Real estate funds shouldn’t fear rising rates

Real estate funds shouldn't fear rising ratesIn this photo made on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, work continues at a construction site in Pittsburgh. The threat of rising interest rates is raising real fears about real-estate mutual funds. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)(Photo: Keith Srakocic)NEW YORK (AP) — The threat of rising interest rates is raising real fears about real-estate mutual funds.

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PCH drawing: You may be a loser

PCH drawing: You may be a loserLottery Tag cloud(Photo: MacXever, Getty Images/iStockphoto)It’s hard to win any lottery. It’s impossible to win one you haven’t even entered. Yet scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as “artists,” have found that it’s extremely lucrative to scam people by convincing them they’re winners.Most lottery scams involve the victim being told that he or she needs to pay taxes or administrative fees directly to the lottery sponsor; however no legitimate lottery requires you to do so.As with many effective scams, the pitch of the scammer seems legitimate. Income taxes are due on lottery winnings, but with legitimate lotteries they are either deducted from the lottery winnings before you receive your prize or you are responsible for paying the taxes directly to the IRS. No legitimate lottery collects taxes on behalf of the IRS from lottery winners.Sometimes, the victim is told that he or she must provide their Social Security number to the lottery sponsor for tax reporting purposes. This scam is particular troublesome because the law does require that lottery prizes over $600 must be reported to the IRS. In this case, you should confirm that you have indeed won a legitimate lottery that you actually entered before providing your Social Security number.Other times, the scammer tells the “winners” that in order to collect their prizes, they need to pay administrative fees. Often, the victims are told to send the fees back to the scammer by pre-paid gift cards or Green Dot MoneyPak cards. Prepaid cards are a favorite of scammers because they are the equivalent of sending cash. They are impossible to stop or trace. Again, no legitimate lottery requires you to pay administrative fees in order to claim your prize.In another tactic, the scammer sends the victim a forged check that looks just like a real certified check. The victim is told to deposit the check, deduct the fees that the victim is told are required to be paid to the lottery sponsor, wire those fees to the lottery sponsor and then keep the rest. Some people, thinking they are being prudent, wait a few days while the check appears to clear before sending the requested funds. They learn later, however, that when a check is deposited, bank regulations require that the customer receive provisional credit within a few days of depositing the check so it may appear that the check has cleared. When the counterfeit check ultimately bounces, the bank withdraws the provisional credit and the customer is left having wired money from his own funds to the scammer.Asking the victim for his or her bank account number so that the lottery may wire the money directly to the “winner’s” bank account is another tactic used by scammers to get information they can use to make counterfeit checks or otherwise access the victim’s account. No legitimate lottery will ask for your bank account information.Everyone is familiar with the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes from television commercials, where the winners are shown being surprised by the delivery of their giant check. Publishers Clearing house is a real company that operates a legitimate lottery that many people enter, which is one reason that scammers pose as representatives of Publishers Clearing House.Coming up in November will be another major Publishers Clearing House drawing and scammers will be contacting their victims by telephone, e-mail and text messages to inform them of their good luck in having been selected as a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes winner. Sometimes the scammers even use the names of real members of Publishers Clearing House’s Prize Patrol, such as Dave Sayer, Todd Sloane and Danielle Lam.A potential scam victim who merely checks out the name used by the person contacting him or her may be tricked into thinking the notification is legitimate because the name is that of a real Publishers Clearing House employee. Once the contact is made with the potential victim, the scammers use the same tried-and-true lottery scam techniques described above to cheat victims out of money.Fortunately, there’s an easy way to know when you are contacted by the real Publishers Clearing House: It only contacts major prize winners in person. They do not contact such winners by phone, e-mail or text message so, if you do receive a notification of your winning one of its multi-million dollar prizes in this fashion, you know it is a scam.

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