Sunday, December 30, 2018

Medicare, Obamacare, Trumpcare

Mailers, email ads, tv ads - all blaring out notices about the next great thing in health care insurance.

Most are at least some degree of fraud and many are outright fraud.

There is absolutely no such thing as Trumpcare, technically there is no such thing as Obamacare, and just about anybody can thrown the word Medicare into an ad without being legitimate.

Buyer beware, very very beware.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Scams Galore

Tis the season.

The scammers are out in full force. They have all sort of clever ways to scare old people.

One tip off is when they need immediate payment, by Western Union, Green Dot cards, or now gift cards. This is not how anyone legitimate works.

If you get a call that a grandchild has been kidnapped, or arrested, or the IRS needs payment today * , ask for a call back number and hang up. Then make calls to find out where your family is really at.

Do not be alarmed into making a terrible mistake.

*the IRS never initiates contact via telephone, always by mail

Saturday, December 22, 2018

"Tis the Season - Scams

This year gift card scams seem to be the hot, hot thing.

Buy your gift cards from reputable stores or well known websites. Be careful of "too good to be true" sales.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Cash can be a Problem Part I

As a result of the "war on drugs" and attempts to thwart international money laundering the federal government has created a problem for ordinary people. Using cash can be a problem.

Cash transactions of $10,000 or more are reported to the IRS by your bank.

Cash transactions less than $10,000 can be reported to the IRS if your bank suspects you of "structuring," that is, structuring deposits to consistently stay below the $10,000.

Some senior citizens prefer to deal in cash, but just understand that cash is viewed as a problem.

If you are stopped by a police officer and are found to be carrying a large amount of cash, the police may seize the cash even if they find no evidence of any criminal activity. These "civil asset forfeitures" have been a legal but controversial funding source for many local governments. If you are a minority the odds of having your cash seized are higher. Some courts have recently rediscovered the Constitution, so there is hope.

Going out of the country? There are special rules for cash and funds transfers, so check before you fly.

Use common sense and check the rules ahead of time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Medicare, Trumpcare, Obamacare

Anyone over the age of 55 gets a steady stream of insurance advertising materials, and anyone who watches television sees a steady stream of commercials for health care insurance.

Just because an advertising uses the word Medicare does not make it anything official, in fact most such advertising is suspicious. There are legitimate advertisements for Medicare supplements.  Be careful.

There is no such thing as "Trumpcare" and legally there is no such thing as "Obamacare," just a nickname.

And remember, cheap insurance, which means not good.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Paying for Tax Cuts

The Republicans passed massive tax cuts that will explode the deficit for the next decade (at least).

How to minimize the damage?

The House Republicans are proposing significant changes to Medicare, which will increase the out-of-pocket costs of most beneficiaries.

But didn't President Trump promise to protect Medicare?  This is now defined as "protecting Medicare."

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


Too many people still have such passwords as "Password" or "12345" or names readily available on your Facebook.

There is a new theory about a safe password you can remember.

Take the first line from your favorite hymn, a Bible verse, a favorite song, a play you enjoy, or a book you treasure.

So if you like Amazing Grace:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound becomes "Aghsts2018"

The 23rd Psalm becomes  Tlimsisnw2018.

Change the year annually, and change the password to another favorite at least annually.

It will be more difficult for hackers to guess these passwords, but the passwords can still be hacked from the web sourced.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Use Caution on Social Media

Why worry about your information on social media?

Facebook sold information on more than 250,000 accounts to a "researcher."

The "researcher" relayed the information to Cambridge Analytica (CA), a data analytic firm with a less than glorious reputation.

By linking friends from the original batch CA may have obtained data from as many as 50 million accounts, the data being used for unauthorized purposes for the Trump campaign.

So do not feel obligated or compelled to put everything about you on social media. Unless you want everyone on the planet to have that information.


Do not announce your vacation on social media. It is an invitation to burglars. Same for hospitalizations. Do not post vacation pictures until you have returned home.

Do not make announcements about family or friends IF they may not want the information to be made public.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


The Trump administration is working to enable insurers to sell non-ACA compliant health insurance policies.


Cheap insurance is usually lousy insurance. People pay a lot for not very much coverage.

Buyer beware.

No, make that BUYER BEWARE!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Spoof Phone Calls

Many of us tend to answer local calls more quickly than we do 800 numbers and unknown area codes.

So now the scammers have something new - number spoofing.

A call will come in with a local area code and a familiar exchange (first three numbers). Problem is, it is telemarketing or worse.

Standard advice - let unknwn numbers go to voicemail, listen to the voicemail, and then return the call if you want to.

Monday, February 5, 2018

About that tax cut......

In February many in the middle class will receive slightly larger paychecks due to the tax cut bill passed in December.

Good news, right?

Maybe not.

The tax charts are based on "average taxpayers" and your situation will be different than many other taxpayers. Your employer cannot factor this into the calculation, not having detailed information. In truth, some taxpayers will get a tax cut and others will not.

You could end up owing money in April 2019. Best let your tax preparer make a "guesstimate" of your real tax liability and compare that against your withholding.