Social Security Resumes Some Paper Statements
Unless you have an online account with them, the Social Security Administration is resuming mailing paper statements to workers every 5 years (at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 & 60). You do not have to wait till you receive your paper statement, by accessing your Social Security records at any time by creating a “My Social Security” account at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/. Whether you get your copy by mail or online, make sure your earnings are reported correctly every year. When deciding when to start claiming benefits, one of the largest financial decisions of your life, get good advice. Social Security usually recommends claiming as early as possible, which does not make sense for most people. Let me know if you need help with this very important decision.
New Rules on 60 Day Rollovers
The IRS announced that the 60 day once-per-year rollover rule, instead of applying to each IRA individually, applies in aggregate to all an individual’s IRA’s. The new rule will start in 2015. This new rule does not affect most individuals, because the following do not count towards any of the following rollovers:
- Trustee-to-Trustee IRA Transfers – This is the best way for IRA money to be moved from one IRA to another. Funds go directly from one custodian to another without you having the opportunity to use the funds. IRA owners can make as many direct transfers as they like, and at any time.
- Plan-to-IRA Rollovers – For example rolling your 401K over to an IRA.
- IRA-to-Plan Rollovers – Similar to the plan-to-IRA exclusion outlined above.
- Roth IRA Conversions – If money is converted from an IRA or employer plan to a Roth IRA, either directly or indirectly via a 60 day rollover, the conversion does not count as a rollover for purposes of the once-per-year rule.
If you violate the new rule, the consequences are severe – the 2nd rollover will be considered a distribution and subject to income tax and possibly a 10% penalty.
Recently there have been credit card breaches at Target, P.F. Chang’s and Home Depot. With these breaches, the credit card company covers you for any losses that may occur, and issues you a new credit card. If you use a debit card, you may be exposed to some financial losses. What can you do to protect yourself against these breaches and cyber criminals in general?
- Use a credit card or cash, not a debit card, for purchases
- Never access public Wi-Fi, unless you have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) installed on your device.
- Use your phone’s cellular network, instead of public Wi-Fi networks.
- Install anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computers.
- Never send sensitive information via email. If it is something that you do not want printed on the front page of the newspaper, don’t email it!
- Use long secure passwords for all your internet accounts, using capitals, numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for your accounts. If one account is compromised, it will be limited to only that account.
- Consider using a password manager for your passwords. The most common are LastPass, RoboForm and 1Password.
- Set up automatic emails or texts for withdrawals from all your bank and investment accounts.
- Never respond to phishing emails or phone calls requesting personal information. If in doubt, hang up and call the legit contact number for the organization.
- Practice safe internet surfing. Never click on an unknown website – it could be a rogue site designed to siphon your information from your computer or device.
- If you are accessing a secure website, make sure the URL starts with https://. The “s” stands for “secure”.
What is SMFP doing to protect your private information?
- All data is encrypted (computer systems, hard drives and backup storage)
- No personal information is communicated via email. Use the secure encrypted shared Box folder with SMFP. Call to set up a shared Box folder.
- When travelling, and in the rare instances when a Wi-Fi network needs to be accessed, a secure VPN is used.
- A password manager is used for all online accounts, using gobbledygook passwords like iV?xPjL74gqdL:Q.
- We are constantly working to keep data secure through educational seminars, communications from the FCC and my tech savvy peers and consultants.
In July we visited Alaska again. In addition to visiting the family, we caught the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Valdez, where we witnessed an unusually large calving of the enormous Columbia Glacier. One of the passengers on the boat captured the calving – see it on YouTube at http://youtu.be/5e4iuShxK2g. Also kayaked on the Valdez Glacier Lake among icebergs and into ice caves. Then we drove to Wrangell-St Elias, the largest National Park in America, which is in the heart of thousands of glaciers. Stayed at the historic Kennicott Lodge, part of the historic old copper mine.
In August, due a scheduling glitch at Roberta’s work, we spent a few days in Montana hiking in the Glacier National Park (not many glaciers left there anymore!).
Last week, we rode the Tour de Acoma 50 mile bike event on the beautiful Acoma Reservation.
Contact me for a review meeting if needed. Please plan early for setting up an appointment. Feel free to pass this newsletter on to whoever may be interested.