Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Consequences of the 2008 Tax Rebate

The IRS Mind blog has a great summary of the tax rebate for 2008. If you have an unpaid tax debt, the IRS will keep your rebate and apply it to your debt.

Identity Theft: What to Do if It Happens to You

Imagine this. While on your way to work, you are stopped for a traffic violation. You expect that you will get a ticket, but are surprised when the officer draws his gun and orders you out of your car. You are ordered to get down on your knees and place your hands on your head. You are then patted down, handcuffed and taken to the police station. When you ask why you have been arrested, you are told that you are wanted for attempted murder in another state.

What happened? You could be the victim of an identity theft, where an imposter used your name and personal information to commit a crime. Identity Theft involves far more than just credit. Throughout the country, criminals provide false names and identities to the police in order to get away with their crimes.

It works like this. When a criminal is arrested, the officers ask for their name and personal information. Naturally, they do not have a written ID, so they give a false name and birth-date to the officer. Sometimes they even add a fake social security number. They are entered into the system under the false name, so some innocent person is charged with their crime. When they make bail, they disappear and an innocent person is forced to answer for their charges.

If the victim cannot post bail he or she could stay in jail for more than a month before being released. Jail is a horrible experience. Imagine being confined with robbers, rapists and murderers twenty four hours a day, seven days per week. You have little to do, bad food, and must constantly defend yourself from attacks by your fellow inmates.

Throughout the country, innocent persons are arrested, or otherwise forced to prove their innocence, while the true culprits go free. This may involve court hearings where a fingerprint expert compares the criminals’ fingerprints with those of the victim; or a hearing where the victim’s photograph and physical description are compared to the criminals. You may not even resemble the true culprit. I have seen cases where the innocent person was as much as one foot smaller than the criminal. In one case, the criminal had tattoos on his face and neck, while the victim had none. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a person shrink by 12 inches or have facial tattoos removed without leaving a scar.

If you find yourself in this situation, here’s what to do.

  1. Do not plead guilty or plea bargain your case. If you do this, you are admitting that you committed the crime. You will have a criminal record and will be punished as though you were actually guilty.
  2. Get a lawyer immediately. If you have a lawyer, call him or her as soon as possible so they can begin working on your case. If you can’t afford one, tell the police that you want a lawyer. Do not speak to them without one.
  3. Report the Identity Theft to the Police
  4. Some States Have Identity Theft Passports. These are cards or certificates that you can show to the police to help demonstrate your innocence. To obtain one, you can apply to the appropriate state agency and send them a copy of a police report. In other states, you can request that the State Bureau of Investigation compare your fingerprints with those of the person arrested and issue you a letter stating that your prints are not the same as the person named in the arrest warrant. In other states you can furnish the fingerprint information to the court and have the court issue an order proclaiming your innocence.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Subprime Mess Explained With Stick Figures

Here is an explination for the subprime mortgage crisis using stick figures. Check it out. Personal Finance News