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Oral Language and Early Literacy: A Good Beginning

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Even though it might feel strange at first to be talking and asking questions of a baby and toddler, oral language is the foundation for literacy development. Children who develop strong oral language skills during the preschool years create an important foundation for later achievement in reading, especially in reading comprehension (Storch and Whitehurst, 2002).

Babies and toddlers listen intently. Their brains are like sponges — ninety percent of brain development happens between zero to five years of age. It’s a remarkable transformation from baby to toddler in language development. First babies babble and by around six months old they master the sounds of their family’s language. Then they use first words and start stringing together several words. When they are between two and four years old, oral language grows dramatically. Older toddlers begin to put together sentences and use standard grammatical features. Of course, different children develop these skills at different rates, but talking and conversation with your baby or toddler creates the impetus for expanded language.

Here are some tips on early literacy and oral language:

1. Read to your child from birth and make reading part of your child’s bedtime routine.
2. Sing or say nursery rhymes, chants and other rhyming poems.
3. Explicitly describe what your child experiences and observes: colors, objects, etc.
4. Take your toddler with you (when possible) as you go about your daily activities and explain what you are doing and seeing: supermarket, other chores, etc.
5. When possible take your baby or toddler to language rich environments: library, zoo, nature walks, children’s museums, etc.
6. Ask your child open ended questions. Even from a young age, pose questions to your child that elicits his/her opinions. Try to draw out more than one word answers.
7. Model different language structures and use more complex sentences.
8. Act out stories and use dramatic play.
9. For three to five year old children, play matching and concentration games to foster memory and vocabulary.
10. Orally tell classic stories such as The Three Little Pigs and have your child participate whenever possible. Your child will also delight and be engaged in made up stories. As your child gets older, they can make up the end to your story.
11. When your child is ready, introduce book handling skills and directionality skills — such as point out the front and back of the book; the words go left to right; letters; etc

Be playful when you engage in literacy activities. Remember to emphasize sharing, mutual discovery and fun. Your enthusiasm will be contagious!

Dorothy Glusker is a Reading Specialist and Private Reading Tutor.

Tags:  child development  education 

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5 Activities for Fostering Creativity and Critical Thinking in Your Early Learner

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
As a parent, you are the single biggest influence and teacher in your young child’s life. So it’s no wonder parents often ask themselves, “Am I setting my child up for success?” However, the key to laying the foundation for academic success for your pre-kindergartener may be easier than you think.

Young, active minds are soaking up the world around them and it’s important to expose their natural curiosity to as many different activities and experiences as possible. We want our kids to possess a joyful love of learning, and discover different ways to harness their creativity and enhance their capacity to think critically. But those inspiring and challenging moments don’t always have to be outside the comforts of your own home.

Here are five fun activities you can do at home to foster creativity and critical thinking in your early learner:

When checking the weather becomes a regular routine with your child, you begin establishing any number of critical thinking skills: categorization, cause and effect, variable conditions – the list goes on. Keep a colorful chart to track and recognize days when the temperature gets colder and warmer and discuss why that might be happening. Is there a connection between clouds and weather? Are there clouds on sunny days? What about when it is raining? Take these observations and ask your child how they apply to specific actions. What clothes do we need today if it is really cold outside? What activities can we safely play outside in this weather?

Let’s be honest – 4-year-olds like getting messy. Put out a plate sprinkled with sugar and encourage them to practice writing numbers and letters, then have them try the same with shaving cream or rice. This helps students develop fine motor skills and is, of course, a ton of fun. How does your finger feel when you move it through the sugar rather than the shaving cream or rice? What do you notice about the texture of the different materials (smooth and cool shaving cream vs bumpy rice vs grainy sugar)? Why does the shaving cream keep its shape? Remember your compare and contrast essays in college? Same thing, but much gooier.

At bath time, talk about which toys sink or float. How many objects can you put onto a floating toy before it sinks? Bonus points to the parents who use terms like buoyancy and gravity! And I know some of us remember the old Letterman skit “Will It Float?” so more adventurous parents may want to extend the game to other household items. Old veggies sitting in your crisper? Dad’s sandals? Fair warning, if you play this game frequently, keep track of your iPhone at all times.

There are so many learning experiences to be had through cooking: measuring accurately with utensils of different sizes, working on numeracy and literacy, taste testing different foods for salty and sweet flavors, and hypothesizing what happens when cookies are left in the oven too long (and why!). Not only can you foster healthy food choices, but you plant images into your child’s memory that will help them quickly grasp states of matter, energy conversions, and algebra later on. If the recipe says we need three eggs, and we only have one, how many do we need to buy at the store?

You’d be surprised at how many different physics properties can be demonstrated with a yard stick and a few different balls. Show your preschooler how tilting the yardstick creates different slopes and affects how far balls will roll. What happens when you roll a marble versus a Ping-Pong ball? What happens when you roll the ball on a rug versus a smooth surface? Speed, acceleration, friction, inertia – these concepts aren’t scary the way they might seem in most high schools, and your preschooler can prove it to you!

Kate Briscoe is Director of Early Learning for BASIS Independent Schools. This fall BASIS Independent Fremont will open to kindergarten – 5th grade featuring a highly acclaimed liberal arts, STEM-focused curriculum.

Tags:  child development  education 

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Membership Tips – Activities for Older Kids, Too

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Spring is just around the corner and it’s the perfect time of year to get those kiddos outdoors and active! Did you know that PAMP offers events designed for kids of different ages? This month’s membership tips article will highlight events that are fun for the older kids in your family.

Super Soccer Stars takes place every Sunday and is designed for kids up to age 7. Bring your future star to Mitchell Park to learn the game from scratch or hone skills in a fun, non-competitive environment, featuring a low coach-to-player ratio.

The My Gym Siblings Class meets bi-weekly and welcomes children up to age 6, along with their siblings. This fun class promotes movement and creative learning, as well as encouraging positive family interactions.

Do you have a child whose eyes light up every time a fire truck rushes by? Do they go running at the sound of sirens? PAMP offers Firehouse Tours on a quarterly basis of different area firehouses. Kids up to age 10 are welcome to get an up-close look at the big, red engines, ask a firefighter questions and get see what life is like at a real fire station. Since some tours require that participants be at least 4 years old, this is also an ideal outing just for older siblings.

The PAMP Family Farm days are one of our newest events. The whole family is invited to spend a fun-filled morning at Pastorino Farms by Half Moon Bay. The farm is open to PAMP members only and kids of all ages will enjoy a wide range of farm-activities. Pony rides, a petting zoo, bounce houses and hayrides are just a few of the things that await you at the farm.

Also one of PAMP’s newest offerings, our Bounce house events are another great way to meet other PAMP families and let your kids work out some serious energy! Kids of all ages can bounce to their heart’s content and catch their breath while listening to a story time or other live entertainment during the event.

Finally PAMP’s annual Family Day welcomes the whole family for a fun day of food, live entertainment and a wide range of kid’s activities. This event takes place every summer and is sure to please children at all stages of development.

As always, be sure to look for all of the above events on the PAMP calendar. We hope to see you and your child soon at one of them!

Tags:  member tips 

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Jewelry and Kids: A Guide To a Healthy Combination

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Whether you wear jewelry only once in awhile or daily, chances are your child will soon be intrigued by the flashy, colorful pieces they see in your jewelry drawer. The decision to let your kids wear jewelry is tricky because you want to keep them safe from harm – and some jewelry can be risky. Here is what you should know before you let your precious babies wear bling.

Daily Wear Can Be Dangerous
Before you purchase an item of jewelry for yourself, chances are you consider your lifestyle. Well, before you put your trinkets on your children you should also think about their lifestyle – and it’s an active one! Children like to run and play, and this can cause the jewelry they wear to get damaged or – even worse – it can cause them to hurt themselves. A long necklace can fly up into their face while they’re running or they could scratch themselves (or another child) with a bracelet.

If it’s a once-in-a-while occasion for your children to wear jewelry, such as if you’re going to a fancy event and your child is accompanying you, then this makes it safer. This is also because they’ll be on their best behavior. Avoid letting them wear jewelry daily, such as if they’re going to the park or with friends. Even small earrings could catch onto something or tear their earlobes, so be careful.

Choose Safer Pieces
Maybe your children are getting older and are interested in owning jewelry of their own. In such cases, make sure that the pieces of jewelry are safe for them. This includes checking that the item of jewelry doesn’t have any sharp points that can cause scratches. If your children are really small, don’t let them wear pieces that are small or could come undone (such as charms on a necklace) as these are choking hazards.

Avoid Allergies
Although you might be keen to give your children costume jewelry so that they don’t damage anything too expensive, bear in mind that there are allergy risks as well as toxic reactions associated with this. Follow these rules:

  • Don’t let your children wear anything with lead as it can have serious health effects, such as increased blood pressure, organ damage and nervous system problems. A study found that inexpensive jewelry is often full of lead, while even jewelry pieces that are labelled as being sterling silver can contain this dangerous metal. The fact that really small children tend to put everything in their mouths makes it even more important to keep them away from jewelry that has toxins in them which accumulate in the body.
  • Avoid items containing cadmium. This is often used as an alternative to lead but it can be just as dangerous. Cadmium is a heavy metal and studies have found that children who have higher levels of it in their bodies have three times greater chance of experiencing learning disabilities. Again, cadmium has been found in inexpensive jewelry.
  • Avoid items made of brass, copper or nickel as these are associated with allergies such as irritation on the skin.
  • Your best bet is to stick to surgical stainless steel, gold or titanium. Avoid silver- or gold- plated jewelry as these could contain other metals underneath them and which could also be bad for sensitive skin. This is also the rule when having your baby’s ears pierced. Bear in mind, however, that infections from infant piercings are common, and can include puffiness, redness, as well as pus, so it’s worth waiting for them to get older.

When kids start asking if they can wear your jewelry, start introducing them to jewelry. Avoid letting really small babies wear jewelry, however, as this can be more hazardous, especially since they’re small and their skin is more sensitive. When children are older, teach them about being careful with their jewelry and be sure you’ve chosen pieces that are safe for them according to the above tips.

Naomi Shaw lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids. She is a free-lance journalist and stay at home mom that enjoys writing on fashion, beauty, jewelry, and parenting.

Tags:  fashion 

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Member Musings: From Pressure to Presence

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The community where I live with my family, Palo Alto, CA, has experienced a crisis of high school student suicides in the past few years. The Atlantic ran a front page story called Silicon Valley Suicides in November, a few days after the one year anniversary

date of the suicide of one of our community’s rising stars, Cameron Lee, who was a junior at Gunn High School when he took his life.

Of course, as a parent of two young girls who are living in the Gunn High School area, my personal interest in addressing the crisis of pressurized parenting in Silicon Valley and beyond is real and important.

I, too, was raised with pressurized parenting. My father was an immigrant from India, an engineer and Ph.D. in Materials Science, who imposed a very strong external ideal of success onto myself and my siblings from a young age. When I reflect on several interactions with my father over my lifetime, I realize how different it would have been to have been parented with presence rather than pressure.

When I was 11 and brought home the sub-par grade in my father’s eyes of 88% on a math test, I was scolded and told I had better not bring home anything less than a 98% if I wanted to get into the Ivy League. Had my father chosen to parent with presence and connection, he would have responded with questions like: “How do you feel about your math score? Did you do your best? What did you do well? What can you do better on the next one? What did you learn? What’s your goal for your next exam? Do you need any support from me to reach your goal?”

At 14, when I began asking my father about college majors and careers, instead of insistently telling me to become an engineer because of job security, he could have been present with my curiosity, interests, strengths and passions. He could have asked me what I loved, what I was good at, what I thought a career’s purpose was — and gotten a full picture of the kind of life I wanted to lead and the kind of person I wanted to be and how a career fits in to facilitate one’s larger life goals.

Parenting with presence asks parents to let go of the pressures and realities they faced as children, and perhaps even ones they left behind in order to seek new opportunities for the next generation.

Parenting with presence asks parents to engage with their child and see the exam scores and college choices through the child’s eyes rather than through parents’ eyes — fearful of the unknown or from a parent’s egoic need for a certain type of children’s success.

Most of us haven’t been parented this more attuned and authentic way.

Living in Palo Alto and/or any affluent community with a teen suicide problem, we parents are compelled to offer this type of attunement, collaboration, presence and empathy to our kids.

I’ve learned to parent from presence rather than pressure, though the internal conditioning of my own upbringing takes mindfulness to undo and re-wire on a daily basis. I emphasize asking good questions, listening, attuning to emotional states, spending special time, offering curiosity and exploration of my child’s true desires, empathy with challenging emotions, playing physically and being present in all that I do with my kids.

No parent is perfect, but I know that these moments and interactions based in presence, curiosity, connection, compassion and mindfulness are what make the parent-child relationship strong, build trust and rudder authentic selves’ most satisfying lives.

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Kiran Gaind of The Connected Family works with parents who are overwhelmed by their responsibilities and exhausted by the demands of parenting to feel overjoyed by their lives and being parents again.

Tags:  family 

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Member Musing: We Feel What We Wear

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I was at a networking event last week and was asked “What’s your why?” and “Why do you do what you do?” So I am going to give you a great example of my why and why I do exactly what I do.

What I wear impacts how I feel.

It can make or break my day. If I am not feeling that outfit, it simply won’t work. I know that might sound pretty deep, but it’s me being honest. And it’s probably a big part of how I became so savvy at versatility, at tweaking my outfits to make them work.

I don’t think everyone thinks the same way, and that’s ok — this is MY WHY.

A group of researchers from the University of Queensland are currently researching how we use clothes to improve or mask emotion. Lead researcher Dr. Alastair Tombs says, “We demand many things from clothing. Quite a few people talked about using clothes to change their mood. If they get up and aren’t feeling great, they would put on something that would brighten them up. “On other occasions they use clothes to mask their emotions. It didn’t brighten their mood, but it would give them the appearance of being bright and airy, even if that is not how they actually feel.” Dr. Tombs says an example of this is when a woman puts something on and they’ve been complimented on it in the past, and they will re-wear it because of the emotional connection and the known feel-good-effect it will have. Despite relying on clothes to boost our sense of wellbeing, we also blame certain garments when something goes wrong.

According to a study from the University of Hertfordshire, women wear the following items when happy:

1. HATS – Twice as many women wear a hat when happy versus when depressed.
2. SHOES – Women are five times more likely to wear their favourite shoes when happy.
3.DRESSES – On a happy day women will be ten times more likely to wear their favourite dress.
4. HAPPY CLOTHES – ‘Happy clothes’ were found to be items that are well-cut, figure enhancing and made of bright and beautiful fabrics.


1. JEANS – Only one third of women say they wear jeans when happy.
2. BAGGY TOPS – 57 per cent of women likely to wear a baggy top when feeling down.

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Melissa Menzies is a Australian Mum to three young ones and lives in Palo Alto. Check out her fashion blog YummoMummo.

Tags:  fashion 

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Member Musings: Eclipsing

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Sunday night is our get-ready-for-the-week night, usually. But on this night, we had a chance to share something wonderful with the rest of the planet, and our neighbors. It strikes me that while we live in “neighborhoods” often the aspect of “community” can get lost. Not on purpose, but because life has a lot going on. And depending upon your actual neighbors you may or may not want to commune with them.

The lunar eclipse and the blood moon were rare opportunities for community tonight. Driving home from a family dinner we found our neighbor outside trying to see the blood moon and lunar eclipse. We too were going to show our girls – who love, love the moon – but a thin layer of clouds graced the sky. So we chatted a bit and went inside.

As we finished putting the oldest to bed my husband said, “I can hear Ana saying she can see it.” So we ran outside, only to find her husband excitedly walking up the path to our front door to let us know. We stood for a bit looking at the glowing sky, watching the eclipse and then quickly got our daughter up to see it.

As our neighbors’ sons and our daughter ran around in pajamas, another neighbor from down the street came walking by with his dog. All of us stood staring into the night sky, which was now clear, and facilitated animated discussion. Standing there chatting we found out that our next door neighbor and the man with the dog didn’t know each other, yet they’ve lived on this street just a few houses a way for a good many years.

Our days and nights go by so fast. It was a heartening experience tonight to enjoy a few moments, let go of the rules for bedtime, and just be with our neighbors watching such a rare occurrence. In our own way, we had our own eclipse — of community.

To see when the next lunar eclipses for 2016 are expected, check the schedule.

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Kelsey Combellick is a career-loving parent who is passionate about travel, food, wine and her family. Email her at

Tags:  activities 

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Parent’s Guide to Preschool Child-Visits

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It may not be officially back to school season but rest assured, you’re not alone if you’re one of the many parents with anxiety over an upcoming preschool visit. For those of you who spent last fall applying to schools (likely after weeks of diligent research!), child visit, classroom visit or an observation can feel equally stressful.

Here is a quick primer to help you prepare and ease some of that stress.

So what exactly is a child visit?
A child visit – also known as a child observation, classroom visit, or play date – is a short visit (typically 30-45 minutes but can extend up to 2 hours) where parents bring their child to visit the school and/or classroom that they are considering. The child visit often includes other children (a mix of applying and current students) as well as the teacher or director. It usually includes typical preschool activities (free play, circle time, etc.) in addition to one-on-one time with the teacher. Essentially, a child visit is very much like a typical playdate – just at school!

What is the school looking for?
Child visits can seem intimidating, but the truth is that the school really just wants to get to know you – and your child – better than they can on a piece of paper. Directors like to observe how the children play together as well as to plan classrooms accordingly to best suit each child’s needs. They also need to assess their school readiness and identify anything that may need to be addressed at home prior to starting school. They also want to make sure that your family will fit into the community of the school – the goal here is to make sure everyone is excited about the transition to preschool and prepared to make that transition as smooth as possible. And don’t worry – they are NOT looking for your child to behave perfectly or for a certain type of temperament. This is less of a test and more of an assessment.

What should I look for?
In the same way that the Director will look to make sure your child feels comfortable around the other children and in the school environment, you should watch for that, too. You know your child’s cues better than anyone, so pay attention to how he/she reacts. You’ll learn a lot about which program might be right for your family by how these visits go – and you’ll be better prepared to deal with any separation anxiety that might occur when they do start school.

How should I prepare?
-Choose a time that works for you – some schools have set visit times and won’t offer you choices, but if they do, choose a time of day when your child is typically awake and alert to avoid any nap-time crankiness.
-Don’t overdress your child – remember, this is essentially a playdate so dress your child in whatever they would typically wear to preschool once they’ve started.
-Don’t prep or “coach” them – the child visit is truly meant to be an assessment for both you and the school and is meant to be casual. Trying to prep your child will only heighten the anxiety and make them more likely to react badly. Prep by doing what you normally do to socialize your child – visit the playground, schedule playdates, and keep any class appointments you might have.
-Bring both parents, if possible – as with a tour, it can be helpful to have both parents on site during a visit. One of you can address any questions from the school while the other keeps an eye on your child and you’ll both be able to assess your child’s reaction.

We know this can be a stressful time, but remember that everyone involved is looking for a good fit between your family and the school – and that there are many programs out there. If one isn’t the right fit, there is certain to be another option for you and your child.

Susan Mees loves to travel and cook and spend time with her husband. She’s helping build community through KidAdmit, a website that lets parents search for and compare preschool programs in their area for free.

Tags:  education 

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Considering the ‘Burbs? Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Countless families consider making a move to the San Francisco ‘burbs each year. With young kids, skyrocketing rents in the city and a craving for a little more space, the pull is natural — but the Bay Area suburbs come with their own unique considerations when it comes to actually making the move. From balancing costs to considering communities to pulling your family’s own lifestyle into the mix, there is a lot to weigh if suburbia’s on your mind. Besides the basics, here’s what area families should be thinking about when they think, “It’s time to go…”

Can you afford to keep renting?
Bay Area and Silicon Valley housing prices are high right now — no one can dispute that. The average Palo Alto tear down is fetching close to $2 million, which doesn’t take into account the cost to actually build a house to live in afterward. But, at the same time, rents continue to increase year after year — and that means many renters are getting priced out of the market, too.

A good solution? While you might not be able to afford THE house right now, consider a first, or “starter,” home or just to get your feet wet and get your family into the Bay Area market. Not only will you begin building equity, but you’ll dodge the rent hikes and establish a jumping off point for a potentially bigger purchase down the road.

Remember, it’s about more than just the home price
When home prices are high, it can sometimes be hard to see past the dollars and cents. But remember, this is a long-term purchase and it’s important that you and your family focus on the town’s lifestyle, too. Certain that Los Altos, Palo Alto or Menlo Park, for example, are the perfect spots? You might even find different personalities within neighborhoods, believe it or not. Maybe one is more walkable or bike-friendly than another, or has a different personality or reputation. Or maybe one corner of the community tends to send their kids to a local private school versus the area public school, or has a higher concentration of stay-at-home versus working moms. It’s important to navigate individual communities and, through hands-on exploration, engage with locals for a more authentic experience, so that you can learn what a town is really like. Weigh it all and make sure you aren’t just picking for price but, instead, for the community experience as a whole.

Dig into the schools
Just like a town can have a variety of personalities from area to area, one school district can have even dozens of schools feeding in, each with a distinct vibe. Before jumping into a home purchase, take a look at the schools your kids will attend and see if they align with your family’s needs and expectations. Are test scores important? API scores? Would seeing CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) reports be helpful? Do you want a school with top scores, or is the culture of the school more important? What is the likelihood of getting into a charter or choice/lottery school with a Spanish or Mandarin immersion program? Or are you heading the private school route? You can look online, contact the school district or talk with local experts who can help you understand school populations, test scores or specializations. And remember, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to your school priorities — but it is important that where you decide to settle down aligns.

The upside to all of this? The Bay Area and Silicon Valley are incredible places to live. The weather is fantastic — even warmer and sunnier than San Francisco. You’re a few hours from Lake Tahoe if you want to hit the slopes. And, from a business perspective, you’re never far from many major corporations like Google, Facebook and venture capital firms on Sand Hill Road (no more taking the company commuter bus!), plus Stanford University, among other elite institutions. The schools — both public and private — are strong, and there are countless cultural offerings right around the corner. What’s not to love?

Alison Bernstein is the founder of The Suburban Jungle Realty Group, a real estate firm exclusively focused on buyers leaving the city for the suburbs. When she’s not helping families in their suburban explorations, Alison enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and four children.

Tags:  finances 

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What Do You Know About Identity Theft?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Have you ever received an email from a “friend” urging you to send them money since they are traveling in a faraway country and they are now stranded? Their story recounts how they’ve been robbed and how they desperately need your help –and of course, that “help” is in the form of a wire transfer, right away.

Chances are, you’ve received this frantic message from a friend and have considered sending the money. But, then your better judgement kicks in and you realize it’s probably a scam — an effort to gather your personal information in order to steal your identity. Unfortunately, some people don’t realize this until it’s too late.

IRS Scams
Be on the alert. A phone call (or email) from someone impersonating an IRS employee is becoming more commonplace. These calls usually involve threats of arrest and financial penalties, followed by a request for payment to avoid charges. For the record, the IRS never contacts taxpayers on the telephone or by email, only via regular mail with a letter. If you are the target of one of these calls, you should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or call the TIGTA hotline at 1 (800) 366-4484.

Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud
These steps can make it more difficult for thieves to steal your information:

1) Place a freeze on your credit. Each of the four consumer credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis) allows you to place a freeze on your credit. This means that if someone attempts to open a line of credit, bank account or any account that requires your Social Security number, they are blocked. This actually also includes you, which some might consider a blessing as you’re standing in Banana Republic, trying to decide whether or not to open that new credit card. In the event that you do need to open a new account, you must contact the credit agencies and unfreeze your credit for a specified amount of time. Each agency charges a fee to freeze and unfreeze your credit (typically $10 each time). However, peace of mind and protection from fraud are well worth any inconvenience or associated fee.

2) Request a copy of your credit report. Annually, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). The website to obtain this free copy is You may also request a copy by phone at (877) 322-8228.

3) Guard your SSN. Do not give out your Social Security number unless absolutely required and do not carry your Social Security Card in your wallet.

4) Sign up for credit monitoring & identity restoration. LifeLock and similar services help detect identity-related incidents, alert their members to suspicious activity and address fraud-related issues on behalf of victims. They will also help you restore your identity should it ever be compromised.

5) Use a token for online financial passwords. Financial institutions sometimes offer a token (a small device that creates a unique six digit number each login) that serves as an additional password every time you log in to view your account. 

6) Request a tax return PIN. While none of the above steps will prevent thieves from filing a tax return fraudulently in your name, these actions may reduce its likelihood. To prevent a fraudulent tax return, you would need to contact the IRS and request a tax return PIN. The IRS does not approve all PIN requests, particularly if you have not previously experienced fraudulent activity. You should consult with your CPA or tax preparer for more details on requesting a PIN from the IRS.

One Final Recommendation
While on vacation, either here or abroad, do not log in to any public computers or use unsecured wireless hotspots. Scammers are just waiting for you to go online and show them your personal information.

Kaleb Paddock
 is an Associate Advisor at Stanford Investment Group. Kaleb specializes in helping young families make smart financial decisions, typically involving questions about their equity compensation. He and his wife enjoy jogging along Stevens Creek Trail with their one year old son and serving others in their local church.

Tags:  finances 

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