienna
Source; Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Lastest News from the FDA

The latest economic indicators

Corporate Profits- 3rd Quarter 07

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital
consumption adjustments) decreased $20.5 billion in the third quarter, in contrast to an increase of $94.7
billion in the second quarter. Current-production cash flow (net cash flow with inventory valuation and
capital consumption adjustments) -- the internal funds available to corporations for investment --
decreased $21.1 billion in the third quarter, in contrast to an increase of $37.4 billion in the second.

Domestic profits of financial corporations decreased $32.5 billion in the third quarter, in contrast
to an increase of $52.7 billion in the second. Domestic profits of nonfinancial corporations decreased
$14.4 billion in the third quarter, in contrast to an increase of $25.3 billion in the second. In the third
quarter, real gross value added of nonfinancial corporations increased, and profits per unit of real
product decreased. The decrease in unit profits reflected a decrease in unit prices and an increase in unit
labor costs that were partly offset by a decrease in unit nonlabor costs.

Profits before tax decreased $51.8 billion in the third quarter, in contrast to an increase of $115.7
billion in the second. The before-tax measure of profits does not reflect, as does profits from current
production, the capital consumption and inventory valuation adjustments. These adjustments convert
depreciation of fixed assets and inventory withdrawals reported on a tax-return, historical-cost basis to
the current-cost measures used in the national income and product accounts. The capital consumption
adjustment decreased $3.0 billion in the third quarter (from -$234.4 billion to -$237.4 billion), compared
with a decrease of $6.5 billion in the second. The inventory valuation adjustment increased $34.4
billion (from -$54.7 billion to -$20.3 billion), in contrast to a decrease of $14.5 billion.


 Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property
located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2007,
according to final estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real
GDP increased 3.8 percent.

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from
exports, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, nonresidential
structures, federal government spending, equipment and software, and state and local government
spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports,
which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

Final sales of computers contributed 0.28 percentage point to the third-quarter growth in real GDP
after contributing 0.21 percentage point to the second-quarter growth. Motor vehicle output contributed
0.36 percentage point to the third-quarter growth in real GDP after contributing 0.03 percentage point to
the second-quarter growth.

Real personal consumption expenditures increased 2.8 percent in the third quarter, compared with
an increase of 1.4 percent in the second. Real nonresidential fixed investment increased 9.3 percent,
compared with an increase of 11.0 percent. Nonresidential structures increased 16.4 percent, compared
with an increase of 26.2 percent. Equipment and software increased 6.2 percent, compared with an
increase of 4.7 percent. Real residential fixed investment decreased 20.5 percent, compared with a
decrease of 11.8 percent.

Real exports of goods and services increased 19.1 percent in the third quarter, compared with an
increase of 7.5 percent in the second. Real imports of goods and services increased 4.4 percent, in
contrast to a decrease of 2.7 percent.

Gross national product

Real gross national product -- the goods and services produced by the labor and property supplied
by U.S. residents -- increased 5.8 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 4.0 percent
in the second. GNP includes, and GDP excludes, net receipts of income from the rest of the world,
which increased $25.9 billion in the third quarter after increasing $5.8 billion in the second; in the third
quarter, receipts increased $32.0 billion, and payments increased $6.1 billion.

Current-dollar GDP

Current-dollar GDP -- the market value of the nation's output of goods and services -- increased
6.0 percent, or $201.7 billion, in the third quarter to a level of $13,970.5 billion. In the second quarter,
current-dollar GDP increased 6.6 percent, or $216.9 billion.

Source; Bureau of Economic Analysis


        Personal income increased $43.1 billion, or 0.4 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI)
increased $32.9 billion, or 0.3 percent, in November, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $110.6 billion, or 1.1 percent. In October,
personal income increased $24.8 billion, or 0.2 percent, DPI increased $17.0 billion, or 0.2 percent,
and PCE increased $39.4 billion, or 0.4 percent, based on revised estimates.

July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov.
(Percent change from preceding month)
Personal income, current dollars 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.2 0.4
Disposable personal income:
Current dollars 0.7 0.5 0.5 0.2 0.3
Chained (2000) dollars 0.6 0.5 0.2 -0.2 -0.3
Personal consumption expenditures:
Current dollars 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.4 1.1
Chained (2000) dollars 0.3 0.4 0.2 0.1 0.5

Wages and salaries

Private wage and salary disbursements increased $36.0 billion in November, in contrast to a
decrease of $1.3 billion in October. Goods-producing industries' payrolls increased $6.2 billion, in
contrast to a decrease of $2.2 billion; manufacturing payrolls increased $2.9 billion, in contrast to a
decrease of $1.2 billion. Services-producing industries' payrolls increased $29.8 billion, compared
with an increase of $1.0 billion. Government wage and salary disbursements increased $4.0 billion,
the same increase as in October.

Source; Bureau of Economic Analysis National Economic Accounts

Business Structures

When beginning a business, you must decide what form of business entity to establish. Your form of business determines the amount of regulatory paperwork you have to file, your personal liability regarding investments into your business, and the taxes you have to pay. The most common business structures include:

  • Sole Proprietorship - A business owned and managed by one individual who is personally liable for all business debts and obligations.
  • Partnership - Two or more people share ownership of a single business.
  • Corporation - A legal entity owned by shareholders.
  • S Corporation - A special type of corporation created through a tax election. An eligible domestic corporation can avoid double taxation (once to the shareholders and again to the corporation) by electing to be treated as an S corporation.
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) - A relatively new, hybrid-type of legal structure that provides the limited liability features of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership
  • Non-Profit - An organization engaged in activities of public or private interest that are motivated by making a profit. Some non-profits are exempt from paying federal taxes.
  • Cooperative - A business or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Cooperatives are not a legal structure.

Visit these resources to learn more about which business structure is right for you:

Guide to Choosing a Business Structure

The Business Plan

Source- The SBA

Writing The Plan

What goes in a business plan? The body can be divided into four distinct sections:

1) Description of the business
2) Marketing
3) Finances
4) Management

Agenda should include an executive summary, supporting documents, and financial projections. Although there is no single formula for developing a business plan, some elements are common to all business plans. They are summarized in the following outline:

Elements of a Business Plan

1. Cover sheet
2. Statement of purpose
3. Table of contents

I. The Business
A. Description of business
B. Marketing
C. Competition
D. Operating procedures
E. Personnel
F. Business insurance

II. Financial Data
A. Loan applications
B. Capital equipment and supply list
C. Balance sheet
D. Breakeven analysis
E. Pro-forma income projections (profit & loss statements)
F. Three-year summary
G. Detail by month, first year
H. Detail by quarters, second and third years
I. Assumptions upon which projections were based
J. Pro-forma cash flow

III. Supporting Documents
A. Tax returns of principals for last three years Personal financial
statement (all banks have these forms)
B. For franchised businesses, a copy of franchise contract and all
supporting documents provided by the franchisor
C. Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space
D. Copy of licenses and other legal documents
E. Copy of resumes of all principals
F. Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.

Getting Started in Your Own Business

A good place to start for information and assistance is the SBA, which works in partnership with various organizations. Among the services available are low-cost loans, counseling and technical assistance sources, special programs for veterans and women, and more. Please note that Congress has not set aside any monies for grants to start and/or expand a small business.

There are more than 1,000 centers located around the country.

The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small businesses nationwide.

Reporting Miscellaneous Income to the IRS

While most people are aware they must include wages, salaries, interest, dividends, tips and commissions as income on their tax returns, many don’t realize that they must also report most other income, such as:

* cash earned from side jobs,
* barter exchanges of goods or services,
* awards, prizes, contest winnings and
* gambling proceeds.

What is Taxable?

Taxpayers must report all income from any source and any country unless it is explicitly exempt under the U.S. tax code. There may be taxable income from certain transactions even if no money changes hands.

Generally, the IRS considers all income received in the form of money, property or services to be taxable income unless the law specifically provides an exemption. This document discusses a few types of reportable income. Information on how to report other types of income can be found in Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income.

Self-Employment Income

It is a common misconception that if a taxpayer does not receive a Form 1099-MISC or if the income is under $600 per payer, the income is not taxable. There is no minimum amount that a taxpayer may exclude from gross income.

All income earned through the taxpayer’s business, as an independent contractor or from informal side jobs is self-employment income, which is fully taxable and must be reported on Form 1040.

Use Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business (Sole Proprietorship) to report income and expenses. Taxpayers will also need to prepare Form 1040 Schedule SE for self-employment taxes if the net profit exceeds $400 for a year. Do not report this income on Form 1040 Line 21 as Other Income.

Independent contractors must report all income as taxable, even if it is less than $600. Even if the client does not issue a Form 1099-MISC, the income, whatever the amount, is still reportable by the taxpayer.

Fees received for babysitting, housecleaning and lawn cutting are all examples of taxable income, even if each client paid less than $600 for the year. Someone who repairs computers in his or her spare time needs to report all monies earned as self-employment income even if no one person paid more than $600 for repairs.


Bartering is an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of goods and services exchanged is fully taxable and must be included on Form 1040 in the income of both parties.

An example of bartering is a plumber doing repair work for a dentist in exchange for dental services. Income from bartering is taxable in the year in which the taxpayer received the goods or services.

Gambling winnings

Gambling winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on Form 1040.

Gambling income includes, among other things, winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse races, poker tournaments and casinos. It includes cash winnings as well as the fair market value of prizes such as cars and trips.

Even if a W-2G is not issued, all gambling winnings must be reported as taxable income regardless of whether any portion is subject to withholding. In addition, taxpayers may be required to pay an estimated tax on the gambling winnings.

Losses may be deducted only if the taxpayer itemizes deductions and only if he or she also has gambling winnings. The losses deducted may not be more than the gambling income reported on the return.

Prizes and awards

Subject to certain exceptions, the cash value of prizes or awards won in a drawing, quiz show program, beauty contest, or other event, must be included on the tax return as taxable income.

Taxpayers must also report the fair market value of merchandise or products won as a prize or award, as taxable income.

For example, both a $500 cash prize and the fair market value of a new range won in a baking contest must be reported as other income on Form 1040, Line 21

Source; the IRS

IRS Warns Taxpayers of New E-mail Scams

Source; IRS Website

The e-mail says that the recipient is eligible for a tax refund and directs the recipient to click on a link that leads to a fake IRS Web site. The IRS recommends that recipients do not click on links in, or open any attachments to, e-mails they receive that are unsolicited or that come from unknown sources.

A link in the e-mail, when clicked, sends the e-mail recipients to a Web site that looks like the IRS Web site, but isn't. They are then directed to click on a link that opens a donation form that asks for personal and financial information. The scammers can use that information to gain access to the e-mail recipients' financial accounts. The IRS does not send e-mails to taxpayers soliciting contributions to a charitable cause.

Taxpayers receive a page of, or are sent to, a Web site (titled "Get Your Tax Refund!") that copies the appearance of the genuine "Where's My Refund?" interactive page on the genuine IRS Web site. Like the real "Where's My Refund?" page, taxpayers are asked to enter their SSNs and filing status. However, the phony Web page asks taxpayers to enter their credit card account numbers instead of the exact amount of refund as shown on their tax return, as the real "Where's My Refund?" page does. Moreover, the IRS does not send e-mails to taxpayers to advise them of refunds or to request financial information.

An e-mail purporting to come from the IRS advises taxpayers they can receive $80 by filling out an online customer satisfaction survey. The IRS urges taxpayers to ignore this solicitation and not provide any requested information.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through e-mail.

Top MBA Schools

  1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  2. Columbia Business School
  3. Harvard Business School;
    Stanford University GSB
  4. London Business School
  5. University of Chicago GSB
  6. Insead
  7. New York University: Stern
  8. Dartmouth College: Tuck
  9. Yale School of Management
Source; Financial Times

Top EMBA Schools

  • Kellogg/Hong Kong UST Business School
  • Trium: HEC Paris/LSE/New York University: Stern
  • University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  • Columbia/London Business School
  • IE Business School
  • London Business School
  • University of Chicago GSB
    Washington University: Olin

  • Columbia Business School

  • source Financial Times


    According to the FBI, the counterfeit cashier's check scheme targets individuals that use Internet classified advertisements to sell merchandise. Typically, an interested party located outside the United States contacts a seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the United States that owes him money. As such, he will have the associate send the seller a cashier's check for the amount owed to the buyer.

    The amount of the cashier's check will be thousands of dollars more than the price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. In most instances, the money is sent to locations in West Africa (Nigeria).

    Because a cashier's check is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold. Falsely believing the check has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.

    In some cases, the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstance has arisen that necessitates the cancellation of the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the remainder of the money. Shortly thereafter, the victim's bank notifies him that the check was fraudulent, and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.

    If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with the FBI.


    The LOTTERY scheme

    According to the FBI, the lottery scheme deals with persons randomly contacting email addresses advising them they have been selected as the winner of an International lottery.

    The email message usually reads similar to the following:

    "This is to inform you of the release of money winnings to you. Your email was randomly selected as the winner and therefore you have been approved for a lump sum payout of $500,000.00. To begin your lottery claim, please contact the processing company selected to process your winnings."

    An agency name follows this body of text with a point of contact, phone number, fax number, and an email address. An initial fee ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 is often requested to initiate the process and additional fee requests follow after the process has begun. These emails may also list a United States point of contact and address while also indicating the point of contact at a foreign address.

    If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with the FBI.

    The Internet RESHIPPING Scam

    Simply stated, the "reshipping" scam requires individuals in the United States, who sometimes are coconspirators and other times are unwitting accomplices, to receive packages at their residence and subsequently repackage the merchandise for shipment, usually abroad.

    The most common way that Americans are being recruited is through Internet Relay Chat Rooms. The scammers befriend a lonely chat room person and appear to offer tham something they need- such as love or friendship.

    There is often some identity theft involved. Often unknown subjects are asked to post help-wanted advertisements at popular Internet job search sites and respondents quickly reply to the online advertisement. As part of the application process, the prospective employee is required to complete an employment application, wherein he/she divulges sensitive personal information, such as their date of birth and social security number which, unbeknownst to the victim employee, will be used to obtain credit in his/her name.

    The applicant is informed he/she has been hired and will be responsible for forwarding, or "reshipping", merchandise purchased in the United States to the company's overseas home office. The packages quickly begin to arrive and, as instructed, the employee dutifully forwards the packages to their overseas destination. Unbeknownst to the "reshipper," the recently received merchandise was purchased with fraudulent credit cards numbers. The identity theft aspect can happen in a matter of minutes.

    Often the scammer will use the unknown individual in various Internet Relay Chat Rooms to do the shipping instead of the recruiting. After establishing this new online "friendship" or "love" relationship, the unknown subject explains for some 'good reason' such as various legal reasons his/her country will not allow direct business shipments into his/her country from the United States. He/she then asks for permission to send recently purchased items to the victim's United States address for subsequent shipment abroad for which the unknown subject explains he/she will cover all shipping expenses.

    After the United States citizen agrees, the packages start to arrive at great speed. This fraudulent scheme lasts several weeks until the "reshipper" is contacted. The victimized merchants explain to the "reshipper" the recent shipments were purchased with fraudulent credit cards. Shortly thereafter, the strings of attachment are untangled and the boyfriend/girlfriend realizes their Cyber relationship was nothing more than an Internet scam to help facilitate the transfer of goods purchased online by fraudulent means.

    If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with the FBI.

    Source; the FBI

    NIGERIAN LETTER Internet fraud

    We have all received these e-mails. Our editors say they get as much as 10 in their bulk folders each day. This scam combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, email, or fax is received by the potential victim.

    The e-mail is supposedly written by someone representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials offers the recipient the "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars, soliciting for help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.

    The recipient is encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationary, bank name and account numbers, and other identifying information using a facsimile number provided in the letter. The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim to send money to the author of the letter in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.

    Click here to file a complaint with the FBI.

    Visit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to learn more about combating financial and economic crimes in Nigeria.

    Internet Crime According to the FI

    • Overall totals: During 2006, consumers filed 207,492 complaints. Complainants said they lost $198.4 million, the highest total ever.
    • Types of fraud: Nearly 45 percent of the complaints involved online auction fraud—such as getting a different product than you expected—making it the largest category; more than 19 percent concerned undelivered merchandise or payments.
    • The perpetrators: Three-quarters were men. Nearly 61 percent lived in the U.S., with half in one of seven states. Other top countries included the U.K., Nigeria, Canada, Romania, and Italy.
    • Victims: The report shows that the “average” complainant was a man between 30 and 40 living in California, Texas, Florida, or New York. An average of $724 was reported lost .
    • The highest losses involved Nigerian letter fraud, with a median loss of $5,100. Nearly 74 percent of the complaints said they were contacted through e-mail. These usually end up in your "bulk" folder but, may sometimes get through.

    Toys and Video Games Tips

    A lot has changed in the toy market. Not only do you have to find a toy that a child will enjoy using, now you have to consider safety. Here are some tips and sites for you to follow.

    According to, Toys R Us also has strengthened its testing and created a Web site,, that provides information about recalls and the company’s standards.
    Check out the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s Web site for a list of all the current recalls.

    Sites with reviews and tips;

    Toy Review Babies and Kids
    Toy Tips
    Edutaining Kids

    Do your Electronics Research

    If you are in search of some new electronic items, add these sites to your research sources. They offer reviews, opinions and more to help you get the information that you need.

    CNET Reviews
    Digital Trends
    I Review Electronics
    Before you purchase that new car, do your research.
    Here are some great places to start.

    Motor Trend
    Consumer Guide Auto
    Car and
    The Car Connection

    Buying a used car. One of your first stops should be at
    where you can get a history on the used car of your dreams.

    Sales Slip Showing Information

    Federal Law Requires All Businesses to Truncate Credit Card Information on Receipts

    Since December 1, 2006 the electronically printed credit and debit card receipts containing the account information must be shortened, or truncated.

    According to the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), businesses may include no more than the last five digits of the card number, and they must delete the card’s expiration date. For example, a receipt that truncates the credit card number and deletes the expiration date could look like this:

    ACCT: ***********12345
    EXP: ****

    Noncompliance could open a company up to an FTC law enforcement action, including civil penalties and injunctive relief. In addition, the law allows consumers to sue businesses that don’t comply and to collect damages and attorney’s fees.

    Note these details: It applies only to electronically printed receipts, not to handwritten or imprinted ones. And it applies only to receipts you given to customers at point of sale, not to any transaction record retained.

    When a business keeps a customers’ personal information they have an obligation to keep it safe.

    Protecting Personal Information: Five Steps for Business

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business, a plain-language handbook with practical tips on securing sensitive data. A sound information security plan is built on these five key practices:

    * Take stock. Know what personal information you have in your files and on your computer.
    * Scale down. Keep only what you need for your business.
    * Lock it. Protect the information you keep.
    * Pitch it. Properly dispose of what you no longer need.
    * Plan ahead. Draft a plan to respond to security incidents. Designate a senior member of your team to create an action plan before a breach happens.

    Get your copy of Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business at

    The Gramm-Leach Bliley Act

    This act includes provisions to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions. There are three principal parts to the privacy requirements: the Financial Privacy Rule, Safeguards Rule and pretexting provisions.

    The Financial Privacy Rule governs the collection and disclosure of customers' personal financial information by financial institutions. It can also applies to companies, whether or not they are financial institutions, who receive such information.
    The Safeguards Rule requires all financial institutions to design, implement and maintain safeguards to protect customer information. The Safeguards Rule applies not only to financial institutions that collect information from their own customers, but also to financial institutions "such as credit reporting agencies" that receive customer information from other financial institutions.

    The Pretexting provisions of the GLB Act protect consumers from individuals and companies that obtain their personal financial information under false pretenses, a practice known as "pretexting."

    A Credit Score

    A Credit score is a number derived from a system that creditors use to help determine whether to give you credit, and how much to charge you for it.

    Information about you and your credit experiences is collected from your credit application and your credit report. Examples of information used include your bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts you have, late payments, collection actions, outstanding debt, and the age of your accounts .

    Using a statistical formula, creditors compare your information to the credit performance of consumers with similar profiles. A credit scoring system awards you points for each factor. The total number of points is your credit score.

    Your credit score predicts how how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make the payments on time. Generally, consumers with good credit risks have higher credit scores.

    You can get your credit score from the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, but you will have to pay a fee for it. Many other companies also offer credit scores for sale alone or as part of a package of products.

    For more information, see Credit Scoring at

    Get a Free Credit Report

    There are three nationwide consumer reporting companies are using one website.
    They also use one toll-free telephone number and one mailing address for consumers to order their free annual report.

    To order, click on, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

    To get the form:
    The law allows you to order one free copy from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.

    History of the IRS

    In 1862 President Lincoln and Congress created the position of commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to pay war expenses. The income tax was repealed 10 years later. In 1894 Congress revived the income tax , but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the following year.

    16th Amendment
    In 1913, Wyoming ratified the 16th Amendment, providing the three-quarter majority of states necessary to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax. That same year, the first Form 1040 appeared after Congress levied a 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with a 6 percent surtax on incomes of more than $500,000.

    In 1918, during World War I, the top rate of the income tax rose to 77 percent to help finance the war effort. It dropped sharply in the post-war years, down to 24 percent in 1929, and rose again during the Depression. During World War II, Congress introduced payroll withholding and quarterly tax payments.

    The agency was reorganized in the 50s. The Bureau of Internal Revenue name was changed to the Internal Revenue Service.

    The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 made many changes.

    IRS Recent Schemes

    When the IRS learns about schemes involving use of the IRS name, it tries to alert consumers as well as authorities that can shut down the scheme, if possible. The most recent schemes are listed below.

    In a variation, an e-mail scam claims to come from the IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service (a genuine and independent organization within the IRS whose employees assist taxpayers with unresolved tax problems). The e-mail says that the recipient is eligible for a tax refund and directs the recipient to click on a link that leads to a fake IRS Web site.

    A scam e-mail that appears to be a solicitation from the IRS and the U.S. government for charitable contributions to victims of the recent Southern California wildfires has been making the rounds. A link in the e-mail, when clicked, sends the e-mail recipients to a Web site that looks like the IRS Web site, but isn't. They are then directed to click on a link that opens a donation form that asks for personal and financial information. The scammers can use that information to gain access to the e-mail recipients' financial accounts.

    A recent e-mail scam tells taxpayers that the IRS has calculated their "fiscal activity" and that they are eligible to receive a tax refund of a certain amount. Taxpayers receive a page of, or are sent to, a Web site (titled "Get Your Tax Refund!") that copies the appearance of the genuine "Where's My Refund?" interactive page on the genuine IRS Web site. Like the real "Where's My Refund?" page, taxpayers are asked to enter their SSNs and filing status. However, the phony Web page asks taxpayers to enter their credit card account numbers instead of the exact amount of refund as shown on their tax return, as the real "Where's My Refund?" page does.

    In a new phishing scam, an e-mail purporting to come from the IRS advises taxpayers they can receive $80 by filling out an online customer satisfaction survey. In addition to standard customer satisfaction survey questions, the survey requests the name and phone number of the participant and also asks for credit card information.

    In another recent scam, consumers have received a "Tax Avoidance Investigation" e-mail claiming to come from the IRS' "Fraud Department" in which the recipient is asked to complete an "investigation form," for which there is a link contained in the e-mail, because of possible fraud that the recipient committed. It is believed that clicking on the link may activate a Trojan Horse.

    An e-mail scheme claiming to come from the IRS's Criminal Investigation division tells the recipient that they are under a criminal probe for submitting a false tax return to the California Franchise Board. The e-mail seeks to entice people to click on a link or open an attachment to learn more information about the complaint against them. The e-mail link and attachment contain a Trojan Horse that can take over the person’s computer hard drive and allow someone to have remote access to the computer.

    * Another scheme suggests that a customer has filed a complaint against a company, of which the e-mail recipient is a member, and that the IRS can act as an arbitrator. This appears to be aimed at business as well as individual taxpayers.

    * One e-mail scam, fraught with grammatical errors and typos, looks like a page from the IRS Web site and claims to be from the "IRS Antifraud Comission" (sic), a fictitious group. The e-mail claims someone has enrolled the taxpayer's credit card in EFTPS and has tried to pay taxes with it. The e-mail also says there have been fraud attempts involving the taxpayer's bank account. The e-mail claims money was lost and "remaining founds" (sic) are blocked. Recipients are asked to click on a link that will help them recover their funds, but the subsequent site asks for personal information that the thieves could use to steal the taxpayer’s identity.

    E-mails claiming to come from, and similar variations told the recipients that they were eligible to receive a tax refund for a given amount. It directed recipients to claim the refund by using a link contained in the e-mail which sent the recipient to a Web site. The site, a copy of the IRS Web site, displayed an interactive page similar to a genuine IRS one; however, it had been modified to ask for personal and financial information that the genuine IRS interactive page does not require.

    The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has found numerous separate Web sites in at least 20 different countries hosting variations on this scheme.

    A bogus IRS letter and Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding) asked non-residents to provide personal information such as account numbers, PINs, mother’s maiden name and passport number. The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN, which is used by financial institutions to establish appropriate tax withholding for foreign individuals, does not ask for any of this information.

    IRS Has $110 Million in Refund Checks Looking for a Home

    IR-2007-189, Nov. 14, 2007

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is looking for 115,478 taxpayers who are due refund checks worth about $110 million after the checks were returned as undeliverable.

    The refund checks, averaging about $953, can be claimed as soon as taxpayers update their addresses with the IRS. Some taxpayers have more than one check waiting.

    “Taxpayers should not miss out on getting their money back,” said Richard Morgante, commissioner of the IRS Wage and Investment Division. ”The IRS makes it as easy as possible for taxpayers to update their addresses and claim their refunds.”

    The “ Where’s My Refund?” tool on enables taxpayers to check the status of their refunds. A taxpayer must submit his or her social security number, filing status and amount of refund shown on their 2006 return. The tool will provide the status of their refund and in some cases provide instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.

    Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.

    Get Help From Investopedia

    FTC and National Cyber Security Alliance Offer Safe Shopping Practices

    Consumers can easily avoid crowds by shopping online, but if they’re not careful they may run into hackers, identity thieves, and other spammers. The Federal Trade Commission, together with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit organization devoted to cyber security education and awareness, is offering tips for safer and smarter online shopping this holiday season.

    Check out the seller. If you’re thinking about shopping on a site with which you’re not familiar, do some independent research before you buy.

    * If it’s your first time on an unfamiliar site, call the seller’s phone number, so you know you can reach them. If you can’t find a working phone number, take your business elsewhere.
    * Type the site’s name into a search engine: if you find unfavorable reviews posted, you may be better off doing business with a different seller.
    * Read the site’s privacy policy to learn how it uses and shares your personal information.
    * Consider using a software toolbar that rates websites and warns you if a site has gotten unfavorable reports from experts and other Internet users. Some reputable companies provide free tools that may alert you if a website is a known phishing site or is used to distribute spyware.

    Read return policies. Despite your best intentions, some gifts may need to be returned or exchanged. Before you buy, read the return policy. Some retailers give customers extra time so gifts can be returned or exchanged after the holidays; others give purchasers as little as a week — if they accept returns at all. A number of retailers offer shorter return windows for certain products and some charge “restocking” fees. Find out who covers the shipping cost — the customer or the merchant — on a return or exchange, and if your online purchase can be returned to a brick-and-mortar store.

    Know what you’re getting. Read the seller’s product description closely. Name-brand items at greatly reduced prices could be counterfeit.

    Don’t fall for a false email or pop-up. Legitimate companies don’t send unsolicited email messages asking for your password or login name, or your financial information. But scammers do. In fact, crooks often send emails that look just like they’re from legitimate companies — but direct you to click on a link, where they ask for your personal information. Delete these emails. They’re an attempt to get your information and to facilitate identity theft or other crimes. In addition, just clicking a link in a fraudulent email could install spyware on your computer.

    Look for signs a site is safe. When you’re ready to buy something from a seller you trust, look for signs that the site is secure, such as a closed padlock on the browser’s status bar, before you enter your personal and financial information. When you’re asked to provide payment information, the beginning of the Web site’s URL address should change from http to shttp or https, indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secured.

    Secure your computer. At a minimum, your computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Security software must be updated regularly to help protect against the latest threats. Set your security software and operating system (like Windows or Apple’s OS) to update automatically. Visit and to learn more about security software, firewalls, and other ways to secure your computer.

    Consider how you’ll pay. Credit cards generally are a safe option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. Also, if your credit card number is stolen, you generally won’t be liable for more than $50 in charges. Don’t send cash or use a money-wiring service because you’ll have no recourse if something goes wrong.

    Know the full price, and check out incentives. If you’re looking for the best deal, compare total costs, including shipping and handling. The holiday season is prime time for online retailers, and many are offering incentives like free shipping. But some “free” shipping deals may come with strings attached, such as requirements to spend a minimum amount or buy certain products. Consider whether one company offers a more generous return policy. If you use a price comparison site to find a bargain, enter the product’s model number, and be as specific as you can about its features.

    Keep a paper trail. Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and copies of any email you exchange with the seller. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized charges.

    Turn your computer off when you’re finished shopping. Many people leave their computers running 24/7, the dream scenario for scammers who want to install malicious software on your machine and then control it remotely to commit cyber crime. To be extra safe, switch off your computer when you are not using it.

    The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

    Office of Public Affairs

    Kiplinger- Kids and Credit Cards

    The Dollar Versus the Euro- 12/07

    The Internet Crime Complaint Center

    The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to serve as a means to receive Internet related criminal complaints and to further research, develop, and refer the criminal complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate. The IC3 was intended, and continues to emphasize, serving the broader law enforcement community to include federal, as well as state, local, and international agencies, which are combating Internet crime and, in many cases, participating in Cyber Crime Task Forces.

    The Latest News from the Internet Crime Complaint Center


    IC3 Logo
    Prepared by the
    Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
    December 11, 2007

    Criminals have added posing as the United States Department of State to their array of frauds. Fraudulent emails are being distributed claiming to have verified an inheritance from another country belonging to the victim. To make these emails appear legitimate, they contain information taken from the Department of State's website.

    The email contains a lengthy explanation of how the Department of State has verified that there is nothing fraudulent about the inheritance and names numerous international organization which are involved in monitoring the transaction to prevent fraud. After using false assurances to gain a victim's confidence that this fraud scheme is actually a legitimate inheritance, the criminals send a request for a payment which the criminals claim is required due to a discrepancy in the currency conversion or for taxes. This email purports to be from a foreign governmental agency. The criminals go so far as to follow up by advising the victim not to contact law enforcement or governmental authorities but to continue to communicate with the criminals' email accounts.


    Be cautious when responding to requests or special offers delivered through unsolicited email:

    * The Department of State does not make unsolicited contact with individuals regarding matters such as inheritances.
    * The email addresses used in these frauds are spoofed versions of a Department of State email address.
    * Cyber criminals will use the names of various government agencies or companies in their emails to attempt to secure new victims using the same scheme.
    * Cyber criminals use the name of a government agency or law firm or use the identity of a government official, business person or reputable attorney to add an air of legitimacy to a scam.
    * Cyber criminals claim that government agencies such as the FBI or the IRS will prosecute or investigate people who do not participate in their scheme as a form of intimidation.
    * Please review the tips and public service announcements regarding other fraud schemes on,, and to help you avoid becoming a victim.


    Prepared by the
    Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
    July 17, 2007

    Throughout the year events will occur which may prompt individuals with criminal intent to solicit for contributions for a charitable organization and/or a good cause. When donating, consumers should consider the following:

    * Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
    * Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
    * Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
    * Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
    * To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to recognized organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
    * Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
    * Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
    * Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and open you to identity theft.

    To obtain more information on charitable contribution schemes and other types of online schemes, visit If you are a victim of an online scheme, you may file a complaint with the IC3 at


    The counterfeit cashier's check scheme targets individuals that use Internet classified advertisements to sell merchandise. Typically, an interested party located outside the United States contacts a seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the United States that owes him money. As such, he will have the associate send the seller a cashier's check for the amount owed to the buyer.

    The amount of the cashier's check will be thousands of dollars more than the price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. In most instances, the money is sent to locations in West Africa (Nigeria).

    Because a cashier's check is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold. Falsely believing the check has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.

    In some cases, the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstance has arisen that necessitates the cancellation of the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the remainder of the money. Shortly thereafter, the victim's bank notifies him that the check was fraudulent, and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.

    If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type file a complaint with the internet Crime Complaint Center

    [Back to Top]

    Prevent Fraud..Safety Tips from eBay

    1. Learn as much as possible about the product and seller.
    Shoppers who are familiar with the merchants from whom they're buying feel the most secure. The Internet offers a platform for retailers to provide detailed information that empowers buyers to research the products and companies they are interested in. Shoppers might also learn about a retailer through its reputation, from previous purchases, from referrals through friends or from reviews and comments left by other shoppers.

    2. Understand the retailers' refund and return policies.
    Look for and ask about the refund and return policy. Questions to ask include: the required timeframe in which a buyer must contact the retailer and return the item; whether a full refund or a merchandise credit will be offered; and, whether an item that has been opened can be returned. If no refund policy exists, consumers may be able to take advantage of buyer protection programs, if offered by the retailer or the consumer's payment service provider. These protection programs ensure that if there is a problem with a transaction, the consumer's payment will be covered or refunded as a result.

    3. Use a secure checkout and payment process.
    Many Web sites use a technology called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt any personal and financial information sent over the Internet. To know if the retailer is encrypting information, look for the display of a locked padlock at the bottom of the Internet browser you are using.

    When it comes to choosing which method to use for online payments, consumers should take precautions before entering credit card or checking account information at each retailer they visit. By entering this information on several different merchant Web sites, the likelihood of it being compromised increases. A safe and easy-to-use online payment service allows shoppers to enter account information only once, at a highly secure and reputable site that then protects this financial information from intruders.

    4. If an offer sounds highly suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is.
    As with any purchase, shoppers should read the fine print (or, in some instances, click the links describing the purchase agreement). While Internet retailers frequently offer lower prices than conventional stores, shoppers should be wary of unreasonably low bargain prices or unusually attractive promises.

    Credit Bureaus

    Credit bureaus
    Early contact should be made with the three credit reporting bureaus if you suspect identity theft

    Equifax Experian TransUnion

    Report Fraud:

    Order a credit report
    P.O. Box 740241
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

    Report Fraud:

    Order a credit report
    P.O. Box 1017
    Allen, TX 75013-0949

    Report Fraud:

    Order a Credit Report

    Fraud Victim Assistance Department
    P.O. Box 6790
    Fullerton, CA 92834

    The eBay Security Center- Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

    1. Monitor your accounts.
    With a close eye on your account, you can spot suspicious activity and take steps to notify officials. The accounts that you hold with your bank, phone company, and e.commerce providers should be monitored regularly. You should also order a credit report every year to ensure that it is accurate.

    2. Verify emails that ask for personal information in My Messages.
    Any email from eBay about your account or requesting personal information will be copied to My Messages. So, if you get an email about your account or requesting personal information, check to see if it is in My Messages. If it's not in My Messages, you know it is fake and you should immediately forward it to

    3. Use strong and unique passwords.
    Good passwords have two things in common. First, they include a combination of letters and numbers. This helps prevent someone from guessing your password and prevents an intruding computer from randomly going through words in the dictionary until it finds the right match.

    Second, a strong password will be unique to the account. Just as you wouldn't use the same key for your car, your office and your house, unique passwords are an important preventative step in the event someone gets hold of one of your passwords.

    4. What You Should Do if You've Become an Identity Theft Victim

    Restoring your accounts and credit reports if you become a victim of identity theft can be an extremely frustrating and time-consuming experience. If you think you are a victim of identity theft you should contact a number of organizations that have an impact on credit ratings and security. The Federal Trade Commi


    Misrepresentation of a product advertised for sale through an Internet auction site or the non-delivery of products purchased through an Internet auction site is called auction fraud.


    * The seller posts the auction as if he resides in the United States, then responds to victims with a congratulatory email stating he is outside the United States. Similarly, beware of sellers who post the auction under one name, and ask for the funds to be transferred to another individual.

    * The subject requests funds to be wired directly to him/her via Western Union, MoneyGram, or bank-to-bank wire transfer. By using these services, the money is virtually unrecoverable with no recourse for the victim.

    * Sellers acting as authorized dealers or factory representatives in countries where there would be no such dealers should be avoided.

    * Buyers who ask for the purchase to be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country should be avoided.

    * Be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the card holder does not match the shipping address. Always receive the card holder's authorization before shipping any products.

    In addition, visit eBay and PayPal for additional security alerts and fraud prevention tips.


    Personal bankruptcy generally is considered the debt management option of last resort. The results are long-lasting and far reaching.

    A discharge is a court order that says they don’t have to repay certain debts. However, bankruptcy information stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to obtain credit or buy a home.

    There are two primary types of personal bankruptcy: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. Each must be filed in federal bankruptcy court. As of April 2006, the filing fees run about $274 for Chapter 13 and $299 for Chapter 7. Attorney fees are additional and can vary.

    Chapter 13 allows people with a steady income to keep property, like a mortgaged house or a car, that they might otherwise lose through the bankruptcy process.The court approves a repayment plan that allows you to use your future income to pay off your debts during a three-to-five-year period, rather than surrender any property. After you have made all the payments under the plan, you receive a discharge of your debts.

    Chapter 7 is known as straight bankruptcy, and involves liquidation of all assets that are not exempt. Exempt property may include automobiles, work-related tools, and basic household furnishings. The Chapter 13 waiting period is much shorter and can be as little as two years between filings.

    Both types of bankruptcy may get rid of unsecured debts and stop foreclosures, repossessions, garnishments and utility shut-offs, and debt collection activities. Both also provide exemptions that allow people to keep certain assets, although exemption amounts vary by state. Note that personal bankruptcy usually does not erase child support, alimony, fines, taxes, and some student loan obligations. And, unless you have an acceptable plan to catch up on your debt under Chapter 13, bankruptcy usually does not allow you to keep property when your creditor has an unpaid mortgage or security lien on it.

    You must get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within six months before you file for any bankruptcy relief. You can find a state-by-state list of government-approved organizations at That is the website of the U.S. Trustee Program, the organization within the U.S. Department of Justice that supervises bankruptcy cases and trustees.

    Before you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you must satisfy a “means test.” This test requires you to confirm that your income does not exceed a certain amount. The amount varies by state and is publicized by the U.S. Trustee Program at