Don’t fall for
■ Tax changes
■ Heelys warning
By David Horowitz
FALL IS OFTEN the time when crooked contractors
come out of the woodwork to prey on innocent
homeowners planning cold-weather repairs.
To help people spot a scam, Bankrate.com compiled a partial list of some of the most common
remodeling scams, with their “red-flag” come-ons.
■ “I just happen to be working in your
■ “I have materials left over from another job.”
■ “I can do it for cheap with cash up front.”
■ “I have a special offer, good for today only.”
■ “I can help you finance the project with an
■ “I want to use your home as a model.”
Also, watch out for fast-talking traveling strangers offering scams such as cheap driveway sealant,
chimney repair, hot tar roofing, furnace repair and
duct cleaning. When in doubt, check out their work
in your area and talk with their customers before you
hire any worker or contractor, and see if they are insured and licensed in your state. It’s best to use local
workers who pass your test.
WE PURCHASED two
policies from an annuity
salesman. He told us
about the great virtues,
but never warned us
about the risks. We
didn’t receive the contracts for review until
after the cancellation
deadline, but he forged
our names and receipt
date to show that we
had. The value dropped
thousands of dollars, and
we can’t withdraw without stiff penalties. We
are retired and can’t
afford this great loss.
Casa Grande, AZ
Document those contributions
Charitable contributions can be tax deductible,
but, as of 2007, laws require taxpayers to have
specific records to support the deduction.
To deduct a charitable cash donation, regardless
of the amount, you must have a bank record or a
written communication from the charity showing
the name of the charity and the date and amount
of the contribution. This includes canceled checks
or bank or credit-union statements containing the
name of the charity, the date and the amount of
Under the former rules, records such as personal
bank registers, diaries or notes made around the
time of the donation could often be used as evidence
of cash donations.
For details on which charitable contributions
are tax deductible and how to deduct them, go to
www.IRS.gov and enter “Publication 526” in the
Popping out the wheels and zipping down sidewalks or mall crowds is called “heeling,” named after
the brand. But healing heelers is becoming a problem
as the Rollerblades-in-disguise are sending increasing
numbers of youngsters into emergency rooms.
Doctors worldwide have reported broken wrists,
arms and ankles, dislocated elbows and cracked skulls
related to heeling. In the United States, at least one
fatality has been reporte d so far.
Of the reported casualties,
not one person was wearing protective gear. While Heelys Inc.
sells its shoes with safety information, including a recommendation
to wear protective gear, the
advice goes unheeded.
Adults and children
alike are walking and
heeling away with a
false sense of security
and safety about this
footwear. If you or
your kid are heeling,
be smart and wear
the same kind of
that you would if
you were Roller-blading. That means
protection for your
and noggin. C
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate.
His “Fight Back!” commentaries are heard daily on
the Jones Radio Network. For stations and times,
check the radio page at www.fightback.com.
CONTACT the Arizona
gov). You’ll have to
provide copies of
prove you were
sold a bill of goods
evidence that the
As seniors, you
could also contact
AARP’s Legal Services
0753 or on the ARRP
home page; search for
“legal services network”).
They can help you locate
a screened attorney in
your area who will work
for reduced rates and help
you Fight Back! against
© 2007 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
Careful on those Heelys
Probably every parent of young kids knows about
Heelys, the leading brand of sneakers with pop-out
wheels. They are an international craze so trendy that
the manufacturer recently landed atop
Business-Week’s annual list of fastest-growing companies.
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally respond
to your problem if you follow the instructions printed on his Web site. (Costco
members receive a rebate off the normal fee.) Questions and answers of the
greatest interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the
permission of the contributor and will be posted on www.fightback.com.