From time to time, certain items in my blog folder don’t require a full blog post, but still feel like they’re worth mentioning. With a hat tip to the Jeopardy catch-all category for unrelated topics, find some of our TAAG Blog potpourri below.
With the unprecedented rise in weekly unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic, cases of unemployment fraud have exploded all over the country. We’ve heard of dozens, if not hundreds of cases at this point just among our clients and networks. Even Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was a victim.
It is important to be vigilant, especially in reviewing mail at home. Don’t assume a one-off envelope from any state office or the like is junk. It may be a notification, a PIN or something else confirming you’ve filed for unemployment, even if you haven’t.
If you do find yourself the victim of unemployment fraud, here are a few best steps based on Federal Trade Commission and State of Ohio recommendations. If you’re not in Ohio, a search for similar departments in your state should turn up similar results:
- Report the fraud to your employer or former employer.
- Report the fraud to your state unemployment benefits agency. Here’s the Ohio contact info from their website and detailed below.
Any suspected fraud should be reported by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-686-1555 (Option 1), by faxing the information to 1-614-752-4808, or by clicking this link REPORT FRAUD (or any REPORT FRAUD link on their website).
Ignore the option to communicate by fax as faxes have reportedly been piling up and the state lacks the ability to work through them all. The best practice is to use the “REPORT FRAUD” link. See additional contact information below.
Benefit Payment Control
P.O. Box 1618
Columbus, OH 43216-1618
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the fraud to the FTC and get help with the next important recovery steps. These include placing a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit, getting your free credit reports, and closing any fraudulent accounts opened in your name. IdentityTheft.gov can also help you add a free extended fraud alert or credit freeze to your credit report. These make it more difficult for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.
Some experts also recommend filing an identity theft report with your local police office by providing them with a copy of the FTC Identity Theft Report you created above. It’s just one more precaution to get the info out there about the theft.
- Review your credit reports often. If you sign up for the free one-year fraud alert on your credit, you will be notified if someone tries something, but this is an extra precaution. You can check your reports every week for free through AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Consider a credit freeze. Consider freezing your credit with all three credit agencies. Since your identity has been stolen, it may also be used to file for credit cards, loans or other things in your name.
If you receive any benefits you should call the Ohio (or your state) unemployment office and ask for instructions, but it’s more likely the funds will be deposited into accounts the scammers control.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)
Last year, Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) announced that it would be converting several of its Tax-Managed mutual funds into exchange-traded funds or ETFs. This move is a strategic way for DFA to manage capital gains distributions, reduce management fees and reduce trading costs for its investors. Holders of these tax-managed funds, many of which can be found in taxable accounts managed by TAAG, will have their mutual fund shares converted to these ETF vehicles later this year. This will come at no cost or impact to the client and DFA has gone to great lengths to ensure their conversion process will be considered a tax-free reorganization for US tax purposes.
While this will ultimately have little if any material impact on investors, your advisor will discuss this conversion with those impacted in upcoming meetings. If you have any questions in the interim, please feel free to reach out at your convenience.
Related Mutual Fund Split
Related to the launch of Dimensional ETFs and at the risk of getting a little too far into the weeds, the price of an ETF can impact what is called the bid-ask spread or the range between the highest price a buyer is willing to pay for a security and the lowest price a seller is willing to accept. For a few of their mutual funds, most notably for TAAG clients the DFA Tax-Managed International Value fund (DTMIX) that is held in many taxable accounts, DFA notes that increasing the price of the fund will help achieve the goal of limiting the bid-ask spread to ETF investors. As a result, Dimensional has made the strategic decision to implement a 2-for-1 reverse split on this fund on March 19.
It is important to note a few things. One, no action is required by any holder of this fund. This split will occur automatically. Two, this does not impact shareholders in any way. There are no tax consequences to the split and the value of the holding will remain the same. Investors will simply have half as many shares at double the current per share valuation. Please contact your advisor if you have any questions.
Ohio College Advantage 529
We are fortunate to have an excellent 529 plan in the state of Ohio. Along with the tax benefits of contributing to these accounts, the Ohio College Advantage program continues to offer very low cost, diversified investment options. In fact, the college savings industry resource, Savingforcollege.com recently ranked College Advantage #1 in both five and ten-year investment performance. To learn more, click here to check out the announcement.
We’ve helped many clients open these accounts for the benefit of their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. If you have any questions on whether your college savings plan is on track, please let your advisor know.