Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Turning this year’s tax refund into next year’s savings. Also in the news: Growing your 401(k) at any age, four financial potholes you should swerve around, and what cyberscams you need to worry about in 2014.

How to Turn This Year’s Tax Refund Into Bigger Tax Savings Next Year
Making your tax refund work for the future.

How to grow your 401(k) at any age
Tips that work for both Boomers and Generation X.

The Four Financial Potholes that can deflate your dreams
You’ll need to swerve around them.

The CyberScams You Need to Worry About in 2014
It’s not just your home computer.

Savings Clubs: Not Just for Christmas Anymore
Clubs exist for virtually anything that requires savings.

Watch out for tax refund theft

Dear Liz: My cousin had his house broken into a little over a year ago. A lot of things were taken, but insurance replaced most of what he thought was missing. This year after he filed his return he was contacted by the IRS, which told him that a return using his information had already been filed and the refund check cashed. The IRS is investigating the situation now, but I really worry about what is going to happen to his Social Security in the future if someone else is using his numbers or those of his children. Do you have any information on what steps he should take?

Answer: Theft of tax refunds is a growing problem. In fact, tax identity theft is the No. 1 fraud on the IRS’ list of Dirty Dozen Tax Scams of 2012.

The fraud is often perpetrated by organized criminal gangs that con, steal or buy people’s personal information to create bogus returns. Some people fall right into the bad guys’ hands by responding to emails that purport to be from the IRS. (The IRS doesn’t email people to request personal or financial information.)

If the problem isn’t resolved within a few months, your cousin should contact the agency’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490.

Since the criminals already have his Social Security number and other important financial information, he also should put security freezes on his credit reports at all three bureaus. Links to the bureaus and other information for identity theft victims can be found on the IRS’ site at http://www.irs.gov.