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In light of recent news headlines related to the Anthem cyber-attack, it is important to revisit the critical importance of controlling those things in our financial lives that remain within our control. This includes partnering with companies who have a solid plan for your information security, and understanding the “worst-case scenario” if your personal data is accessed during a cyber attack. 

 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is at the top of the list of consumer complaints.  Despite the best safeguards, it has become clear that we can’t always control the way our personal information is accessed or used. Even the IRS isn’t immune to scammers. The Government Accountability Office reported that $5 billion in erroneous refunds were paid in 2014 as a result of fraudulent filings.   

 

Of the various methods criminals utilize to take advantage of their victims, the most-common wrongdoing is the unauthorized use of existing credit cards. Fortunately, each person has the ability to monitor his or her own credit report. Regularly reviewing personal credit information is a necessity in this day and age where identity theft runs rampant. If you’re not already watching over your personal report, now is the time to begin.

 

As a way to be vigilant and take an active part in protecting against credit fraud, SYM suggests that, at minimum, you check your credit activity on an annual basis. Each of the three main credit reporting agencies allows individuals to request a free credit report once every 12 months. You can access Equifax, Experian and TransUnion reports from one website, www.annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228. To make the request, you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. For additional safety, please be sure to confirm use of the proper link as there are many “imposter” websites.

 

In addition to completing an annual credit check-up, you can take a more proactive approach by choosing to “freeze” your credit or by purchasing identity theft protection from a specialty company such as LifeLock or Identity Guard.

 

When you implement a “freeze,” the three credit reporting companies are prohibited from releasing your credit report without your consent. Should the time come when you need to “unfreeze” your credit (e.g., in order to apply for a mortgage or purchase a vehicle), you would simply contact the agency and provide a secure personal identification number.

 

If you don’t have the time or ability to monitor your credit, paying for an identity security service may be a prudent measure. Such companies screen various databases and search for illicit use of personal data, fraudulent loan and credit applications and the sale of information related to an individual. Should any of these actions be detected, you would be immediately notified and the company will take steps to ensure that no harm is done. Some companies that offer these services also provide payment for damages that result from illegal use of your data.

 

As always, your SYM advisor is available to discuss any follow up questions you may have.

 

 

 

Tracey Yeager Memorial 5K Run/Walk

"The Finish Line is Just the Beginning"

Memorial Day - May 26th            Race Time 9:30 AM

 

Race Registration

To register online for the race, please click here (there are no additional fees to register online) - https://secure.getmeregistered.com/TraceyYeager5K

 

We are proud to sponsor the 3rdannual Tracey Yeager Memorial 5K Run/Walk (TYM5K). This annual event is held on Memorial Day in scenic Winona Lake Park. This is a family friendly event designed to honor Tracey’s memory while also honoring the brave men and women who died in service to our great nation. 100% of the registration fees and corporate sponsorship dollars for this event go toward the “Tracey’s Trails Fund” at Kosciusko County Community Foundation. This fund is used to aid in the continued development of the bike/walk trails in Kosciusko County.

 

To access and mail a registration form, click here.

To like us on Facebook, please click here - http://facebook.com/TYM5K

 

Since 2009, the stock market has moved higher on an almost regular basis. Success like this can make it hard to believe that two short years ago the global economy was being buffeted by the Arab Spring uprising and the potential exit of Greece from the European Union. One outcome of these events was a 10% correction in the S&P 500 index. Having moved from that point in time to now without a major pullback, some would say a market setback is long overdue. Last week, there was news that could potentially be the trigger for a correction. Lower than expected company profits and concerns about slowing worldwide growth caused the Dow to lose 3.5%. The NASDAQ, an index that measures technology and growth companies, was down 1.7% for the week.

 

As the calendar moves toward the inevitable April 15thtax deadline, this is a good time to consider some of the details related to the process. Whether you use tax software or rely on a tax professional, there are a number of important items to think about prior to filing. Consider whether the following items apply to you before submitting your return:

 

As we near the end of 2013, we will likely spend some time assessing the past twelve months and then turn our attention to preparing tax returns. The fact that it has been a good year for the markets is undisputable. The equity returns of 2013 have left many of our clients with significant unrealized capital gains in their portfolios. To most investors, these gains represent a future tax obligation. If considered differently, these gains can become a valuable tool for tax advantaged gifting.

 

Careful planning around how to make a charitable gift to a qualifying organization can positively impact your final tax bill for 2013. For example, if you are in the highest marginal tax bracket and plan to give a cash gift of $25,000, you can save up to $9,900 in taxes, which is obviously quite good. However, if you were to make the same charitable contribution using highly appreciated securities from your taxable investment portfolio, there is the potential of an additional $2,975 in capital gains tax savings*. By donating $25,000 in stocks or mutual funds with a cost basis of $12,500 (a 100% capital gain) you will save a total of $12,875 in taxes. The difference comes from the fact that you didn’t have to pay taxes on the investment gains because you didn’t sell them in order to donate them. And because you gave them to a qualifying charity, there is no tax due because the organization is exempt from a tax obligation on the investment gain.