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IRS Tax Scams: What You Need To Know in 2015

IRSIf you file taxes and have a phone, email or Social Security number this is a must read. After all, it’s tax scam season and you don’t want to become a victim.

In Illinois, phone scammers claiming to be the IRS are threatening residents with lawsuits or jail time if you don’t pay up. Talk about preying on your fears. Then they gladly accept your payment using credit, debit, or prepaid cards over the phone. Not so fast. Don’t fall for this scam!

The IRS does not request payment in this manner by phone. Report the caller to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.

Scammers are so clever. Aren’t they? There are a lot of ways they try to squeeze money out of you.

Here’s a list of the 2015 “Dirty Dozen” tax scams according to the IRS:

  • Phone Scams: Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remains an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season. (IR-2015-5)
  • Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise. Taxpayers should be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information. (IR-2015-6) (more…)
Categories: News, Taxes

4 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Car Repairs

Check Engine LightDo you ever cringe when your car’s check engine light comes on? I know the feeling, these days regular car maintenance could cost you hundreds of dollars. While a major car repair might run you in the thousands. Ouch!

Earlier this month my car’s maintenance light came on. It’s six years old now. And this was a new maintenance code. I could only imagine how much $$$ it was going to cost me.

Every time I cranked up the car, it was in bright lights staring me in the face. As if it were saying, what are you waiting for? Stop ignoring me, something is wrong.

After a few days, I decided to schedule an appointment. I called several car dealerships to get quotes. They told me: $330, $340 and $450.

Prices like that for scheduled maintenance just make you want to scream! By shopping around I managed to save over $100 in less than 10 minutes.

Whenever I get service quotes, I just scribble them down on a piece of paper along with the details. Paying attention to the service maintenance details helps you save money when you’ve recently had something they are recommending.

For example, the last time I had to get my car serviced it included a tire rotation. I told the tech I got one a few weeks earlier, so I skipped it.

This time around I needed everything on the list!

The good news is that I still managed to cut my repair cost down an extra 15% (that’s $51) over the phone. In this post I’ll show you exactly how I did it. Read on.

Here are 4 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Car Repairs: (more…)
Categories: Save Money

Money Problems? There’s Hope…

The worse feeling anyone can have about money problems is that there is no way out. Yet, many people feel this way day in and day out.

If this is you, you are not alone. While things may look great on the outside, many people are suffering in silence.

The good news is there’s hope. YOU can turn it around! 

Let’s break the silence.

Join me in South Florida this weekend and find out “How to Get Your Money Right.”

  • Are You Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck?
  • Drowning in Debt?
  • Do You Have Bad Credit?
  • Have Trouble Saving Money?

Come discover practical tips to help you get your finances in order at the South Florida Book Festival. (more…)

Categories: Life, News

Helping Our Youth Build Financial Capability

There’s no doubt that “our children are our future.” Illinois Jump$tart recognizes the strong need to build financial capability in generations to come. That’s why I support organizations like Illinois Jump$tart with my time and money. :)

Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Illinois Jump$tart (ILJC) is starting something different - Action Network for Financial Empowerment.

ANFE logo-V7-lr“Launching in July 2014, ILJC’s new Action Network will bring professionals, working with youth programs and policy around Illinois, together with the most innovative concepts and informed voices in financial education for an interactive summit at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank. The goal is to establish a new network of like minded advocates, working in different ways and different places, to accomplish a common objective: giving more young people the tools they’ll need to build secure, comfortable and productive lives.”

You’re invited to this inaugural event. Register today to attend the Action Network Summit in July!


Categories: News

It’s been awhile….

Last week one of my loyal blog followers reached out to me. We’ll call him Mr. T. He’s not the original Mr. T from the A-Team. Although, that’s someone I’d love to run into one of these days in Chicago. Any connections? ;)

"First name Mr, middle name 'period', last name T!"

“First name Mr, middle name ‘period’, last name T!”

I digress….

Back to the topic at hand, Mr. T is a pen name one of my blog readers uses when he comments. This blog reader has been here since the very beginning and even inspired a few other posts.

Mr. T. I appreciate you thinking of me!  And I promise YOU I’ll get back to writing more frequently than every three months. I know you don’t do social media, but I  encourage you to follow me on Twitter (I’ll follow you) and check out GainMoneyControl on Facebook (we can be friends). Those are both great places to find more content on hot money topics, articles and money saving tips.

GainMoneyControl Readers: Thank you for sharing one of your most precious gifts you can give—your time!


Photo: numberstumper

Categories: Life

Don’t Miss Money Smart Week’s Scavenger Hunt 2014

MSWScavengerHuntWho wants to win a $500 Apple gift card? How about a $250 Visa prepaid card? Well, that’s some of the prizes up for grabs in this year’s Money Smart Week Scavenger Hunt.

Starting on March 12th, people across the country will have a chance to join in the fun—Money Smart Week Scavenger Hunt. It doesn’t matter if you live in Illinois or Florida. People across the nation can join in the hunt for a chance to win some really great prizes.

This year’s Money Smart Week Scavenger Hunt runs from March 12th through April 12th,, 2014.

According to the Money Smart Week website, here’s what you need to know to get started:

What is Money Smart Hunt?

Money Smart Hunt is a Free, nationwide, photojournalistic, scavenger hunt promoting financial education! Players will be asked to photograph themselves accomplishing a provided list of tasks such as “check out a money related book at your local library, “high-five your banker,” or “attend a Money Smart Week event.” Each completed task and photo is awarded with points. Money Smart Hunt is presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. We are ready to see your creativity as you show off how financial savvy you are!

When is Money Smart Hunt?

Money Smart Hunt begins Wednesday, March 12th at 12:01a.m. CST and runs through Saturday, April 12th at 11:59p.m. CST, during which time participants can join the hunt by downloading the “Scavenger Hunt with Friends” mobile app and uploading creative photos from the list of items.

What is Scavenger Hunt with Friends?

Scavenger Hunt with Friends is a photo-based scavenger hunt mobile application for Android and iPhone users. For ‘how to’ information and mobile application terms please visit http://scavengerhuntwithfriends.com.

Ready. Set. Go.

Happy Hunting!

Categories: News

You’ll Never Guess What I Found on My Credit Card Statement

Free Credit ScoreA month ago (on this very day), I wrote a blog post about new changes in the credit card industry. Last week it was reported that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (a.k.a. the nation’s largest consumer protection organization for financial products) called on banks to give consumers their credit scores for free.

That’s right FREE.

In my February 5th blog post, I told you about a new way some consumers are getting free credit scores (without any strings attached). Just in case you missed it, here’s a link to that post – How to Get Your Free FICO Credit Score.

Without any nudging from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, some financial institutions were already leading the charge and giving their customers free access to their credit scores.

One of those financial institutions is Discover Financial, which also happens to be my very first credit card. So in my post, I wrote—”I sure hope Discover starts offering free FICO® Credit Scores to all of their cardholders (myself included). biggrin

And you’ll never guess what I found on my credit card statement this month. You guessed it—My Free FICO Credit Score. Did the picture give it away?

Seeing is Believing (more…)

Dining Out – Ladies Beware of This…

Ladies, ever wonder where to put your purse at a restaurant? Yesterday I found myself thinking about the same thing at lunch. To hang my purse on the back of my chair or not—that is the question.

Since we were seated at a table for four, the woman I met for lunch placed her purse in an empty chair and draped her coat on top. Grappling with the decision myself, I put my coat in the other empty chair and hung my purse on the back of my chair.

So who chose the safer option? She did.

This morning on the news, they said Chicago police issued a warning to women who hang their purses on the back of their chairs at restaurants (yeah, that’s me). Apparently these women have become the prime targets and victims of pickpocketers.

Women are filing police reports because they are opening their bags only to find their wallets, cash and credit cards stolen. (more…)

Categories: News

America Saves Week

Every year one of the top financial New Year’s resolutions is to save more money. Sadly, many of our resolutions are broken within the first month. Have you ever broken yours? I know I have (just being honest!).

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until next year to start saving more money. Every day gives you a chance to start anew.

It’s never too late to start saving!

You know what they say- “there’s no time like the present.” And it just so happens America Saves Week is coming up February 24th – March 1st, 2014.


America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. The purpose of this week is to help you get your savings plan in place, so you can start reaching your savings goals. It’s been proven that people with a plan are more successful. (more…)

Categories: Save Money

Lifetime Lottery Winner Paid Over $14,000 in Check Cashing Fees

Who wouldn’t want to win $500 a week for life? It sounds like a dream come true.

But sometimes that dream can turn into a living nightmare.

A Florida man, Malcolm Ramsey, won the lifetime $500 a week lottery. And in less than four weeks he spent over half of his winnings.

According to a Tampa Bay Times article, Ramsey chose the lump sum cash option, netting him $302,466 after taxes. When he received his winnings, Ramsey got a cashier’s check for the full amount. Then, he cashed the check at Amscot (a check cashing store), which charged him over $14,000 in fees.

This story caught my eye, when I heard that he paid over $14,000 in check cashing fees. That is utterly ridiculous for anyone to pay that amount in check cashing fees. In Florida, it’s legal for check cashing stores to charge up to five percent of the check’s value though.

How did this happen? Ramsey is actually “mentally incompetent” and incapable of handling his financial affairs. That’s why the court appointed a guardian to handle them for him. Yet, the Florida Lottery gave him the check anyway.

The good news is Amscot says it will refund the check cashing fees after learning about Ramsey’s mental state. (more…)

Categories: News