BFSG Blog

Social Media Privacy Settings

As you have likely seen in the news, 87 million Facebook users had their data shared through a third-party developer (Cambridge Analytica).  We thought it would be useful to post some guides for social media privacy settings:

–Facebook: https://www.techlicious.com/tip/complete-guide-to-facebook-privacy-settings/

–Google: https://www.pcmag.com/article/360238/how-to-manage-your-google-privacy-settings

–LinkedIn: https://www.thebalance.com/displayed-public-linkedin-profile-1794577

–Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/196883487377501

New Medicare ID Cards

In April, the government will start sending out new Medicare cards.  The new cards remove each member’s Social Security number and replace it with a new, randomly generated, 11-digit “Medicare number” (some capital letters are included).  It will be used to verify eligibility for services and for billing purposes going forward.  Cards will be sent to people covered by Medicare on a rolling basis over a 12-month period ending in April 2019.  The new Medicare cards are free, and you don’t need to do anything to receive one.  There will be a transition period during which you can use either your new Medicare card or your old card at doctor’s offices and hospitals.  Both should work until 12/31/19.  If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or have prescription drug coverage through Medicare, keep those cards that your plan issued you.  These are not being replaced. 

If you think Social Security might not have your current address, call 800-772-1213 or check your online Social Security account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.  Watch out for fraud!  Medicare representatives will never contact you by phone or email about the new cards and certainly will “never ask for money or personal information or threaten to cancel your health benefits.”  If you suspect fraud, report it to the FTC, AARP’s fraud help line at 877-908-3360 or your local Senior Medicare Patrol program.

2017 Tax Filing Season to Begin January 29

The IRS announced that the 2017 tax filing season will begin on Monday, 1/29/18, which means that electronic and paper returns will be accepted beginning on that day. The IRS will begin processing paper returns in mid-February as its systems continue to update. Also, the IRS expects refunds on returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) to be available starting on 2/27/18 (if direct deposit is chosen and there are no other issues with the return).

Tax returns are due on April 17 because of a weekend and the Emancipation Day holiday.

(Source:  Thomson Reuters Checkpoint, “Five-Minute Tax Briefing”, 1/9/18)

Phishing Texts Appearing to be from Schwab

We have received reports of a recent SMS/text phishing campaign that impacts both Schwab and non-Schwab clients who are receiving text messages that purport to be from Charles Schwab. Recipients have been directed to click on a link that pulls up a faked Schwab website, prompting them to enter their credentials.  Schwab has contacted the site administrator and the site is being removed.

Please do not click on the link or provide any information.  Delete the text immediately.

RECENT Developments

Social Security Update

In its annual report on the financial well-being of the Social Security Trust Funds, the Social Security Board of Trustees stated that during 2016, an estimated 171 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes. Benefit payments were paid to 44 million retired workers and their dependents and 6 million survivors of deceased workers. Also in 2016, the asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund grew by $21.1 billion to a total of $2.8 trillion. The asset reserves of the OASI Trust Funds are projected to be exhausted in 2035, the same year as projected in 2015, with sufficient income to pay 75% of scheduled benefits.

 

Putting Off Retirement

According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, almost 19% of Americans age 65 or older were working at least part-time during the second quarter of 2017. More specifically, the percentages of those working within the overall group broke out as follows: 65 to 69: 31.4%; 70 to 74: 18.9%; 75 and older: 7.6%. The BLS has estimated that 36.2% of Americans between the ages of 65 and 69 will be working in 2024 (an increase from 21.9% in 1994), as will 22.8% of individuals between ages 70 and 74, compared to 11.8% 30 years prior.

 

Views on Retirement Plans

A study by the Investment Company Institute shows that, in the fall of 2016, 70% of U.S. households had very or somewhat favorable impressions of 401(k) and similar types of retirement accounts. Of households owning a defined contribution account, 90% stated that having an employer-sponsored retirement account helped them think about their long-term needs, and 44% stated they believed they probably would not save for retirement if they did not have a retirement plan at work.