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I Didn’t Claim Unemployment Insurance….Why Did I Receive This Card?

A notice from the Department of Labor arrived last week saying that I had filed for unemployment, which is weird, because I had not fired myself! After making sure I was, in fact, still part of my team, I discovered what was going on.  There has been a rash of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims around the country and it seems I am now entangled in them.

It happened to me as an employer and as employee, it happened to my teammates as employees, it happened to my colleague’s mother and to my wife, it happened to my clients: it’s happening everywhere. Not only are the consequences bothersome to correct, but we’re the lucky ones.  This is just a hassle for us, but it’s real life for millions of Americans who count on the insurance. The criminals perpetrating these acts are causing further pain for those who need it at the worst time possible.

Unemployment Insurance Is Not A New Program, Why Has It Become The Biggest Fraud Target?

cares act funds flow chart

Source: Howmuch.net

Unemployment Insurance, and Unemployment Insurance Fraud, are not a new phenomenon. But the CARES Act in 2020 was designed to help as many people as fast as possible during one of the worst global pandemics of all time.  Unemployment Insurance got a “boost” from the CARES Act in the form of “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” or PUA.  This not only increased the amount of relief for unemployment claimants, but also broadened the definition of who could claim unemployment.  Previously self-employed individuals, gig workers, freelancers, part-time employees, and contractors did not qualify for unemployment, but the PUA opened up the program to these groups as well.  Despite the good intent, criminals quickly used this newfound loophole to concoct schemes and steal more money.  Of the $560B in relief allocated to individuals, $260B was intended for extra unemployment benefits. Combined with an overstrained government office just trying to keep up, this proved to be a target-rich environment for criminals.

How Many People Have Been Affected?  How Much of the $260B Has Landed In The Wrong Hands?

The Department of Labor believes $36B dollars have been lost to fraudulent unemployment claims in the last year as of January 5th according to CNBC. As the CARES Act and others were updated during the national fight against COVID, the budget for additional unemployment insurance ballooned another $100B, to $360B in total, and the confirmed fraud loss now equals 10% of all payments.  The count is not over yet either.  With 8 million recipients on file as of December 2020 it will take years to figure out how much aid fell into the wrong hands.  State agencies still believe that 35%-40% of all new applications are fraudulent.  But the good news is that this type of fraud is going to get tougher with new measures instituted with the most recent relief package. Now applicants must provide confirmation of their identity and job status in order to qualify.  That may result in a delay of benefits, but the new measures should help to close the flood gates and prevent our tax dollars from landing in the wrong hands.

How Do I Know If It Has Happened To Me?  What Do I Do If It Has?

You are your own best defense when it comes to protecting your identity, credit, and status.  We monitor our life insurance, our property insurance, and our health insurance, but we are slow to invest in insuring our identities.  We must face the fact that no matter how well we think we have kept our private information out of the hands of the public, it exists in websites and databases outside of our control.  The major data breaches of the past decade have potentially touched most consumers. That is our new normal.

I would encourage you to sign up for a credit monitoring service or at the very least, get your free credit report and monitor your activity yourself.  If you don’t intend to apply for new credit in the near future, consider “freezing” your credit by contacting each of the three reporting agencies. This may help secure your credit, but it may not help with unemployment fraud.

If you learn that someone is trying to claim a benefit with your identity, alert the Colorado Department of Labor immediately.  Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear anything back from them quickly as, they are dealing with thousands of claims every week.  If you get the VISA debit card loaded with your benefit payment, don’t use it! Instead, go to the card website and cancel it. Also be sure to monitor your bank accounts and mail for additional discrepancies.

We have put together a helpful Identity Theft response document with websites, phone numbers and a checklist of what to do should you be affected. Please have a look and contact me if you have questions.

It is an unfortunate reality.  Our country, and the world, have been upended in so many ways this past year. Substantial legislation designed to help many has unfortunately been targeted by those looking to make a quick buck. Unemployment Insurance is a helpful tool in keeping our communities and economy healthy, but we need to play a part in making sure that we protect ourselves and our tax dollars from being misused.

David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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Facing Volatility

Over the last few years, we have faced a variety of challenges in the market. Times of stress spark the need for discussion, reassurance, and often, historical context. In 2013, we started the year worried about the impending fiscal cliff, and later watched as the market had its “taper tantrum” over uncertainty regarding the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) actions. In 2014, the focus was on the harsh winter’s impact on the economy, and the market sell-off due to the Ebola outbreak and rise of the Islamic State militants. And last year, second-half fears triggered by the decline in oil prices, weakness in manufacturing, and a slowdown in China captured our attention.

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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The New Baby Financial Checklist

Congratulations, you are expecting an addition to your family! I have just one word for you – Ka-ching!

Babies are expensive – we had 4 of them so I know this first hand. Here are some must-do tips for new parents.

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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5 Ways to Dominate Your Taxes Next Year

Happy Birthday US Federal Income Tax! It was 1913 when Americans were first subject to a 7% Income Tax. Today, 100 years later, we are dealing with an enormously complicated and increasingly controversial income tax system.

Now is the time to get ready for Tax Day on Tuesday April 15, 2014 when your income tax return is due for 2013. Wait, you say, we just sent in our 2012 return. Is there no rest from taxes?

Well of course you could wait until next April to start thinking about tax savings for 2013 but by then it may be too late. Here are some things to do now that will make things easier this time next year.

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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5 Good Ways to Simplify your Finances

Life is complicated. From the daily onslaught of media to the complexities of our calendars or even the incomprehensible instructions of how to get my smart phone to quit buzzing and beeping when I’m trying to sleep, we are faced with an increasingly difficult world.

Complexity can also impact your financial life. We often hear from investors who are overwhelmed by the number of investments, accounts, financial companies, banks, etc. Their mailboxes burgeon with statements, proxies and reports. Not knowing exactly what to do with this paper tsunami, they either collect it in piles (risking exposure on reality TV Hoarders) or they discard it all and fear tossing something important.

We believe that successful investors are focused on simplifying their financial lives. Simplicity reduces stress and clutter, leading to better decisions and more financial peace. Here are five simple ideas to reduce complexity in your finances:

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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Prosper On: The Value of Giving Thanks

I love technology. I’m geeky enough to get excited when the MicroCenter Computer catalog is waiting in the mailbox. But I was frustrated enough to contemplate smashing my @#$%^&! iPhone to bits recently. It was slow updating the map function and I missed an exit. Then when I pushed the magic Siri button and spoke instructions, the tiny woman inside my phone couldn’t understand me through my clenched teeth. She kept saying, “I’m sorry Mr. Morrison but I don’t understand.” I was so angry about my technology not delivering what I needed – right now!

It feels pretty silly and immature to admit my severe frustration over such a minor inconvenience. After all, I was holding a tiny computer in my hand that gives me nearly instant access to all the information in the world. It can connect to a satellite in space telling me exactly where I am on the earth and even what exit to take (most of the time). And it cost me less than $200. In that moment my frustration overtook my gratitude for such an incredible piece of technology.

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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The Swing State Advantage

With the 2012 presidential election less than a month away Coloradans are being inundated with political ads. They’re on TV, in the mail, on the phone and every other conceivable medium. As the tone of TV spots gets more and more shrill, I (and I never thought I would say this) actually miss “Dealin’ Doug” the car salesman!

The political onslaught is primarily due to Colorado being a swing state – thought to be one of a handful of undecided states that will turn the election one way or the other. As a swing state, Colorado voters could change the course of the election and maybe even the future of our nation. This responsibility and opportunity to influence change and make a difference got me thinking – how else could Colorado be a swing state? In what other ways could we impact the future of our state and nation?

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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7 Money Musts for College Students

As the flurry of excitement winds down for those heading back to college, the realization starts to settle in: college is expensive.

The costs don’t stop with tuition fees. From book costs to beer money, college can be a financial minefield for the uninitiated. Worse yet, on every corner there seems to be a willing lender with a high-interest-rate credit card to “help out”. The result is more students dropping out of college due to financial issues than poor grades according to a report from CBS News.*

It is vital for students to develop good financial habits and avoid the common pitfalls as they advance out of high school and into the independent world of college.

This week recent Colorado State grad John Booren and I wanted to give some “Money Musts” for college students.

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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Sudden Changes in Wealth

Colorado’s new favorite Olympian Missy Franklin has amazed us all with athletic feats that have made her a worldwide sensation. Her beautiful smile and contagious enthusiasm make Missy “The Missile” even more fun to watch.

The four gold medals and one bronze won by this 17-year-old Regis Jesuit High School senior are an entrée into a world of lucrative endorsements and prize money. But Missy and her parents say she will start school next week and even swim for the Regis Raiders again. After graduation she plans to go to college and wait to turn pro.

In a world where Missy can expect multi-million dollar offers for her endorsements, she will face the challenges of a windfall of wealth. While most people would be happy to deal with such problems, a sudden change of net worth can be tough to deal with. Here is my advice for dealing with a financial windfall.

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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Manufactured Facts

Last week the Institute for Supply Management released their June Manufacturing Index that showed a contraction in US factory output. That brought to mind some important questions:

We still have factories in the US?

Wasn’t that all shipped to Mexican maquiladoras or Chinese sweatshops long ago?

Our country still builds things?

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David Morrison

David Morrison

David uses Values Based Financial Planning to align your financial choices with your most important goals and your most deeply held values. He has a comprehensive process to consolidate, coordinate and simplify your financial life in a way that brings you more confidence and clarity about your future. Learn more about David here.

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