Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

Cell Phone SIM Swap Scam

Just when we thought we were safe by setting up two-step authentication on our accounts, hackers are getting smarter and scamming us in a different way. The new scam is when a hacker calls your cell phone service provider, pretends to be you and says that you lost your phone and need to activate the new one. They do this by having enough personal information about you to convince the cell phone provider that it is really you. Once they have this information all your texts, phone calls and anything else you receive on your phone will be transferred to their phone and yours will be deactivated. So, all those text messages you receive when logging into your accounts will go directly to the new phone and right into the hacker's hands. This is scary stuff. Please read the following article with the detailed information on the scam and ways to protect yourself from having it happen to you.

How To Prevent and Respond to a SIM Swap Scan

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Insurance Coverage Check Up

Watching the news coverage of Hurricane Dorian this past week as well as the fire in Murrieta, had us sympathizing for the people in their path, what they were going through and how their lives would be affected by these natural disasters. Naturally, this also made us start thinking of our own preparedness for a natural disaster. We recently posted about creating your own emergency kits for your homes. Another thing to think of is what happens to your home and other belongings that were damaged during one of these incidents. It's important to periodically review your insurance policies to make sure that your coverage is sufficient. Our lives are constantly changing, which means you could have recently done a remodel to your home or purchased a brand-new computer. Will your homeowner's insurance cover these new and improved items? One way to make sure is to keep an updated inventory of your personal belongings as well as any documentation for upgrades you have done to your home. Without this documentation your homeowner's insurance may just pay you the basic value of these items and you will not recoup the increased value. One tip I read about, and which seems like the easiest way to inventory your property is to walk around your home with your phone and take a video of each room with its contents. In the video you would show the items of most value and explain what they are. Not only will this prove the items existence, but most phones are hooked up to a cloud-based recovery system. So even if you lose or damage your phone in a disaster the video will be saved to the cloud. Obviously, you would not want to share this video with anyone and should keep it private. No posting to social media sites like FB or Instagram as this could make you a target for break ins. Even if you "know" everyone on your friend lists. We still recommend keeping physical documentation either in a fireproof box, safety deposit box or a flash drive but it never hurts to have more proof. You may also want to look into additional flood and earthquake policies.  Maybe you decided to skip these policies when you first bought your home because they can be pricey, or you went with a higher deductible. Now would be the time to get a check up to see if these supplemental policies are right for you.

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Equifax Breach... Were You Affected?

A settlement has been announced in the 2017 Equifax breach. Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million in compensation to the victims of this breach. If you were affected, there are three different settlement options. The 1st option is to sign up for free credit monitoring service. If you already have credit monitoring service, you can choose to be paid $125 for the value of the credit monitoring. Option 2 is to be reimbursed for any of the time you spent trying to clear up any issues that happened to your credit because of the breach. The 3rd option is to be reimbursed for any damages you incurred as a result of the breach. For the latter two options you will need to submit additional documentation to support your claim. It is really easy to check to see if you were affected by the breach and submit your claim. It took each of us in the office about 3 minutes to complete the whole process. Simply click on this link and follow the steps provided.

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Keeping You Updated

As you know, all of us at Asset Planning put our clients personal and financial well-being as our number one priority. One of the ways we do this is by keeping you updated on any potential dangers when it comes to fraud and scams that we hear about. While doing research on a scam we were alerted to, I came across the Federal Trade Commission website. Along with many other self-help topics, there are two sections dedicated to privacy, identity & online security and scams. There you can find useful tips and recent information on scams going around. I found this website to be a useful tool in my research and I was even able to sign up for email notifications to alert me to any new scams they have been notified of. If you are interested in keeping up with the latest news on these sorts of things click on this link and sign up for email updates.

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Do You Have a Plan for Your Aging Parents?

It’s a known fact that people are living a lot longer than they used to. Do you have a plan in place for your aging parents? I came across an interesting article in Financial Advisor Magazine about the toll being a care taker for your aging parents can put on you financially and emotionally. If you are facing the prospect of being the caretaker for your parents as they get older, the time is now to start having the important conversations with your family about getting an action plan together for their care.

Click here to read the full article

 

 

 

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FSA Eligible Items on Amazon

There is now a whole section of Flexible Spending Account eligible items available on Amazon. In case you don't know what an FSA is, it is an account that you put pre-tax money into that you use to pay out-of-pocket health care costs with. The limit per person each year is $2,650 and most plans require that you use up that amount each year. Even though there is a limit of $2,650 a year you are not required to contribute that much. You can estimate what you think you spend per year and only contribute that amount. People use their FSA accounts to pay for copays, deductibles and prescriptions but there is a lot of over the counter products that meet the eligibility requirements ranging from blood pressure testers all the way to sunscreen and lotion.

Most of the time FSA owners will pay for these out of pocket expenses and then submit a claim form to be reimbursed but there is another option. You can now request a debit card for your FSA and pay directly for these expenses using that card. If you would like to order from Amazon, you would enter your FSA credit card information and select that card as your form of payment. When I was looking on Amazon I simply searched for FSA eligible items and was amazed at all of the products that were available and that I would be able to use for my family on a daily basis. This is a great way to use up the funds in your FSA account.

If you do not have a Flexible Spending Account, it may be something to look into. Not all employers offer them, but it doesn't hurt to ask your human resources department. Remember whatever you do contribute will reduce your taxable income because the contributions are made pre-tax. It's really a great way to pay for your out-of-pocket health care costs.

When googling FSA eligible products, I noticed that there were a lot of other stores that offer them as well. I just love the convenience and delivery options of Amazon, especially if you're a Prime member.

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Earned Income and Social Security Tax

We came across an article on InvestmentNews.com written by Mary Beth Franklin. It gives a great explanation as well as examples and limits on how Social Security benefits are taxed if you are planning on working while collecting social security. Definitely worth a read if you have any income from other sources while collecting Social Security.

 

Click here to read the full article

 

 

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IRA & 401k Contributions Increase for 2019

2019 annual contribution limits for eligible tax filers:

401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.

IRA contributions increased from $5,500 to $6,000 per year. The age 50+ catch-up contribution limit remains at $1,000.

Tax deduction and Income limitations for 2019:

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.) Here are the phase-out ranges for 2019:

If single or joint married taxpayers are not covered by a work retirement plan, they may fully deduct traditional IRA contributions. Other tax filers may partially or fully deduct contributions if they meet the below exceptions:

  • Single taxpayers covered by a work retirement plan, can fully deduct if modified Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is below $64,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $64,000 to $74,000
  •  Married Joint taxpayers, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, can fully deduct if modified AGI is below $103,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $103,000 to $123,000
  • Married Joint taxpayers, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is not covered by a workplace retirement plan, but the other spouse is, can fully deduct if modified AGI is below $193,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $193,000 to $203,000

The Modified AGI phase-out range for Roth IRA contributions is $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, $193,000-203,000 for married couples filing jointly.

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2019 Medicare and Social Security Changes

Medicare just released the new premiums, deductibles and coinsurance amounts for 2019.

The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $135.50 for 2019, an increase of $1.50 from $134 in 2018.

The annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries is $185 in 2019, an increase of $2 from the annual deductible $183 in 2018.

If your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your IRS tax return from 2 years ago is above a certain amount, you'll pay the standard premium amount and an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA)

Here is a chart for reference

Medicare Premium Chart 2019

Social Security announced that in 2019 there will be a 2.8% Cost of Living Adjustment(COLA).

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Trump's Proposes to Extend RMD Age

President Trump issued an executive order directing the Treasury Department to extend the age for required minimum distributions from retirement accounts. Currently the age is 70 1/2. His reasoning is that people are working and living longer. This can be good news for some of our clients who don't necessarily need to take the withdrawals at 70 1/2. Here is an articles from Forbes with some pros and cons to the proposed change.

Read Here

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