- On the same note, malware and phishing scams are on the uptick. Legitimate companies will never ask you to verify passwords or usernames via an email. Fraudsters will.
- Do you see misspelled words or grammatical mistakes? That’s a sure sign that the official-looking email originated from a suspicious source.
Reported COVID-19 scams
Whenever there is a natural disaster, there are always people who prey on those who want to help. Today, the disaster is a pandemic. Many are fearful, many are scared. It makes us especially vulnerable.
The FTC has warned Americans to beware of the potential scams that are proliferating. Here are some precautions to take that will keep you safer:
- Hang up on robocalls, and don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch fraudulent COVID-19 treatments and work-at-home schemes. Press a number to be removed from a list and you’ll likely get more calls.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and unproven home test kits.
- Ignore texts and emails about cash from the government. Stimulus checks will be forthcoming, but, per the FTC, anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer
- Please be leery of emails that claim to be from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts that claim they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus, visit the websites of the CDC or the World Health Organization (WHO).
Here’s a warning from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that was updated on March 30:
Fraudsters often use the latest news developments to lure investors into scams. We have become aware of a number of Internet promotions claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
Please be aware of the substantial potential for fraud at this time.
– Securities and Exchange Commission, March 30, 2020
Please be careful. We are living in uncertain times. While I am confident this will pass, uncertainty breeds fear, and there are criminals all over the world ready to cash in on your fear. For general cybersecurity recommendations, please also read our Insights article Protecting Your Financial Data.
Considerations for Your Stimulus Check
Four in 10 adults say they would struggle to come up with $400 in an emergency, according to the Federal Reserve’s annual check-in on Americans’ financial health. Well, most are about to get at least $1,200 after passage of the stimulus bill designed to ease the economic downturn that is occurring. Throw in $500 per child and a family of four nets $3,400.
Are you eligible? For singles, $1,200 is phased out between $75,000 and $99,000 in adjusted gross income. For married folks, the range is $150,000 to $198,000.
So, how will you spend your windfall? I’d like to say that you should go and spend it. It’s designed to help the economy. But there are several considerations:
- Make purchases from a small business in your neighborhood. Undoubtedly, they need the help.
- Do you need a rainy-day fund? Do you have six to twelve months of emergency cash, just in case? If not, consider putting your check into savings. If you don’t expect to be furloughed, an emergency fund is one way to go.
- Debt Paydown – look at debts, especially high-rate credit cards. Paying those down will provide you with an immediate return.
- Student Loan paydown – be cautious about putting your cash into student loans. Borrowers are receiving relief from the government. So you may want to hold off paying down student debt, at least for now.
- Can you give it away? Are you in a strong financial position?
Regarding the last bullet – Consider gifting the check to your parents, your children, or those who are in a difficult place. When businesses reopen, consider generously tipping your server who has been out of work. Even something as simple as a lavish tip to the delivery person can generate tremendous goodwill.
When we take our eyes off ourselves, the blessings we give away rebound in our direction.
I spend an enormous amount of time preparing and discussing the importance of your Financial Plan. It is your roadmap in good times and bad.
It is based on a simple premise: stocks rise more than they fall because, historically, the U.S. economy has expanded over time.
What is happening is unprecedented. We are in the midst of an economic and health care crisis. Both breed fear and uncertainty.
I am confident this pandemic eventually will pass, and I am confident that the underlying fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong. Resilience and ingenuity are part of the DNA that make up America. We will persevere and we will recover.
If you have questions, concerns, fears, and doubt, that is totally understandable. I really do get that. Please remember, my door is open for you to approach with questions.
What We Are Doing to Help
This week, I announced two things that may help:
- If you are laid off or one of the many experiencing economic hardship, I’m offering No-charge / No-obligation office hours in 30-minute blocks to address your personal situation. Private and confidential. No shame. I’ve been through this myself and you can read about it at About Mike Kastler
- No-charge use of our financial planning software for some basic functions like a financial dashboard, budgeting, and setting goals. It may be just what you need to figure out where you’re at, especially now. You can read more about it and start your financial planning journey as a do-it-yourselfer here: Our Financial Planning Software
About Kastler Financial Planning
We are a fiduciary, fee-only, and independent financial consultancy firm. Our core purpose is to improve the financial life for each and every client we serve. Our vision is that people have access to affordable and professional fiduciary financial planning, retirement planning, and investment management services, without the pressure or bias of product sales or commissions.
We specialize in fee-only Financial Planning services for young to mid-career families, Retirement Planning for those at or near retirement, Small Business Retirement Plan Consulting for small business owners, and Investment Management Services. We perform these services either as hourly, a one-time fee-only project, as on-going financial planning, or Assets Under Management (AUM), depending on your needs.
Whether you live in our backyard or across the country, we aim for a pleasant client experience through our Client Portal and computer screen-sharing technology.
If you have any question on how our services may apply to you, please contact us at the number below or submit an email through our Contact Us form.
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Kastler Financial Planning | Clarkston, MI 48346