Tax time thieves

It amazes me the number of smart people who get taken by scammers. And it always ramps up around tax time.

The number one scam you'll see is phony emails or phone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS. It's all a ruse to steal your personal information. They use that to open credit in your name, and to file fake tax returns in your name. Which means they get your refund and your return gets rejected.

Another big scam is people promising you a huge refund. There's a chance they will falsify your information to do that, and you'll be on the hook for the money. Some of them even skim money off the top.

The last thing to watch out for is people promising to do your taxes on the cheap. They either take your money and run, or may file a return while helping themselves to your personal information.

So make sure you research your preparer to see if they are reputable. The BBB is a great resource.

Money Savers

Now, while you’re waiting for your refund, or lamenting the fact you owe taxes, how about saving money by doing very little?

You know the claims stores make: “our prices can’t be beat.” Ad if you find a lower price, they'll match it. Well a lot of people forget to look for price drops after they buy an item.

But with something called Citi Price Rewind, which is obviously for Citi card holders, you register the product you bought, Citi then combs through millions of listings using software to look for better prices. And they’ll do that up to 60 days after the date of purchase.

If they find a lower price, Citi will email you so you can request the price difference from the retailer. You can get up to $500 back per item, with a $2,500 limit per year. The average payment was 30 dollars, but with bigger ticket items, it could be worth it.

There's also something called Paribus. With this, you don't have to register anything, but it only works if you have your receipts emailed to you. They link up to your inbox so their “receipt fetcher” can identity your purchases. Then it automatically files a price adjustment claim on your behalf and you get the savings. What do they get? Your information…which means junk mail. So you have to weigh whether it’s worth it.

Lastly there's Yapta which is for airplane tickets. After registering, Yapta will email you when your flight price goes down and help you get a refund. According to the website, the annual savings is more than three hundred dollars.

Medicare Money

And that takes us to freebies from Medicare. There are a lot of benefits you probably don't know about if you don't read through ten zillion pages of documents. They're preventive services ranging from annual wellness visits to flu shots and cancer screenings; all of which can protect you from future medical conditions and costs.

The best ones I saw were screenings for cardiovascular diseases including blood tests for cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And if you've got a problem, instead of just giving you meds, you can also get counselling on how to get healthy.

There are also screenings for all types of cancers, lung, colorectal, and prostate as well as for sexually transmitted diseases, even screening and counselling for obesity.

Now some of these services are free, others are contingent on eligibility which is being within a certain age range or having a higher risk for a condition.