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Simple Tips to Prevent Fraud

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Cybercrime and fraud are serious threats and constant vigilance is key. The list below summarizes common cyber fraud tactics, along with tips and best practices. Many suggestions may be things you’re doing now, while others may be new. We also cover actions to take if you suspect that your personal information has been compromised. Cyber criminals exploit our increasing reliance on technology. Methods used to compromise a victim’s identity or login credentials – such as malware, phishing, and social engineering – are increasingly sophisticated and difficult to spot. A fraudster’s goal is to obtain information to access to your account and assets or sell your information for this purpose. Fortunately, criminals often take the path of least resistance. Following best practices and applying caution when sharing information or executing transactions makes a big difference.   What you can do Be aware of suspicious phone calls, emails, and texts asking you to send money or disclose personal...

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Tips for our clients on preventing fraud

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Cybercrime and fraud are serious threats and constant vigilance is key. While our firm plays an important role in helping protect your assets, you can also take action to protect yourself and help secure your information. The list below summarizes common cyber fraud tactics, along with tips and best practices. Many suggestions may be things you’re doing now, while others may be new. We also cover actions to take if you suspect that your personal information has been compromised. If you have questions, we’re here to help. Please call us at 716-634-6113. Cyber criminals exploit our increasing reliance on technology. Methods used to compromise a victim’s identity or login credentials – such as malware, phishing, and social engineering – are increasingly sophisticated and difficult to spot. A fraudster’s goal is to obtain information to access to your account and assets or sell your information for this purpose. Fortunately, criminals often take the...

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Recent Market Volatility

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Perspective From Dimensional Fund Advisors-- After a period of relative calm in the markets, in recent days the increase in volatility in the stock market has resulted in renewed anxiety for many investors. From February 1–5, the US market (as measured by the Russell 3000 Index) fell almost 6%, resulting in many investors wondering what the future holds and if they should make changes to their portfolios.1 While it may be difficult to remain calm during a substantial market decline, it is important to remember that volatility is a normal part of investing. Additionally, for long-term investors, reacting emotionally to volatile markets may be more detrimental to portfolio performance than the drawdown itself. INTRA-YEAR DECLINES Exhibit 1 below shows calendar year returns for the US stock market since 1979, as well as the largest intra-year declines that occurred during a given year. During this period, the average intra-year decline was about 14%. About half of...

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Steven Elwell, CFP® Quoted by NBC News On Potential Government Shutdown

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“If there is a temporary shutdown and the stock market declines because of that, if you’re someone who’s still saving that’s probably good news,” said Steven Elwell, vice president of Level Financial Advisors. “Every paycheck you hit that has 401(k) contributions go in is buying stock at a cheaper price,” he pointed out. Read the full story here...

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4 Examples: How Tax Reform Could Impact You

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In Part III of our series on tax reform, we examine four hypothetical scenarios.  The people portrayed are fictional. You should consult your tax professional and financial advisor to understand your specific situation.  To read Part I in our series, describing the basics of the tax reform bill, click here.  For Part II – 8 things you can do NOW before the tax bill kicks in, click here. Want a quick review of your potential tax bill for next year?  Click here to use a basic calculator.   John and Susan John and Susan are 55 and 53 years old respectively.  They have two children, one in a local private high school and another attending Cornell University. John makes $150,000 a year as an executive with a local manufacturing company. Susan is a teacher and makes $80,000.  Both max-out their 401k contributions each year.  They live in western New York in a $320,000 home...

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8 Things You Can Do Now Before the Tax Bill Kicks In

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In Part II of our three-part series on the  Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Part I of our series can be found here), we shift our focus to strategies you can deploy before the end of the year to maximize tax efficiency.  As always, you should consult with your tax professional or financial advisor before making any changes to your financial plans. The basis for taking action revolves around four simple principles: Most people will have a lower marginal tax rate next year. Most people will pay less tax overall next year. Some people who itemize now will not be able to itemize next year. Some people will still itemize next year, but those deductions are unlikely to be substantially more than the new standard deduction. 1. Accelerate Charitable Giving Before 2018 If you plan to itemize in 2017, and do not believe you will be able to itemize in 2018, then you should consider accelerating your...

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Major Changes in the Tax Code Ready to Take Hold

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With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ready for President Trump’s signature, many Americans are racing to understand a bevy of changes that will impact their 2018 tax return.  After reviewing the new bill, we’ve put together a short list of important changes and developed a three-part series to assist in preparing for the upcoming change. Part I of our series will focus on Tax Cut and Job Act highlights; the essentials of the new code. Part II provides specific strategies people should consider doing now -- in 2017 -- to maximize tax efficiency. Finally, Part III demonstrates a few hypothetical scenarios for tax filers, along with useful links and resources to help navigate the many questions and concerns that the tax change will present. Individual Tax Rates and Brackets The most impactful change involves modification of existing tax brackets and rates. The tax act keeps the total number of tax brackets at seven, but changes thresholds...

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