• Categories

  • Pages

  • Archives

Looks Like A SSN But Is A TIN. Defining A Taxpayer Identification Number

What is a TIN?: Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is an identifying number used for tax purposes in the United States. It is also known as a Tax Identification Number or Federal Taxpayer Identification Number. A TIN may be assigned by the Social Security Administration or by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Why do we assign TINs if we have SSNs?: In 1996, the IRS, in camera, resolved a huge issue: what to do with the millions of potential taxpayers from whom they dearly wished to collect income tax  but could not verify their SSNs?  Whether here illegally or foreign workers without proper work permission identification, etc… the powers that be within the agency promptly invented and authorized use of TINs.  Taxpayer Identification Numbers.   TINs look like SSNs (9 digits in an NNN-NN-NNN format), few people know the difference (and criteria for assignment/appropriation) and even fewer know of their existence.  (Except for those every delightfully slithery federal contractors!)  A TIN is issued to an employer who can then substitutes said TIN on requisite tax filings for a worker ineligible (why….?) for an SSN.

Can TIN abuse occur?  Despite a past investigation in 2012 by the IG  (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)-  on the multiple assignment by said contractors of a single TIN, the IRS declined to make any changes and stated that further analysis is needed.  By next year, it is predicted  that at least $2 billion of taxpayer dues will be lost along these TIN abuse lines – in just that year.

TIN Trivia Fact:  A TIN’s middle numbers are always, at least currently, between 70 and 80.)

The IRS will always find a way to demand and protract taxes.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

L’Shanah Tovah!

9d3cea46705568035e1f875046159e36

Wishing our treasured readers who observe Rosh Hashanah a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!

 

 

Happy Fourth of July!

Wishing our beloved readers a happy and safe Independence Day – Happy Fourth of July!!

 

 

Drones: Insurance Industry Game Changers.

With the expanded popularity and use of drones for everything from aerial surveillance to Amazon deliveries, it was only a matter of time before their impact was felt in the claims industry.  The four main areas of impact from drone technology  in the insurance field include:

  1. On site investigation and accident reconstruction.
  2. Surveillance and the monitoring of disabilities.
  3. Claims settlements.
  4. New forms of insurance coverage for drones.

While the current cost of sending field adjusters to investigate accident scenes is high, these fees can soon be mitigated by the use of drones for these services.  Additional benefits of drone usage in the insurance business are ease and rapidity of deployment, liability determination and injury confirmation.

Drones will also be playing  a significantly larger role in fighting insurance fraud through possible surveillance of bodily injury/workers’ compensation claimants.

 

There are, however, liability risks associated with drones, like the potential for drones to drop out of the sky and because they fly at low altitudes, there is the risk of a drone crash possibly causing property or personal injury damage.  Also, certainly we will see lawsuits relating to drone use alleging invasion of privacy.

 

Nonetheless, drone use is not only here to stay but will expand dramatically as the technology improves, making its inclusion in insurance matters a cornerstone of that industry.  It’ll be interesting to see how the law adapts to the inevitable drone factor.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Profiling A Perpetrator & Distinguishing an M.O. From Signature

profile

NEW NEWS: IRS releases 2017 Standard Mileage Rates for Business: 

  • 53.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 54 cents for 2016

============================================================================

BEACON BULLETIN

Based on crime scene evidence, one basic method of characterizing  offenders divides them into three categories:

  • Organized offenders: These criminals are more sophisticated in their approach, and their crimes show evidence of planning. These types tend to be of average or better intelligence, employed, and in active social relationships such as with spouses and families. Even though they’re driven by their fantasies, they maintain enough control to avoid being impulsive. They prepare and even rehearse. They tend to target specific victims or types of victims and use control measures such as restraints to maintain victim compliance. They bring the tools they need to gain access to and control of the victim and avoid leaving behind evidence. As killers, they generally hide or dispose of the body and are likely to have a dumpsite already selected.
  • Disorganized offenders: These criminals usually live alone or with a relative, possess lower-than-average intelligence, are unemployed or work at menial jobs, and often have mental illnesses. They act impulsively, or as if they have little control over their fantasy-driven needs. They rarely use ruses to gain the victim’s confidence, but rather attack with sudden violence, overwhelming the victim. The crime scene often is messy and chaotic. This type of offender doesn’t plan ahead or bring tools along, but rather uses whatever is handy. As killers, they typically leave the body at the scene and exert little effort to avoid leaving behind evidence. Some have sexual contact with the victim after killing him or her.
  • Mixed offenders: Some offenders leave behind mixed messages at crime scenes. They show evidence of planning and a sophisticated MO, but the assault itself may be frenzied or messy, which may indicate some control over deep-seated and violent fantasies.

Profilers have developed categories of descriptors, describe the types of individuals who commit the crimes. Some of the descriptors used in serial killer profiling are as follows:

  • Age: Most serial killers are in their 20s or 30s.
  • Sex: Almost all are male.
  • Race: Most don’t cross racial lines. That means, in general, White offenders kill Whites, while Black offenders kill Blacks.
  • Residency: Organized offenders may be married, have a family, and be well liked by their friends. Disorganized offenders, because of their mental instability and immaturity, tend to live alone or with a family member.
  • Proximity: The location of the perpetrator’s home in relationship to the crime scene is important. Most kill close to home, a factor that is particularly true with the first few victims. The area close to home is a comfort zone. With experience, however, the killer may move his predatory boundaries farther and farther from home.
  • Social skills: Killers who use a ruse to ensnare their victims, like Ted Bundy did, typically possess good social skills, whereas those who use a blitz-style attack are less comfortable with conversation.
  • Work and military histories: Organized offenders more often have a stable work history and are more likely to have left any military service with an honorable discharge. Disorganized offenders often are quite simply too unstable to hold a job in the long term or to complete military service.
  • Educational level: Organized offenders tend to have more schooling than their disorganized counterparts.

Using these descriptors, profilers can create a pretty good picture, or profile, of the type of person who likely committed the crime.

  • Method of entry
  • Tools that were used during the crime
  • Types of objects taken from the crime scene
  • Time of day the crime was committed
  • The perpetrator’s alibi
  • The perpetrator’s accomplices
  • Method of transportation to and from the scene
  • Unusual features of the crime, such as killing the family dog or leaving behind a note or object to taunt the police

In contrast to an MO, a signature is an act that has nothing to do with completing the crime or getting away with it. Signatures are important to the offender in some personal way. Torturing the victim, overkill, postmortem mutilation or posing, and the taking of souvenirs or trophies are signatures. These actions are driven by the killer’s psychological needs and fantasies.

Unlike an MO, a signature never changes. It may be refined over time, but the basic signature remains the same. For example, if a serial killer poses victims in a religious manner, praying or as a crucifix, details such as candles, crucifixes, or other ceremonial objects may be added later. The signature has changed, but its basic form and theme remain the same.

Obviously, a professional profiler should be contacted if you believe there is a need for such; the above is simply a broad explanation of criminal profiling.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

How To Access Your State’s Victim Compensation Funds.

crimevictimcompensation

Although we hope our readers never need to access their state’s victim funds, they should know that these services and compensation are available.  (We use New York as the example state for this article but the process is virtually identical in all of the states. There is also a federal Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).  The OVC’s mission, however, covers such areas as human trafficking, mass violence (riots) and terrorism. The purpose of this article is to provide more local information.)

History

The State of New York’s commitment to its innocent victims of violent crime began with the creation of the Crime Victims Compensation Board in 1966, now named the Office of Victim Services (OVS). As of June 22, 2010, the Crime Victims Board (CVB) became the Office of Victim Services (OVS) and has been providing compensation and other services to one of the most vulnerable populations in our State – innocent victims of crime – for more than 40 years.

Mission

OVS has a three-tiered mission to:

  • provide compensation to innocent victims of crime in a timely, efficient and compassionate manner;
  • fund direct services to crime victims via a network of community-based programs; and
  • advocate for the rights and benefits of all innocent victims of crime.

Compensation

OVS provides substantial financial relief to victims of crime and their families by paying unreimbursed crime-related expenses, including but not limited to: medical and funeral expenses, loss of earnings or support, counseling costs, crime scene clean-up expenses, the cost to repair or replace items of essential personal property, reasonable and necessary court transportation expenses, assistance to crime victims acting as a good Samaritan, the cost of residing at or utilizing the services of a domestic violence shelter, and limited attorney fees.

The agency is a payer of last resort, which means:

  • A crime victim or family member must exhaust all other sources of compensation before OVS can assist.
  • For example, benefits must first be obtained from health or other insurance policies or workers’ compensation before the agency can provide compensation.

Who may be eligible for compensation?

  • The victim must be an innocent victim of the crime. By law, OVS can reduce an award or deny a claim if the agency determines that a person’s conduct contributed to their injuries.
  • Victims of crime who were physically injured as a result of the crime
  • Victims of crime who are under 18, 60 and over, or disabled, who were not physically injured
  • Certain relatives and dependents, including surviving spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, stepparent or person primarily dependent on the victim for support
  • Those who paid for or incurred burial costs for an innocent crime victim
  • Child victims, a child who witnesses a crime, and the child’s parent, stepparent, grandparent, guardian, brother, sister, stepbrother or stepsister
  • Certain victims of unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping
  • Certain stalking victims
  • Victims of terrorist acts outside of the US who are a resident of New York State
  • Victims of frivolous lawsuits brought by a person who committed a crime against the victim

What other steps are necessary to be eligible?

  • Report the crime within one week to police or another criminal justice agency
  • File a claim with OVS within one year of the crime
  • If late with either crime reporting or claim filing, justify the delay in writing
  • Cooperate with police, the district attorney’s office and OVS

If you believe you are eligible for relief or reimbursement from the NYS OVS, file a claim here.  To ensure process efficiency, have all of your related documentation together before contacting the agency.

And now, this week in:

NEW NEWS:  “All New York State IDs are currently acceptable to use for REAL ID purposes, such as getting into federal buildings and for use to board domestic flights,” said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “We anticipate that all documents now issued will remain acceptable until October 1, 2020.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

Class Action Lawsuits: How To Research, Initiate or Submit Claims.

 

class-action

Whether it is a credit card APR suddenly shooting through the roof or a defective product that has caused  serious injury, if you have been on this earth long enough, sooner or later you will scream, “Someone should sue these people!”  Now you can check and see if someone has done just that – initiated litigation about a product, service or company.

TopClassActions.com hosts a very informative site that provides information on the following:

  • Class Action Suit News (On consumer products, drugs, medical devices, labor & employment, stocks & securities, etc.)
  • Settlements (Open and Closed)
  • Investigations (Into class actions, product liability, personal injury and more)

You can even submit a claim on the site on open class action suit that have been resolved and a pay-out fund established.  There are dozens of these settlements that you can review, from the Uber gratuity charge action to the My Pillow refund due all who purchased this product.  Check the up-to-date settlement database here. 

The site even contains a section where you can check the top class action lawsuits in the news and in which you may have a stake.  For example, the current top class action suits include:

POPULAR SETTLEMENTS

Ford Lincoln spark plug class action settlement

Ford, Lincoln Spark Plug Class Action Settlement

Electrolux class action lawsuit

Electrolux Dryer Class Action Settlement

Johnson's Bedtime Bath class action lawsuit

Johnson’s Bedtime Bath Products Class Action Settlement

car class action lawsuit

Auto Parts Price-Fixing Class Action Settlement

milk price-fixing settlement

Fresh Milk Products Price-Fixing Class Action Settlement

NEC-disk-drive

Optical Disk Drive Indirect Purchaser Class Action Settlement

**************************

New News: The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has gotten hold of a “mystery device” that thieves have been spotted on security cameras using to electronically open and start cars. More.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

 

Favorite Tools Of The Literate P.I. – And Others Who Work For A Living

pi-tools

I’m often asked which tools simplify my life as a private investigator. I’d have to say that the top three on that list are:

  1. Truthful witnesses
  2. Forthcoming clients
  3. PayPal

Aside from that:

Evernote – I scan and save important documents and things I may want to refer to later when browsing the web.

Bitly – I share links on social media, in emails and when writing reports dozens of times daily. Bitly helps me shorten those long, ugly links. I also have a cool branded link for my business if that is interesting for you.

Zapier – This helps me automate tasks between web apps. So if I put a new client into QuickBooks, Zapier automatically adds their contact details into my client newsletter in MailChimp or WordPress. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Email

MailChimp – This is one of the easiest email marketing platforms to use to market your content to your email list.

Social Media and Content Marketing

Constant Contact – With Constant Contact, you can schedule, publish and analyze all your social media posts in one place.

Canva – I use Canva to create images for social media, blog posts and just about anything else. It can instantly turn you into an amateur graphic designer.

Feedly – Add your favorite blogs and websites to start filling up your feed with content that rocks.

Google Analytics – Easily track site traffic and visitor behavior to see how your content is performing.

File Sharing

Dropbox – Dropbox has become synonymous with online file sharing, and for a good reason.

 

Business

QuickBooks Online – We switched from QuickBooks to QuickBooks Online about four years ago, and have not looked back. It’s become better and better every year.

Google Docs – I use Google Apps for Work and Google Docs to collaborate with other investigators on documents. It’s the best collaborator that I have worked with for things like word processing documents and spreadsheets.

Microsoft Office 365 – Even though I am huge fan of Google Docs, I still use Microsoft Office to write reports. In part, because Google Docs does not have all of the advanced formatting options that Microsoft Word does.

Security

LastPass – With access to hundreds of databases and websites, it’s not easy keeping track of passwords. But LastPass stores difficult-to-crack, encrypted passwords in the cloud that can be used on multiple platforms.

Google Authenticator – I am a huge proponent of two-factor authentication, which protects your accounts with a second form of authentication by adding an extra layer of security to your account. Google Authenticator protects your account with both your password and your phone, by providing a “secret” code so that nobody can get in.

StrongVPN – A VPN secures your computer’s internet connection to guarantee that all of the data you’re sending and receiving is encrypted and secured from prying eyes. I have been using StrongVPN for several years without a glitch, primarily because it allows me to have a static IP, but there are a number of great services out there.

Website Hosting / WordPress Theme

Synthesis – I used a number of different web hosts for the first few years until I came across Synthesis. It’s probably not the cheapest service out there, but it’s reliable and fast, and the support is great.

StudioPress Themes for WordPress – If you like the way this website looks, then you need to have a WordPress site from StudioPress. These are the best WordPress themes out there.

Editing

ProofreadNOW.com – I can write like the wind, but I am no grammarian. I leave that up to ProofreadNOW.com. For a nominal fee, they will have professional proofreaders make sure that every blog post I write has every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Your Credit Card May Pay For Rental Car Damage

car-rental

I recently had an incident with a rental car while in assignment out of state.  (Incident is one level below accident.  I scraped the side of the gas pump while refueling.  Long story for another day.)

The rental car company called me and asked me about my deductible as they had gotten in touch with my auto insurance company.  The damage wasn’t that much, all things considered.  $678.  Ok, so I figured I’m biting the $500 deductible as, to this point,  I’d been incident-free this year.  The rental car customer service rep asked me if I had checked with my credit card company about the deductible. At first I thought she’d simply made a mistake and meant to say insurance company.  Nope.  Credit card company.  “Why would my credit card company have any involvement??” “If you check, many credit cards cover the cost of deductibles and more on rental cars as a card benefit.” “Ohhhhh really?!?”  She is correct so I thought I’d pass it along to my faithful readers.

From NerdWallet:

Benefits by network

Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover all provide rental car insurance above and beyond what your primary insurer and rental company will offer. Here’s a quick overview of each network’s benefits and limitations:

Visa: Visa is often touted for its excellent rental car insurance benefits, mostly because it’s widely available for cardholders. Unlike many other networks, it offers rental car insurance on all of its cards — standard, Signature, rewards, the works. However, it limits its rental car coverage period to only 15 consecutive days domestically and 31 consecutive days abroad.

MasterCard: Its benefits are similar to Visa’s. However, rental car insurance is not offered on all cards, and it limits its coverage period on all rental cars to 15 consecutive days or fewer. According to customer service, it’s available only on Platinum, Gold, World and World Elite cards.

American Express: American Express is the only network to offer premium coverage for a small fee. It offers free secondary coverage up to $50,000 ($75,000 on The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Delta Reserve Credit Card), but will offer primary coverage with a higher limit and protection against injury and property damage if you choose it.

American Express Exemptions:

Students: A Personal, Gold or Rewards Plus Gold cardholders who are enrolled in an accredited four-year college or graduate program in the United States, and are receiving student benefits provided by card membership, are ineligible.

California: Maximum coverage costs $17.95 for:

  • $100,000 car damage
  • $250,000 accidental death and dismemberment
  • $15,000/person medical expenses
  • $5,000/person property damage, maximum $10,000 overall

Florida: Property damage is capped at $15,000 per person, $25,000 overall.

Discover: Discover’s coverage is limited to a handful of cards. Unlike the other three networks, Discover doesn’t cover loss of use fees, only collision damage up to a $25,000.

Good info to have in case needed.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

 

Conducting A Pre-Placement Nursing Home Investigation

nursing-home

Given that people are now living well into their 80s and commonly, their 90s and 100+ years of age, nursing home placement is a valid option for seniors.  Family members may wish to conduct a thorough investigation before selecting a place to live for their aging loved one. We suggest doing the following:

  • Conduct several physical walk-throughs of the facility with at least one or two unannounced visits being on different days/times,
  • Make note of facility staffing levels and responsiveness of caregivers at random times.
  • Observe the overall cleanliness conditions of the facility.

The leading cause of abuse and neglect in nursing home is insufficient staffing.   You may want to pay particular attention to the number of staff members and the adequacy of their response time and effectiveness when responding to assistance requests from elderly residents, especially those with significant health issues.

Our friends at Montlick & Associates also suggest the following:

An effective pre-placement investigation also might include interviewing the administrator about hiring practices and background check; minimum and average staffing levels; procedures to prevent falls, pressure sores, infection or wandering; procedures to ensure proper nutrition, hydration and medication; and other issues related to safety and quality of care. A valuable resource that you may wish to consult is Medicare.gov Nursing Home Comparison Website. This site provides detailed reviews, comparisons and inspection histories for nursing homes that accept Medicare.

Confirm Implementation of Safety Protocols: Nursing homes generally are required to implement special procedures for elderly residents that suffer from physical or mental impairments that pose a greater risk of injury. Family members should inquire about such special procedures if a love one has limited mobility, or an aging family member is prone to falls or wandering. The administrator usually will outline such special safety precautions during the intake process. It may be advisable for family members to follow-up regarding these special procedures to ensure they are actually implemented.

Once you finally do settle on a nursing home, be alert for and follow up on unexplained injuries or changes in mood.  While there are innocent explanations for bruises, dislocations, abrasions, broken bones or depression, any injuries or sudden changes in behavior or mood by a senior merit closer examination. While it can sometimes be difficult to determine the cause of such injuries or changes in personality if an elderly nursing home resident suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to pay careful attention to these signs. If serious or repeated injury occurs, this may constitute an even greater cause for concern.

All sound advice and remember, the elderly deserve our appreciation, attention and guardianship as they enter the twilight moments of their lives.  Quality of life is important at every age in life.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

%d bloggers like this: