Personal Finance

Fake quake sites

| Updated on March 19, 2011 Published on March 19, 2011

Some people, it seems, are ever on the look out for the ideal opportunity to start a scam. After mobile phone lotteries, the latest scam doing the rounds, of course, is the “fake” Japan victims scam. A Business Line reporter found a torrent of fake websites mushrooming within hours of the quake and tsunami disaster, soliciting monetary help for the affected Japanese.

E-mails or Web sites appealing for urgent help (usually in dubious English) can feature malware that damages your computer, cyber security experts warn. Do check the URL of the organisation launching those fervent appeals and don't blindly follow e-mail links, is the advice. If you want to help quake victims, best stick to internationally reputed organisations that you have heard of, much before this quake! The Red Cross, Unicef and Mercy Corps are a few that come to mind.

No more “scrutiny”

Here is one more headache off small taxpayers. If you are a salary earner, you may have received a summons from the tax department at some time or other, under what is called a “scrutiny” of tax returns. The Income Tax Department picks up the returns filed with it for “scrutiny” at random, to ensure compliance. If your returns are selected, you are usually called upon to make an appearance at the Tax office. Now, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has decided that it will not subject senior citizens and small taxpayers (gross total income of less than Rs.10 lakh) to this grilling. Instead, “scrutiny” of returns will be done only where the tax department has evidence to suspect foul play.

Policing online policies

The insurance regulator has issued draft guidelines for Web Aggregators, companies that offer information on insurance products and give price comparisons of products of different insurers through a website. The proposed guidelines outline conditions to be fulfilled by the web aggregator to qualify for the business. The draft guideline prohibits a registered insurance agent, corporate agent, micro insurance agent, third party insurer or an insurance broker from running the business. It also makes a point that the price data made available on the website should be up to date and shall carry premium rates of insurance products across category of all insurers. The guideline also bars the web aggregator from passing on a customer's lead to the insurance company without the customer evincing interest.

IDFC extension

If you have left off your tax planning for 2010-11 to the last minute this is good news. IDFC has extended the closing date for its long term infrastructure bonds by 5 days up to March 21. The bonds entitle to tax exemptions for an additional Rs.20,000 investment over your normal Section 80C limits. The bonds have a face value of Rs.5000 each The bonds have a ten year term with an annual interest rate of 8.25 per cent.

Online insurance with a difference

IndiaFirst Life Insurance, a joint venture between Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank, along with UK-based Legal & General has launched ‘LifeStore' - a Do-It-Yourself online store for understanding and buying its insurance products. The website professes to help you with online advice, information about investment performances, offers customer service personnel with whom you can interact and provides easy comparison between policies. The website allows you to create a profile to keep track of your insurance investments. It even sports a ‘Classroom' with various modules to help you better understand insurance.

PF interest rate hiked

The Employee Provident Fund Organisation has got the approval from the Finance Ministry to hike the rate of interest on provident fund to 9.5 per cent from 8.5 per cent for the current year (2010-11). Around 4.7 crore employees stand to benefit from this move. In September last year, the EPFO had decided to give an additional one percentage point return on retirement savings for the 2010-11 fiscal after it found a interest surplus of Rs 1,731 crore in its books.

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