Use these Tips to Avoid FRAUD!


  • Never click on a link inside an e-mail to visit a website.  Instead, type the address into your browser, or even better, Google the company or sender to see what you can find out.  (Did you know that some websites track your exact location by collecting the IP address from your computer?)
  • It’s easy for a business to look legitimate on-line.  Use caution with patronizing new businesses.  Google reviews on-line, but remember, someone at the business in question might be posting positive reviews about that business.  Watch out for a lot of complaints and a few glowing reviews.  The complaints are probably legitimate and the reviews are likely being posted by the company to offset the negative rating on websites like and
  • Keep track of what you order on-line, and follow up if you don’t receive it within the expected time.  The Fair Credit Billing Act gives you 60 days to contest the charge on your credit card if you do not receive the item (or if there are other errors on the bills).   After 60 days, you may be out of luck, so stay on top of it!  For other credit protection laws, see
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card to place orders.  Debit cards, though they bear the Mastercard or Visa logo, are not covered by the Fair Credit Billing Act.  Mastercard and Visa, along with most banks, have a policy of honoring the same rules, but that is policy–not law.   If you don’t have a credit card or prefer not to use a credit card, consider using a service like, which provides protection for purchases made using Pay Pal.
  • Do not e-mail your personal information, including social security number and date of birth.  Only 2% of identity theft occurs through the mail presently; most of it happens on-line!  Report on-line fraud to the FTC at
  • Shred documents which contain personal or confidential information; don’t simply throw them away or recycle them.
  • Keep your packing slips and receipts, and check them against your credit card statement.
  • If you bank on-line or pay your credit card on-line, choose passwords that are difficult or impossible for others to guess, or for hackers to crack.  Use a combination of letters and numbers, and don’t use your pets’ names, or any obvious fact or hobby known to many about you.
  • Watch out for e-mails or contacts pressuring you to act “right away.”  Urgency can often be a warning that the transaction is not legitimate.
  • Watch out for anything that guarantees success.  This is a definite red flag!
  • Watch out for anything which requires an upfront investment–even for a “free” gift.
  • Trust your intuition!  If it doesn’t look or feel right to you, walk away!


  • Your bank will never e-mail or call you for your account number.
  • Don’t wire money to people you don’t know.
  • Be cautious of work-at-home job offers.
  • There are no legitimate jobs that involve reshipping items or financial instruments from your home.
  • Foreign lotteries are illegal in the U.S.  You can’t win no matter what they say.
  • Check your monthly bank statements for charges you don’t recognize.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus once a year by using

The United States Post Offices has a website dedicated to making people aware of fraud and scams through the mail:

If you receive a suspected fraud through the U.S. Mail, you can report it to: or 1-877-876-2455.  The mailing address is: U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Criminal Investigations Service Center, Attn: Mail Fraud, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60606-6100.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency, and also works to stop fraud.  To get more information, go to or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Remember the old adage: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Tax Relief Act of 2010

In 2009, federal estate taxes were only assessed if the value of the assets per person was more than $3.5 million. The federal estate tax was repealed entirely in 2010, meaning there would have been no estate tax regardless of the size of the estate in 2010, unless Congress enacted a new federal estate tax law and made it retroactive (yes, the courts have held Congress can make a new tax law retroactive, up to 14 months, where the type of tax wasn’t a suprise!  Estate of Cherne v. United States, 170 F.3d 961 (9th Cir. 1998).) In 2011, the estate tax exemption would have reverted back to $1 million with tax rates up to 55% in 2011 unless Congress changed the law…. which they just did!

Under the Tax Relief Act of 2010, the estate tax rate is set at 35% for two years (through 2012) and the estate tax exemption is $5 million (adjusted for inflation after 2011). For estates of decedents dying in 2010, an election will be available either to be subject to the reinstated estate tax or to be subject to the modified carryover basis rule. The election between the reinstated estate tax and the modified carryover basis rule is made by the estate (i.e., the trustee), not the beneficiaries.