Tag Archives: FINANCIAL

Internet Crime and the Email Compromises – Be Aware – Beware! – For All

 

 

This is an article published by the Trustmark Bank America in their Security watch letter. 

For those who are not aware of how easy it is to be hacked or blackmailed read this and you will realize you need to be very cautious about what emails you open. I know I get emails from friends in my contact list  that have died. I get bogus emails with names of my friends or acquaintances as the sender. If that is the case I always, yes always check the email address before I open it.

So I suggest you read both these articles as they could save you a lot of money and inconvenience.

 

Security Letter – Trustmark – 07/31/2017

According to the FBI internet crime complaint center business email compromise (BEC) schemes have caused at least 5.3 billion in total losses over the past three years to approximately 24,000 organizations around the world. The average loss per victim is about $218,000. Companies of all sizes and types are targeted leaving long wake of financial and emotional damage

Scammers go to great lengths to research and target employees who work with company finances. They often send emails posing as the company CEO and instruct their target to make funds transfers. There are many versions to this scam, including sending a bogus invoice and compromising an employees email account to gain more information, which is why it is important to understand how BEC works and to know where your vulnerabilities lie.

As devastating as this crime is its equally easy to avoid being exploited.

  1. Carefully scrutinize all emails. Be wary of irregular emails sent by high-level executives. They can be used to trick employees into acting with urgency. Review and verify emails that request funds transfers.
  2. Raise employee awareness. Educate employees about cybercrime and how they can help protect the company. Review company policies and encourage employees to develop good security habits.

 

  1. Verify any changes in vendor payment location by using a secondary sign off by company personnel

 

  1. Stay updated on customer habits including the details and reasons behind payments.

 

  1. Verify requests. Confirm request for funds transfers by using phone verification as part of two-factor authentication. Use previously known phone numbers, not the phone numbers provided in the email.

 

  1. Report any incident immediately to law enforcement for file a complaint with the IC3.

 

A complete list of self protection strategies is available on the US department of justice website.

If you or your company have bee victimized by a BEC scam, its important to act quickly. Contact your financial institution immediately and request that they issue a swift recall of the transfer. For domestic transfers ask you financial institution to send a ‘hold harmless’ letter to the beneficiary bank. Always file a complaint with IC3 whether the attack has been successful or not.

 

Now this next article is a must read

 

Ransomware

Ransomware Is a type of malicious software (malware) that freezes your computer or mobile device until a sum of money is paid. It can destroy personal and business files leading to stolen data and large financial losses.

  • KNOW

Ransomeware attacks – especially those that target small businesses – are evolving a complexity and are on the rise.

All devices are vulnerable but more and more mobile attacks are being reported.

Criminals collected $209 million in the first quarter of 2016

$1 Billion + in losses is projected from ransomware attacks in 2016 alone according to the FBI

Ransom fees vary from $200 – $10,000

  • IDENTIFY

Ransomware targets a specific individual within a business, or a consumer with a link or attachment that infects the computer with malware or leads the individual to an infected website. Three ways ransomware can take shape are:

  1. Spear phishing emails.

The sender appears to be someone you may know or someone relevant to your business

The message is often personalized and may include your name as a reference to a recent transaction.

  1. Advertisements or pop-up windows.

Your computer freezes and a popup message appears.

The message may threaten a loss of your files or information, or may also tell you that your files have been encrypted

  1. Downloadable software

Ransomwae is also present in downloadable games and file sharing applications.

Once the PC is infected your files are encrypted and inaccessible. The fraudster demand a ransom payment in order to unlock them.

  • PREVENT

Always back up your files and save them offline or in the cloud.

Always use antivirus software and a firewall. Be sure they are set to update automatically.

Enable popup blockers

Don’t click. Be cautious when opening emails or attachments you don’t recognize – even if the message comes from someone in your contact list.

Only download software from sites you know and trust.

Alert your local law enforcement agency as soon as you encounter a potential attack

 

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The New Predators – The Silent Call

That silence at the end of the line

A-black-phone-and-handset-008

The phone rings, you pick it up and say “Hello”  and no one is on the other line.

This is a new type of robo-Call – an automated computer system making tens of thousands of calls to “build a list of humans  target for theft”.

According to the Financial Fraud research center it is the first step in opening you up to many of the phone-based scams.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop Security, a company in Atlanta that detects phone fraud, says that in any number of ways, the criminal ring gets your 10 digits and loads them into an automated system.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, these robocalls are on the rise because Internet-powered phones make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world.

The next step is gathering information about your bank or credit card account. You get a call with a prerecorded voice that tells you, for example, “[we’re] calling with an important message about your debit card. If you are the cardholder please stay on the line and press 1. Otherwise please have the cardholder call us at 1-877…”

If you’re thinking about ignoring it, the message tries to scare you into paying attention with a warning: “A temporary hold may have been placed on your account and will be removed upon verification of activity.”

That number leads to another automated system that prompts you to share personal details like your date of birth, your card number and secure PIN, the expiration date, your Social Security number.

It can be tricky because many real banks have a similar system. And, Balasubramaniyan says, fear does kick in. He recalls a big scam in 2014 in which criminals pretended to be the IRS calling to collect back taxes. (The agency says the scam is still going on.) If you wanted to call back or have time to talk to your spouse before paying over the phone, the fraudster wouldn’t let you go.

Solution – If you have not already done so, ask your phone company top put caller ID on your landline. Then simply screen your calls and don’t pick up if the number is unfamiliar.

Do not  engage in any way with robocallers a lot of times when you get a robocall you have the option of pressing 1 for more information or pressing 2 to ask to be removed from the list. And in either case, pressing 1 or 2 basically lets the robocaller know that it’s a live person on the other line who’s willing to engage and that could lead to additional robocalls.

More information on this mattersilent_call

 

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Money Saving Tip For Today

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Lower Your energy costs:- The federal low income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) helps renters and homeowners get financial assistance and energy services to cut heating or cooling costs.

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Top 7 Credit Card For Those With Good Credit

If you have good credit then you obviously know how to manage your money. Ideally a credit card should be used for investing rather than consuming, but you already know that.
A credit card can be an advantage when making a quick turnover deal, that way you can use the banks money for very little cost and the money is always available especially if your credit rating is excellent. Anyway I thought this was a good article for anyone that is not happy with the credit card that they have.

Credit-Cards

Top 7 Credit Card Offers For Those With Excellent Credit
by Tasha Lockyer November 6, 2013

Do you have excellent credit? If so, banks are actively looking to win you as a new credit card customer by offering some unprecedented deals. Although banks have been more careful about acquiring customers with questionable credit since the 2008 Financial Crisis, they are now fighting harder than ever to win coveted customers with great credit. If you are in the excellent credit sweet spot, they are effectively giving you money (and a lot of it) to use their credit cards. These are the top 7 deals you can take advantage of today:

Citi Simplicity® Card: Shopping for a special item for yourself or someone else? This card will let you make big purchases then carry that balance into 2016 without paying a dime of interest. The Citi Simplicity Card features an incredibly lengthy 18-month 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers. And there are no late fees, convenient if you sometimes forget to pay your bill on time, as well as no annual fee. The combination makes this card perfect for anyone looking to make a large purchase (or several purchases) or who is interested in transferring balances from other high-interest credit cards to this one. Either way it’s a smart choice.

Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: This is such a great cash back card that I have one. Cardholders earn 6% cash back at supermarkets (up to $6K in purchases), 3% on gas and at department stores and 1% on everything else. The 3% cash back at department stores is sure to come in handy this holiday season, as will the 6% at supermarkets if you’re hosting any holiday dinners or have guests visiting. Plus there is a $150 intro bonus that you’ll get after making $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months – that’s a 15% cash back bonus on the first $1,000 you spend! In addition you’ll enjoy a 0% 15-month intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. There is a $75 annual fee, but depending upon your spending patterns this card should easily pay for itself and then some.

Barclay Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®: Like to travel? This is the card for you. You’ll earn 2 miles per dollar for every purchase, and a bonus 40,000 miles – equal to $400 in travel – after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership. To use your miles, just book your travel and redeem your miles for a statement credit. You can make your travel arrangements however you’d like (by phone, online, using an agent, etc), fly any airline to any destination, and enjoy no blackout dates.

An added perk of this card is that if you use your miles to pay for travel you’ll receive 10% of those miles back. So redeeming 10,000 miles will actually earn you a 1,000 mile bonus that will be deposited into your awards bank! That means if you take the 40,000 bonus miles and redeem them for travel they’ll actually be worth 44,000 miles or $440. That’s a pretty nice bonus just for signing up and using the card. Plus there are no foreign transaction fees, so you’ll save money when you travel outside the US. There is a $89 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. Overall this is a fabulous travel card and we highly recommend it.

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express: Need some extra cash? The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express (a NextAdvisor advertiser) is offering a great $100 bonus for a limited time. To get the bonus you only need to spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, which is pretty easy to do for most people. When you think about it, it’s a 10% cash back bonus on the first $1,000 you spend! Plus you’ll earn 3% cash back at supermarkets (on up to $6K in purchases each year), 2% cash back at gas stations and select department stores like Sears, J.C. Penny and Kohls, and 1% cash back on everything else. You’ll also enjoy 15 months of a 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers, giving you a little bit of a cushion to help pay items off. And to top it all off there’s no annual fee and the cash back rewards never expire.

BankAmericard Cash RewardsTM Credit Card: If you’re in the market for a great cash back rewards cards that also has a 12-month 0% APR, this is a smart pick. Not only can you transfer over balances from your high-interest cards to the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card and pay zero interest for a full year, but you’ll get the same 0% intro APR on new card purchases. Plus you’ll earn 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back on grocery stores (for the first $1,500 in combined grocery and gas purchases each quarter) and 1% cash back on everything else. And the cherry on top is you’ll earn an additional $100 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months. This card really does have it all – cash back, an extra cash back bonus, a length 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers AND no annual fee.

Slate® from Chase: This card was designed with credit card balance consolidation in mind. Its 15-month, 0% introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases translates to interest-free payments until 2015. Plus, there are no balance transfer fees during the first 60 days of card membership. This is a big deal, as depending upon how much you plan to transfer, balance transfer fees can really add up. In fact, a $0 intro balance transfer fee can save you hundreds of dollars in fees, and the $0 annual fee is also a money-saver. So if you have excellent credit, you absolutely should not be paying any credit card interest. Get this card and transfer your balances.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®: This is a rewards cards with lots of flexibility. It starts off by earning you 2 points for each dollar spent on travel and dining out, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. That’s followed up by a 40,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 in the 3 months equal – equal to $500 in travel rewards. Redeeming your earned points via Chase’s Ultimate Rewards saves 20% off travel costs, enabling you to stretch 40,000 worth of points to $500 in travel. You can also redeem your points for cash back, gift cards and merchandise.

The best part is that you can transfer your points 1:1 to many frequent travel programs with no transfer fees, including United MileagePlus, SouthWest Rapid Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport and Marriot Rewards. That means 1,000 points are equal to 1,000 partner miles/points, straightforward and simple. This feature is likely to appeal to road warriors who are members of various partner programs, as users aren’t limited to spending their points via Chase’s rewards program. There is a $95 annual fee, but it is waived the first year.

 

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Is Your Password Safe And Uncrackable

I read this article the other day written by Sid Kirchleimer who is the author of ” ScamProof Your Life” . The subject was about passwords for our computer , bank account, anything really that needs some form of a password.

After reading this I have gone through and altered all my passwords as they really were very crackable (not sure if that is a word from the dictionary )

Three suggestions.

1. Use at least 12 keystrokes. It is much harder for hackers to figure out. The Georgia Tech Research Institute suggests using a 12-character password as it provides a good balance between security and practicality.

2. Use Upper and Lowercase letters, spaces and underscores, and symbols like @ and %

3. Use passwords that describe your favorite things. That would make it easier for you  to remember.

4. You should never even think about entering credit card information, bank accounts or any passwords, requested by email. Doing this only makes your password prone to getting hacked, so make sure you never even use your own email to save passwords.

Here is a list of passwords that make it easy for those who make it their business to know your business.

  • Password
  • 123456
  • qwerty
  • abc123
  • monkey
  • trustnot
  • dragon
  • baseball
  • 111111
  • iloveyou
  • master
  • 654321
  • superman
  • football
  • qazwsx

The suggestion is,  change your password every 90 days or thereabouts on your email, financial accounts and  websites.

For more information go buy the book “Scamproof Your Life” . It would be a good book for your children to read

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Get The Best Money Advice

 

This is something that makes me a bit nervous. I have been to several financial advisers and most of the time come away with a gut instinct that it is not for me.

So when I found this advice it made sense and if you spend some time verifying the back ground of your advisor I think you can safely make a calculated decision.

Here is some sound advice when deciding to choose a financial advisor:

1. Always check their credentials. Make sure they have their CFP or CFA. These are hard-earned qualifications.

2. Go to FINRA.org and SEC.gov – check to see if any regulatory actions have been taken against the ‘Advisor’. See if they have registered with your state securities department (NASAA.org)

3. Do not commit to handing over any money. If there is some pressure from your advisor “Warning Bells”

4. Question Advisor recommendations – If they recommend an investment, ask if there is a penalty for getting your money back and how much that would be, if any. Penalties usually mean commission for your Planner.

5. Have your Advisor put in writinga. Why this investment is suitable to you? b. Total Costs per year. c. Costs should be under 1% a year. d. If the advisor says it is not necessary to give you that information, that his word is ‘gold’, it is time to get up and leave.

6. Be Sure you understand every thing – The advisor is recommending . The best way to make sure you understand is to explain it to a friend. That way you are confident that you have complete understanding, especially when they ask you questions. If there is a question you cannot answer with confidence, go ask you advisor for an explanation.

7. Ask Yourself who is making money here? – How is the planner and issuer of the product making money and you coming out with a profit also.

8.  Ask your advisor if there are any other investments of better value. – Any certificates of deposit or money market accounts backed by the U.S. government are paying more than your bonds or cash are getting. Go to Depositaccounts.com or Bankrate.com to see if the advisor is giving you the correct information.

9. Is it too good to be true – The old saying “it probably is”. Be warned if you are asked to sign a document saying you have read all the hundred pages and you understood it all. Are you feeling pressured?  That in itself is a warning.

10. Appearance – Is the advisor dressed well. Does he have the air of financial success. Is he neat, methodical. My Dad would say does he have clean tidy shoes. I know it sounds picky but can be a give away to his work ethic for you as a client.

Is he well-known? Is he well liked? That is also a sign of a successful person

Some times we can do all this due diligence and still get it wrong  but it does cover your arse a little more than if you don’t do it.

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The Debt Problem Explained!!

This was sent to me by a friend and I thought it very apt, with regard to our Governments, irrespective of what country it is.


This financial crisis is forcing government and local agencies to make some tough decisions. If things continue for much longer, there’s a real risk that we may have to lay off Jose.

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Crucial Life Changing Decisions About You and Your Dollars

I know that when you are young and having fun, your responsibilities for the future seem so far away. Responsibilities really do not become part of your day-to-day thoughts or actions. In many ways that is a good thing because chances are you will be spending the most part of your life working, worrying and being responsible. I believe we all need our young and frivolous time. It’s good for our health gives us good memories.
When the time comes we need to consider some major decisions, about where and how we will spend our dollars for the future.

Here are some of them.

1. Do I take a job or do I get an education

When you leave school, the decision is to get a job and become a wage earner and avoid the years of study as a student ( of course not to mention the debt you will incur) to get a degree. Or you further our education with the expectation of a professional job with more income and of course it allows you to extend your knowledge and hopefully your intelligence. In my opinion, these days, a degree does not always guarantee you a job. I think the decision to go straight into the workforce actually gives you a taste of whether you enjoy your job or not. If after a year of earning a wage, it is not what you expect, you then can go into a study course and educate yourself in a field that you are passionate about or receive more satisfaction. Either way it is a decision you will have to make upon leaving school

2. Will I have a serious relationship

Almost everyone at some point in their life will commit to a serious relationship. This also has serious financial implications. Your partner may not share your attitude and behaviour towards money. You could become liable for debts he or she may incur. Be aware that there are money strings attached to a relationship. Another thing to consider is that your assets may be at risk if your relationship ends. You need to take care and protect yourself if you enter into a serious relationship.

3. Do I want children – or not

Children will have a big impact on your finances make no mistake. If you decide you do not want children or only one, you must discuss this with your partner very early in the relationship because he or she may have a different plan. It should be a decision pleasing to both of you and get your finances in place so that you are able to live on one income for some time. The cost of a child is thousands of dollars over its lifetime so you need to be prepared.

4. Should I prepare for my retirement and invest.

Of course this is a must. You need to go see a financial adviser (do your due diligence on finding one, as there are good and bad ones) so that he can steer you in the best direction. Everyone should join an additional saving scheme other than their work place retirement scheme, as young as possible.

5. Should I buy a house – or not

This is always an interesting question. If you talk to most financial experts they will tell you that your home is not really the best investment. I think at this economic times most people would agree with them.
It does not always mean you need to live in the property you buy. You can rent it out and the rent you receive may cover your rent elsewhere. This can protect you from future property booms. If house prices surge your property value should too. Maybe that is time to invest in another property using the value of your rented home as collateral.
One of the advantages of home ownership is that it forces savings over the years.

6. Should I insure

The golden rule is to insure what you cannot afford to lose. You obviously must insure your home or investment home as you cannot afford to lose such a big financial hit. Fire, flood, hurricane, anything like that. Always yes Always read the fine print. There are some insurance companies that promise the world but when it comes to paying out you may find they don’t cover things like flooding etc etc.
Consider this also you cannot afford to destroy someones BMW or Mercedes Benz so make sure your car has full insurance to cover such incidents.

7. Should I invest

You have your own investment property, home, or a super scheme then you are already an investor. If you have paid off your mortgage and have no bills get the advise of an independent financial advisor (Once again do your due diligence)

8. Should I have an emergency fund

Always expect the unexpected. An earthquake, illness, redundancy, divorce. Have a spare cash kitty at all times. The mortgage has to be paid, food has to be bought. You may be financially well off but if your cash is all tied up and not readily available for an emergency it may have a long-term impact. So keep some cash somewhere handy for that time that you need it. I know that it may not be the safest thing to do but keep some cash hidden, rather that in the bank because who knows what would happen if all the ATM’s malfunctioned. You may laugh but it could happen.

9. Should I start a business

Right now it is probably a risky business. On the other hand if you find a reason to start a business because of demand, well go for it. I still believe there would be opportunities out there to start a successful business. Be prepared to work long hours and take risks but in the end I am sure it would be rewarding. Countries were built on risky business and entrepeneurs and I think we need that inspiration once again to get our country back on its feet.

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10 Tips To Remember As A First-Time Home Buyer

1.Buy When YOU are ready!.
This will probably be the biggest financial commitment you will have been faced with at this stage of your life. Make sure you are psychologically ready. Don’t be pressured. Don,t buy because others tell you the time is right to enter the market. Be totally comfortable.

2. Think outside the Box.
If you are unable to afford to buy in the area of your choice. You may need to scale down the size of the home, find a larger place in a different suburb or a smaller place in a prefered suburb.

3. Look at your first purchase as stepping stone.
Your first property may not be your ideal choice but look at the big picture. In five years time, sell up and buy somewhere more desirable using the financial gain from the increase in value. (Hopefully the economy improves by then).

4. Do NOT borrow more than you can afford.
It is not just the price of the property that is in question here. That’s is only the first cost. The next cost is legal fees, bank fee’s, transaction fees, not to mention the property upkeep, and household costs. Keep the loan repayments within your means.

5. There is always another bargain around the corner.
If you miss out on a property that is great value and really tugged at you heart and feeling a little deflated. Ask any real estate agent and they will tell you there will be another property come on the market within a short time that will fit your criteria and your budget equally.

6. Don’t pay too much.
Never pay more than what the property is worth. Do your own research and understand how much similar properties in the area are selling for.

7. Keep control of your emotions.
Do not fall in love with a property that is out of reach financially, and you feel you must have it. Big mistake. Often you will overlook much-needed repairs because it is so cute and so loveable. It may need thousands of dollars of work done on it. Get a building inspector to look the place over before you make a decision. Take a friend that you know will give you an honest opinion to look at the property.

8. Be sceptical of the selling agent.
The best real estate agent will spin you the best yarn about the property. Remember they have to put food on the table and will want to make a sale to do so. It is the salesperson legal obligation to sell the property for the highest price possible. If you were selling you would expect nothing less.

9. Put a hold on the renovations.
Very tempting I know, I have been there. Hold off, don’t rush in. Give yourself time to live in the place before you attempt to make changes. Keep hold of your spare cash, if you are lucky to have some, till you are sure of what renovations you want to do. This will also help you to prioritize the work you want to do.

10. There will be light at the end of the tunnel.
Your mortgage will feel like a huge weight around your neck for the first couple of years. You will probably have to deny yourselves some treats just so you can make the payments. If you plan carefully and make those small sacrifices, after a few years more positive things begin to happen and you will be grateful for your prize possesion.

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Are You In Debt ?

If you are in debt then you are one of thousands, well actually millions. Just because you are one of millions, that are living on someone elses money, it’s not ok. You need to address this problem NOW, because trust me, the economy is not going to get better in the near future. If you want to protect what you have, start doing it now. Your salary is buying you a lot less than it did one year ago and the need to look after every cent you earn is now essential.

If you feel you are unable to take care of your debt problem on your own and cannot afford to pay a financial advisor then many Charities and church establishments offer free debt counseling. Counseling will help take some of the burden from you and look at things from a different perspective. Make use of the help, if you need them, use them. Once you get back on your feet, a donation would probably be very appreciated.

If you feel you can go it alone then here are some budget tips that will be helpful to you.

BUDGET TIPS

  • Draw up a realistic budget: To do this write down your income including wages, benefits and other income as well as ALL your expenses.
  • Ensure your expenditure includes: Insurances, holidays, house improvements and savings.
  • Stop using credit: Paying cash is a perfect way to know exactly what you are spending your money on.
  • Once you have drawn a budget, stick to it: Resist the temptation to buy now and pay later.
  • Plan for the future: Create a new savings account to save money for future expenses and allows your balance to increase.
  • Stock up on the essentials: Toilet paper, shampoo, soap, laundry products when they are marked down in price.
  • Shop close to closing time; Many shops and bakeries offer discounts for food in the hours before they close.
  • Buy Cheaper: If you shop at the farmers markets in the weekends you will pick up better quality and often cheaper fruit and vegetables and fresh-baked goodies.
  • Leave your wallet at home: Unless you are specifically going shopping try leaving the wallet at home.
  • Turn your air conditioner off: If your fuel is low turning the air conditioning will help reduce fuel consumption.
  • Refrain from buying that delicious cappuccino every day: Now this is a hard one for me. Cut it down to twice a week.
  • Empty the refrigerator: Before buying more food eat everything out of the fridge you will be surprised what you can make out of virtually nothing.

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