HOW TO PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT: RECOGNIZE IF YOU’RE A VICTIM

how to prevent identity theft, identity theft, credit report, collection agencies, data breach, trustee, insolvency, starting over starting now, Vaughan bankruptcy trusteeHow to prevent identity theft.  In our last blog we discussed Identity Theft: Are You at Risk? This week we’ll be discussing how to recognize if you’re a victim of identity theft.

The best way to know how to prevent identity theft, or at least minimize the impact of identity theft, is to recognize the signs early. Monitor your hard copy or online financial accounts frequently.  Check your credit report on a regular basis because unexpected changes to your credit information are often the first signs that you’ve been victimized by identity theft.

Knowing what to look for is how to prevent identity theft.  These are the signs that you are a victim of identity theft:

  • There are withdrawals from your bank account that you didn’t make.
  • Your regular bank or credit card statements fail to appear.
  • You notice that other mail is missing.
  • You receive credit card statements or other bills in your name, which you did not apply for.
  • Telephone calls or letters state that you have been approved or denied by a creditor that you never applied to.
  • Collection agencies call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • A company that you have an account with had a data breach and your information was compromised.
  • You find accounts and/or charges on your credit report that aren’t yours.
  • You are denied a loan even though you believe that you have an excellent credit report.

How to prevent identity theft requires constant monitoring of the signs listed above.  If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, sadly we can’t turn back the clock; but if you’re in financial jeopardy as a result and you have collection agencies hounding you, we can help.

Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. is an insolvency and financial restructuring practice for individuals and companies in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) facing financial crisis. Our approach for every file is to create an outcome where Starting Over, Starting Now becomes a reality, beginning the moment you walk in the door. Contact us today, your Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, and put your financial problems behind you.

Watch for our next blog when we’ll be discussing Identity Theft – What To Do If You’re A Victim.

IDENTITY THEFT: ARE YOU AT RISK?

identity theft, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Home Depot, Target, Canada Revenue Agency, malware, spyware, viruses, phishing, spear fishing, hackingIdentity theft is a hot topic these days and whether you realize it or not, you are at risk. Identify theft is on the rise and it can happen to anyone.

What is Identity Theft? According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, identity theft refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes. As of January 8, 2010, Senate Bill S-4 became law, making it illegal to possess another person’s identity information for criminal purposes.

Who is at risk? In short, everyone is at risk. Identity theft is a threat to anyone who has a credit card, owns real estate, pays taxes, owns insurance… In the last year alone major retailers have had their payment systems hacked, compromising the personal information of millions of customers. Home Depot had 56 million cards compromised; Target had 40 million. Global News reported that there have been nearly 4,000 privacy and data breaches in federal departments over the last year or so. The worst offender was the Canada Revenue Agency.

How do thieves acquire someone else’s personal information? In addition to widespread data breaches, the classic examples of identity theft techniques are rummaging through people’s garbage and/or stealing their mail in order to obtain bank statements, credit card statements, driver’s license or healthcare card renewals – any piece of mail with personal information. Of course the Internet has allowed for much more sophisticated and elaborate forms of identity theft – malware, spyware, viruses, phishing, spear fishing and hacking are effective ways to collect personal information.

If you’re a victim of identity theft then no doubt you’re in the midst of some serious financial issues right now that require the help of a professional trustee. Contact the Ira Smith team as soon as possible. Financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan. Starting Over, Starting Now you can be on the road to getting your old life back.

Watch for our next blog when we’ll be discussing Identity Theft – How to Recognize if You’re a Victim.

40 PARK LANE CIRCLE, 44 PARK LANE CIRCLE TORONTO FOR SALE: ARE FINANCIAL PROBLEMS CONTAGIOUS?

40 Park Lane Circle, 44 Park Lane Circle Toronto for sale, 44 Park Lane Circle, 40 Park Lane Circle, debt, budget, collection agencies, trustee, financial plan, starting over starting now40 Park Lane Circle, 44 Park Lane Circle Toronto for sale: it seems that life in Toronto’s very exclusive Bridal Path is not always what it appears to be. We tend to categorize the people who own these properties as “the rich and famous” while in reality some of them are “not so rich and infamous”. Two Bridal Path properties have garnered quite a bit of attention – 40 Park Lane Circle which used to be owned by Mahvash Lechcier-Kimel and 44 Park Lane Circle which used to be owned by Norma Walton and Ronauld Walton.

Are financial problems contagious between 40 Park Lane Circle, 44 Park Lane Circle Toronto for sale or just the entire street? Of course not; but when you get caught up in a high flying Bridal Path lifestyle and have to support a massive property like 40 Park Lane Circle, 44 Park Lane Circle Toronto for sale, or any other property that the average person would describe as a mansion, it’s very easy to accumulate enormous amounts of debt, leaving you house rich and cash poor. And, if the spending is not controlled and the debts keep piling up it can be easy to lose everything.

A realistic and proper budget should be an important part of your life. It will keep you from overextending yourself while trying to keep up with your next door neighbours. Without a proper budget it’s very easy to get caught up in a cycle of overspending – bigger houses, faster cars, and exotic vacations. The lure of luxury is intoxicating, especially in the low interest rate environment we currently live in; but what happens when you wake up and find letters from creditors in the mail demanding payment?  How many of those demand letters do you think found their way to the mailboxes of 40 Park Lane Circle, 44 Park Lane Circle Toronto for sale?

So whether you are in over your head with debt due to the ownership of a massive property like 40 Park Lane Circle, 44 Park Lane Circle Toronto for sale or for other reasons, such as you’re living a lifestyle that you can’t afford and are being hounded by creditors and collection agencies, now’s the time to contact a professional trustee today. The Ira Smith team can set you back on a path to financial health with immediate action and a solid financial plan. Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life.

DEATH OF A DEBTOR: WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEBTS?

death of a debtor, paycheque to paycheque, debt, debts, trustee, student loans, financial disaster, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, Starting Over Starting NowWhen you think of death of a debtor, you can’t help but be reminded of Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize winning play written in 1949 and still timely today. The play was essentially an attack on the American dream of materialism as embodied by the central character, Willy Loman. His entire life he lived paycheque to paycheque, waiting for his big break that never came. All the while the debts kept piling up. One day Willy Loman was fired and as a result he took his own life leaving his family to deal with the death of a debtor.

From time to time, we are consulted regarding insolvent estates of deceased persons.

When the death of a debtor occurs, who is responsible for the debts?

  • Although some creditors may try to collect from the spouse or other family members, debts do not transfer by virtue of marriage or death unless the debt is “joint” in which case the survivor will be required to pay the balance of the account.
  • Debts are normally paid out of the assets of the estate of the deceased before distributions are made to heirs (before any money can be distributed to heirs, all the proven debts must be paid).
  • If the estate is insolvent (the assets of the estate are not sufficient to pay the debts), then the order of payment is normally prescribed by provincial legislation.
  • If warranted, the executors can make application to Bankruptcy Court for an order allowing them to assign the deceased’s estate into bankruptcy. In that event, then the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada), the federal legislation, will prescribe the order of payment.
  • If there is no money in the estate to pay the debt and if the debt is only in the name of the deceased person, the credit grantor will be left with no option but to write off the debt as uncollectible.

Some debts may be extinguished upon the death of the debtor:

  • Insured mortgages
  • Insured loans
  • The Canada Student Financial Assistance Act provides for some student loans to be repaid by the federal government in the event of the student’s death or permanent disability.

Make sure you know and understand the state of your finances before you have to deal with death of a debtor. If you’re living from paycheque to paycheque and on the edge of financial disaster, contact a professional trustee today. The Ira Smith team can help you solve your financial problems with immediate action and the right plan so that Starting Over, Starting Now you can enjoy financial freedom.

CANADIAN PARENTS PAYING STUDENT LOANS

Canadian parents paying student loans, student loans, bankruptcy, debt, trustee, starting over starting nowCanadian parents paying student loans is much more common than you’d think. That was never the plan. Your child was supposed to get a university degree with the help of student loans, graduate, land a good paying job and pay off their student loans. The reality of the situation is quite different. Firstly it’s a misconception that student loans cover the costs of a university degree. Student loans may cover a portion of tuition costs. Statistics Canada says undergraduate students paid an average of $5,772 in tuition fees in 2013 to 2014. But that average rises, depending on the field of study: law studies cost an average of $10,039 while undergraduate studies in dentistry cost $17,324 during that same year. This may seem manageable, but this only tells a small part of the story. When you factor in the costs of books, living expenses and transportation, according to a recent Bank of Montreal study the total current cost for an undergraduate university degree can exceed $80,000 and is expected to surpass $140,000 by the time a child born in 2014 is old enough to enroll.

The second misconception is that a university degree is a guarantee of a good paying job. The reality is that it’s a very competitive market out there and many students aren’t making enough to repay student loans. Instead Canadian parents paying student loans is becoming an all too common story. In addition they’re paying for books and living expenses, even if it means sacrificing their financial stability. They’re delaying retirement, working more and borrowing money, potentially putting themselves in financial jeopardy.

There appears to be very few options when it comes to repaying student loans and that is another reason that leads to Canadian parents paying student loans. Even bankruptcy doesn’t discharge student loans until seven years after you’ve left school. In exceptional cases after five years you can apply to the court for special consideration (e.g. a disability which prevents you from working).

Canadian parents paying student loans may be in a financial danger zone. If you’re experiencing serious debt issues as a result of student loans or any other reason, you need professional help today. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. With a cumulative 50+ years of experience dealing with diverse issues and complex files, the Ira Smith team delivers the highest quality of professional service. Starting Over, Starting Now we can help you solve your financial problems.

TORONTO BANKRUPTCY TRUSTEES: 1 IN 5 ONTARIO RESIDENTS MAY BE INSOLVENT

Target liquidation program, Toronto bankruptcy trustees, bankruptcy alternatives, bankruptcy questions, credit card debt, living paycheque to paycheque, bankruptcy, Target, housing bubble, credit card debt, financial plan, debt, starting over starting nowToronto bankruptcy trustees believe that 1 in 5 Ontario residents may be insolvent (unable to pay their debts when they are due), as astonishing as this seems. Sadly it seems that many Ontarians who have been living paycheque to paycheque and on the edge of a financial crisis, have now fallen off the edge.

According to a recent Ipsos Reid poll:

  • Almost one in five Ontario residents owe more than they own or earn, making them technically insolvent and at risk of bankruptcy.
  • Eastern Canadians led the country in owing more than they own, with 28% in Quebec and 24% in Atlantic Canada.
  • Residents in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba tied at a 23%.
  • Ontarians at 16% and British Columbians are at 14%.

It’s no surprise that Toronto bankruptcy trustees are being asked about bankruptcy alternatives and bankruptcy questions by so many people stressed about money. The Canadian dollar is volatile, retailers like Target are closing their doors, the Target liquidation program is ongoing and many are worried about a housing bubble.

Toronto bankruptcy trustees are also aware of a Global News poll which reported that:

  • 45% of Canadians say that their income, or keeping a steady income, causes them stress.
  • 40% are stressed about saving for retirement.
  • 40% report that saving for big-ticket items, like a car or a down payment for a home is a cause of stress.
  • 33% say that paying bills on time and credit card debt is a cause of stress.
  • 33% are stressed about mortgage or rent payment.
  • 25% are stressed about caring for their dependents like aging parents or kids.

Times are tough for many people. If you’re teetering on the edge of financial disaster or have already reached the critical point, it’s time to turn to Toronto bankruptcy trustees for professional help. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. as soon as possible. With sound advice and a solid financial plan Starting Over, Starting Now you’ll be well on your way to a debt free life.

VAUGHAN BANKRUPTCY TRUSTEE WARNS OF DANGERS IN TAKING FREE TAX ADVICE

Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, bankruptcy, trustee, tax season scams, income tax, income tax debt, Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, tax advice, tax professional, tax, starting over starting now, frequently asked bankruptcy questionsAs a Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, we always warn our clients that this time of year can be dangerous. In our last blog we warned you about tax season scams. This week your Vaughan bankruptcy trustee is warning you about the dangers of taking free tax advice. There are many places to get free tax advice, and quite frankly all of them are dubious. Unless the person giving the advice is a trained and licensed financial services professional, the only thing you should do with free tax advice is ignore it, or you could find yourself in a worse financial and legal position than you started in.

It seems that everyone is looking ways to avoid paying income tax. As we discussed in a previous blog The Tax Lawyer; Even A High Profile Tax Fighting Lawyer Has To Pay His Income Tax, there is no miracle cure or quick fix when you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Yet that doesn’t stop people from posting all sorts of questions on the Internet looking for free advice. The problem is when you post questions in online forums and chat rooms you have no idea who is answering your question and giving you advice. As a Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, many times we are shocked to see the kind of advice is being posted on the Internet also about frequently asked bankruptcy questions.

Although we do not provide income tax advice, as a Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, we do set filters to obtain postings having to do with income tax debt; many questions and answers regarding income tax are posted.  The Internet allows for anonymity and the person who has identified himself/herself as a tax professional may in reality be a teenager having some fun. Or worse, perhaps it is a scammer or malware malcontent collecting email addresses!  Although the Internet can be a valuable resource, online forums and chat rooms are not the places to seek tax advice. The same applies to well meaning friends, family and colleagues unless they are trained financial services professionals.

Seek financial advice from a trained, experienced, licensed professional ONLY! If you’re experiencing financial difficulties for any reason including monies owed to the CRA contact your Vaughan bankruptcy trustee, Inc. today. Starting Over, Starting Now you can put your financial difficulties behind you.

 

VAUGHAN DEBT COUNSELLING ADVISES BEWARE OF TAX SEASON SCAMS

Vaughan debt counselling, Vaughan, debt, debt counselling, trustee, receiver, bankruptcy, Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, tax scams, email scams, phone scams, starting over starting nowWhen we perform Vaughan debt counselling, we always advise that there is no miracle cure or quick fix when you owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  For a real life example, see our discussion in an earlier blog The Tax Lawyer; Even A High Profile Tax Fighting Lawyer Has To Pay His Income Tax.  Unfortunately there is more to worry about than the CRA during tax season. There are scam artists out there just waiting to take your money. Through our Vaughan debt counselling, Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc., we are able to provide some valuable information and advice to help protect you from the villainous forces lurking at the other end of a phone call or email transmission.

In fact, it was through our Vaughan debt counselling that we learned of these scams.  Scammers are sending emails and making phone calls, claiming to be the CRA. These communications, asking for information including credit card data, bank account numbers and passwords and passport numbers are designed to steal your identity and/or your money. Email scams frequently contain embedded malicious software that can harm your computer and put your personal information at risk. DO NOT click on any of the links in the emails. Typically an email or telephone scam involves one of these two scenarios.

  1. You have a refund pending from CRA and the communications will go on to instruct the receiver to provide personal information in order to receive the benefit.
  2. You or your company, as a result of an audit, owe “back taxes”. You are advised you have to “pay up” ASAP to avoid a fine or the person is told there is an outstanding arrest warrant which can be avoided if the tax payment is made promptly. In many cases individuals are being told they will be deported if the taxes are not paid right away.

These types of communication are not from the CRA, should be ignored and reported to the RCMP or Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or http://www.antifraudcentre.ca.

The CRA:

  • NEVER requests information from a taxpayer about a passport, health card or driver’s license.
  • NEVER divulges taxpayer information to another person unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayer.
  • NEVER leaves any personal information on an answering machine or asks taxpayers to leave a message with their personal information on an answering machine.

If you find yourself in financial difficulties as a result of a scam or for any other reason contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We serve the GTA through our Vaughan debt counselling and our other services that are bankruptcy alternatives. We can help get you back on the road to solid financial footing Starting Over, Starting Now. Watch for our next blog when we’ll be discussing the dangers of taking free tax advice.

HOUSEHOLD DEBT; CANADIAN LEVELS SOUND ALARM BELLS

household debt, debt, mortgages, consumer credit, Equifax Canada, credit card debt, living paycheque to paycheque, starting over starting nowHousehold debt has hit record levels according to Statistics Canada. The total amount of credit market debt which includes mortgages, non-mortgage loans and consumer credit held by Canadian households hit a record high in the third quarter of 2014, climbing to 162.6% of disposable income. That means Canadians owed about $1.63 for every dollar of disposable income.

Equifax Canada reports that household debt levels are climbing fast, to a record $1.422-trillion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Installment loans, primarily car loans, were the fastest growing segment of debt, up 11% year over year. Credit card debt rose 5.9% from a year ago.

These household debt figures have attracted international attention. A report, recently published by McKinsey & Company, singled out Canada and six other countries (The Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand) with “potential vulnerabilities in household debt.” One of the most alarming statements in this report is that Canadian household debt levels are higher than those that existed in the U.S. at the peak of the credit bubble. However the data suggests a “potential risk, but not an imminent crisis which is good news indeed. The risks that were identified in the report were:

  • Mortgages are the main form of household debt.
  • If the economy slows down and unemployment rises, many mortgages could become unaffordable.
  • If interest rates rise, it could create a much larger burden on households repaying debt.

Many Canadians may not realize it, but  because of their household debt, they are one paycheque away from what could be a financial crisis. Even worse, what would happen upon the death of the debtor?

Do you owe more than your disposable income? Are you living from paycheque to paycheque? Don’t wait for financial disaster to strike. The earlier you seek financial help the more options will be open to you. Contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. today. We’ll review your individual issues and come up with a sound plan so that Starting Over, Starting Now you can enjoy financial peace of mind.

THE TAX LAWYER; EVEN A HIGH PROFILE TAX FIGHTING LAWYER HAS TO PAY HIS INCOME TAX

:  the tax lawyer, debt, Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, Starting over starting now, DioGuardi, Phillipe DioGuardi, Paul DioGuardi, DioGuardiNothing is certain except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin
The tax lawyer learned another certainty that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will get what’s coming to them even if your name is Philippe DioGuardi and you have a radio advertising campaign with slogans that include:

  • “I don’t cheat, I change the game.”
  • “Tax problems end here.”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Philippe DioGuardi, he is the tax lawyer who has been bombarding the radio airwaves with spots that represent him as a one man crusader against the unfair tactics of the CRA. A recent Toronto Star investigation revealed some shocking information regarding the tax lawyer Philippe DioGuardi’s own tax problems with the CRA. Some of these startling revelations include:

  • He over-drew $2 million from the law firm he co-owns with his father Paul.
  • Ontario’s legal regulator is investigating nine complaints against him.
  • The tax lawyer only recently settled his own $147,000 debt to the CRA.
  • His estranged wife Elena wants spousal support of $25,000 a month.

By 2012 Philippe’s overspending was out of control. His father Paul was left with no alternative but to come out of retirement and take control of the law firm. In order to prevent Philippe from continuing to over-draw from the firm’s bank account, Paul changed the signing authorities and put the tax lawyer on a strict budget.

Philippe DioGuardi’s story sounds like a bad reality television program. The tax lawyer blames many of his financial problems to his estranged wife’s (who he’s been describing as a Russian mail-order bride) spending habits and his financial commitments to his 3 children from a previous marriage. All of the dirty laundry is being aired in public and financial documents submitted by the tax lawyer in the divorce action show that:

  • Between the years 2009 and 2012, the firm had annual revenues of about $6 million, and spent about $2 million a year on advertising and marketing.
  • As of 2012, Philippe DioGuardi owed the CRA more than $140,000, including $58,000 in unpaid taxes from 2011.
  • By 2013, the CRA was trying to get a response from DioGuardi, with no luck.
  • The arrears were paid off in full over time, through an arrangement the tax lawyer negotiated with the CRA.

The reality is that even a high profile tax fighting lawyer has to pay his income tax. There is no miracle cure or quick fix when you owe money to the CRA. If you’re having serious financial difficulties and owe money to the CRA, contact Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. We don’t have a $2 million advertising campaign. Our philosophy is that corporate or personal financial problems can be solved given immediate action and the right plan so that Starting Over, Starting Now you can live a debt free life.