What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Scams

Covid19

As uncertainty and fear dominate news headlines, fraudsters looking to profit from global panic have unleashed hundreds of scams to get you to part with your hard-earned money. Acknowledging this growing surge in fraud attempts, we at SolidTrust Pay believe that it’s important to keep you, our valued members, informed about these threats.

To protect yourself from unscrupulous scammers, authorities are urging the public to stop and think before sharing personal information over the phone. A common scam involves fraudsters impersonating charities and health agencies and requesting money for victims. Additionally, as we look to the internet to provide answers to pressing questions about the pandemic, criminals are creating COVID-19 information sites with harmful links that can infect your computer with viruses and malware.

Increasingly, scammers are targeting their victims in person, going door to door and selling fraudulent products. Some scams that have been identified by law enforcement agencies include selling filters designed to protect against COVID-19, fake testing kits, and remedies that promise to increase a user’s immunity to the virus. Currently, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus and testing must be administered by trained personnel.

We advise you to beware of:

1. Unsolicited calls and texts providing medical advice or requesting urgent action or payment.

It is important that you never click on suspicious links or email attachments and never give out your personal or financial information to a person or organization that you did not initiate contact with.

2. Emails sent from official organizations requesting you to click on a link or open an attachment.

Cybercriminals are sending phishing emails designed to look like they originate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The emails are often health alerts, falsely claiming to link to a list of coronavirus cases in your area.

3. Unauthorized or fraudulent charities requesting money for victims or research.

You should never feel pressured into making a donation and always verify that the charity is registered by asking for their registration number or going to their website.

4. Deceitful offers, such as vaccinations, immune-boosting remedies, and unregulated at-home testing kits.

5. Questionable online ads selling high demand items such as hand sanitizer and cleaning products.

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Some of the scams that have already been reported to anti-fraud agencies include:

  1. Fraudsters posing as heating or cleaning companies offering special filters to protect you and your family against COVID-19 or household decontamination services.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) offering fake lists for sale of COVID-19 infected people in your neighbourhood.
  3. Various public health agencies giving false results saying you have tested positive for COVID-19. These scammers then trick their victims into disclosing credit card numbers for a prescription.
  4. Red Cross and other known charities offering free medical products, such as masks, for a donation.
  5. Government departments sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails tricking you into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.
  6. Financial advisors pressuring you to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease or providing low-interest loans to help you get through the shutdowns.
  7. Door-to-door salesmen and private companies selling rapid COVID-19 test kits or fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease. There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus and testing must be administered by trained personnel.

 

Always use caution when you’re solicited by an unknown individual or company, and always remember:

Don’t be afraid to say no: If a telemarketer tries to get you to buy something or urges you to send money to them right away, request the information in writing or simply hang up.

Do your research: Always verify that the organization you’re dealing with is legitimate before you take any action. You should look online for the company’s contact information and call them to confirm.

Watch out for deceptive ads or spoofed emails: Always verify the company and its services before you contact them.

Don’t give out personal information: Beware of unsolicited calls where the caller asks you for personal information. If you didn’t initiate the call, you don’t know who you’re talking to.

Beware of upfront fees: Many scams request you to pay fees in advance of receiving goods, services, or a prize. It’s illegal for a company to ask you to pay a fee upfront.

 

For trusted resources and advice about COVID-19, please reference the latest health information from these legitimate sources:

 

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How To Achieve Your Goals With Less

Stretcher

Current headlines paint a picture of a world where uncertainty and fear are the dominant themes. This unprecedented time has been marked by increased market volatility, supply chain disruptions, international travel restrictions, and bans on public gatherings. There are no shortage of questions surrounding the global pandemic and how it has the potential to touch all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional.

Despite this, challenging times present us with the opportunity to examine our values, our beliefs, and our conduct. It is from these moments of self-reflection that growth can occur. There is a mounting body of scientific research that demonstrates how making do with less and better utilizing the potential of the resources we currently have leads to better results in life. Whether you want to find a new job, start a business, get healthier, raise successful children, or improve your relationship with your significant other, using the resources you have more effectively can yield results better than you could ever imagine. Let me introduce you to the stretching mindset.

Having More is Always Better, Right?

I’m a chaser. Since I can remember, I have always been one. Chasing has become second nature to me. I chase time. I chase money. I chase connections and experiences and feelings. Worst of all, I chase happiness. I know I’m not alone because everyone close to me chases after something, yet I have never stopped and questioned my insatiable need for more and the dissatisfaction I so often feel with what I have readily at hand. Chasing is simply who I am and there’s nothing wrong with my, or your, unrelenting search for more.

That’s what I used to believe before I discovered an alternative way of living. In Stretch, Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein, introduces readers to the value of “stretching,” a concept best summed up by the timeless wisdom of making the most of what you have. Stretching has become a lost virtue in our age of plenty. For many of us, the idea is synonymous with frugality, a word that all too often elicits memories of stingy family members and sibling hand-me-downs. Why should a pervasive feeling of lack be the only alternative to a life centred on accumulation?

Stretching isn’t a chronic feeling of scarcity, it’s actually the antidote. The chasing mindset has become so deeply entrenched in our thinking, that when a problem arises we immediately assume that allocating more resources to it is the solution. Whether it’s a struggling department at work, poor academic performance by our kids, or a relationship in need of a boost, our first thought is to provide a bigger budget, hire private tutors, and buy the perfect expensive gift. Professor Sonenshein would advise us to pause and take stock of the resources around us.

The Problems with a Chasing Mindset

You may be wondering what’s wrong with a chasing mindset. After all, life’s most meaningful accomplishments become a whole lot easier to reach when you have the right resources at your disposal. If you want to start the business of your dreams, raise a healthy and happy family, or graduate from a great school, you’re going to need money, time, support, and know-how. No one can argue with that. But research tells us that we often get overzealous when amassing resources, which can lead us to underutilize, or worse, squander what we have worked so hard to obtain.

Chasing leaves people less satisfied and successful because it’s a mindset built on our habit to compare ourselves with others. Upward social comparison is intrinsic to human nature. We measure how we’re doing in life by looking at how our friends, family members, and neighbours are doing. But many of us don’t stop there. Increasingly, we aspire to lead lives in sync with the rich and famous. Chasing after these lifestyles is an exhaustive pursuit and that can take a serious toll on our mental health as we find ourselves tying our self-worth to the fortunes of those who seem to have it all.

Chasing also leads to mindless accumulation and resource squandering. For chasers, more is always better and the number of resources they acquire can become an aim in itself. If you believe that having an endless supply of resources will always yield better results, you can easily find yourself trapped in the accumulation mindset. Surprisingly, having plenty of resources also increases the likelihood that you will squander them. When test subjects were given high personal responsibility for a project, say improving an underperforming department, they doubled down on the commitment to the project by investing even more resources. It’s all too easy to become blind to bad ideas and fall into the trap that more resources will deliver the results we want.

The Virtues of Stretching

Stretching, on the other hand, encourages us to look for untapped potential in the resources we already possess. When you practice stretching, you’re likely to come up against constraints. Whatever they may be, a chasing mindset sees constraints as hurdles to be overcome by any means necessary. It’s at this moment where most of us begin our quest for more resources. But stretchers see constraints as an opportunity to find new uses for what they have at hand, which often leads to creative breakthroughs that yield surprising results. For example, architects and product designers who work while sticking to a strict budget are more resourceful when responding to challenges and yield more creative results than those working without constraints.

Stretchers also embrace the virtue of frugality to deliver better results. At first, this may sound counterintuitive, how can making do with less improve outcomes? It turns out that frugal people possess three features that we would all be wise to adopt. First, frugal people focus on long-term objectives rather than short-term satisfaction. Second, they turn their backs on wasteful spending and reuse what they have. Third, frugal people do not fall into the comparison trap and resist the temptation to measure their self-worth in relation to those around them. These factors help develop our internal resourcefulness, preventing us from expending valuable energy chasing resources we don’t actually need and squandering those that we have.

Interestingly, stretchers are better at seeing the potential in resources that others are quick to dismiss. Take Jenny Dawson for instance. Troubled by the huge amounts of produce that end up in garbage bins because of minor cosmetic blemishes, she founded the company Rubies in the Rubble, and transforms unwanted fruits and vegetables into gourmet jams and chutneys. Almost anything has the potential to be a resource if you are willing to invest adequate time and effort into its development.

5 Ways to Develop a Stretching Mindset

1 – Spend Time with a Stretcher: Find a stretcher you admire and already know, and commit to spending at least one hour with him or her once a month. You may be surprised by what they can teach you.

2 – Get an Outsider’s Perspective: Outsiders often notice things we’ve become blind to. Ask them to consider what personal resources (skills, knowledge, connections etc.) you are underutilizing.

3 – Practice Appreciation: Researches have discovered that those who listed what they are grateful for every day in a journal prioritize the future, are less impatient and experience higher levels of wellbeing.

4 – Change Your Habits: Often, our propensity to over plan can make us rigid and prevent us from seeing opportunities right in front of us. Instead, practice changing your routines. For example, at work, you could shuffle the people you put on teams or have your meetings in different rooms. In your personal life, take different routes when you’re driving to a destination, or try a new restaurant. Research has also shown that learning a new hobby is a great way to change your brain’s habitual thinking.

5 – Look for Treasure: To train your stretching mindset, create a benefits diary where you list key events, activities or experiences from your day. Then, beside each entry list one unexpected benefit. For positive experiences, this is easy. However, for events linked to negative emotions, it becomes a lot harder. But if you look hard enough, you will find a hidden benefit. Take for example the dreaded experience of visiting your dentist. One benefit could be greater motivation to care for your teeth based on a checkup.

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Women & Money: Be Strong, Be Smart & Be Secure

WomenMoney

In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re examining the challenges that women face on their path to financial security. Earlier this year, CIBC, one of Canada’s largest financial services provider, released a survey that sought to uncover existing gaps between women’s money concerns and life goals. Its findings reveal that the majority of its 3,200 respondents lack knowledge of financial planning, a shortcoming that is negatively affecting how women manage their personal finances.

Despite the majority of respondents agreeing with the statement that financial security is a strong contributor to their happiness, the survey revealed financial mistakes that we are all guilty of making.  Failing to save earlier in life and not investing when they were younger, were singled out as women’s greatest financial regrets. When asked what personal wealth advice they would offer their younger selves, 56 percent of respondents said “start saving earlier,” 50 percent said “start investing as soon as possible,” and 44 percent said “start planning for retirement earlier.”

The importance of planning for retirement through proactive savings and investment plans in well known, but many women continue to severely underfund their long-term financial security. The majority of respondents expressed confusion about how best to make their money work for them. Among the women polled, only 10 percent felt knowledgeable about investing, and just 15 percent felt confident about their retirement planning. Additionally, nearly half of women polled who own investments prioritize capital preservation and predictable returns. As retirement planning is a primary concern for many women, increasing knowledge about investment strategies and how to maximize long-term returns, are fundamental to financial wellbeing later in life.

The survey also revealed an added burden women face: making financial sacrifices for the sake of others. Seventy percent of respondents have made significant financial sacrifices, including reducing working hours and putting their careers on hold to care of loved ones, which can put them at a considerable disadvantage to men when it comes to saving for retirement. In fact, almost 30 percent of females polled said that they have reduced or stopped saving as a direct consequence of childcare or eldercare responsibilities.

Of course, the survey’s findings aren’t all dispiriting. Women are increasingly taking control of their household’s finances. Nearly 55 percent of respondents said they are primarily responsible for household budgeting, while 41 percent take charge of long-term savings goals and 39 percent decide how their household’s money gets invested.

Taking charge of your finances is more than a matter of strength, it’s a matter of necessity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women continue to earn 81 percent of what men earn. On top of that, women statistically live longer than men and often face discrimination in terms of career advancement opportunities. This means women have to work harder and save more money than men.

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4 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Financial Goals

So how can you take control of your finances and build a secure future for yourself and your loved ones? Follow these 4 tips of course!

Make Saving for Retirement a Top Priority – You can take charge of your financial future by taking full advantage of a company retirement plan. At a minimum, contribute up to what your employer will match. Ideally, you’ll want to set aside at least 10 percent of your annual income for retirement savings in your twenties and slowly increase that figure to 30 percent by the time you’re 40. The younger you begin saving for retirement, the better, but it’s never too late to start.

Invest as Much as You Save – No one likes risk, but many women are playing it too safe with their investments, potentially missing out on long-term gains that can help you better achieve your goals. For a goal like retirement with a long time horizon, you will ideally want a diversified portfolio that has strong potential for growth.

Work with a Trusted Financial Advisor – No one has time to learn the ins and outs of financial management. That’s why working with a qualified support team can be a great confidence booster as they walk you through the entire process of getting your personal finances aligned with your long-term goals. When looking for a financial advisor, make sure they’re a fiduciary, these advisors are legally required to always act in their clients’ best interests.

Create a Comprehensive Financial Plan – Many financial plans focus exclusively on investment portfolios, maximizing returns to help ensure that you achieve a competitive return on investment. But what you really should create is a comprehensive financial plan which goes far beyond saving and investing and helps you look holistically at the interrelated parts of your financial situation. A comprehensive plan reviews your income, expenses, investments, retirement planning, insurance needs, income taxes, and estate planning needs, and assesses how they all fit together within the context of your long-term goals.

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Not Enough Money for a Savings Plan? Think Again

SavingsFinancial experts offer plenty of advice when it comes to effectively managing your money. A quick online search for money tips yields millions of results, each providing readers with unique perspectives about what is required to live a fiscally responsible life. Yet, if you take some time and peruse the top 10 articles, or the top 100, you’ll find one tip repeated again and again: save more money.

Whether contributing to a retirement plan, building an emergency fund or simply depositing a small percentage of your take-home pay into a savings account, growing a nest egg is one of the smartest actions you can take to improve your financial situation. Financial advisors all agree that resolving to set aside between 5% and 10% of your monthly salary for savings is a resolution that you will be happy you made.

Why So Few of Us Save

For many, increasing our savings is not new advice. Experts have been touting the importance of building our financial reserves for decades. Despite this well-established advice, few of us actually do it. According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, over 20% of Americans fail to set aside any of their annual income for short or long-term goals. And of those who do save, another 20% save 5% or less of what they earn. Financial advisors contend that we are in the midst of a savings crisis and these statistics support their claim.

If savings are the key to financial success, why do so few of us actually make an effort to save more? The answer lies in a common excuse. “I don’t have enough money to save,” is the number one reason survey respondents commonly cite as to why they do not have a savings plan. Although it’s true that we are increasingly finding ourselves under more and more financial pressure as the cost of living continues to rise around the globe, this excuse reveals something important about the act of setting aside money, namely, you’ll never feel like you have enough of it to save.

Developing a Savings Mindset

It’s a common misconception that savings plans require you to set aside large sums of money each month. The first goal of any savings plan is to get you into the habit of saving. Starting with as little as 10 dollars a week can be a great way to boost your savings mindset. Once setting money aside has become a habit, you can adjust your weekly or monthly targets as your circumstances change. For example, if in the future you receive a pay raise at work, your savings mindset will encourage you to reflect on your long-term savings goals and set aside a proportion of your promotion towards achieving them.

Stack of money coin with trading graph.

Grow Your Savings with Micro Investments

Developing a savings habit is important. No matter how much money you are able to set aside each month. And thanks to technology, there’s another way to amplify your savings and get your money working for you. I’d like to introduce you to Micro Investing. Micro investing applications are eliminating barriers to traditional investing. With micro-investing, you’re purchasing fractional shares, which means you can reap the benefits of economic growth without requiring a large outlay of cash. Thanks to interfaces that guide your investment decisions based on your unique financial situation and goals, these apps make it easy to invest your money.

Popular micro-investing platforms include Betterment, Stash, Acorns and Robinhood. The majority of micro-investing apps allow users to purchase small shares of ETFs or exchange-traded funds. ETFs are inherently diverse because they track a broader set of assets instead of a single stock. Diversification is ideal for cautious investors, and it’s something micro-investing apps help you achieve with carefully curated portfolios that match your risk tolerance and financial goals.

If you’re new to the complex world of investing or simply lack the funds required to purchase complete shares, micro-investing apps can offer you a way to grow your savings with limited risk. Although micro-investing will not yield explosive financial growth, it can be an excellent way to learn more about investing and your personal risk tolerance.

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Disclaimer

SolidTrust Pay is not an investment advisor or fiduciary and this content is provided for educational purposes only. Before purchasing any investment, please evaluate your financial situation and personal risk tolerance.