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Fraud never sleeps

CharlesSimsJr-160The Federal Trade Commission received over 1.8 million consumer complaints in 2011. More than half of these were for various types of fraud. Despite improved consumer education and tighter controls, criminals continue to come up with new ways to separate unwitting victims from their hard-earned money.

A list of potential scams would fill many pages, but here are three relatively new ones to watch out for.

Cut your credit-card rate! An unsolicited caller offers to help you reduce your credit-card interest rate for a fee, and you must fill out a financial profile with account numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information. The scammer may arrange a conference call with your credit-card company and ask for a fee reduction, which is usually refused and could have been requested yourself. You are out the fee and at risk for the misuse of your personal information.

Divorce & business – Child custody and support

CarleeMcCullough-160Whether you have a multi-million dollar business or a minimum wage job, divorce can put your income at risk when it gets down to child support. Although the distribution of property and alimony payments may be governed by a prenuptial agreement, child custody and support will be solely determined by the court.

Child custody

According to the Tennessee Code – Title 36, Sections 36-6-106, the court may award custody to either parent, or to both parents (joint custody or shared parenting) based on the best interests of the child. The court will consider the following factors:

Surprise! It’s retirement time

CharlesSimsJr-160In a 2012 survey, 50 percent of current retirees said they retired earlier than they had planned, up from 45 percent in 2011.

Many retirees reported reasons that were beyond their control, such as health problems or disability, company downsizing or closure, changes in the skills required for their jobs, or having to care for a spouse or family member. Yet some said they retired early by choice – because they could afford to or because they wanted to do something different.

If you're nearing the end of your working years, you probably have a retirement timetable in mind. It may be as specific as a particular date or as general as a range of years. Regardless of your timetable, circumstances could change – as the experience of current retirees demonstrates – and retirement might come sooner than you think.

Divorce and business – the ins and outs

CarleeMcCullough-160I, John Doe, take you Jane Marie, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

For those in business, divorce can be devastating, especially when we have to be at the top of our game daily. It can affect job performance and the delivery of goods and services.

When we are in love, birds seem to sing louder and even when it is raining it seems like the sun is shining bright. Our mates can do no wrong and we are their biggest cheerleaders. We overlook their flaws and make excuses for their shortcomings.

Moving on and rolling over

CharlesSimsJr-160Despite the uncertainties of the job market, today's workers stay in a job for an average of only 4.4 years. Job-hopping is even more prevalent among younger workers: about nine out of 10 millennials (born between 1977 and 1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years.

The impact of moving from job to job on a worker's career depends on individual circumstances. However, any time you leave a job – whether you've been there for three years or 30 years – you could be faced with a decision about what to do with the savings in your employer-sponsored retirement plan. There are typically four options.

Signs that you may not be ready to retire

CharlesSimsJr-160There's plenty of guidance available to help you feel confident that it's time to retire. But it could be just as important to recognize signs that you may not be ready. You might think of these as yellow caution lights, warning you to slow down and give further thought to your situation.

You've reached the eligibility age for Social Security. For some people, Social Security eligibility is synonymous with retirement. In fact, about 50 percent of those who are eligible for benefits file at the earliest age of 62, despite the fact that their monthly payments will be permanently reduced.

Better safe than sorry Prenuptial agreements

CarleeMcCullough-160What is the common denominator between Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Khloe and Lamar, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and Beyonce and Jay Z? They all have prenuptial agreements in place. A prenuptial agreement, premarital agreement, or commonly referred to as "prenup", is a contract entered into prior to marriage by the people intending to marry. While the content of a prenuptial agreement can vary greatly, common provisions are usually for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce or breakup of the marriage. Additionally, "payments" in the event of adultery can even be addressed.

Although celebrities are most likely to have a "prenup" in place, these legally binding arrangements are not just limited to the rich and famous. In fact more and more ordinary working class men and women are entering into these agreements. Why? Because as economic times become more and more challenging, individuals want to protect the separate property they already have prior to the marriage. A prenup becomes even more important if this is a second or third marriage and children from previous relationships exist.

Watchtower role keeps Compliance Office hopping

mary bright-400(Part III of a TSD series exploring the behind-the-scenes work of building the city's minority- and women-owned business enterprise sector.)

The City of Memphis Office of Contract Compliance stands like a watchtower over the process designed to improve the city's spending effort with minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs).

Compliance Officer Mary Bright served as guide as The New Tri-State Defender pursued a broader understanding of the office's intricacy and the workload.

  • Written by Tony Jones