edition: January 25, 2024

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Home title theft is a real thing.

Imagine the American dream crumbling around you. Each mortgage payment you made over the years, each bedroom and each bath, the backyard you nurtured into a blooming oasis – gone. Not to fire, flood, or some cosmic twist of fate, but to a digital heist so insidious you might not even notice until the eviction paperwork arrives nailed to your door. 

This is the chilling reality of home title theft, a silent, serpentine scam that takes advantage of public records, siphoning off your equity and leaving you with nothing but a sinking feeling in your gut.

The scenario is alarmingly feasible. 

Scammers, armed with snippets of your personal information like social security numbers or addresses, weave a tapestry of deceit. They forge your signature on a false deed, create fabricated identities using stolen Social Security numbers, and bingo! Your home, once a beacon of security, becomes a pawn in their twisted financial chess game. With the deed now in their name, they become phantom homeowners, strolling into banks and refinancing your mortgage. 

Read more at FOX5

Have a tax law question?

Our #IRS Interactive Tax Assistant has answers.

Watch this short video to learn more:

As an IRS Public Affairs Specialist, I would like to share with you important information about the benefits of IRS credits available to your audience how benefit by claiming them. Our IRS Tax Outreach, Partnership and Education Branch mission and vision aligns with your organization goals to benefit and empower your serviced community with valuable information. Here are some tax credits that taxpayers can claim when they comply with their IRS filing requirements: 

  1. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): This credit is available to low-to-moderate-income taxpayers who meet certain requirements. The maximum credit amount for the 2023 tax year is 
  2. Child Tax Credit: This credit is available to taxpayers who have a qualifying child under the age of 17. The maximum credit amount for the 2023 tax year is $2,000 per qualifying child. A portion of the Child Tax Credit is refundable for 2023. This portion is called the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). For 2023, up to $1,600 per child may be refundable. 
  3. American Opportunity Tax Credit: This credit is available to taxpayers who pay qualified education expenses for an eligible college student. The maximum credit amount for the 2023 tax year is $2,500 per year. Up to $1,000 of the American Opportunity Tax Credit is refundable. 
  4. Premium Tax Credit: This credit is available to taxpayers who buy health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and meet other criteria. The credit is based on your income and the cost of your healthcare plan

Jose L. Santiago

Public Affairs Specialist

Tax Outreach, Partnership and Education

Email[email protected]

When Does It Make Sense for Households to Borrow? Federal Reserve Bank

Why do people borrow? Student loans. Credit card debt. Mortgages. Payday loans.

News stories and public and policy discussions often center on these and other types of loans that many individuals and families take out. Most people will borrow money at some point in their lives, thus making lending a vital part of finance and the economy.

Borrowing often supports consumption, the largest component of gross domestic product, or GDP, a popular measure of economic activity. In total, as of the third quarter of 2023, the amount borrowed by U.S. households stood at about $17.29 trillion, about 63% of GDP.

Read on for a primer on the borrowing decision by individuals and families, including:

An explanation of how the discipline of economics views the decision to borrow

An example of “consumption smoothing”

A look at how people buy “indivisible” goods

Read more at Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Accelerate Payments & Lower Processing Costs

Our world isn’t designed for the growing number of ‘unbanked’ people

In an increasingly card-based world, life has gotten harder for the more than six million people in the U.S. who don’t have a bank account.

How many people don’t have a bank account? And just how difficult has it become to live without one?

These questions are becoming increasingly important as more businesses refuse to take cash in cities across the U.S. People without bank accounts are shut out from stores and restaurants that refuse to accept cash.

As it happens, a lot of people are still “unbanked”: roughly six million in the U.S., the latest data shows, which is about the population of Wisconsin. And outside of the U.S., more than a billion people don’t have a bank account.

Read more at FASTCOMPANY

Dreher Tomkies LLP

What Banks Need to Know to Get Started with Zero-Party Data

Banks and credit unions think they have all the data they need to craft relevant marketing messages to their customers. Customers, however, think their institutions could be doing better, according to a recent report. But they may have to ask first.

Don’t be afraid to ask.

That’s the advice from marketing experts weighing how banks and credit unions can respond to growing limits on the use of personal data collected indirectly from consumers, known as third-party data. The California Consumer Privacy Act, for example, makes it easier for consumers to limit sharing of their personal information and even delete what has been collected.

Financial institutions have plenty of data already on their customers simply by virtue of taking in savings and making loans. This information — first-party data — can help banks and credit unions figure out which customers might be interested in additional products or services.

Read more at The Financial Brand


South Carolina: Installment lenders make their case to SC senators weighing reform. So far it's been a little rough

Would regulations on installment lenders do more good or more harm?

It’s the root question members of the State Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry Subcommittee (LCI) are asking about a proposed Senate bill dubbed S-910. The bill, authored by State Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), sets certain limits on what types of loan products could be offered by nonbank lenders and how those products could be marketed.

“I want to stop companies from identifying vulnerable people and then using sophisticated marketing techniques to lure them in,” Davis said at a recent LCI hearing. “Are there unintended consequences to that? Are we driving out a supply of credit for individuals or is that a false premise.”

The installment lending industry got its first chance to testify before the LCI on Jan. 17; on their jackets, representatives of the industry wore round white stickers with a red line slashing through “SB 910.” And these lenders make the case that without their stores, borrowers who’ve been shut out of traditional lending opportunities at banks and credit unions will have nowhere to turn in emergencies.

Read more at South Carolina Public Radio

'The new American dream is to leave': Most in the US don't believe hard work will get you ahead. Here's what some are striving for instead

The American dream has morphed into a pipe dream for many people living in the U.S.

At the heart of the national ethos is the belief that anyone can rise from rags to riches through hard work and perseverance. In the past, that was symbolized by owning a large house with a white-picket fence, driving a nice car and having a happy, healthy and well-educated family.

But 45% of people think the American dream no longer holds true, according to a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll from October — while 18% think it never held true.

So, what is the new American dream?

For some — like TikTok influencer and full-time traveler Bryn Elise — “the new American dream is to leave.”

As many Americans experience economic disenfranchisement at home, a few may be looking beyond U.S. borders to locate life’s sparkle.

Read more at Moneywise

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America has a retirement crisis. We must make it easier to save

Today, nearly 51 percent of Americans worry that they’ll run out of money when they’re no longer earning a paycheck — and 70 percent of retirees wish they had started saving earlier.

Why? Because many Americans don’t have the opportunity to save for retirement. The vast majority of retirement savings come through a plan provided by an employer — typically a 401(k) — but an estimated 56 million private sector workers don’t have a plan at work. And employees who lack access to a plan save less — which, in turn, reduces their retirement income.

A study by The Pew Charitable Trusts found that households with incomes above the official poverty line but less than $75,000, whom Pew deems economically vulnerable, will fall short of their target retirement income by an estimated $7,050 a year — using the common metric that retired households need 75 percent of their pre-retirement income.

Read more at The Hill


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Which Emerging Bank Technology Should You Consider? And Which Might Never Pay Off?

Some emerging technologies are on the verge of paying off for banking, while others may never be worth the investment. But which is which, and where should you allocate vital tech spending?

With technology always improving, it can be difficult for executives in the financial services industry to assess how to prioritize their investments.

The exciting, the trendy and the nifty new all threaten to distract strategists on the technology team and on the business side from their primary mission: efficient growth.

That is especially the case in environments where spending may not be as robust as originally planned.

Forrester aims to help with its annual report assessing how well various emerging technologies are likely to pay off for financial institutions that invest in them. Below we review what the research and consulting firm suggests in three areas: low-code/no-code development platforms, natural language processing, and the metaverse and Web3.

Read more at The Financial Brand

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