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The Provident Connection April 2021 | Scroll Down To Read Issue

In This Issue

How To Protect Your Home From Deed Theft
Natalie Welcomes Twin Boys
IRS Extends Additional Tax Deadlines
Unemployment Compensation Scam
7 Age Milestones That Impact Retirement Planning
2021 Shredding Event

How To Protect Your Home From Deed Theft

Question: I keep seeing ads for services claiming to protect people from home title fraud or deed theft. Is this even a prevalent problem? Is there an easy way for me to confirm that my title is clean rather than paying for a service?

Answer: Back in 2008, the FBI identified "house stealing" as the "latest scam on the block." Since then, it has popped up periodically in cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia. Is it a growing problem? That's hard to know because the FBI doesn't break it out separately in its crime statistics. The American Land Title Association doesn't have data on the problem, either. "I suspect that companies that offer title-monitoring service use that [the claim] as a marketing strategy," says Jeremy Yohe, Vice President of Communications at the association.

The scheme works like this: Fraudsters pick out a house--often a second home, rental, vacation home or vacant house--to "steal." Using personal information gleaned from the internet or elsewhere, they assume your identity or claim to represent you. Armed with forged signatures and fake IDs, they file paperwork with the county's register of deeds to transfer ownership of your property to themselves or a third party. They then sell the home or borrow against it, stealing your equity. When they fail to make payments on a loan secured by your property, you could end up in foreclosure or be unable to sell, refinance or pass the home on to heirs.

Home Title Lock is one of the services that says it will monitor your home's deed 24/7 to prevent title fraud; it costs $15 a month ($150 annually, two years for $298). But you can protect yourself--for free--by periodically checking your property record on the website of your county's register of deeds. Look for deeds that you or your attorney didn't prepare or sign, or loans you didn't take out, as well as liens of contractors, subcontractors, real estate brokers or attorneys whose services you didn't hire, or court filings, says the Cook County (Chicago) recorder of deeds.

Even better, many counties now provide a consumer notification service. Register for free, and you'll quickly receive an e-mail or text any time a document is recorded on your property. In our area, you can visit the Winnebago County, Register of Deeds webpage, scroll to the bottom and click the "Property Fraud Alert" icon pictured below to get started.

The New York City department of finance advises homeowners to make sure the appropriate authorities have the correct mailing address for you or the person who should receive notices about your property. In your absence from your home, have mail forwarded or ask someone you trust to pick up mail or visit your home. Visit a vacant house periodically to ensure that no one has taken up residence illegally.

You may get clues when title fraud occurs: You stop receiving your water bill or property tax assessment or bill, for example. Utility bills on a vacant property rise suddenly, or you find people living there. You stop receiving your tenants' rent payments and learn that they've been making the payments to another person and location. You receive payment books or other information from a lender with whom you haven't done business. Or you find yourself in default on a loan or notified of foreclosure proceedings.

If you experience or find something amiss, notify the register of deeds and local law enforcement. In New York City, for example, homeowners who think they are victims of deed fraud are urged to act quickly to report fraud to the city's sheriff, get a certified copy of the fraudulent document from the city register's office, report the crime to the district attorney's office in the borough where the property is located, and consult an attorney to help confirm ownership of the property. (Legal action known as "quieting the title" may be required to resolve any questions about your ownership of the property.)

Article sourced from kiplinger.com

Natalie Welcomes Twin Boys

Our Administrative Associate and Accounting Manager, Natalie Theissen, and her family welcomed healthy twin boys in February! We had a baby shower for her before she went on maternity leave and couldn't be happier for her family. She recently brought them in for a visit and we were glad to see her and the babies doing so well. Grand Aunt Bonnie is pretty proud, too!

IRS Extends Additional Tax Deadlines

The Internal Revenue Service announced that individuals have until May 17, 2021 to meet certain deadlines that would normally fall on April 15, such as making IRA contributions and filing certain claims for refund.

Time to make contributions to IRAs and health savings accounts extended to May 17. In extending the deadline to file Form 1040 series returns to May 17, the IRS is automatically postponing to the same date the time for individuals to make 2020 contributions to their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs and Roth IRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs), and Coverdell education savings accounts (Coverdell ESAs). This postponement also automatically postpones to May 17, 2021, the time for reporting and payment of the 10% additional tax on amounts includible in gross income from 2020 distributions from IRAs or workplace-based retirement plans.

2017 unclaimed refunds – deadline extended to May 17. For tax year 2017 Federal income tax returns, the normal April 15 deadline to claim a refund has also been extended to May 17, 2021. The law provides a three-year window of opportunity to claim a refund. If taxpayers do not file a return within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by the May 17, 2021, date.

Estimated tax payment due April 15. This extension does not alter the April 15, 2021, deadline for estimated tax payments; these payments are still due on April 15. Taxes must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments.

Updates regarding tax relief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at IRS.gov.

Source: irs.gov/newsroom

Unemployment Compensation Scam

Did you get a 1099-G form in the mail for unemployment benefits you never received? You're not alone. The IRS put out a warning that identity theft scammers used stolen personal information of individuals to file fraudulent claims for unemployment compensation. The benefits were then paid to the scammers. But state governments have issued the 1099-Gs reporting unemployment benefits to the innocent victims whose stolen information is the data the state has on file.

What can you do? Don't contact the IRS about a false 1099-G. Instead, call the state agency that issued it. Explain the circumstances and ask the agency to send a corrected form. Also, let your tax preparer know.

"Fraudsters ramp up their scams during times when there's a high level of anxiety and uncertainty among people, and this last year they've had more opportunities than ever with the multiple rounds of stimulus checks, unemployment levels, etc.," shares Bonnie Graff, Wealth Advisor with Provident. "It may be wise to set up a fraud alert on your credit reports or freeze your credit, which are free to do. While it won't prevent identity theft, its purpose is to prevent use of your stolen identity to apply for credit in your name."

Article sourced from kiplinger.com

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

7 Age Milestones That Impact Retirement Planning

As you travel the savings road toward retirement and beyond, certain key dates will pop up. Some of these dates are critically important to your retirement planning efforts. Taking the right retirement planning steps as you reach each of the following age milestones could help you maximize your income, minimize your taxes and avoid penalties.

AGE 50: Time to fly. If you’ve not been able to save as much as you wanted due to other financial priorities, this is a great opportunity to catch up on your retirement saving. At age 50, you’re eligible to make “catch-up” contributions to 401(k)s and other employer-sponsored retirement plans. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) “catch-up” contribution limits are adjusted annually. For 2021, the IRS allows you to contribute an additional $6,500 to your workplace retirement plan over the annual contribution limit of $19,500.

AGE 59½: Out of the penalty box. Once you reach age 59½, withdrawals from employer-sponsored retirement plans are no longer subject to the additional 10% federal penalty tax on early withdrawals — though you still may owe regular income tax on the distributions. But it’s generally better to leave your tax-advantaged retirement savings alone until you plan to begin taking distributions during retirement.

AGE 62: Stake your claim? Age 62 is the minimum age at which you can choose to begin receiving Social Security benefits. Many people choose to take benefits early, for a variety of reasons. However, the math is pretty clear: claiming earlier gives you a reduced benefit and claiming later gives you an increased benefit. For each year you postpone taking this benefit (until age 70), your monthly check will be larger. Check out the Social Security Benefits Planner (www.ssa.gov/planners) for more comprehensive information, including calculators and other resources.

AGE 65: Say hello to Medicare. If you’re already receiving Social Security, you’re automatically enrolled in both Parts A and B of Medicare. But if you aren’t yet receiving Social Security, you will need to apply for Medicare during one of the designated annual enrollment periods. Keep in mind that you may be eligible for Medicare coverage at 65, but your full retirement age for Social Security may be later. Your initial Medicare enrollment period lasts for seven months, beginning three months before the month in which you turn 65. Missing your enrollment date may mean penalties or even higher premiums for the rest of your life. Check out medicare.gov for comprehensive information (you can also sign up to get regular email alerts and updates).

AGE 67: Paid in full. Your “full retirement age” for Social Security benefits is the age at which you may first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, age 66 is your full retirement age. For those born after 1954, the full retirement age will increase by two months a year until the current maximum of age 67 for those born in 1960 and later.

AGE 70: Max out on social security. If you’ve waited until your 70th birthday to begin taking Social Security, you’ll now get the biggest possible monthly benefit, which may be significantly larger than if you had started receiving payments at age 62. Any further delay in claiming won’t increase the size of your check.

AGE 72: Show me the money. Even if you don’t feel ready to start withdrawing funds from your workplace retirement plan and other Individual Retirement Accounts, the government requires you to do so once you reach age 72. The amounts of these required minimum distributions will vary from year to year, depending on the value of your retirement accounts and your age. Failing to take a required minimum distribution, or taking an insufficient amount, can result in costly penalties. Choosing an appropriate distribution strategy can help you avoid issues and make the most of your retirement assets. Be sure to consult with a tax or retirement plan professional.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

2021 Shredding Event

Our 2021 Shredding Event will be held for clients for two weeks from April 19 - 30 during business hours. In an effort to try and help as many clients to securely discard sensitive information as possible, there will be a limit of two banker's boxes (about three paper grocery bags) per household.

As a continued safety precaution, we ask that you place your documents in the foyer area and one of our team members will put them in the shred bin after you leave. A general rule of thumb to remember is that if a document has a signature, account number, medical or legal information, or your social security number on it, then shred it.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter. Please contact our Director of Communications, Heather, at heather@providentfc.com with any questions or ideas for improvement. To unsubscribe from this newsletter, please email info@providentfc.com.

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