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Fri., Sept. 26, 2008

Younger generations change jobs more often than Baby Boomers do, and when they do, they’re more likely than the population as a whole to cash out their 401(k) accounts, according to Hewitt Associates.

They’re young enough, the thinking goes, to make up the savings later. What many don’t realize is that cashing out a retirement account when you’re young can not only trigger taxes and penalties, but it also imperils your financial future.

Gen X and Gen Y consumers often recognize that they accumulate too much debt, according to a recent survey of adults ages 20 to 40 by Fidelity Investments.

Among them, 51 percent said financial priorities, including mortgage bills and credit card debt, prevent them from saving for retirement. Of the group surveyed, 40 percent said they cashed out their workplace retirement plan when they switched jobs. Few had asked for guidance. And more than half said they are unhappy with their decision.

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT: The most potent weapon against identity theft is becoming easier to use. Cheaper, too.

That weapon is the credit freeze, also known as a security freeze. When you place a freeze on your credit reports, credit card issuers, lenders and others can’t check your credit history. Without that information, they won’t issue credit. And that also means criminals can’t set up new accounts in your name.

That’s increasingly important, because new-account fraud is one of the most pernicious forms of identity theft. If someone uses your credit card number to buy, say, designer shoes online, you can dispute the charges when you receive your credit card bill.

In new-account fraud, though, criminals use stolen information to open new accounts in your name. Sometimes, they arrange for the bills to go to a different address. You might not realize you’ve been victimized until the unpaid bills have trashed your credit record.

From wire reports


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