Blog

Avoid These IRS Tax Scams

Feb 03, 2021

Tax season has begun, but it's essential to remain vigilant of these scams that could cost you. First, we have the different types of scams that are currently happening. 1. 'You need to pay a small fee to get your stimulus check.' This is a growing scam related to the government's ongoing response to the coronavirus, the Federal Trade Commission warns. Many Americans will qualify for a stimulus check, but the government (including the IRS) does not require anyone to pay anything to receive the money. 2. 'We're calling to tell you your identity was stolen; you need to buy some gift cards to fix it.' In this trick, a criminal calls the victim and poses as an IRS agent. The criminal claims the victim's identity has been stolen and used to open fake bank accounts. The caller then tells the taxpayer to buy certain gift cards; later, the crook gets back in touch and asks for the gift card access numbers. 3. 'We'll cancel your Social Security number.' "If taxpayers receive a call threatening to suspend their SSN for an unpaid tax bill, they should just hang up," the IRS says. 4 'This is the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, and we're putting a lien or levy on your assets' There is no Bureau of Tax Enforcement. Victims often receive a letter from the fake agency claiming that they have a tax lien or tax levy and better pay the "Bureau of Tax Enforcement." 5. 'You owe the Federal Student Tax.' There is no federal student tax. Finally, we have a list of red flags that let you know it could be a tax scam. They're calling you first. The IRS contacts taxpayers by mail first; it doesn't initiate contact via a random phone call. They're leaving a prerecorded voice mail. The IRS doesn't leave prerecorded, urgent or threatening voicemails. They're emailing you. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. They're texting you. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by text message to request personal or financial information. They're contacting you via social media. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers on social media channels to request personal or financial information. They're asking for a credit card or debit card number over the phone. The IRS doesn't do that. If you have additional questions or would like to read more about possible tax scams, you can visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts You can also report possible scams by reporting them to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or calling TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.

Avoid These IRS Tax Scams

Feb 03, 2021

Tax season has begun, but it's essential to remain vigilant of these scams that could cost you. First, we have the different types of scams that are currently happening. 1. 'You need to pay a small fee to get your stimulus check.' This is a growing scam related to the government's ongoing response to the coronavirus, the Federal Trade Commission warns. Many Americans will qualify for a stimulus check, but the government (including the IRS) does not require anyone to pay anything to receive the money. 2. 'We're calling to tell you your identity was stolen; you need to buy some gift cards to fix it.' In this trick, a criminal calls the victim and poses as an IRS agent. The criminal claims the victim's identity has been stolen and used to open fake bank accounts. The caller then tells the taxpayer to buy certain gift cards; later, the crook gets back in touch and asks for the gift card access numbers. 3. 'We'll cancel your Social Security number.' "If taxpayers receive a call threatening to suspend their SSN for an unpaid tax bill, they should just hang up," the IRS says. 4 'This is the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, and we're putting a lien or levy on your assets' There is no Bureau of Tax Enforcement. Victims often receive a letter from the fake agency claiming that they have a tax lien or tax levy and better pay the "Bureau of Tax Enforcement." 5. 'You owe the Federal Student Tax.' There is no federal student tax. Finally, we have a list of red flags that let you know it could be a tax scam. They're calling you first. The IRS contacts taxpayers by mail first; it doesn't initiate contact via a random phone call. They're leaving a prerecorded voice mail. The IRS doesn't leave prerecorded, urgent or threatening voicemails. They're emailing you. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. They're texting you. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by text message to request personal or financial information. They're contacting you via social media. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers on social media channels to request personal or financial information. They're asking for a credit card or debit card number over the phone. The IRS doesn't do that. If you have additional questions or would like to read more about possible tax scams, you can visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts You can also report possible scams by reporting them to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or calling TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.

Cleaning Tips & Tricks For Your Home

Jan 22, 2021

Now more than ever it’s important to keep your home clean while also getting rid of germs, here are some tips and tricks you may not have considered before. Clean Your Humidifier- The water that makes your humidifier run smoothly is also breeding ground for mold and microbes. To clean, pour two cups of undiluted white vinegar into the water tank and swish it around until wet. Place the vinegar-filled tank on the base and allow it to drain into the reservoir for 15 - 20 minutes. Empty it and use a small brush to scrub crevices, removing remaining build-up. Sanitize Your Phone- Your cell might harbor more germs than a toilet seat. Zap germs with an alcohol wipe, and give your TV remote and computer mouse the same treatment while you're at it. Reorganize Your Linen Closet- Tackle an overflowing storage spot by adding an over-the-door rack for extra towels. Shelf dividers stop folded washcloths from toppling over, and baskets corral surplus toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Clean The Shower Curtain- To banish moldy spots, throw plastic or vinyl curtains in the washing machine with a little detergent. Add two to three bath towels for extra cleaning agitation, then hang it to dry or put in the dryer on low heat or fluff only. To keep it fresher longer, stretch the curtain out after each shower to help moisture dissipate. De-stink The Garbage Disposal- Run a few lemon rinds through the disposal and follow with cold water to dispel any sour odors.

Winterizing Your Home

Dec 18, 2020

No matter where you live, winter can signal a dip in temperatures and the possibility of unpredictable weather, including inches of snow and dangerous ice. Even for our HQ team that lives in Southern California, winter can bring some crazy weather! Below are some ways you can help winterize your home. Have your furnace inspected. Since your heating system will probably be running constantly throughout the winter, you should have it inspected annually to help if run efficiently and prevent CO from entering your home. Also remember to change out your HVAC filters every month. Inspect the insulation in your attic and crawlspaces. Warm air rises and leaves the house through the roof, so you should focus on insulation in your ceilings. Insulating the crawlspaces will help keep your floors warm. Seal potential leaks. Seal areas around recessed lights, the attic hatch, and plumbing vents that may be allowing warm air from the living space below to enter the attic. Apply weather stripping. Add weather stripping to doors and caulk window gaps. Make sure all windows are locked to keep out as much cold air as possible. Use a fireplace. If you plan to use it, schedule an inspection and service by a professional to make sure your chimney is clear of debris and make sure that your damper opens, closes, and seals tightly. Insulate pipes. Pipes located in attics, crawl spaces, basements, and near outer walls can be susceptible to freezing in extreme temperatures. Insulate to help prevent your pipes from freezing. When the forecast calls for unusually cold temperatures: Let water drip from hot and cold faucets overnight. Winterize outdoor faucets. Remove all hoses or devices attached to outdoor spigots. Be sure to drain any water left behind in the pipes. Have in-ground sprinkler systems blown out, and turn off water to the outdoor spigots. Firewood. Store your firewood in a dry place at least 30 feet from your home to avoid a fire hazard.

AFN is Thrilled to Welcome Sundance Brennan

Dec 04, 2020

November 5, 2020 – American Financial Network, Inc. (“AFN”) is excited to announce the addition of Branch Vice President of Training and Sales, Sundance Brennan, to our Dallas II branch at 600 East Las Colinas Blvd. Suite 1325, Irving, TX 75039. Sundance brings 15 years of diverse experience in the mortgage industry, including Branch and Team Leadership, Consulting Services, Coaching, Public Speaking and Loan Origination. With more than 20 years of experience in consumer direct sales under his belt, we consider his introduction to the AFN Team to be of great value. In addition to being a bestselling author (The Art of SalesFu*), featured on Audible and having been profiled in numerous publications* (Selling Power, National Association of Sales Professionals, Huffington Post), Mr. Brennan is married to a loving spouse and a parent to 4 beautiful children. He has successfully balanced these to create a rich and dynamic life. He’s even received producer credit on a short film (2013’s Lemonade: Detroit). What you can expect: Quality. Achievement and success are a staple of Sundance’ professional life. You can be comfortable in expecting nothing less from him. Timeliness. At American Financial Network, we pride ourselves on reliable and efficient processes with some of the fastest closing times in the business. Commitment. Sundance brings his commitment to great results to Team AFN, to the benefit of our borrowers and community. Communication. We promise open communication and have the utmost faith in our newest Team member’s ability to keep you engaged and informed. Growth. With our newest addition AFN continuing our momentum in building a power-house sales team across the country. For More Information, Contact: Sundance Brennan sbrennan@afncorp.com NMLS ID 1736575 469.498.9657 https://www.afncorp.com/web/dallasii ISBN-13: 978-0692789995, ISBN-10: 0692789995 https://www.sellingpower.com/2019/03/01/15809/three-ways-to-be-a-better-boss https://www.nasp.com/author/sundance-brennan/ https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-art-of-selling-to-the-4-personality-types-with_b_58a72ccae4b0fa149f9ac508 Refer to www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org and input NMLS #237341 to see where American Financial Network, Inc. is a licensed lender. In all states, the principal licensed office of American Financial Network, Inc. is 10 Pointe Drive, Suite 330, Brea, CA 92821; Phone: (714) 831-4000 (NMLS ID#237341). This is not an offer for extension of credit or commitment to lend. All loans must satisfy company underwriting guidelines. Not all applicants qualify. Information and pricing are subject to change at any time and without notice. The content in this advertisement is for informational purposes only. Products not available in all areas. American Financial Network, Inc. is an Equal Housing Lender.

Your Guide To a Safe Thanksgiving

Nov 12, 2020

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for many but also a time together with family and friends. Our job at AFN is to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday, so we’ve compiled some great tips to help you this year, including recommendations on how to celebrate during a pandemic. Clear out the Fridge- before you begin filling your Fridge up with all the necessary items, make as much room as you can in your Fridge. If you don’t want to throw things out, fill up a cooler with ice and place those items in there. Keep Your Mashed Potatoes Warm- The only thing worse than lumpy mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving is cold, gluey ones. To keep your spuds warm when every burner of your stovetop is in use, butter your slow-cooker insert, add a little heavy cream and spoon in the potatoes. Set the temp to low and stir every hour or so to keep your potatoes smooth and silky. Chicken Broth To Save The Meal - Overcooked the bird? Before you spirit that platter of dried-out breast meat to the table, drizzle it with a little warm chicken broth. It'll help moisten the meat and add flavor. This is also a good trick for perking up slices that have gone from room temp to cold. Dietary Restrictions- This way, you can adjust or add to the menu as needed, so everyone feels comfortable. And don’t forget about any kids attending: some may have more selective palates, so ask parents what their little ones love to eat and drink. Safety Check- Make sure to clean out your oven well before the holiday, check your smoke alarms, and if you’re frying a turkey never do it near the house and or deck. COVID-19 Tips Gathering Size- Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the city where they plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a gathering. Travel- Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. So remember to stay six feet apart, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask. Stay Outside- If the weather is permitting, try having your Thanksgiving celebration outside, places with poor ventilation can pose a higher risk. Virtual Celebration- If you choose to stay home, host a virtual celebration with friends and family. From all of us at AFN, we wish you a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!

How to Celebrate Halloween during COVID-19

Oct 07, 2020

Like many things this year, Halloween will be much different because of COVI-19. The CDC has called trick-or-treating a high-risk activity. So what are some alternatives? What are ways to safely enjoy Halloween this year? Well the good news is that you still safely decorate your home for all the festivities. In fact make it a fun family activity to do all together. If you need some inspiration just head to our Pinterest page for spooky ideas click here. Some other ideas on celebrating Halloween include Having a virtual costume contest Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. Create a Halloween candy hunt. Similar to an Easter egg hunt but you get to dress up. A classic Halloween movie night. Parades are all the rage in 2020 so feel free to have a Halloween parade for everyone to enjoy. If you are able to practice social distancing then head to a pumpkin patch (just bring hand sanitizer). This year stores like CVS and Target are preparing things called “Boo Bags” which are a great way to leave out candy for friends and neighbors. If you do participate in those activities make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, maintain social distancing with members who are not from your household, and keep your mask on. For more information on how you can stay safe and celebrate just click on the link below. CDC Recommendations.

Fall Maintenance Tips

Sep 20, 2020

As summer begins to wind down it’s time to get ready for a new season to emerge, and while it may be still hot outside it’s always best to get an early start on your fall maintenance checklist. Prune Your Plants- Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees -- when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds. Check Your Fireplace- Before you begin using your fireplace this season make sure you inspect and clean it. To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney. Clean Your Gutters- Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts. Seal Any Leaks- Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive and most important of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy. Remove Your Garden Hoses- Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage. Seed Your Lawn- If you want a great looking lawn come next spring then start to seed your lawn soon. A general recommendation is to start seeding 45 days before the first expected frost of the season.

Planning an Enjoyable At Home School Experience

Jul 30, 2020

As the summer nears an end your child may be preparing to head back to school for a new semester. This year however, many of those lessons may conducted from a room in your house. We’ve prepared some helpful ways to make your home an enjoyable learning environment. Going back to school virtually may pose additional challenges with staying connected to peers, since students may have less frequent or no in-person interactions to each other. You may want to talk to school staff to learn more about what they are doing to support connection among students, interactive learning with feedback, building resilience, and social-emotional wellbeing for students who will not be onsite. In addition, if your child receives speech, occupational, or physical therapy or other related services from the school, ask your school how these services will continue during virtual at-home learning. Create a schedule with your child and make a commitment to stick with it. Structure and routine can greatly help your child from falling behind with assignments. Discuss your family’s schedule and identify the best times for learning and instruction, as well as family-oriented physical activity, such as walks outside. A family calendar or other visuals could be useful for keeping track of deadlines and assignments. Try to find a space where you live that’s free of distractions, noise, and clutter for learning and doing homework. This could be a quiet, well-lit place in your dining room or living room or a corner of your home that could fit a small table, if available. Identify opportunities for your child to connect with peers and be social—either virtually or in person, while maintaining physical distance. Many mobile apps like House Party are free to use. Ask your school about any plans to support school connectedness to ensure that students do not become socially isolated during extended periods of virtual/at-home learning. It’s not the same as going into the classroom but try to keep the same routine that you would during the school year. Need more advice or resources? We recommend using the Parent Portal on the CDC website. The link is below. https://www.cdc.gov/parents/teens/index.html

Creating a Comfortable Home Office

Jul 01, 2020

While many of us are working from home more, it’s important to be able to separate your personal space and your office space. Having two separate areas allow you to focus when it is time to work, and leave it all behind when you hit the long commute to your couch. AFN has some tips to help you get started. Location: You'll likely spend many hours in your home office, so don't stiff yourself on space in a cramped area. Also, consider the amount of foot traffic coming through your area. Can you handle the noise of home, or do you need something quieter to focus. Functionality: Your desk, shelves and storage should serve you, not the other way around. Consider your workflow and what items you need at your fingertips before investing in furniture, make sure it is functional. The right seat: If you’re going to be putting a lot of hours sitting in a chair, make sure it supports you. The wrong chair can lead to back problems down the road. If a proper office chair is out of your budget, try added some cushion to help you out. Don’t forget, getting up to stretch and take a break is important! Make The Space Yours: If you’re decorating your desk back at the office with personal touches, do the same at home. Make it comfortable for you, creative, anything that will help boost your productivity. Wrap your bulletin board in a gorgeous fabric, and hide utilitarian bookshelves behind curtains made from the same material. Hang inspirational prints on the walls. Maximize Storage: Hang floating shelves on the walls to get papers and office equipment off the desk, and use vertical file folders on the desk to keep important papers within arm's reach. Are you a stacker or a filer? If you tend to make piles, get a nice basket to tame your mail, notes and papers. Make the most of the space you have! Shine a Light: Here's a bright idea: make sure your office has plenty of light to cut down on eye strain and headaches. Position the computer monitor so there's no glare from a window or overhead light, and put a small lamp on the desk for task lighting. Team AFN is here for you! Stay safe and healthy.