Yesterday one of my clients told me that

Yesterday one of my clients told me that there had been a credit card breech on one of their MasterCard. Their card had to be closed and a replacement ordered. Luckily for them, the credit card company noticed unusual activity and notified them right away, before any serious harm occurred. This resulted in the lengthy process of calling every company who is auto-debiting their account.
While making these calls, I heard a story from of their business associates who had their identity stolen. They said someone was able to use their social security number to open up multiple lines of credit and then purchase over $56,000 worth of merchandise.

It seems we hear stories like this all too frequently.

So how can we protect ourselves?
Here are two lines of protection that are very effective and simple to set up:

1. Place a Fraud Alert on your credit file. Doing so alerts lenders and others that they should take special precautions to ensure your identity before extending credit. When you place a Fraud Alert, you can provide a mobile or other phone number for lenders to contact you to verify that the party applying for credit is actually you, not a fraudster.

You can place a Fraud Alert by notifying any one the three major credit reporting companies. They will notify the other two and a fraud alert will also be placed on those files, too. An Initial Fraud alert lasts for 90 days and may be renewed.

2. For even greater protection you can place a Security Freeze on your credit. This prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit. Setting this up requires contacting all three credit bureaus.

Although this provides much greater protection, when you wish to apply for any type of credit, you will have to take special steps to temporarily remove it.

The 3 credit bureaus are: Equifax http://www.equifax.com/, Experian http://www.experian.com/, and Transunion http://www.transunion.com/

Credit card security and identity theft

Credit card security and identity theft are on many folks’ minds these days. We all have heard the stories about security breaches at major stores, but another, perhaps more insidious problem are scanners which hackers can purchase on the Internet for as little as $10. Once armed with these scanners a thief can walk within five feet of you and steal your identity in a matter of minutes- even while your credit card remains inside your wallet. You can protect your identity by buying a RFID wallet.There are many on the market so be sure to look at all the reviews. Attached here is a link to a site where these wallets are reviewed.. http://ow.ly/CSOLE

Many individuals decide to hire daily mo

Many individuals decide to hire daily money managers as a strategy for maintaining their independence. When selecting someone, be sure that you check their references and ask if they are a member of AADMM, a national, credentialing organization which requires members to adhere to ethical standards. Read on for more information on this.
ASK NANCY
When a parent’s bookkeeper is secretive

BY NANCY STEIN SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
Q. My 87-year-old father has put a long-time helper in charge of paying his household bills. When my brother and I ask her about his daily expenses, she refuses to speak to us, saying that she only works for my father and doesn’t have to answer any of our questions. She has even locked up his checkbook so family members cannot access it. I am concerned about his being taken advantage of. He insists that she is trustworthy, but I have my doubts. What can I do?

A: You are right to be concerned. Her attitude certainly raises a red flag. When it comes to financial matters, it’s important for a family member to safeguard their parents’ savings. One way is to do that is to monitor day-to-day money matters and large purchases.

I know this is easier said than done. Our parents, many of whom have never discussed their personal finances with anyone but their accountant, want their privacy and independence from their adult children for as long as possible, so they might see this as meddling.

Ask your father to be named on his checking account and credit card, so that his day-to-day affairs can be managed in an emergency — that is, if he is suddenly unable to handle this task himself. Once you’re on the account with his permission, set up on online view so that you can keep tabs on all transactions, whether it’s through his bank checking account or credit card. It will also also allow the bank and credit card company to talk to you if you have questions.

In your particular situation, this can be done without the knowledge of the helper. For those who have been considering hiring someone to help with bills of a loved one, my advice would be to hire only professionals with experience in working with seniors to help with bill paying or other financial tasks. I’m personally a big fan of Daily Money Managers, professionals who provide an array of services including bill paying, keeping track of medical and other insurance papers, as well as working with accountants and attorneys.

What’s most important is that they adhere to a strict standard of practice and code of ethics. Visit the website of The American Association of Daily Managers to find a professional in your area.

Nancy Stein, Ph.D., is the founder of SeniorityMatters.com, a local caregiver advisory and referral service for South Florida seniors and their families. You can contact her at nancy@ senioritymatters.com.

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Many individuals decide to hire daily mo

Many individuals decide to hire daily money managers as a strategy for maintaining their independence. When selecting someone, be sure that you check their references and ask if they are a member of AADMM, a national, credentialing  organization which requires members to adhere to ethical standards. Read on for more information on this.

ASK NANCY
When a parent’s bookkeeper is secretive

BY NANCY STEIN SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
Q. My 87-year-old father has put a long-time helper in charge of paying his household bills. When my brother and I ask her about his daily expenses, she refuses to speak to us, saying that she only works for my father and doesn’t have to answer any of our questions. She has even locked up his checkbook so family members cannot access it. I am concerned about his being taken advantage of. He insists that she is trustworthy, but I have my doubts. What can I do?

A: You are right to be concerned. Her attitude certainly raises a red flag. When it comes to financial matters, it’s important for a family member to safeguard their parents’ savings. One way is to do that is to monitor day-to-day money matters and large purchases.

I know this is easier said than done. Our parents, many of whom have never discussed their personal finances with anyone but their accountant, want their privacy and independence from their adult children for as long as possible, so they might see this as meddling.

Ask your father to be named on his checking account and credit card, so that his day-to-day affairs can be managed in an emergency — that is, if he is suddenly unable to handle this task himself. Once you’re on the account with his permission, set up on online view so that you can keep tabs on all transactions, whether it’s through his bank checking account or credit card. It will also also allow the bank and credit card company to talk to you if you have questions.

In your particular situation, this can be done without the knowledge of the helper. For those who have been considering hiring someone to help with bills of a loved one, my advice would be to hire only professionals with experience in working with seniors to help with bill paying or other financial tasks. I’m personally a big fan of Daily Money Managers, professionals who provide an array of services including bill paying, keeping track of medical and other insurance papers, as well as working with accountants and attorneys.

What’s most important is that they adhere to a strict standard of practice and code of ethics. Visit the website of The American Association of Daily Managers to find a professional in your area.

Nancy Stein, Ph.D., is the founder of SeniorityMatters.com, a local caregiver advisory and referral service for South Florida seniors and their families. You can contact her at nancy@ senioritymatters.com.

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SUNDAYMONEY: PLANNING; Tired of Stamp-Li

SUNDAYMONEY: PLANNING; Tired of Stamp-Licking? A Daily Money Manager Can Help
By JENNIFER FRIEDLIN

LAST year, Harold Podberesky, 87, became overwhelmed by the mound of bills piling up in his mailbox. He said he wanted to continue living on his own but could no longer stay on top of paying the utility bills or balancing his checkbook. So he turned to the ElderCare Connection, a private social service agency that helps older people in south Florida sort through their mail, pay bills and even invest their money.

”It’s getting to the point that everything is becoming an effort, even writing a check,” said Mr. Podberesky, a retired plastics worker in Pembroke Pines, Fla., who lives off of his Social Security payments and the interest from his cash investments. ”Now, I’m relaxed. I don’t have to bother with anything. I don’t have to go to the post office for stamps — nothing.”

For people no longer able to handle day-to-day financial chores — or for those of any age who simply feel that their time is better spent doing other things — daily money managers are available across the country to plan budgets, pay bills, file medical and insurance claims, negotiate with creditors and call vendors to sort out questionable charges. Their fees typically range from $25 to $100 an hour, and they work for people of a wide range of incomes and backgrounds.

Until recently, such services were generally reserved for the very wealthy, who received them through companies known as family offices that were staffed with an armada of professionals, including lawyers, accountants and financial planners. Over the past few years, more spartan versions of these services have been made available to people of modest means, while many accountants and some financial advisers have begun offering more elaborate services to attract well-heeled clients.

”There’s a tremendous demand for a broader range of services,” said Gary Schatsky, a fee-only financial adviser based in New York who is president of the ObjectiveAdvice Group. He provides a range of services, including investment management, tax preparation, mortgage advice and bill-paying for clients earning $40,000 to $4 million a year.

”Part of what I do I consider essential advice, and part of what I do is snow shoveling,” Mr. Schatsky said. ”You can shovel your own snow, but it’s much more delightful to have someone shovel it for you.”

American Express Tax and Business Services, a division of American Express, offers everything from recordkeeping and bill-paying to help in choosing insurance. Other firms help clients keep an inventory of collectibles, for example, and arrange for more indulgent ”concierge services,” like walking the dog.

”Some clients call up and say: ‘I want to buy a horse farm in upstate New York. How do I find an appraiser?”’ said Joel Gensler, a partner at Eisner L.L.P., an accounting firm based in New York.

”People have more money and less time, and they would rather do other things” than deal with financial matters, Mr. Gensler said. The firm charges about $125 an hour for financial housekeeping services, and Mr. Gensler said his clients might pay from $500 to $5,000 a month for them, depending on the number of transactions required.

For those on tighter budgets, daily money managers can also provide ways to lighten domestic financial chores. These managers generally do not offer investment advice or brokerage services, but they deal with the nuisances of bill-paying, budgeting, filing insurance claims and handling creditors.

In hiring a daily money manager, experts say, people should remember the standard advice of not providing outsiders with access to their accounts. ”The last thing you want is to say, ‘Here’s my bank account number, go pay all my bills,’ and then you fall in with the wrong people,” said Jen Schwartzman, a spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington.

The safest way to maintain a relationship with a daily money manager…

So your thinking about hiring a Daily Mo

So your thinking about hiring a Daily Money Manager. What questions should you ask? Here is some practical advice from the American Association of Daily Money Managers (AADMM).

Questions to Ask

The type of work DMMs handle for their clients is highly personal and confidential. Whereas your personal judgment and instincts are important in determining the honesty of any professional with whom you may do business, you can take additional steps to safeguard yourself against becoming involved with a dishonest person.

First, ask for a referral from someone you know and trust, such as a friend, relative, lawyer, accountant, or doctor. If none of these people can put you in touch with a DMM and you must hire a basically “unknown” person, be ready to address the following issues before hiring a DMM:

What is the scope of your work? (Do you only do bookkeeping, or are there other ways that you can be of assistance?)

Review the scope of the work before you agree to having the DMM start working for you. Many times this is accomplished at the initial meeting.

How long have you been working as a daily money manager?

What percentage of your clients are elderly? Busy professionals? Small businesses?

What are the ways in which you have assisted your clients?

What kinds of professional insurance do you have? Do you have Errors & Omissions insurance and, if so, how much? (If you want the DMM to act as a Power of Attorney or Executor you will also need to ask if they have Errors & Omissions insurance with additional Fiduciary coverage).

To what professional organizations do you belong?

Are there industry standards and code of ethics to which you adhere?

Make sure to ask to see the industry standards and codes of ethics. The American Association of Daily Money Managers is committed to promoting high standards of client services provided by members, and to supporting the growth of the daily money management industry, in numbers of providers, in recognition of the field, and in the quality of services provided. Members follow the principles found in the association’s Standards of Practice and abide by the Code of Ethics.

Do you have any professional certification or designation? Are you certified as a Professional Daily Money Manager (PDMM)?

AADMM promotes excellence in services through a voluntary certification program that emphasizes both experience in the field and continuing education. Those who meet the requirements and pass the exam earn the designation of Professional Daily Money Manager (PDMM). Learn more.

Are you required to take continuing education courses to maintain the certification?

With what professionals in other fields do you collaborate regarding your clients’ issues?

Are you willing to involve another person in their work, such as a lawyer, accountant, or family member?

What are the costs of your services and what are the common billing methods?

(What are your fees? Do you charge hourly or by the project? Do you charge for travel?)
Some DMMs offer a free initial consultation — ask in advance for their policy on first meeting charges. Most DMMs charge for their services on an hourly basis, with rates varying with geographic areas.

In addition to the hourly rates, most DMMs charge for their travel time and for out-of-pocket expenses such as postage stamps provided to their clients and long distance charges for calls made on a client’s behalf.

Be sure that you understand the billing arrangements before the work begins.

Some DMMs request payment at the time of service and others bill on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Some local governments have reduced fee or free services available for low-income clients. Visit our volunteer outreach page to learn more and view a listing of agencies by state.

Do you have a letter of engagement? Does it include a confidentiality clause?

With which local organizations are you affiliated?

If your DMM is active in community organizations such as the chamber of commerce, a…