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Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Q. My mother recently received a call from someone who convinced her that she owed back taxes to the IRS. Thank goodness she called me before she sent any money.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that she’s been a target for this type of thing.  I’m worried that it will happen again. What can I do to help protect her?  

A. We are all susceptible to scammers, but our elderly are especially vulnerable.  It is a good thing that your mother let you know about the call and wise for you to be concerned about the potential for her to be a target for scammers.

Awareness is the first key to stopping would-be thieves. I encourage you to visit with your mother about some of the most common tactics scammers use to net their victims. Tax scams are particularly prevalent, especially during the months leading up to April. According to the IRS, scammers use a variety of schemes; one of the most common relies on automated calls where scammers leave urgent callback requests to settle a tax bill. Other scams target students and their parents, demanding payments for fictitious taxes, such as a federal student tax. And sometimes, telephone scammers try to capture personal information by claiming it is necessary to verify personal information on a tax return. 

It can be overwhelming—and even scary—to think you owe money that must be paid immediately. Scammers capitalize on this fear in order to get people to act quickly, before they have time to think about the request.

Everyone needs to know, however, that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment by phone, threaten to immediately bring the police and have you arrested, demand you pay for taxes without giving you the opportunity to ask questions and appeal the amount, or ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. 

Another common scam involves work-at-home schemes. In these scams, fraudsters place ads on legitimate websites, promising easy money and asking for training fees paid up front. According to the National Consumers League, work-at-home scam complaints increased 17% in the first three months of 2016. To be safe, check a company’s Better Business Bureau rating in the state they are located before you sign anything. And never send money under pressure from a would-be employer.

In addition to helping your mother become more aware of potential scams, you might also consider asking to her to contact you before she gives out any personal financial information or agrees to send money in response to calls or e-mails. If her capabilities are diminishing, the two of you may opt to visit with an attorney about the various types of Powers of Attorney that are available.

We can all be victims of financial exploitation, regardless of our age or experience. I encourage consumers to remain vigilant and to think carefully before giving out any personal financial information or agreeing to send money to anyone.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.