Did you learn what you needed to know about money as a child, from your parents, other adult role models, or school? For many Americans, that answer is no.
As we round out America Saves Week, we want you to spend time thinking about how you can instill ways to #ThinkLikeASaver in the young people in your life. After all, savings can be both tangible (like saving in a piggy bank) and intangible (like preserving energy by turning off the lights).
Meet Kellie, a military spouse, and her two children, Hannah and Rhys, as they share how they encourage their children to save.
Take the America Saves Pledge to get support and accountability as you reach your savings goal.
Learn how to Create a Budget for your Family HERE.
It’s Day Four of America Saves Week, and here’s the ONE take away you need to know as you consider today’s focus, “Save by Reducing Debt”:
WHEN YOU PAY DOWN YOUR DEBT, YOU’RE SAVING!
By actively reducing your debt, you are saving on interest. When you pay on time, you save on late fees and maintain your credit score— saving money long-term.
With so many Americans being affected financially by the pandemic, actively paying down your debt may not be a priority, and that’s okay. Be sure that you talk to your creditors and take advantage of any repayment options or arrangements that allow you to keep your credit score intact and avoid additional interest and late payment fees.
We encourage you to join a community of people on a similar savings journey. The #ThinkLikeASaver Facebook Group is hosted by America Saves and is a great place to get ongoing support and interact with like-minded people committed to saving effectively.
Learn more tips and resources HERE.
#ReduceDebt, #PayingDownDebtIsSaving, #ASW2021
Many of us have thought about retirement. You may already be saving for it, which is excellent.
But have you thought about HOW you want to retire? More specifically, have you thought about what it will take to continue to live the lifestyle you have or the lifestyle you want once you retire?
Today is Save to Retire Day of America Saves Week.
Many Americans have expressed that the pandemic has helped them realize what matters most to them. Family, stability, creating memories, and travel were sentiments that we repeatedly heard when asked what was most meaningful to them.
Being able to have the type of lifestyle you want during retirement— spending quality time with loved ones, traveling, and not being a financial burden on your family, means that you have to prepare TODAY.
As you sit down to do a financial check-in within yourself around your retirement today, consider not just IF you’re saving for retirement, but if you’re saving ENOUGH for retirement.
Learn more tips and resources HERE.
Day Two of America Saves Week has us preparing for something that we should all actually expect: To have an “unexpected” financial emergency.
Today, for Save for the Unexpected Day of America Saves Week, we’ll check in with ourselves to ensure that we are building an emergency fund.
Yesterday we mentioned that saving is a habit, not a destination. The best place to put that into practice is when you are building an emergency fund.
For decades financial gurus have told us that we need to have 3 to 6 months of expenses saved to be financially secure.
While the more you can have socked away for a rainy day, the better, for most Americans, saving that amount is overwhelming and scary.
But, when you focus on building your HABIT of saving and start with a small goal of just $500, that seems much more attainable. Then, once you achieve that milestone, you can confidently keep going!
Before you know it, saving has become a lifestyle. You’re saving automatically and building your rainy day fund! If you haven’t, we encourage you to take the America Saves Pledge.
To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.
#Save4TheUnexpected, #EmergencySavings #ASW2021
It’s America Saves Week! Each year we encourage our community to dedicate this week to pause and do a financial check-in, and this year is no different.
Chances are that you are someone you love has experienced a loss of income since the onset of Covid-19 in America— so what better time to take this week to get a clear view of your finances, set your financial goals, and make a plan to achieve them?
We kick off Day One of America Saves Week by focusing on the easiest and most effective way to save— to SAVE AUTOMATICALLY.
How do you save automatically?
The two best ways to save automatically are:
- Splitting Your Direct Deposit: Have your employer direct a certain amount from your paycheck each pay period and transfer it to a retirement or savings account (or both). Traditionally, you can set this up using your employer’s direct deposit program. Contact your HR representative for more details, and set this up today. No amount is too small!
- Setting Up An Automatic Bank Transfer: At a chosen time, your bank or credit union will transfer a fixed amount from your checking account to a savings or investment account. Talk to your local bank or credit union to set this up.
Having a “set it and forget it” approach to saving increases your success rate.
Remember, savings is a HABIT, not a destination. When starting your savings journey, getting into the habit of saving is so important. Start small and THINK BIG. Even if your savings goal is $10 a week until you accumulate your first $500 in your emergency fund, you’ll be better prepared for those pesky unexpected emergencies and can simply pay it with your cash savings! Ready to commit to saving more successfully? We encourage you to take the America Saves Pledge, or repledge with a new goal.
To learn more about how Acumen can help you Invest Intentionally®, please contact us.
#SaveAutomatically, #ASW2021, #SplitToSave
05/08/20 – Envestnet Institute in Classrooms to Offer Critical Skills Education
At a time when parents are struggling to balance work, childcare and taking on homeschooling, Envestnet is thrilled to offer Acumen’s clients and families access to a library of 20+ digital courses for students in grades K-12. These courses provide quality educations content on lifes’s most critical topics, including financial education, mental wellness, prescription drug safety, compassion, digital wellness and more.
Through a strategic partnership with EVERFI, Inc., a global social impact education innovator, Envestnet Institute In Classrooms provides financial education to underserved communities across Philadelphia, Richmond, Seattle, and Chicago as part of their Envestnet Cares community engagement efforts.
EVERFI traditionally implements these K-12 courses in a classroom setting, but in response to the extended shutdown of our nation’s schools, Envestnet has partnered with them to provide the students for our clients’families with direct access for a limited time.
Social Emotional Learning
College and Career Readiness
Parents, to get started visit: everfi.com/familyresources
Acumen Wealth Advisors utilizes Envestnet Tamarac’s robust Client Portal, CRM, Rebalancer, and Reporting systems.
04/24/20 – Passing on a company’s match is basically giving up part of your total compensation.
If you don’t contribute to your 401(k) plan, you may be missing out on a big wad of cash from your employer.
Most companies that offer these workplace retirement plans will match your contributions up to a certain amount. Depending on your salary and the matching formula used, that could translate into thousands of extra dollars going toward your nest egg every year. And after leaving it there to grow? Your future self would probably thank you.
“It’s so important to take every bit of money your company wants to give you,” said Kathryn Hauer, a certified financial planner with Wilson David Investment Advisors in Aiken, South Carolina. “Your employer is saying they’ll give you money, and to get it, you just need to set aside savings for yourself every year.”
About two-thirds (60%) of all workers had access to a 401(k) plan last year, and 72% of those eligible employees participated, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While there are many reasons for not participating, a number of experts say that passing on a company’s match is basically giving up part of your compensation. And, they compare the match to getting an immediate — and big — return on your contributions.
“If you have an employer that in essence is giving you a rate of return of 100% or 50% on your contribution, regardless of whether you’re 18 or 65, you really have to take the money,” said CFP Glen Smith, managing partner of Glen D. Smith and Associates at Raymond James in Flower Mound, Texas.
And, of course, if you are able to contribute more than just enough to get the match, that can only help your nest egg grow. The 2020 contribution limit for 401(k) plans is $19,500, with people age 50 and older allowed an extra $6,500 as a “catch-up” contribution for a total of $26,000.
Remember, too, that if you have a traditional 401(k), your contributions are made pretax, which reduces your taxable income (and, in turn, how much you pay in taxes). If it’s a Roth, your contributions are made after-tax.
And, whether you contribute to a traditional or Roth 401(k), the company’s match always goes into the former and is not taxable compensation. Also, employer contributions do not count toward the contribution maximums.
The most common matching formula, according to Fidelity Investments, is a 100% match for the first 3% you contribute with a 50% match for the next 2%. Some companies also make contributions that aren’t based on a matching formula.
While any contributions you make are always yours, the employer contributions typically are on a vesting schedule — that is, you must work at that company for a certain amount of time before the match is 100% yours. Often, vesting happens gradually — i.e., 20% of the match is vested after one year, 40% after two years, and so on.
“Even if you don’t think you’ll be there long enough to be fully vested, even a 20% or 40% vested match is free money,” Smith said.
As for what the savings would look like down the road: For illustration purposes, assume your annual salary is $50,000. If you were just to contribute enough to get the employer match, the most common matching formula would mean you contribute 5%, or $2,500, in a year, and your company would put in another $2,000 — totaling $4,500 a year.
If you did that for only one year, the money would be worth about $26,200 in 30 years, based on a 6% annual return, according to data provided by Fidelity Investments.
If you were to do that five years in a row, with your salary increasing 2% yearly, your account would be worth roughly $69,000 in 30 years. Ten years in a row? The account would hit $202,300 in three decades. And the amount that came from the employer match would be $89,900 — 44% — of it.
Generally speaking, workers can use all the help they can get in saving for retirement. While there are now a record number of 401(k) accounts at Fidelity worth at least $1 million, they represent a sliver of the retirement accounts managed by the company.
The median account balance — half are above, half are below — among pre-retirees is far from the $1 million mark, according to Vanguard’s How America Saves Report. For people ages 55 to 64, the median account balance in 2018 was about $61,700. For those ages 45 to 54, it was $40,200.
If you’re already feeling financially squeezed, experts say, it may be hard to imagine parting with any more of your paycheck even when it would be money waiting for you when you retire.
“I’m sympathetic to how hard it can be to make ends meet,” Hauer said. “But even if you can’t contribute enough to get all of the match, it’s worth at least getting some of it.”
Additionally, you can always back off contributions.
“If you’re at 3% and realize it’s too much, reduce it to 2%,” Hauer said. “It’s not a permanent commitment.”
In other words, you can typically go online to your account through your company’s plan administrator and adjust your paycheck withholding as needed.
Smith also said that he’s seen some people start at contributing just 1% of their salary and then they realize they can manage that level of savings and increase it to 2% or 3%.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get started,” Smith said. “Some younger people think, ‘Oh, I have plenty of time,’ and then some older people say, ‘It’s too late now.’
“But it’s not — you have to start somewhere,” he said. “And especially if the money’s being matched, it’s a good way to get it to start snowballing.”
Feb. 27, 2020, 11:41 AM EST
By Sarah O’Brien, CNBC
Disclosure: Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow. is a financial wellness and education initiative from CNBC and Acorns, the micro-investing app. NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.
Crises make us see the world differently. Things that seemed important yesterday can quickly become overshadowed by fast-changing events. Conversely, parts of our lives that we might have let drift can suddenly feel like priorities.
The COVID19 pandemic and related volatility in financial markets may be causing such a reordering of priorities. In fact, for investors who find themselves unsettled by the stomach-churning events of recent months, taking some time to reevaluate their priorities could feel like something of an opportunity to be seized.
The good news is that research has shown that using specific moments in time to make a fresh start can work. The idea is to create an “old me” and a “new me” where the dividing line is a particular point in time—New Year’s resolutions are a popular example, but a crisis can also work—and then using that “temporal landmark” as motivation to correct any errors.
So if this crisis has you thinking about your financial life, consider revisiting your priorities, your resources, your goals, and your tolerance for risk. Now could be the time to assess where you are and come up with a plan for where you want to go next.
Step 1: Create a budget for life
When it comes to finances, life can be viewed as cash flowing in—and out. Saving and investing during your working years, if you stick with it, should lead to a rising net worth over time, enabling you to achieve many of life’s most important goals. Drawing up a budget and net worth statement can help you create a road map and stay on track. Here are steps that can help:
- Create a budget. At a minimum, be sure to have a high-level budget with three things: how much you’re taking in after taxes, how much you’re spending, and how much you’re saving. If you’re not sure where your money is going, track your spending using a spreadsheet or an online budgeting tool for 30 days. Break expenses in to essentials—must-haves such as housing, utilities, food, and insurance—and non-essentials—nice-to-haves such as dining out, travel, vacations, and leisure. Determine how much money you need to cover the essentials, and how much you’d like to put away for other goals—if they don’t match, look for non-essentials that can be cut or delayed. For retirement, our rule of thumb is to save 10%–15% of pre-tax income, including any match from an employer, starting in your 20s. If you delay, the amount you may need to save goes up. Add 10% for every decade you delay saving for retirement. Once you commit to an amount, consider ways you can save automatically.
- Calculate your personal net worth annually.It doesn’t have to be complicated. Make a list of your assets (what you own) and subtract your liabilities (what you owe). Subtract the liabilities from the assets to determine your net worth. Don’t panic if your net worth declines during tough market periods, such as the current bear market. What’s important is to see a general upward trend over your earning years. If you’re retired, you’ll want to plan an income and distribution strategy to make your net worth last as long as necessary, and to support other objectives.
- Project the cost of essential big-ticket items.If you have a big expense in the near term, like college tuition or a roof repair, increase your savings and treat that money as spent. If you know that you’ll need the money within a few years, keep it in relatively liquid, relatively safe investments like short-term certificates of deposit (CDs), a savings account, or money market funds purchased within a brokerage account. If you choose to invest in a CD, make sure the term ends by the time you need the cash. If you have more than a few years, invest wisely, based on your time horizon.
- Retired? Invest your living-expense money conservatively.Consider keeping 12 months of living expenses after accounting for non-portfolio income sources (Social Security or a pension) in short-term CDs, an interest-bearing savings account, or a money market fund. Then keep another one to four years’ worth of spending laddered in short-term bonds or invested in short-term bond funds as part of your portfolio’s fixed income allocation. This helps provide the money you need in the short-term. It also allows you to invest other money for a level of growth potential that makes sense for you, while reducing the chances you’ll be forced to sell more-volatile investments (like stocks) in a down market.
- Prepare for emergencies.If you aren’t retired, we suggest creating an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of essential living expenses, set aside in a savings account. The emergency fund can help you cover unexpected-but-necessary expenses without having to sell more volatile investments.
Step 2: Manage your debt
Debt is neither inherently good nor bad—it’s simply a tool. For most people, some level of debt is a practical necessity, especially to purchase an expensive long-term asset to pay back over time, such as a home. However, problems arise when debt becomes the master, not the other way around. Here’s how to stay in charge.
- Keep your total debt load manageable.Don’t confuse what you can borrow with what you should Keep the monthly costs of owning a home (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) below 28% of your pre-tax income and your total monthly debt payments (including credit cards, auto loans and mortgage payments) below 36% of your pre-tax income.
- Eliminate high-cost, non-deductible consumer debt.Try to pay off credit card debt and avoid borrowing to buy depreciating assets, such as cars. The cost of consumer debt adds up quickly if you carry a balance. Consider consolidating your debt in a low-rate home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC)—and have a plan and a schedule to pay it back.
- Match repayment terms to your time horizons.If you’re likely to move within five to seven years, you could consider a shorter-maturity loan or an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), depending on current mortgage rates and options. Don’t consider this if you think you may live in your home for longer, or may not be able to manage mortgage payment resets if interest rates or your plans change. We also don’t suggest that you borrow money under the assumption that your home will automatically increase in value. Historically, long-term home appreciation has significantly lagged the total return of a diversified stock portfolio. And, for any type of debt, have a disciplined payback schedule.
Step 3: Optimize your portfolio
We all share the goal of getting better investment results. But successfully jumping in and out of the market as it rises and falls is difficult and can be counter-productive. So create a plan that will help you stay disciplined in all kinds of markets. Follow your plan and adjust it as needed. Here are ideas to help you stay focused on your goals.
- Focus first and foremost on your overall investment mix.After committing to a savings plan, how you invest is your next most important decision. Have a targeted asset allocation—that is, the overall mix of stocks, bonds and cash in your portfolio—that you’re comfortable with, even in a down market. Make sure it’s still in sync with your long-term goals, risk tolerance and time frame. The longer your time horizon, the more time you’ll have to benefit from up or down markets.
- Diversify across and within asset classes.Diversification helps reduce risks and is a critical factor in helping you reach your goals. Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are great ways to own a diversified basket of securities in just about any asset class.
- Consider taxes. Place relatively tax-efficient investments, like ETFs and municipal bonds, in taxable accounts and relatively tax-inefficient investments, like mutual funds and real estate investment trusts (REITs), in tax-advantaged accounts. Tax-advantaged accounts include retirement accounts, such as a traditional or Roth individual retirement account (IRA). If you trade frequently, do so in tax-advantaged accounts to help reduce your tax bill.
- Monitor and rebalance your portfolio as needed.Evaluate your portfolio’s performance at least twice a year using the right benchmarks. Remember, the long-term progress that you make toward your goals is more important than short-term portfolio performance. As you approach a savings goal, such as the beginning of a child’s education or retirement, begin to reduce investment risk, if appropriate, so you don’t have to sell more volatile investments, such as stocks, when you need them.
Step 4: Prepare for the unexpected
Risk is a part of life, particularly in investments and finance. Your financial life can be upended by all kinds of surprises—an illness, job loss, disability, death, natural disasters or pandemics. If you don’t have enough assets to self-insure against major risks, make a resolution to get your insurance needs covered. Insurance helps protect against unforeseen events that don’t happen often, but are expensive to manage yourself when they do. The following guidelines can help you prepare for life’s unexpected moments.
- Protect against large medical expenses with health insurance. Select a health insurance policy that matches your needs in areas such as coverage, deductibles, co-payments and choice of medical providers. If you’re in good health and don’t visit the doctor often, consider a high-deductible policy to insure against the possibility of a serious illness or unexpected health-care event.
- Purchase life insurance if you have dependents or other obligations. First, take advantage of a group term insurance policy, if offered by your employer. These don’t generally require a medical check, and can be cost-effective to provide income replacement for dependents. If you have minor children or you have large liabilities that will continue after your death for which you can’t self-insure, you may need additional life insurance. Unless you have a permanent life insurance need or special circumstances, consider starting with a low-cost term life policy before a whole life policy.
- Protect your earning power with long-term disability insurance.The odds of becoming disabled are greater than the odds of dying young. According to the Social Security Administration, a person who turned 20 in 2019 has a 19% chance of becoming disabled before normal retirement age, and a 3% chance of dying before retirement age.¹ If you can’t get adequate short- and long-term coverage through work, consider an individual policy.
- Protect your physical assets with property-casualty insurance.Check your homeowners and auto insurance policies to make sure your coverage and deductibles are still right for you.
- Obtain additional liability coverage, if needed. A personal liability “umbrella” policy is a cost-effective way to increase your liability coverage by $1 million or more, in case you’re at fault in an accident or someone is injured on your property. Umbrella policies don’t cover business-related liabilities, so make sure your business is also properly insured, especially if you’re in a profession with unique risks and aren’t covered by an employer.
- Consider the pros and cons of long-term-care insurance. If you consider a long-term care policy, look for a policy that provides the right type of care and is guaranteed renewable with locked-in premium rates. Long-term care typically is most cost-effective starting at about age 50, and becomes more expensive or difficult to find, generally, after age 70. You can get independent sources of information from your state insurance commissioner. A sound retirement savings strategy is another way to plan ahead for long-term care costs.
- Create a disaster plan for your safety and peace of mind.Review your homeowner’s or renter’s policy to see what’s covered and what’s not. Talk to your agent about flood or earthquake insurance if either is a concern for your area. Generally, neither is included in most homeowners policies. Keep an updated video inventory of valuable household items and possessions along with any professional appraisals and estimates of replacement values in a safe place away from your home.
If you’re tech-savvy, consider storing inventories and important documents on a portable hard drive. It’s also a good idea to have copies of birth certificates, passports, wills, trust documents, records of home improvements and insurance policies in a small, secure “evacuation box” (the fireproof, waterproof kind you can lock is best) that you can grab in a hurry in case you have to evacuate immediately. Make sure your trusted loved ones know about this file as well, in case they need it.
Step 5: Protect your estate
An estate plan may seem like something only for the wealthy—but there are simple steps everyone should take. Without proper beneficiary designations, a will and other basic steps, the fate of your assets or minor children may be decided by attorneys and tax agencies. Taxes and attorneys’ fees can eat away at these assets, and delay the distribution of assets just when your heirs need them most. Here’s how to protect your estate—and your loved ones.
- Review your beneficiaries, especially for retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance. The beneficiary designation is your first line of defense to make your wishes for assets known and ensure that that transfer to who you want quickly. Keep information on beneficiaries up-to-date to ensure the proceeds of life insurance policies and retirement accounts are consistent with your wishes, your will and other documents
- Update or prepare your will.A will isn’t just about transferring assets. It can provide for your dependents’ support and care, and help you avoid the costs and delays associated with dying without one. It can also spell out plans to repay debts, such as a credit card or mortgage. Keep in mind that a beneficiary designation or asset titling trumps what’s written in a will, so make sure all documents are consistent and reflect your desires. When writing a will, we recommend working with an experienced lawyer or estate planning attorney.
- Coordinate asset titlingwith the rest of your estate plan. The titling of your property and non-retirement accounts can affect the ultimate disposition and taxation of your assets. Talk with an estate attorney or lawyer not only about titling of assets, such as a home or other assets, that don’t have a beneficiary designation, to make sure they reflect your wishes, and are consistent with titling laws that can vary by state, but also debts.
- Have in place durable powers of attorney for health care.In these documents, appoint trusted and competent confidants to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
- Consider creating a revocable living trust.This is especially important if your estate is large and complex, and you want to spell out how your assets should be used in detail. A living trust may not be needed for smaller estates where beneficiaries, titling and a will can be sufficient. But talk with a qualified financial planner or attorney.
- Take care of important estate documents.Make sure a trusted and competent family member or close friend knows the location of your important estate documents.
We can’t control what’s in the headlines, but we can take steps to bring some order to our own affairs. On that note, here are a few suggestions for tackling your financial to-do list:
- Be realistic.Resolving to cut your spending in half or to triple your savings rate is probably just setting you up for failure.
- Be specific with your actions and why you’re doing them.Fuzzy goals like “get my financial affairs in order” may sound nice, but they’re hard to track. Some aspects of financial housecleaning can be arcane and may not inspire action. Fix this by listing your goal and why it’s important for you do it.
- Be focused.No one is handing out a prize for creating the longest list of financial goals. You may really want to eliminate your credit card debt, save enough for that trip to Hawaii when the pandemic ends, and reduce your grocery budget by 10% by shopping smarter. But too many goals at one time can sap your ability and motivation to stick to a small number of truly achievable goals.
- Celebrate successes.A nice pat on the back goes a long way toward keeping you motivated and feeling confident about your ability to respond to any surprises life or the markets throw your way.
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The White House and lawmakers this week have announced ambitious plans to send Americans $1,000 checks to help offset the effects of coronavirus. But with details still to be hammered out, the proposal is not quite a done deal.
Yet the Federal Trade Commission is already warning consumers to beware of scammers looking to get their hands on that cash instead. “We predict that the scammers are gearing up to take advantage of this,” writes Jennifer Leach, an associate director with the FTC.
Normally, the FTC says it would wait until the details of the proposed payment plan are finalized before issuing a warning, “but these aren’t normal times,” Leach writes. She says that should the plan to issue checks pass, the government will not ask you to pay anything upfront for this, nor will officials call you asking for personal details such as your Social Security number or your bank account number. “Anyone who does is a scammer,” Leach says.
It’s similar advice to that being offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which issued a notice on Wednesday warning consumers that fraudsters are pretending to be agency representatives to entice consumers to give away their personal details.
Beware Coronavirus Scams
These are far from the only scams tied to coronavirus that experts say consumers need to be on the lookout for. “Scammers also follow the money,” Dov Lerner, security research lead at cybersecurity threat intelligence company Sixgill, tells CNBC Make It. “This virus is a perfect storm, at an unprecedented scale,” Lerner says, adding that people are afraid for their health and there’s a deep sense of economic uncertainty. “It is something that we would fully expect scammers to pounce on.”
The global coronavirus pandemic has led to a “wave of dubious robocalls,” according to researchers at YouMail, which tracks robocalls. Many Americans are getting robocalls offering $400 work-from-home opportunities with Amazon, YouMail reports. Another type of highly questionable robocall that Americans are receiving is from a company offering to sanitize “ducts and air filters to protect your loved ones from the coronavirus.” It sounds plausible until you realize that COVID-19 is transmitted by droplets from an infected person, not by bacteria in air filters.
Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission warned Americans about an uptick in investment scams attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, the SEC said there were a number of “Internet promotions, including on social media” touting opportunities to invest with companies that are working to cure coronavirus. Potential investors should avoid any market opportunities where there are promises of guaranteed returns or if there’s a ton of sudden trading activity around a specific microcap stock, also commonly referred to as penny stocks.
Scammers have also been caught setting up fake charities that purport to benefit victims of the virus, warns Nikki Fried, commissioner of Florida’s consumer unit. Before donating to any charity aimed at helping the coronavirus crisis, Florida offers a Check-A-Charity tool to learn if a charity is properly registered and if your money is actually going to benefit victims. If a charity operates outside of Florida, you can look up nonprofits on watchdog sites such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Great Nonprofits. These sites rate nonprofits and allow you to find out more about the organization and how donations are spent.
How to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Scams
As tough as it can be, consumers need to be extra vigilant right now, Lerner says. Don’t give credit card or other personal information to anyone over the phone, don’t click on links in emails that lead to payment pages and don’t even answer the door for someone claiming to be from the government unless they can show proper identification. You should assume it’s a scam until someone proves otherwise, he says.
Don’t pick up any calls from unfamiliar phone numbers — let them roll into voicemail for further scrutiny, YouMail says. “As with all unknown or unexpected robocalls, it’s buyer beware. We recommend consumers ignore them,” says Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail.
You should also “take a breather,” recommends Ron Schlecht, managing partner at cybersecurity firm BTB Security. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into buying anything or giving away any information, Schlecht tells CNBC Make It.
It’s usually a red flag if something needs to be done immediately. “There’s a good reason to take a deep breath and evaluate the nature of the communication,” Schlecht says. “The only ‘immediacy,’ even during a pandemic, is life or death.” It’s no coincidence that scammers tend to thrive during heightened emotional states.
If you’re suspicious, talk to a friend or relative about what happened. “Bouncing the interaction off of somebody else may help raise a flag,” Schlecht says. And experts say the old adage holds true: If something sounds too good or outrageous to be true, it probably is.
Published Thu, Mar 19 202011:15 AM EDT
Original article found HERE.
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