So Then This Happened

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What started out as an idea, led to this.

The Personal Finance Syndication Network seemed to me to be a logical way personal finance bloggers could work cooperatively to share content and help each other out.

The idea behind the Personal Finance Syndication Network is cooperative simplicity. The process to automagically or manually include the content you select in your site is simple. And the ability to submit your articles is stupid easy as well.

And best of all, it’s simply free.

We’ve all had those dry days where we don’t feel like writing yet another blog post. Yet someone else out there has written the most brilliant article that our readers would love to read. So why not share it?

Sharing a relevant article with your readers helps your site because it gives your loyal readers fresh content they are interested in. It also helps the author or site who put the article up for distribution by getting in front of other like minded readers.

Face it, none of us active bloggers are ever going to write that one post that will change the world. So let’s respect the loyal readers and followers of our sites and given them content you know they want to read to keep them coming back to your site on a regular basis.

9 Plead Guilty to $20M Scheme to Defraud Soldiers

Eight Alabama residents and one Georgia resident pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme in which they stole thousands of identities to file more than 7,000 false tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Alabama. Over the course of nearly three years, the group defrauded the government of approximately $20 million. A 10th accused conspirator is scheduled to appear in court April 6.

The group collected identifying information from a variety of sources, including a military hospital. Defendant Tracy Mitchell of Phenix City, Ala., worked at a military hospital in Fort Benning, Ga., where she had access to service members’ identifying data, including information about soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, according to a news release about the case. Court documents cited in the release say Mitchell used the information she accessed at the hospital to file fraudulent tax returns.

Other defendants took data from the Alabama Department of Corrections, a call center in Georgia where two of the defendants worked and two unnamed Alabama state agencies. This went on between January 2011 and December 2013.

Identity thieves favor the tax-return tactic as a way to cash in on sensitive data, which they can get by breaking into databases containing the information (aka a data breach) or following people’s paper or electronic footprints.

The success of a tax-related identity theft scheme depends upon thieves filing fake tax returns early in the season before victims do. This leads to a delay in refunds for those who are entitled to them, not to mention the hassle of straightening out identity theft and dealing with the consequences of someone using your personal information. Losing control of your Social Security number may mean years of identity theft problems, which can take time to fix.

Additionally, identity theft can lead to damaging information on your credit report, potentially hurting your credit standing and everything it’s used for, like getting loans or applying for an apartment. To look for potential signs of fraud, you can get your free annual credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can get a free credit report summary, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

This article by Christine DiGangi was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.


What to Do With Old Savings Bonds

If you have recently located old savings bonds while working on spring cleaning or sorting through desk drawers, you are in luck. These common, though at times underappreciated, gifts can feel like free money years or decades later. They are securities issued by the U.S. Treasury Department that pay and retain serious interest in exchange for helping fund the government. The government has been issuing them since 1935 in increments starting at $25. Once you discover what type of bond you have and how much it is worth, check out some ways to use savings bonds below.

Cash In When Fully Mature

Savings bonds accumulate more interest the longer you wait, so if you don’t need the money now, it’s a good idea to keep them in a safe place until they fully mature. If yours have already reached their height in value, hit the bank! Once the bonds have reached maturity, they won’t gain in value anymore. So waiting to cash them in only means you are missing out on putting the money to use for you.

Convert to Electronic Bonds

Paper bonds are no longer available for purchase, but if you have some old ones, you can convert them to electronic bonds with the help of the Treasury website. This will make it easier to track the value of your bonds and manage them online.

Put It to Use

As long as you don’t have any debt to repay, you can put this (maybe forgotten about or unexpected) money toward financial goals like buying a home, going back to school or saving for retirement.

And if you do have debt to repay, you can make a big dent into it and help your credit too (especially if your credit cards are maxed out). You can see how your debt is impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

Convert to TIPS

The U.S. Treasury now offers Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) that keep pace with inflation. Unlike traditional savings bonds, their value will adjust so it is not negatively affected over time. If you are looking to purchase a new savings bond for yourself or as a gift, it is a good idea to look into this option.

If you are interested in finding out the face value of your bonds or want to find out if you were ever the beneficiary of a bond you don’t know about, you can check the Treasury website’s tools. Visit the websites of or call any banks you use to see if they can process bonds. No matter which way you choose to tap their value, savings bonds can help you reach your financial goals.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

This article by AJ Smith was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.