Opioids vs. Medical Cannabis — Which Is Better for Chronic Pain? 

Opioids vs. Medical Cannabis — Which Is Better for Chronic Pain?

With his recent announcement that opioid abuse amounted to a public health emergency, President Trump acknowledged a fact already sadly apparent to millions of Americans. In 2016, 64,000 people died from drug overdoses (with prescription and illicit opioids responsible for the majority of drug overdoses). For Americans under 50, drug overdose is the leading cause of death.

With some 140 Americans dying each day from opioids — and the powerful dependency patterns long-term users develop — finding a solution is no simple task. (Notably, while opioid-induced fatal drug overdoses are skyrocketing, the Drug Enforcement Agency notes that no death from cannabis overdose has ever been reported.)

Given the comparative low toxicity and low potential for abuse of cannabis, is cannabis superior to opioids to treat chronic pain?

Medical Cannabis May Save Lives Lost to Opioid Addiction

From a public health perspective — given the relative safety of cannabis compared to opioid medications — it seems clear: With a much lower risk of dependence than opioids and virtually no risk of fatal overdose, cannabis trumps opioids. Hands down.

To underscore the point, earlier in 2017, WeedMaps, a California company that publishes an online dispensary rating guide, launched a creative billboard marketing campaign. On a simple black background on the billboards, the text read:

“States that legalized marijuana had 25% fewer opioid-related deaths.”

The message was stark and unforgettable, and it sparked heated controversy in some neighborhoods hard hit by the opioid crisis.

The WeedMaps data was based on a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Dr. Mark S. Brown and Marie J. Hayes, opioid abuse researchers and authors of the study, commented: “The striking implication is that medical marijuana laws, when implemented, may represent a promising approach for stemming runaway rates of unintentional opioid-analgesic-related deaths.”

Cannabis in History: A Long Track Record as Safe Medicine

Neither cannabis nor opium—the plant from which synthetic opioids are derived—are new additions to the medicine cabinet. Cannabis has been used to treat chronic pain, stomach ailments, anxiety and a host of other conditions for at least 4,000 years.

Opium’s medical use dates back even further, to at least 3400 BCE. If it was recognized early for its powerful pain-killing properties, it was also understood to be habit-forming by at least the 18th century, if not long before.

By comparison, cannabis remained in the American pharmacopoeia as an accepted folk remedy until the early 20th century, when the rising tides of both the Temperance movement and anti-immigrant sentiment—marijuana was widely linked with an influx of Mexican migrant workers—led to its being banned in most states, and eventually on the federal level in 1937.

Marijuana Medicine: Is it “Strong Enough” to Stop Pain Compared to Opioids?

While cannabis has a long and historical track record of being used to treat a variety of ailments, and the evidence clearly suggests cannabis is far safer, less addictive, and less potentially destructive than opioids, the question remains:

Can cannabis actually treat chronic pain more effectively than opioids?

With the wave of medical cannabis legalization showing no signs of stopping, a flood of research is uncovering cannabis’ potential as a treatment for chronic pain. And it turns out the physicians of millennia past were on to something.

Let’s look at the science:

Patients seem to prefer using cannabis in place of opioids, many claiming it works better for them than opioids. A paper published in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research used data from a group of 2,897 medical cannabis patients.

  • 34 percent reported having used opioid pain medication in the previous six months. A majority of patients reported that cannabis was just as effective or more effective than opioids — but without undesirable side effects.
  • Of the patients reporting having used opioids, 97 percent reported having been able to reduce or eliminate opioids.
  • And, 81 percent reported using cannabis alone was more effective opioids.

The authors of the study concluded: “Cannabis can be an effective treatment for pain, greatly reduces the chance of dependence, and eliminates the risk of fatal overdose compared to opioid-based medications. Medical cannabis patients report that cannabis is just as effective, if not more, than opioid-based medications for pain.”

A 2015 Harvard-led review (a meta-analysis) of 28 studies examining the efficacy of cannabinoids to treat various pain and medical issues, drew similar conclusions. The authors concluded, “Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence.”

The following year, a study by the University of Michigan found that cannabis, among other things:

  • Decreased the side effects from other medications
  • Improved subjects’ overall quality of life
  • Reduced use of opioids, on average, by 64%

Findings from recent research validate the vast amount of anecdotal evidence strongly supporting cannabis’ efficacy in treating chronic pain.

Cannabis Can Take a Little Trial and Error

While cannabis may seem like a godsend — and for many patients it is — for some it takes a little bit of trial and error to find the right cannabinoid ratio and intake method. Cannabis is not a single drug; it’s a highly complex plant with hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes working together synergistically to influence its effects.

For chronic pain, we find most patients opt for products higher in THC. I caught up with Dr. Stephen Dahmer, Vireo’s chief medical officer, and asked him what most chronic pain patients experiences were like:

What we’ve seen in chronic pain is that a patient will gravitate a little bit more towards a higher THC product. They’ll move in that direction if they’re not responding to the treatment that’s given. So, generally, in terms of dosing, we’ll slide them towards higher THC, but also increase the amount of CBD. That could potentiate [extend the duration of] the THC while offsetting potential side effects.

In pain, most of the scientific research is going to back this up. If you look at the randomized double-blind control studies done specifically with neuropathic pain, it’s higher THC strains that have the best evidence behind them. But we will also find in practicality if a patient is not responding to increasing levels of THC, sometimes we’ll flip things upside down and give them a high CBD, and particularly in inflammatory disorders, patients might respond well to that, where they may not respond well to a higher THC.

So, a combination of science and trial and error, and a lot of feedback. Very close feedback with the patient, making sure they’re getting the most optimal effects with the fewest side effects.

So while most patients seem to respond better to products with higher THC levels, others find a 1:1 (THC:CBD) or a high CBD product works great. Likewise, some people prefer inhalation (finding vaporizing delivers the fast relief). Others find inhalation can exacerbate their pain and prefer oral administration (e.g. capsules or tinctures).

“There’s no “one size fits all,”

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Patient Financing for Hospitals & Providers

 Sending patients a bill they can’t afford means your bill will not get paid

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The portion of revenue that doctors and hospitals must collect from patients has increased by 380% and growing, and the collection rate only around .15 cents on the dollar. As hospitals, doctors and practices are forced to collect more from patients – due to higher deductibles and coinsurance – more patients are filing for personal bankruptcy. It is a vicious cycle that seems to only get worse over time. But when McKinsey asked patients why they defaulted on their medical bills, the number one reason was not unwillingness to pay, but a lack of payment options. That’s why the first-ever underwriting model that can show medical systems a patient’s likelihood of paying before they receive their first bill. Providers can now see what payment terms they should offer to receive the maximum rate of collection possible… all by offering their patients repayment terms that they can afford – with an effective 0% interest rate.

  • Patients apply in less than two minutes – without affecting their credit.
  • Proprietary underwriting model evaluates each patient’s ability to pay in real time and recommends the payment terms with the highest likelihood of repayment.
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Hospital bad debt has risen by 30-50% or higher

  • 9 Hospitals filed for bankruptcy in 2017
  • 26 Non-profit Hospitals face bankruptcy in 2018.

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What do you really qualify for a loan?

We realize show difficult and tasking it is to find a lender that will provide the best loan for your business or personal use. 

Here are a few tips to help guide you to the best decision for your loan. 

Common mistakes when applying for a loan: 

  • Big effect for lenders are high usage of credit cards because business use them Vs. a loan. If possible reduce them before applying. 
  • Checking your FICO and SBSS score, banks and lenders look at FICO & generally want 600+, SBSS score which is the business credit score that SBA and banks will use. Low is 140, banks will not accept anything under 160, generally they line in the 190++ range.  
  • Is getting a loan and understanding what you really qualify for. Banks only approve about 10% of loans, general industry with alternative is around 40-60% approvals and have limited industries they serve. 
  • Finding a lender that matched your requirements and conditions, i.e.., startup, working capital etc. and being prepared with all the requirements and paperwork such as tax documents, personal financial statements, bank statements, etc. 
  • Cash flow on paybacks to the loans, lenders will match up your cash flow, bank deposits, credit card statements, too see what amount you can actually afford. 
  • Each time you apply for a loan and they turn you down then you have to start all over again. This really affects your credit score every time you apply. Lenders look at how many inquiries. when they see several they know you are shopping and have n=been turned down. 

What Lendingcapital provides: Our bQual report delivers your Small Business Credit Score (SBSS & FICO), your consumer credit score and full credit report, as well as a detailed fundability report assessing your financing prospects. And you may even be prequalified for a loan in real time. 

 About Us Clients nationwide turn to LendingCapital national funding platform with over 5000 lenders each year to identify the right funding options for their business projects and assistance in meeting their financing needs. 

LendingCapital’s bQual application provides business owners the tools and knowledge to understand their creditworthiness before applying for and committing to a loan. 

Use our bQual application and save time, energy, frustration, and Know the Score before you apply for a loan. 

https://lendingcapital.net  

What do you really qualify for financing? 

We realize show difficult and tasking it is to find a lender that will provide the best loan for your business or personal use.

Here are a few tips to help guide you to the best decision for your loan.

Common mistakes when applying for a loan:

  • Big effect for lenders are high usage of credit cards because business use them Vs. a loan. If possible reduce them before applying.
  • Checking your FICO and SBSS score, banks and lenders look at FICO & generally want 600+, SBSS score which is the business credit score that SBA and banks will use. Low is 140, banks will not accept anything under 160, generally they line in the 190++ range.
  • Is getting a loan and understanding what you really qualify for. Banks only approve about 10% of loans, general industry with alternative is around 40-60% approvals and have limited industries they serve.
  • Finding a lender that matched your requirements and conditions, i.e.., startup, working capital etc. and being prepared with all the requirements and paperwork such as tax documents, personal financial statements, bank statements, etc.
  • Cash flow on paybacks to the loans, lenders will match up your cash flow, bank deposits, credit card statements, too see what amount you can actually afford.
  • Each time you apply for a loan and they turn you down then you have to start all over again. This really affects your credit score every time you apply. Lenders look at how many inquiries. when they see several they know you are shopping and have n=been turned down.

What Lendingcapital provides: Our bQual report delivers your Small Business Credit Score (SBSS & FICO), your consumer credit score and full credit report, as well as a detailed fundability report assessing your financing prospects. And you may even be prequalified for a loan in real time.

About Us Clients nationwide turn to LendingCapital national funding platform with over 5000 lenders each year to identify the right funding options for their business projects and assistance in meeting their financing needs.

LendingCapital’s bQual application provides business owners the tools and knowledge to understand their creditworthiness before applying for and committing to a loan.

Use our bQual application and save time, energy, frustration, and Know the Score before you apply for a loan.

https://lendingcapital.net 

The perils and pitfalls of getting a loan…& growing your business

Being in business in today’s environment is difficult, especially the last few years. Money very tight, most businesses credit scores are at an all-time low.

Why?

High usage of credit cards because they can’t get a loan.

Business depending on what you do is way off thanks to a very weak market and demand as the consumer has limited funds themselves to purchase any extras over the last few years.

I have noticed a trend in lending the last year in particular where we see a small uptick to merchants looking for larger cash loans, the downside is what they have to pay for it…ouch

First problem is getting a loan. Banks only approve about 10% of loans, general industry with alternative is around 40-60% approvals and have limited industries they serve.

Second problem is most of the sub-prime (alternative market lenders) have run into trouble themselves. Can Capital, OnDeck, Bizfi and others went out of business, came back with investor cash injections, or someone buys the portfolio and services the debt. Problem is now they have all tightened up credit requirements, shortened the term cycle, and raised rates.

Third problem is the cash flow on paybacks to the loans. Almost all require daily or weekly ACH debits from your bank accounts, and terms are from 3 months to usually around 14 months tops and very high interest or factoring rates. Factoring rates range from 1.09 to as high as 1.49-you multiple the factor rate times your loan amount to get your payment.

This really disrupts the small merchant cash flow and they struggle to balance money to make sure they don’t miss a payment every day!

Fourth problem, most of the loans are brokered by another broker. So, you get many layers of fees, delays, lost paperwork, etc.

Fifth problem, when you apply to as an example an OnDeck, it is a single source supplier. If they turn you down then you have to start all over again. This really affects your credit score every time you apply.

Look for multiple loan offers from one source. You usually get the same group of short term, high rates, but at least it gives you an idea of what your options are without affecting your score each time.

NOW for my pitch (sorry you knew it was coming) but I think you will like it.

It really is time to re-evaluate the alternative lending market for small and mid-size businesses. I want to introduce you to two products that can change your business.

INTRODUCING: Next Generation Merchant Cash Loan:

    NO MORE: DAILY-WEEKJLY ACH-HIGH FACTORING RATES-SHORT TERM CASH ADVANCES

  • We do not have a restricted merchant list. From traditional retail stores to online and home-based businesses, Next-Financing can fund them all*. The business must be opened for 3+ months with an active business bank account and the owner must have a 500+ FICO.
  • We fund businesses up to 4x their gross monthly business income with loan sizes ranging from $3,500 to $75,000. We count all business income from credit card transactions, cash and check transactions.
  • Affordable Payments:Loan terms from 24 to 120 months make the monthly payment affordable. With fixed monthly ACH payments, borrowers no longer have to worry about daily re-payment schedules.  Annual Interest Rates from 14.9%.
  • No Pre-Payment Penalties:Businesses can pay off as soon as they’d like, allowing them to save on interest and renew faster.
  • Same Day Funding:Best of all, these loans can be funded same day.

CONSUMER Financing:

Why Financing?

It’s simple……More approvals, ease of use platform, low discount rates, one application, full reporting, analytics, etc.  we have multiple lending partners integrated into one platform, obtaining financing for customers with great credit to no credit has never been easier.

Seamless Technology Providing Seamless Approvals:

  • One fast, easy application for all borrowers
  • Instant approvals – 5 seconds or less
  • Approvals down to a 600-credit score
  • Funding within 24 hours
  • No monthly fees or minimums
  • No Set-up fees or application fees
  • No equipment to buy or lease
  • 100% paperless
  • Detailed reporting back office with analytics and customized to your business (User Access/Multi-location Management/logos/Colors/Customer Applications, etc.)
  • Works on any device
  • Customers can apply privately from their phone
  • Email our application for pre-approval before customer leaves their house
  • Extremely Competitive Discount Rates as low as 1%
  • We offer no interest (if paid in full) promotions for 6, 12, and 24 months.
  • Loan amounts currently range from $1,000 – $35,000. If you sell a product or service that costs under $1,000 or over $35,000 we’d encourage you to check back soon because we’re always adding new lenders to the platform
  • Businesses are funded directly via ACH within 48 hours
  • Business Owners have zero risk on customer defaults. If something happens and your customer can no longer pay their bill, it’s not your problem

Check out all our loan products & Read our Blog at https://lendingcapital.net

The Business of Budgeting your Business…

The Business of Budgeting your Business

A budget? So, who needs a budget? You do-that’s who.

Unlike the government we actually need to balance our checkbooks. A budget allows you to identify spending habits, and allows your business (or personal) to make necessary adjustments and changes.

       Don’t just be in business to stay in business-be in business to grow your business

There are many areas to delve into for a complete business plan, for practical purposes we will stick to budgeting and a few essentials.

Check list: All of this and more inside my 16-award winning book:

“the sexy little book of finance III” 2 books in one-Personal & Business

  • Your budget should be on a spreadsheet in excel or another format so you can update.
  • Personal budget and Business information should be part of your routine.
  • Make copies of all serial numbers of vehicles, laptops, cell phones, or any other important information of equipment.
  • Copies of any operators or employees who have access to any equipment, vehicles, should have their drivers license and insurance so you have the information and can check any expiration dates.
  • Credit card numbers, expiration dates, and all employees who assigned a card
  • Record of all policies or contracts
  • Starting inventory and ending inventories (daily, weekly, monthly, and annually) or as deemed appropriate for your business model
  • Bank loans, all financial information stored & backed up daily on a private server or encrypted cloud program
  • ADD your own categories.

You should have a full marketing plan (in writing), websites with SEO search, game plan how are you going to market your product or services – internet-seminars-mailers-email campaigns-workshops-etc. If you are looking for money from a bank or lending institution all this will be necessary. Everybody thinks they can apply and get approved in 15 seconds with 3 little questions and nothing else to provide…SORRY, little things like bank statements, tax returns, personal financial statements (free on our website) just to mention a few things. You can see what else may be required on our website.

Now back to budgeting…

 

 

 

Month _________________                      Beginning Cash Balance $ __________________________

Category                                 Estimated Budget             Actual               Difference

Revenue/1099                         _______________           _______________      _______________

Accounts Receivable               _______________         _______________      _______________

Investment Income                 _______________         _______________      _______________

Interest Income                       _______________         _______________      _______________

Other                                       _______________           _______________      _______________

Total Actual Income:          _______________                                           _______________

EXPENSES

Rent/Lease                              _______________          _______________      _______________

Loans                                       _______________          _______________      _______________

Accounts Payable                    _______________        _______________      _______________

Inventory Purchase                 _______________        _______________      _______________

Equipment Purchases             _______________       _______________      _______________

Office Supplies                        _______________         _______________      _______________

Cell Phones                              _______________         _______________      _______________

Advertising                              _______________         _______________      _______________

Printing                                   _______________          _______________      _______________

Postage                                   _______________           _______________      _______________

Payroll                                     _______________          _______________      _______________

Payroll Taxes                           _______________        _______________      _______________

Health Insurance                     _______________       _______________      _______________

Repairs/Maintenance             _______________        _______________      _______________

Automobile Expense               _______________       _______________      _______________

Gas/maintenance                   _______________          _______________      _______________

Auto Insurance                        _______________         _______________      _______________

Business Insurance                 _______________        _______________      _______________

Accounting fees                      _______________         _______________      _______________

Retirement contributions        _______________      _______________      _______________

Web hosting                            _______________         _______________      _______________

Other                                       _______________          _______________      _______________

Total Actual Expenses $ _________________________

Income_____________ minus Total Expenses_____________= Ending Balance_______

This does not post correctly…see it on our blog

Be Prepared-Be Informed-Be Successful

The last time I got instant gratification – I got food poisoning

https://lendingcapital.net

You Have the Right to Bear bridge Loans…

The problem for businesses in particular is the length of time it takes to obtain permanent financing like term loans, credit lines, mortgages and so on. Banks can take up to 6 months or longer to approve certain types of loans.

The right to bear bridge loans…

What?

A bridge loan is a type of short-term loan, typically taken out for a period of 2 weeks to 3 years pending the arrangement of larger or longer-term financing.

 Bridge loans are interim financing (short term) for an individual or business until permanent financing obtained. Money from the new financing is generally used to “take out” (i.e. to pay back) the bridge loan, as well as other capital needs.

The problem for businesses in particular is the length of time it takes to obtain permanent financing like term loans, credit lines, mortgages and so on. Banks can take up to 6 months or longer to approve certain types of loans. That does not help anyone who needs to move quickly for cash. They generally turn to the secondary market-quick cash, factoring loans, etc. The cost of money there is very high and generally creates cash flow problems on paying back daily or weekly ACH payments from their bank accounts.

Bridge loans are typically more expensive than conventional financing, to compensate for the additional risk. Bridge loans typically have a higher interest rate, points, origination fees, and other costs that are amortized over a shorter period, and various fees and other “sweeteners” (such as equity participation by the lender in some loans)  the good news is they are typically arranged quickly with relatively little documentation or lower credit requirements, and longer term more effective financing for the business or individual.

Bridge loans are often used for commercial real estate purchases to quickly close on a property, retrieve real estate from foreclosure, or take advantage of a short-term opportunity in order to secure long-term financing. Bridge loans on a property are typically paid back when the property is sold, refinanced with a traditional lender, the borrower’s creditworthiness improves, the property is improved or completed, or there is a specific improvement or change that allows a permanent or subsequent round of mortgage financing to occur. The timing issue may arise from project phases with different cash needs and risk profiles as much as ability to secure funding.

A bridge loan is similar to and overlaps with a hard money loan. Both are non-standard loans obtained due to short-term or unusual circumstances. The difference is that hard money refers to the lending source, usually an individual, investment pool, or private company that is not a bank in the business of making high risk, high interest loans, whereas a bridge loan is a short-term loan that “bridges the gap” between longer term loans that can take 6 months or more to finalize.

Typical terms of up to 12 months 2–4 points or more may be charged plus origination fees- probably 2 points or more. A bridge loan may be closed, meaning it is available for a predetermined time frame, or open in that there is no fixed payoff date (although there may be a required payoff after a certain time). An average is around a total of 6 points (6%). Which is usually much less than factoring and other secondary market loans with lower interest rates.

A bridge loan is often obtained by developers to carry a project while permit approval is sought. Because there is no guarantee the project will happen, the loan might be at a high interest rate and from a specialized lending source that will accept the risk. Once the project is fully entitled, it becomes eligible for loans from more conventional sources that are at lower-interest, for a longer term, and in a greater amount. A construction loan would then be obtained to take out the bridge loan and fund completion of the project.

A consumer is purchasing a new residence and plans to make a down payment with the proceeds from the sale of a currently owned home. The currently owned home will not close until after the close of the new residence. A bridge loan allows the buyer to take equity out of the current home and use it as down payment on the new residence, with the expectation that the current home will close within a short time frame and the bridge loan will be repaid.

A bridging loan can be used by a business to ensure continued smooth operation during a time when for example one senior partner wishes to leave while another wishes to continue the business. The bridging loan could be made based on the value of the company premises allowing funds to be raised via other sources for example a management buy in.

A property may be offered at a discount if the purchaser can complete quickly with the discount offsetting the costs of the short-term bridging loan used to complete. In auction property purchases where the purchaser has only 14–28 days to complete long term lending such as a buy to let mortgage may not be viable in that time frame whereas a bridging loan would be.

Bridge loans have many advantages, the risk is generally on the lender. One big advantage even though the interest rate is higher for a bridge loan the payments are usually interest only and the payments are very low. Most will require up to 6 months interest in escrow in advance-but you won’t have payments for 6 months plus they give you an option of rolling in the fees into the loan or deducting from the proceeds.

An example of how it works:

You apply for a 5-15-year term fully amortized with reasonable rates (based on your credit worthiness) once the bridge loan is in place. It will take about 90-120 days or more to get that in place.

You might get an offer that looks like this: offer is 11% interest only for 12 months with a monthly payment of about $3,000. They’ll want 6 months of interest held by lender to apply to monthly payments (around $3k per month – so $18k total.  We can add it onto the loan for a $318k loan amount or they will fund $282k in proceeds out of the 300k.  You won’t have to make any payments for 6 months.)

Understanding your finances gives you the power to obtain the best terms, rates, and options available. Do your homework, check your credit and correct BEFORE you apply for a loan. Going to the bank directly is not a very good option for a business, almost 90% of all small business loans from banks are declined. That is why they make companies like ours-we find them for you – you will never find yourself.

Read our blog on all the good things you need to do to get a loan…Be informed

Frank

https://lendingcapital.net

Equifax Update…Use Extreme Caution

Equifax tweets sent victims to phishing site

Consumers were misdirected to a phishing website by Equifax itself (you can’t make this stuff up), according to various published reports. Over the last couple of weeks, tweets from the official Equifax account and signed by “Tim” directed a handful of Twitter users to a fake site instead of to the official Equifax site set up specifically to help concerned consumers, Equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The fake site used an address similar to the valid Equifax site. Instead of offering help, the site mocks Equifax for “using a domain that’s so easily impersonated by phishing sites.” Equifax has since deleted the tweets.

“All posts using the wrong link have been taken down,” a company spokesperson said. “We apologize for the confusion.”

Equifax has said that the personal information of 143 million consumers was potentially compromised in the cyberattack revealed by the company Sept. 7.

Equifax data breach and credit freeze: Beware these 3 scams

Consumers must be doubly vigilant following news of the massive mishap, experts warn. Even if you were wise enough to put an immediate fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit files, con artists are likely to go into hyperdrive finding new ways to take advantage of the hack and the publicity surrounding it.

“Don’t panic. But be vigilant,” said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. “With this breach, criminals have everything they need to victimize you.”

Here are three cons that experts believe will become prevalent in the aftermath of the Equifax (EFX) data breach.

Impostor scams (even after you’ve initiated a credit freeze)

The Federal Trade Commission warned Thursday that it expected a new wave of imposter scams, with con artists posing as representatives of Equifax “calling to verify your account information.” Given that Equifax is providing free credit monitoring and credit freezes in wake of its data breach, the call may sound legitimate, the agency warned. But don’t ever provide any privy information over the phone.

The purpose of this con is to get you to provide private information — including some of the information that was leaked in the breach — to a caller or via email. Even if your information was leaked, not all fraudsters are likely to have access to it.

Providing information to a new con artist over the phone simply increases the chance that you’ll be victimized. Of course, if your data wasn’t part of the Equifax attack, giving it out over the phone gives you a chance to join your friends and neighbors in having your data exposed on the dark web.

Information about the Equifax breach, including a simple tool to tell you whether the company believes your data was accessed in the breach, can be found on the company’s web site. Even if this tool indicates your data was spared, you can sign up for free credit monitoring for a year and Equifax will also waive any costs entailed in freezing your credit report, if you act within the next two months.

Tax identity theft that could rob you of your IRS refund

The Internal Revenue Service has been fighting tax identity theft for years. These scams involve criminals getting victims’ names, addresses and Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax refund claims. The agency cites data breaches as one of the main ways that con artists get the relevant information to pull off tax identity theft.

Victims often get the first inkling of a problem when they file their annual tax returns and the IRS notifies them that another return has already been filed and their refund has been claimed. While the agency has a task force dedicated to these cons, they are complex and difficult to solve, often taking more than four months to investigate, according to the agency.

If your information was compromised in the data breach, make a point of filing your annual tax return promptly. And take immediate action if you are informed that more than one return was filed in your name; that you owe additional tax; or that IRS records indicate that you earned more than the amount of wage you reported.

What action should you take? File a police report and a fraud report with the FTC Identity Theft Hotline (877-438-4338). Also, complete IRS form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit. You may be forced to file your tax returns on paper in the meantime. If you do not get a prompt response from the IRS, call the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 for assistance.

Spear-phishing to crack your bank and brokerage accounts

The data made available through the Equifax breach is also likely to spur a wave of so-called “spear-phishing” scams that could put more than your credit at risk. Phishing scams are often unsophisticated email and phone cons aimed at getting you to reveal privy data, such as your Social Security number. Spear-phishing cons are far more sophisticated.

These use your real data — the type of data compromised in the Equifax breach — to mimic legitimate communication from your bank or broker. The email may urge you to click on a link or open a PDF file to check your account or verify a transaction. However, if you click on the link, you could be downloading malicious software on your computer that would allow the crook to hijack your system or record your keystrokes.

The best advice after the Equifax breach is to assume any such communication is suspect. If you get an email from your bank, broker or credit card issuer and believe it’s legitimate, visit the company’s website or call their toll-free number. Do not click on the link.

 https://lendingcapital.net

EQUIFAX – 143 Million breached half the US population…ouch

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Frank J. Eberhart, CEP®, RFC®, Author