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Archive for the ‘Personal Finance’ Category

401K Rollover Request

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

You have worked hard for your 401K and now that you’re leaving your current job for a better one, you need to take your 401K with you so you can roll it over into the 401K you’ll be starting at your new job. Unfortunately, this won’t be happening automatically, you need to write a formal letter to start the wheels in motion. Here are a few tips for writing the perfect 401K rollover request letter.

First off, the 401K rollover request should be addressed directly to the person who manages the 401K fund run by your current job. The point of the letter is that you want your current 401K account and the money in it rolled over into an IRA or some other retirement plan, or even another 401K at a new job. You will have to be very specific on what you want done with your cash, otherwise, it is possible that a very overworked fund manager may misinterpret your request. If you are planning on doing something a bit more untraditional with the money in your 401k account, you may need a completely different letter since this article will cover a simply rollover.

Start with your full name and your account number at the top of the letter. Don’t bother including your name anywhere in your letter without also including your account number, almost like you were dealing with the IRS. In the next section, give a reason why you are asking for your 401K to be rolled over. The most common reason is that you’re ending your employment with your current employer, but there are other reasons, as well, such as retirement or hardship.

Next, make sure you tell your fund manager if you want part of your 401K rolled over or if you want all of it. Again, unless you are doing this for hardship, it would naturally be all of it.

The next section of the letter is the most important. In this section you will tell the fund manager exactly what you want done with your money. If you are using a PDF as a template for your letter, you can see that you have several options, including cashing it out directly to yourself or rolling it over to an IRA account where your money can continue to earn interest. You can also choose a few government accounts, as well, and make sure you include any and all account numbers for any accounts that you ask that your 401K to rolled into.

The next part of the letter usually includes a section on how the money is to be delivered. Most account managers have bypassed paper checks and now use electronic distribution methods to cut down on paperwork.

The final part usually deals with taxes and how you want to pay what you owe.

As you can see can, a 401K rollover request isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds if you go slowly and fill out each part correctly.

Dispute Fraudulent Bank Transaction

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Thanks to the incredible changes the Internet has brought on the world of banking and credit cards, people now check the balance and the transactions on their accounts much more frequently than they ever have before. It wasn’t that long ago that the only time you saw a list of bank transactions on your account was when you got your paper statement in the mail. For this reason, most banks are now significantly more forthcoming when it comes to reimbursing customers for fraudulent transactions on their accounts, since people tend to catch them so much sooner. However, if you do catch a fraudulent transaction on your bank account, some banks require a formal letter to be written and handed in. Here are a few tips for writing a formal dispute of a fraudulent bank transaction.

First, it is important to note that if you spot a fraudulent transaction on your account, pick up the phone right away and call your bank and let them know. They will tell you if they require a letter written. Letters like these are becoming less and less popular since so many banks now offer no questions asked fraud protection.

Start your letter off in general formal style with the address of the bank first and then your address below. Next, start with a formal opening and simply state your name, account number and that a fraudulent transaction has appeared on your account and on what day.

Next, make sure you state when you saw the fraudulent transaction for the first time and how long it took you to contact the bank and let them know. If you recently lost your wallet or if you feel that your account was breeched and you are aware of the exact moment that happened, tell the bank. If you lost your wallet and you never contacted your bank that there could be a breech, you may not be able to get your money back as it is your responsibility to notify the bank when there is a problem such as this.

It also helps to mention the final transaction you were responsible for making before and after the transaction in question. Finally, make a formal request that the funds that were spent on the fraudulent transaction be returned to you in full as soon as possible. Sign the letter and either hand deliver it or mail it to your bank as soon as possible.

Since the experience of having your account compromised can lead to anger, it is a common mistake to write this letter to your bank with an angry or frustrated tone. That is a mistake. Chances are, it wasn’t your bank’s fault that this transaction happened, so don’t take it out on them. Write the letter with a neutral but firm tone and try not to let any emotion at all enter into it.

Having unauthorized transactions show up on your bank account is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world, either.

ID Theft Affidavit

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Having your identity stolen can be one of the scariest and most devastating things that can happen to a person, but there is a way you can fight back. Once you’ve contacted the police, your bank, credit cards and credit bureaus, you will be required to fill out a form known as an ID theft affidavit. This is a legally binding document that you must swear that all of the information you give is accurate and truthful. Take as much time as you need to fill out this form as it is extremely important. Here is a quick walkthrough that will go through what you can expect when you fill out an ID theft affidavit.

You will start by stating your full legal name and any other legal names that you might have gone under during your life. If you haven’t changed your name or if you are unmarried and have no maiden name, you can skip the second part of this section. Next, you will be asked for your date of birth and your social security number. You will then be asked to give your driver’s license number or the number on your state ID card or even a federal passport. You will then be asked to state your address and how long you have lived at that address. If the identity theft happened while you lived at an address different than the one you stated, you will be asked to give that address as well. You will also likely be asked how long you have lived at that address and what your current home phone number is and your cell phone number, if you have one.

As the form progresses to multiple pages, you will likely be asked to place your name and social security at the top of each page so that there is no chance of confusing your forms with anyone else’s.

The next part of the form will vary from type to type, but in general, you will be asked to identify how the fraud occurred and what exactly happened. Some popular forms use a checklist that you simply tick off each thing that has happened to you, such as, “someone used my name without my authorization, someone used my credit card without my authorization,” etc.

You will then be asked to identify the person who has stolen your identity, assuming that you’ve been able to identify the person or that it is a person you know. In most cases, identity theft isn’t done by a person someone knows, but you will likely still be asked by law enforcement.

There will also be a section for extra comments where you can go over in detail what else has been compromised due to the identity theft. You will likely be asked if you are willing to testify against the person and how cooperative you plan on being with the investigation.

Having your identity stolen is scary, but with the right forms, you can fight back and take control of the situation.

Response to IRS Notice

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Ask anyone who has ever dealt with the Internal Revenue Service before how frustrating it can be, and you are likely to receive a pained look and a lecture on how mind numbing the whole experience was. If you need to write a response to an IRS notice, here are a few essential tips for what is a fairly straight forward correspondence.

If you receive an IRS notice in the mail, this means that they are likely adding more unreported income to your tax return, which would either reduce your refund or increase the overall amount of money that you owe. The first thing you need to remember is to never write a letter to anyone, especially the IRS, angry. Every year, the IRS processes millions of returns, and every year, they get a bunch of them wrong, so there is always a chance that the letter is an error to begin with, but that doesn’t give you permission to ignore it. You must answer the letter by the due date listed and here is what you should include in it.

Start the letter like you would any formal letter with the address to the IRS office at the top and the address for you underneath. Give a formal introduction and then simply state that you are disputing the findings in the letter you received. In most cases, the letter is because the IRS believes that you underreported income on your form. You are disputing that, so you will need to explain why you feel that way, and most important of all, you will need to attach proof of your claims so that it isn’t just your word against theirs. Make sure you clearly spell out your reasoning and mention the fact that you have attached proof that backs up what you’re saying. Your tone here is very important. You need to stay positive and upbeat, and not accusatory or angry in any way.

It is important to state that you never, ever attach any original documents. Send in high quality photocopies at all times. Also, there is a chance that if the IRS finds multiple instances of unreported or under reported income on your tax form, they will likely send you multiple letters. You can use a template for each letter but make sure you personalize each one enough so it is authentic, and make sure you attach as much proof you have of your claims, otherwise, your response is essentially pointless.

Another helpful tip for dealing with the IRS, don’t be surprised if this issue is prolonged and protracted. It isn’t a slight against you in any way, you are simply dealing with a huge bureaucracy that is extremely inefficient. This is why you never send originals because you might have to send all of this again. Make sure you save your letter that you type up so you can simply print it right off again if need be.

Response to IRS penalty

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

If you have found yourself in the unfortunate position of going around and around with the Internal Revenue Service, you know how dizzying and frustrating it can be, especially when you know that you’re right and they are making a mistake. However, this seldom stops the IRS from declaring themselves the winner and sending you the dreaded IRD penalty letter. This is essentially the IRS telling you that you are responsible for paying more on your taxes or giving back part of your refund, but just because the IRS has declared victory doesn’t mean that you have to give in. You can send a letter back to the IRS known as a response to an IRS penalty letter that once again goes over your position, provides proof of the points you are making and is basically a last ditch appeal before the IRS decision becomes final. Let’s take a look at how this works.

Start the letter just like you would any formal letter. Put the address of the IRS bureau that you’ve been dealing with at the top and then your address underneath. Use a formal greeting and then state your situation and the fact that you are responding to the letter you received. You’ve likely been assigned an account number, or it could simply be your social security number, so make sure you use that number throughout. Once you’ve stated your situation and you express an interest in protesting the bureau’s findings, state your points one by one. If you can attach proof for each point, refer to each attached document or documents by name. Make sure that you name, social security number and account number are on every single document you attach.

It is important to stay positive with your letter, even if this is the 20th time you’ve had to write the IRS. They likely know that you’re frustrated so getting angry isn’t going to accomplish anything. In the same vein, don’t try t be overly nice with your letter, that’s equally as inappropriate.

Hopefully, you’ve not attached any original documents at any point during the process that has gone on so far. If you haven’t, than continue to make photocopies of documents that you feel back up your point and attach them. It can be a bit frustrating paying the postage, especially if you are sending in dozens of documents to back up your point, but the more proof you send, the better.

A final tip, keep a record of all of your correspondence with the IRS. If you should ever be scheduled for an in-person hearing on your situation, it is a smart idea to show everything that you’ve sent in and how you’ve responded to every letter sent. Consider it a show of good faith that can pay off later on down the road.

There is no question that dealing with the IRS can be frustrating, but perseverance pays off, so don’t give up.

Stop Payment on Check

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

With more and more of us using debit cards on a daily basis, writing checks is becoming a thing of the past. Some transactions, however, still require a check to be written, which means that there is always the chance that you will have to stop payment on a check. Of all of the unreasonable banking fees that banks still charge today, maybe the most unreasonable is for a stop payment on a check. Some banks even require a letter written by a customer for a stop payment on a check to become official, although this practice is all but stopped. If your bank or credit union does require a letter, here is what you should include in it.

First, make sure that at any point during your statement where you use your name, include your account number with the bank. They likely don’t know you via your name so your account number is the only sure fire form of ID that you have.

Start the letter to your bank with your complete name, address, account number and the check number that you wish to put a stop to. In the first paragraph of your letter, simply state that the check was written for a particular purpose and that you wish to put a stop on it so that it isn’t paid out. You don’t really need to state a reason why you are doing this, just that you wish to put a stop on the check. The paragraph doesn’t have to be long or complicated, simply sign the letter at the bottom and you are essentially finished.

It is important to ask your bank on the phone when you call to put a stop on your check what they require in the letter. It is likely that your bank or credit union has their own set of terms that need to be honored for the stop check to be finalized. There could also be terms that need to be honored in your particular state or jurisdiction.

One important note that you need to ask you bank about is that some stop check requests have a time limit on them, frequently a year or sometimes just six months. If you believe that the person who you sent the check you’re stopping to will attempt to deposit or cash it at a later date, you will need to continue to issue stop check requests every six months to a year from the time the check was written. Make sure you ask your bank how long that check is good for so you know when you can stop sending out stop check requests.

If you are stopping a check you wrote to a business, it is probably a good idea to report that business to the local Better Business Bureau or even to law enforcement if you feel that they are engaging in deceptive advertising. If they have ripped off you, they have likely ripped off many other people as well.