Category Archives: Financial Planning

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HMRC: how to spot an online fraudster

The taxman and KPP Accountants tell customers how to spot an online fraudster in the run up to the online Self Assessment deadline.

It’s the time of year when HMRC sends out more than one million Self Assessment emails reminding customers of the fast approaching 31 January deadline for online returns.  It’s also the time of year that scammers see the opportunity to cash in on one of the most phished brands in the world – yes you’ve guessed it, HMRC.

Luckily HMRC has a strict yet easy to understand protocol in place that tells its customers what to expect when HMRC communicates with them via email.  And with 85% of all 2013/14 Self Assessments completed online, it’s incredibly important that HMRC does everything in its power to raise customer awareness on how to spot a fraudulent email.

What you need to look out for

The protocol states that emails sent by HMRC to customers will never contain or ask for the following information:

  • Personal or financial information of any kind; this includes the customer’s full address, full postcode, Unique Tax Reference (UTR), or any bank details
  • Financial information that refers to specific figures, tax computations or particular facts about a customer
  • Email attachments or web links
  • An offer of a repayment or refund
  • A request to send a response to a personal HMRC email address.

HMRC has also reminded its customers that they have a part to play in keeping their personal information secure by updating their web browser and anti-virus software to the latest versions, and keeping their passwords safe and changing them regularly.

Stay alert

Jonathan Lloyd White, Director of Security and Information and Departmental Security Officer (DSO), HMRC, said:

“We are committed to customers’ online security, but the methods that fraudsters use to get information are constantly changing, so people need to be alert. When using our online services, I would urge all our customers to be vigilant, and remember that HMRC will never send an email to ask for your personal information or password, or include a link or attachment. We want to help you stay safe online. Visit cyberstreetwise.com for more advice.”

Personal tax accounts

2016 has also seen HMRC start the year with the launch of the Personal Tax Account, which they’ll roll out during the coming months; this will give customers a safe and secure way to communicate with HMRC through messaging and web chat via their own Personal Tax Account.

If you’re worried about the legitimacy of an email you’ve received from HMRC, or would like general Self Assessment advice then please get in touch on 0141 345 2355 or email stephen.usher@keypp.co.uk

– See more at: http://www.keypp.co.uk/hmrc-how-to-spot-an-online-fraudster/?utm_source=ALL+CLIENTS+-+CHRISTMAS&utm_campaign=1756abd833-Spousal_tax_advantage+290915&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ac5507aadb-1756abd833-102507237&mc_cid=1756abd833&mc_eid=9e81865872#sthash.8SvFcVLu.dpuf


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Fergus Muirhead Warns About Telephone Scammers

Fergus Muirhead Financial Adviser

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fergus Muirhead Warns About Telephone Scammers

Telephone scammers seem to have become more active in recent weeks. They’ll call you telling you they are from your bank and that you’ve been the victim of a fraud then they’ll ask you to confirm lots of your personal information so that they can verify your details.

The best advice is simple advise and it doesn’t get much more simple than- Don’t tell them anything.

Don’t give away any unsolicited information over the phone. Be suspicious and check everything out.

“I got an email from my bank the other week with details of a new promotion they were running, similar to the Santander 123 account. you had to register with them in order to start accumulating points and there was a link on the email to allow you to register. There was something not quite right about the tone and wording of the email and that put me on high alert.”

I happened to be passing the bank later that day and when I went in to check it all out it turns out that it was a genuine email, and a genuine offer, and I was able to register and start to take part while I was in the branch.

So it was all much ado about nothing but always better to be safe than sorry I think. Always report any suspicious activity on your account or in emails from your bank and remember that they will never phone you out of the blue and ask for passwords or pin numbers. If you do get a call that you’re hot sure about then you should hang up and call your bank immediately with details of the call.


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Can You Trust Online Reviews?

Can You Trust Online Reviews?

At Roadtrafficlaw.com we use a third party site called Trust Pilot to host our reviews and seek reviews from clients on our behalf. Other members of the RTLcooperative use different methods including simply hosting the testimonials on their main website. Easyanswering.co.uk have provided client testimonials on their website.

More than ever before people are inundated with choice whether they are buying a washing machine or selecting a lawyer to fight an impoirtant case for them. We all tend to find that personal stories go a long way in describing if a compnay can meet our own needs so it is not at all surprising that testimonials play a major role in the purchasing decisions made by todays savvy online purchasers.

But can we trust those online reviews. With a firm like Easyanswering they will allow you to speak to clients and hear exacly what the service is like, with companies like roadtrafficlaw they offer masses of detailed case reviews and testimonials and also offer to put you in touch with those foremr clients who will allow such access. Solicitors have a real difficulty with reviews as they require to observe strict client confirdentiality codes, even when the case has finished and that is where a third party site, like Trust Pilot, really come into its own

Here are some signs to watch out for to make sure you get the facts and not the fiction when it comes to online reviews.

 

Check out the reviewer

Your first point of reference should be the person who left the review. They are more likely to be a legitimate person if the following checks out:

  • They have been using the site for a long time before leaving the review
  • They have left reviews for other products
  • They have friends or belong to a network

All of these point to the behaviors of a real person who can be deemed impartial. If the review has only just joined the site or only left a review for the product or service in question, then you may want to consider basing your purchase on their advice.

Profile

 

 

Verified customers

Many websites run employ services such as Revoo to help provide transparent and authentic feedback on their products. The review is actually part of the purchasing process so that you can be sure that only those that actually purchased the product have left a review.

Confirmed Purchase

 

Shop around

If you’re shopping for a big ticket item or booking at a pricey hotel, it is definitely worth checking reviews on many different sites and even social networks.

If something has great reviews on Yelp or Google Reviews, may have a bad rating on Trip Advisor, Amazon or another service. If the reviews differ significantly, it is certainly worth investigating a little further into them.

A quick search on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t hurt either. Check out any mentions of the product name or if a restaurant or hotel, visit their Twitter page to see how people are engaging with them. If there’s a lot of angry customers complaining, you may want to think twice before booking!

Do you have any tips to get trusted review online? Let me know on Twitter or on Facebook.

Thanks to Charlie Sanchez at AVG Software for the above hints and tips on his Blog post


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Starting Up A New Business?

Starting Up A New Business? (From the Law Society Of Scotland –as amended by rtlcooperative)


Setting up your own business involves making some of the biggest decisions of your life. And before your new venture is up and running, there are even more day-to-day decisions to be made. A solicitor can guide you through this tricky process, protecting your business and helping you avoid costly pitfalls. With the legal and financial issues watertight, you can focus on what you do best – building a successful business.

Business structure

One of the first, and most important, decisions you will make is the structure that best suits your business needs. The options – sole trader, partnership, limited company or limited liability partnership – involve different legal requirements, for instance, when making agreements and keeping company records. To help avoid disputes, it is important to set out the relationships between those involved in running the business. Franchising can also be an attractive option. Your solicitor can give independent advice and assistance on business structures and their legal requirements.

Finance

Many of those starting a business need to borrow money to do so. If so, the lender may want security over the business premises or other private property. A solicitor can help identify different sources of finance, explain the terms that lenders are offering, outline the risks involved and help with negotiations. You also need to think about your personal finances, how will you be able to afford a pension? What happens if you are too ill to work? Can you get cover for key personnel insurance?

That is when it is time to consider the advice of a Financial Planner such as Fergus Muirhead. Fergus is well renowned in Scotland.

Fergus has years of experience helping people manage their money, both as a professionally qualified Certified Financial Planner and as a regular writer and broadcaster across a wide range of programmes, magazines and newspapers.

These days he can be heard on the John Beattie Show advising viewers and listeners on money and consumer issues. Fergus was a regular on GMTV and has also appeared on Channel 4 hit programme Location Location Location. He was Woman’s Own Consumer Champion for five years, helping hundreds of readers find solutions to their consumer problems.

 

Premises

It is important to find the right premises, whether leasing a shop, renting an office or running a business from your laptop. But problems can arise, for instance, understanding the terms of a lease or finalising a property purchase. Solicitors understand the legal complexities and are familiar with local property markets.

Taxes and insurance

New businesses must register with HM Revenue & Customs and are expected to pay national insurance. Other tax issues may arise, for instance, over VAT, inheritance tax planning and trading abroad.

A range of different types of insurance is available to help businesses protect against risks. A solicitor can guide you through these issues.

Employing staff

The rules for employing staff are complicated – and constantly changing. Solicitors can give specialist advice on the rights of employees and employers, drawing up contracts and dealing with any disputes that occur. Consider outsourcing. Staff costs can be crippling for any new company so why not consider outsourcing some of your staff requirements. A fantastic way to do this, is to use a company such as Easyanswering.co.uk. A Scottish company who are local, yet have a broad range of experience, that is world wide. They will answer your phones as if they are based in your office and wil provide a highly professional service for you at a fraction of the cost of employing your own secretary or PA.

As Helen at Easyanswering.co.uk says “My team of PA’s and I have been delivering a telephone answering and virtual office service since 2004. And the only thing that has changed in that time is the range of services we now offer and our name which resulted from our re-branding in November 2011.. Our personal professional telephone answering service has been a constant since we answered our first call for our first client way back then – incidentally that same client still uses our service. So you could say that after all these years we obviously do something great.”

Disputes

Problems can arise for a number of reasons – contractual disputes with suppliers, recovering bad debt, disagreement with business colleagues or associates – so it is vital to receive professional advice and, if necessary, representation. Solicitors have the expertise to draw up terms of business and review contracts. More serious disputes do not necessarily end up in court. Your solicitor can help you avoid disputes in the first place or, if need be, arrange mediation.

Further information

Whatever the legal issue – from data protection and product liability to advising what you can say in promotional material, protecting your ideas and applying for licences – a Scottish solicitor can help. Use our website to find a solicitor.

 


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Retirement and the new pension provisions

Retirement and the new pension provisions

One of the founding members of the RTLcooperative is Fergus Muirhead. Those of you who know Fergus will be aware that as well as being passionate about piping he is also “On the money” when it comes to financial matters and planning for your retirement. He is one of Scotland’s leading financial advisers and as such, is regularly requested by the BBC and other TV Cos to provide comment and advice on a regular basis on TV and Radio.

He is more than happy to take questions from our members about their retirement planning or other financial concerns that may have occurred. He asks that you contact him in the first place with any general type questions through his Moneysucks.net website. Just drop him a line info@moneysucks.net  but don’t  be surprised if you then end up hearing him chatting about your type of concern on the Johnnie Beattie Radio Show or the afternoon news with Jackie Bird!

In his Moneysucks.net website this month he discusses the pension reforms published in the last budget back in April and subsequent changes. Pension reform has been the subject of much comment throughout the financial press ever since. He makes the point that:- The changes are complicated and are not quite as clear as was initially suggested so no question is too straightforward or simplistic to answer. It’s become clear, for example, that many people may have a bigger tax liability than they initially thought so it’s wise to check out exactly what tax you will have to pay before you take money out of your fund, since once it’s out it can’t go back in.


People have been asking about the ‘free’ information the Government is offering. I would suggest that you go to the Pension Wise site at www.pensionwise.gov.uk. There are full details on that site of the options available and how the recently introduced changes impact what you can now do with your pension pot. You can also call Pension Wise if you are looking for more information. You do have to be aware, however, that while they can give you general guidance and information on the new rules, they are not qualified to give you specific advice relating to your situation. They can’t, for example, tell you which option is best for you or advice you which products you should buy. For that you will need to talk to an Independent Financial Adviser, and you can find one who is suitably qualified and in your area at www.unbiased.co.uk .

The rules that came into force this month are in relation to the choices you have available with the money you have in a personal pension. These rules allow you to take the money in your pension fund whenever you like, without having to buy an annuity, or income, with your pension fund. If you have already ‘sold’ your pension funds in exchange for an income you are not likely to be impacted by these rules. You will, instead, be hoping that the Government delivers on its promise of extending the pension changes to people like you who are already in receipt of an income.

They have said that they will, although the details of how this will work are not clear yet. The thinking is that you will be able to carry out some sort of ‘reverse purchase’ where you sell your income back to someone in exchange for a lump sum. At this point it’s not clear who you will sell it to, whether it will be the company that you bought the annuity from or from one of a number of third parties that decide to become involved in this new market. It’s also not clear at this stage what value there will be for you in taking this course of action. It will require careful consideration that what you are doing is actually good value for money. There are likely to be lots of charges to the various parties involved so you will need to make sure that buying back your lump sum does make sense for you, and is more attractive than continuing to take a regular income.