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Explore: National Consumer Protection Week: Beware of Pandemic Scams

National Consumer Protection Week: Beware of Pandemic Scams

This past year, scam artists have taken advantage of people’s concerns over the coronavirus pandemic to defraud them of money. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, up from $1.8 billion in 2019. 1

This week is National Consumer Protection Week, the perfect time to take steps to protect yourself from the increase in fraud, identity theft and other scams. Here are some of the latest ones to watch out for.

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Federal Tax Filing Season Starts Soon

The IRS has announced that the federal income tax filing season for tax year 2020 returns begins on Friday, February 12, 2021. Although tax seasons frequently begin in late January, the additional time will allow the IRS to update its programming and test its system to take into account any changes made by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA 2021), signed into law on December 27, 2020. Last-minute changes to tax law have already been included in IRS tax forms and instructions.

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Education Tax Credits

It’s tax time, and your kitchen table is littered with papers and forms. As if this isn’t bad enough, you recently paid your child’s college semester bill, and you don’t know where you’ll find the money to pay the taxes that you expect to owe. Well, you might finally catch a break. Now that your child is in college, you might qualify for one of two education tax credits — the American Opportunity credit and the Lifetime Learning credit. And because a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction against taxes owed, it’s more favorable than a tax deduction, which simply reduces the total income on which your tax is based.

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Personal Liability Insurance

What is it?

Personal liability insurance protects your assets if you injure another person or damage someone else’s property. It’s known as third-party insurance because it protects you if a third party files a claim against you. If you are found legally responsible for causing an injury or property damage, your personal liability insurance will provide a legal defense, if necessary, and pay the claim up to the limits of the policy. Personal liability insurance can be purchased as part of a package policy (such as a homeowners or automobile insurance policy) or as a separate policy (such as a personal umbrella liability policy).

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How to End Telemarketing Calls

What is telemarketing?

A plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services over the phone

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines telemarketing as a plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services over the phone. Telemarketing can offer a convenient way to buy products and obtain services. However, many Americans view these unsolicited calls as an annoyance. As a result, Congress has enacted statutes that regulate the practice of telemarketing.

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New College Cost Data for 2020-2021 School Year

Every year, the College Board releases  updated college cost data and trends in its annual report. Although costs can vary significantly depending on region of the country and college, the College Board publishes average cost figures, which are based on a survey of approximately 4,000 colleges across the country.

Following are cost highlights for the 2020-2021 academic year.1 Because many residential colleges shifted to an online model this year, the College Board estimated 2020-2021 room and board figures to be the same as 2019-2020, adjusted for a 1% inflation rate.

“Total cost of attendance” includes direct billed costs for tuition, fees, room, and board, plus a  sum for indirect costs that includes books, transportation, and personal expenses, which will vary by student.

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November 1 Begins Open Enrollment for Health Insurance Marketplaces

Beginning on November 1, 2020, individuals (including families) may apply for new health insurance, switch to a different health-care plan, or re-enroll in their current plan through a Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The open enrollment period for 2021 health coverage ends on December 15, 2020.

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Housing Options for Older Individuals

As you grow older, your housing needs may change. Maybe you’ll get tired of doing yardwork. You might want to retire in sunny Florida or live close to your grandchildren in Illinois. Perhaps you’ll need to live in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility. Or, after considering your options, you may even decide to stay where you are. When the time comes to evaluate your housing situation, you’ll have numerous options available to you.

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FAFSA for 2021-2022 Academic Year Opens on October 1

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2021-2022 year opens on   October 1, 2020. The FAFSA is a prerequisite for federal student loans, grants, and work-study. In addition, colleges typically require the FAFSA before distributing their own need-based aid and, in some cases, merit-based aid.

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