Your gift cards are a top target for scammers this holiday season

You might want to check the balances on the gift cards your extended family gave you last Christmas. That’s because gift card fraud is becoming more and more common among financial scammers, according to security experts. How scammers steal gift card informationThere are multiple gift card scams that are becoming increasingly popular, according to security experts. Other scammers use bots to test out millions of combinations of gift card numbers and PINs on retailer websites. It’s not just gift


You might want to check the balances on the gift cards your extended family gave you last Christmas.
That’s because gift card fraud is becoming more and more common among financial scammers, according to security experts.
How scammers steal gift card informationThere are multiple gift card scams that are becoming increasingly popular, according to security experts.
Other scammers use bots to test out millions of combinations of gift card numbers and PINs on retailer websites.
It’s not just gift
Your gift cards are a top target for scammers this holiday season Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-08  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, scammers, cards, gift, security, thieves, roberts, holiday, pins, according, using, target, card, season


Your gift cards are a top target for scammers this holiday season

You might want to check the balances on the gift cards your extended family gave you last Christmas. That’s because gift card fraud is becoming more and more common among financial scammers, according to security experts. While consumers are now primed to routinely check their credit card reports and statements for mysterious transactions, it isn’t often the same for gift cards, making it harder to catch thieves in real time. “Who checks their gift card balances on a daily basis?” Rick McElroy, principal security strategist at VMware Carbon Black, a cybersecurity firm, told CNBC Make It. “Thieves get a lot longer to hide.”

How scammers steal gift card information

There are multiple gift card scams that are becoming increasingly popular, according to security experts. One involves scammers using a card reader to record — or simply writing down — a card’s serial number in store before it is sold. Then, they scratch off the decal protecting the cards’ PINs and record those, too, replacing the covering with tape that can be bought relatively cheaply online, according to Krebs on Security, a popular tech security blog. “Once a card is activated, thieves can encode that card’s data onto any card with a magnetic stripe and use that counterfeit to purchase merchandise at the retailer,” writes Krebs. “Meanwhile, the person who bought the card (or the person who received it as a gift) finds the card is drained of funds when they eventually get around to using it at a retail store.”

Other scammers use bots to test out millions of combinations of gift card numbers and PINs on retailer websites. Once they access an account, they drain the money still left on the cards, either by selling it on the dark web or buying products or services themselves. It’s not just gift cards. Thieves are using similar tactics to access member accounts on retailer websites to steal any loyalty points the member may have accumulated (think Sephora’s Beauty Insider points), Edward Roberts, director of product marketing for bot management at Imperva, a cybersecurity firm, tells CNBC Make It. “Most customers don’t have much in the account, but the loyalty points and the credit card information are the crown jewels they’re after,” says Roberts. While scammers will always devise new tactics to steal information and money, Roberts says, there are a few basic things customers can do to protect themselves.

How to avoid getting scammed

To avoid buying a compromised card, study the bar codes and decals covering the PINs on gift cards for signs of tampering or completely exposed PINs. Buying cards from stores that keep cards behind, or close to, the counter is also smart, because they will be harder to tamper with. A better option, according to experts: Buy gift cards online, not in person. Scammers can’t access these as easily.

It keeps escalating. You have to be vigilant on this problem, it’s not a one-time solution that solves it. Edward Roberts Cybersecurity expert


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-08  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, scammers, cards, gift, security, thieves, roberts, holiday, pins, according, using, target, card, season


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Why you should still invest in a 401(k) even if retirement seems impossible

Nearly 30% of millennials believe they will never retire, according to TD Ameritrade’s 2018 Millennials and Money Survey. While saving for a retirement you’re not sure will happen might seem pointless, Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial Takes on Investing,” says it can actually provide younger generations with the stability and financial confidence they crave. Millennials have reason to be worried about retirement. To make up for that shortfall, millennials may have to push retirement back


Nearly 30% of millennials believe they will never retire, according to TD Ameritrade’s 2018 Millennials and Money Survey.
While saving for a retirement you’re not sure will happen might seem pointless, Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial Takes on Investing,” says it can actually provide younger generations with the stability and financial confidence they crave.
Millennials have reason to be worried about retirement.
To make up for that shortfall, millennials may have to push retirement back
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Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-06  Authors: alicia adamczyk
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Why you should still invest in a 401(k) even if retirement seems impossible

Nearly 30% of millennials believe they will never retire, according to TD Ameritrade’s 2018 Millennials and Money Survey. With stagnant wages and the soaring costs of education, health care and housing that they’ve experienced in their lifetimes — not to mention coming of age in one of the worst economic recessions in U.S. history — many are putting off saving for a time they’re not sure will come as they struggle to make ends meet in their current daily lives.

While saving for a retirement you’re not sure will happen might seem pointless, Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial Takes on Investing,” says it can actually provide younger generations with the stability and financial confidence they crave.

“It’s important to prepare as if the world isn’t coming to an end,” says Lowry. “I can promise you that if you don’t, you are guaranteeing yourself an apocalyptic fate, financially at least.”

Millennials have reason to be worried about retirement. Economists at Vanguard and Morningstar Investment Management predict that real stock market returns will be lower in the future than they have been in the past: around 3% to 5%, on average per Vanguard, compared to 10% historically. To make up for that shortfall, millennials may have to push retirement back a few years and delay claiming their Social Security benefits.

Still, saving and investing now is important. To set yourself up for success down the road, start investing in a 401(k) or, if you do not have access to one at work, an IRA, says Lowry.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-06  Authors: alicia adamczyk
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Here are your new income tax brackets for 2020

The IRS released the federal tax rates and income brackets for 2020 on Wednesday. The seven tax rates remain unchanged, while the income limits have been adjusted for inflation. Tax rates in the U.S. are marginal, meaning that different levels of the same person’s income are taxed at different rates. The 2020 tax brackets affect the taxes that will be filed in 2021. Here are the new brackets for 2020, depending on your income and filing status.


The IRS released the federal tax rates and income brackets for 2020 on Wednesday.
The seven tax rates remain unchanged, while the income limits have been adjusted for inflation.
Tax rates in the U.S. are marginal, meaning that different levels of the same person’s income are taxed at different rates.
The 2020 tax brackets affect the taxes that will be filed in 2021.
Here are the new brackets for 2020, depending on your income and filing status.
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Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-06  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, different, rates, income, brackets, 2020, filing, tax, 19750, taxed, unchanged


Here are your new income tax brackets for 2020

The IRS released the federal tax rates and income brackets for 2020 on Wednesday. The seven tax rates remain unchanged, while the income limits have been adjusted for inflation.

Tax rates in the U.S. are marginal, meaning that different levels of the same person’s income are taxed at different rates. If you and your spouse earn $80,000 in 2020 and are married filing jointly, for example, the first $19,750 of that will be taxed at 10%, and the income over $19,750 will be taxed at 12%.

The 2020 tax brackets affect the taxes that will be filed in 2021. These are the 2019 brackets.

Here are the new brackets for 2020, depending on your income and filing status.


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-06  Authors: alicia adamczyk
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This is the standard deduction for 2020

It also announced that the standard deduction will be increasing next year. The standard deduction is a set dollar amount by which a person’s income is reduced, before income tax is applied to the rest. There are hundreds of possible itemized deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, and you’d only want to itemize if the total deduction was larger than the standard deduction. In recent years, some 70% of taxpayers took the standard deduction over itemizing, according to the Urban-Br


It also announced that the standard deduction will be increasing next year.
The standard deduction is a set dollar amount by which a person’s income is reduced, before income tax is applied to the rest.
There are hundreds of possible itemized deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, and you’d only want to itemize if the total deduction was larger than the standard deduction.
In recent years, some 70% of taxpayers took the standard deduction over itemizing, according to the Urban-Br
This is the standard deduction for 2020 Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-06  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, income, 2020, filers, deductions, status, individuals, standard, filing, including, deduction, tax


This is the standard deduction for 2020

The IRS released annual inflation adjustments for 2020 for more than 60 tax provisions on Wednesday, including retirement contribution limits and income brackets. It also announced that the standard deduction will be increasing next year.

The standard deduction is a set dollar amount by which a person’s income is reduced, before income tax is applied to the rest. Filers can opt to take the standard deduction, which is the same for everyone in the same filing status, or itemize their tax deductions each year. There are hundreds of possible itemized deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, and you’d only want to itemize if the total deduction was larger than the standard deduction.

In recent years, some 70% of taxpayers took the standard deduction over itemizing, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, and more are likely to now that the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, which essentially doubled the amount of the standard deduction from previous levels, is fully in effect.

Here are the standard deduction amounts for 2020:

Married individuals filing jointly : $24,800

: $24,800 Heads of households : $18,650

: $18,650 Unmarried individuals : $12,400

: $12,400 Married individuals filing separately: $12,400

If you don’t know which filing status you fall under, you can use this tool from the IRS. There are a few situations in which filers are not eligible to take the standard deduction, including if you are married filing separately and your spouse itemizes.

Experts say the standard deduction makes more sense for most tax filers over itemizing deductions. This is especially true for young workers, who likely have low salaries and rent an apartment or house (there are many home owning-specific deductions that can be itemized).

Don’t miss: The average tax refund this year is nearly $3,000—here are the smartest ways to spend it

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Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-06  Authors: alicia adamczyk
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Should you build your emergency savings or pay off your car loan?

But you might also consider tackling a big regular expense, like your auto loan. Making extra payments toward a car loan could go a long way to helping you become debt free. The interest rate on your car loan depends on a host of factors, including your credit score. But the average rate for a new car loan is around 5.7%, according to Edmunds. If you have a solid emergency fund, and you’re deciding between paying off your car loan or investing for retirement, Patterson, of Exencial Wealth Adviso


But you might also consider tackling a big regular expense, like your auto loan.
Making extra payments toward a car loan could go a long way to helping you become debt free.
The interest rate on your car loan depends on a host of factors, including your credit score.
But the average rate for a new car loan is around 5.7%, according to Edmunds.
If you have a solid emergency fund, and you’re deciding between paying off your car loan or investing for retirement, Patterson, of Exencial Wealth Adviso
Should you build your emergency savings or pay off your car loan? Cached Page below :
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Should you build your emergency savings or pay off your car loan?

If you’re debating between paying off your car or increasing your savings, here’s what to keep in mind.

While it’s always smart to aggressively pay off high-interest obligations, like credit card debt, as soon as possible so you pay less in interest over time, paying off other forms of debt shouldn’t necessarily take precedence over padding an emergency fund, Christian Patterson, wealth advisor at Exencial Wealth Advisors , tells CNBC Make It .

But you might also consider tackling a big regular expense, like your auto loan. Car owners currently owe $1.18 trillion on their auto loans, according to a 2019 study from Experian , averaging $32,187 for new and $20,137 for used cars. Making extra payments toward a car loan could go a long way to helping you become debt free.

If you’ve recently come into some extra money, perhaps from a raise or bonus, you might wonder the best way to maximize your surplus funds. Saving is an obvious choice, especially for those who don’t have a few months’ worth of living expenses stashed away.

If you don’t have much in the way of savings, research from economists Emily Gallagher and Jorge Sabat suggests aiming for roughly $2,500 to get you started. That’s enough to feel relatively stable, the researchers found, and cover many emergencies that might arise so you don’t have to rely on credit. Keep it in a high-yield savings account with an online bank, which typically offer better interest rates than brick and mortars.

Then you can focus on paying off any debt with an interest rate above “5-ish%,” writes Rachel Sanborn, director of advisory services at Ellevest, an online investment platform.

Once the high-interest debt is paid off, put any surplus funds toward additional padding for your emergency fund. Experts say three to six months’ worth of take-home pay is the ideal, but save as much as makes you comfortable.

If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, for example, you might prefer to have six months to a year’s worth of monthly expenses stashed away. If you have a relatively stable job and earnings, you might be okay with a bit less. Once you make that calculation, you can tackle any remaining lower-interest debt, of which your auto loan is likely a part.

The interest rate on your car loan depends on a host of factors, including your credit score. But the average rate for a new car loan is around 5.7%, according to Edmunds. That puts it on the edge of Sanborn’s 5-ish% rule. Still, 5.7% is low enough that you can likely feel okay about saving any surplus money over paying down your loan sooner. Plus, continuous on-time bill payments each month can boost your credit score (not that adding a few points to your score should be your sole consideration, especially if paying your debt down quicker could save a lot of money on interest).

“Building an emergency savings fund is an important personal finance pillar,” Amy Thomann, head of consumer credit education at TransUnion, tells CNBC Make It. “If you feel as though you have a good repayment schedule in place for your auto loan, you may decide to put the cash into a savings account. This can help limit the need to use debt to finance an unexpected, large expense in the future.”

If you have a solid emergency fund, and you’re deciding between paying off your car loan or investing for retirement, Patterson, of Exencial Wealth Advisors, says that the math likely favors investing, assuming your auto loan rate is relatively low. Historically, the stock market has returned around 10% on average, though experts expect that to decrease in the future.

“The difference in the percentage rate on your loan and the return from your investments would be the ‘opportunity cost,'” says Patterson. “If your car loan is at 1.9% APR, but you could earn a 6% return by investing your extra money, you would be missing out on a potential 4.1% excess return.”


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-11-05  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, debt, car, paying, auto, emergency, rate, loan, credit, interest, savings, pay, build, money


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Why you should participate in No Spend November this year

How much money you’ll saveHow much money someone saves during a No Spend month is, of course, dependent on a host of personal factors: How much you routinely spend to begin with, what categories you’re cutting out of your budget, whether you stick to it, how long you keep up the No Spend routine and on and on. How to successfully complete No Spend NovemberWhether you want to save $10 or $1,000, the first step in any No Spend journey, Evans says, is understanding why exactly you want to do it. Ha


How much money you’ll saveHow much money someone saves during a No Spend month is, of course, dependent on a host of personal factors: How much you routinely spend to begin with, what categories you’re cutting out of your budget, whether you stick to it, how long you keep up the No Spend routine and on and on.
How to successfully complete No Spend NovemberWhether you want to save $10 or $1,000, the first step in any No Spend journey, Evans says, is understanding why exactly you want to do it.
Ha
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Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-10-31  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, month, thats, life, spending, money, spend, participate, makeup, journal, buy, wahl


Why you should participate in No Spend November this year

Chelsea Wahl realized she had a money problem in 2016. It all started when she fell down a YouTube rabbit hole. The now-28-year-old was a few years into a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania, and to cope with stressful days, she began mindlessly watching makeup tutorial videos after classes. Soon, she was routinely buying eye shadow palettes and new blushes to try the looks herself, stretching the money she was earning as a graduate teaching assistant to its limit. “If you’ve ever walked into an Ulta, budgeting isn’t really a concept,” Wahl tells CNBC Make It, with a laugh. It seemed harmless at first, until Wahl calculated how much she was actually spending. By the end of 2016, she had purchased $842 worth of makeup and skincare products, almost as much as she had spent on groceries (she frequently eats out, she admits, and doesn’t spend very much on groceries). That, coupled with the awareness that she had more student loan debt than savings, inspired Wahl to take charge of her spending behaviors. Though she knew changing her spending habits would improve her life, it wasn’t until she discovered the concept of a No Spend Year (via a different YouTube rabbit hole) that she finally found the motivation to follow through. The challenge appealed to Wahl, and she embarked on her own No Spend Year in 2017, during which she challenged herself to only replace makeup that ran out. This year is the third in a row that she’s engaged in No Spend practices, and she says it’s had a profound impact on her life, “rewiring” her thoughts and behaviors. “Before the No Buy Year, I would definitely downplay how much I spent, because it was embarrassing,” she says. “That’s a sign that you yourself are aware that there’s a problem.”

A ‘No Spend’ Month can change your money mindset

Wahl’s No Spend strategy is popular on social media sites like Reddit and YouTube, and Ande Frazier, CEO of myWorth, tells CNBC Make It that it’s a smart way for impulse shoppers to change their relationship to money and spending. Setting strict spending rules on discretionary purchases for an entire month, she says, allows individuals to “adjust their whole mindset” about their true material needs and wants. “It’s really hard, but it’s a powerful exercise,” says Frazier. Though such a stunt won’t necessarily work for families already budgeting down to the last penny, instituting “No Spend” rules changed Hailey Evans’ life. The Ontario-based makeup artist tells CNBC Make It that at the end of 2018, she realized she needed to change her spending habits, particularly related to makeup. Evans enjoyed reviewing new palettes and products on her YouTube channel but with a five-week trip to Greece on the horizon and a desire to switch careers, she could no longer afford to spend hundreds of dollars each month on makeup. Inspired by fellow YouTubers who chronicled their No Spend journeys, the 31-year-old set some strict rules for herself in January 2019 to curtail her impulse purchases. She could spend money on replacement makeup and virtually any experience, but she could not buy new makeup or skincare for personal use (as a makeup artist, she needs to buy some products for work). Clothes, accessories, takeaway coffee, books, magazines, house plants and housewares were also on her do-not-buy list. Not long after she started her No Spend journey, she was experimenting with new cooking techniques and baking her own bread; eventually, she learned how to garden. The exercise soon became about much more than saving money on blush and eye shadow; instead, she says, it’s changed her entire mindset about spending and consumerism.

“I got excited and happy about making purchases, and I realized that that’s not good for me, that’s not good for the environment,” she says. “It’s only helping massive corporations that don’t need my money.”

How much money you’ll save

How much money someone saves during a No Spend month is, of course, dependent on a host of personal factors: How much you routinely spend to begin with, what categories you’re cutting out of your budget, whether you stick to it, how long you keep up the No Spend routine and on and on. Wahl says in 2016, the year before her first self-imposed No Buy Year, she spent over $800 on makeup and skincare. So far in 2019, she’s spent just $135. The total has steadily decreased each year. For Evans, the savings were far more dramatic. Because of her YouTube reviews, she says she was spending $600 CAD “at the very least” each month on makeup alone. Combined with savings on clothing, home goods, fast food and takeout coffee, she estimates she’s saved $10,000 CAD so far this year, $2,000 of which went to her trip to Greece.

How to successfully complete No Spend November

Whether you want to save $10 or $1,000, the first step in any No Spend journey, Evans says, is understanding why exactly you want to do it. “Get your values straight, and live your life according to those values,” she says. In a popular TedTalk on the subject, U.K. personal finance writer Michelle McGagh, who cut out discretionary spending for a year, explains that in order to succeed, you first need to think about the areas in your life where you waste the most money or could cut the most spending easily. She suggests asking yourself what it is you’d like to accomplish in your life that might be hampered by your current spending. Picturing that long-term goal — maybe it’s quitting your job to write a book, finally taking a dream vacation, retiring early or simply building up your savings account — will help you decide whether short-term spending is worth it. Write down that long-term goal, and then decide on your No Spend rules. What categories are you trimming? What spending is allowed? Write it all down in your financial journal (more on that below), or another place that’s easily accessible.

Get your values straight, and live your life according to those values. Hailey Evans

Once you’ve established why you want to participate in No Spend November, you can get started. Here are some other strategies to try throughout the month. Start a financial or product journal Throughout her No Spend journey, Wahl kept a journal in which she logged each beauty product she used every day, how she felt about it and any other thoughts she had while using it. She also wrote down her general thoughts on spending, as well as a list of things she had an urge to buy as she came across them. “That’s been a surprisingly helpful tool to see what I used the most, or what I didn’t like or didn’t really work for me,” says Wahl. “That’s been a good tool for self-reflection. My research-y side comes out, I’m collecting data on myself. It’s been useful to see how my feelings have changed.” Frazier, MyWorth’s CEO, agrees with Wahl about keeping a journal, and also suggests creating a voice memo in moments of weakness, or immediately after a purchase. When you next find yourself with the urge to buy something, replay the voice memo to remind yourself how you felt last time you broke your rules, or stuck to them. Every time you do buy something, ask yourself how it aligns with your goals and values. How someone spends their money, Frazier says, offers deeper indications of how they view themselves and the world, and could point to larger issues at play. What are you lacking or missing in your life that you think buying something will fix?

“If you want to look at what a woman values, look at her checkbook,” says Frazier. “If you’re spending a lot of money on clothes and makeup and things that make you look a certain way, maybe you have some self-esteem issues, and you could do something else to improve your self-esteem.” Track your progress Use an app like Habit, a wall calendar or your finance journal to track your progress. Make sure it’s easily accessible so that you can get inspired any time you feel your motivation slipping. If you’re artistically inclined, you might track your progress via a Bullet Journal, a specialized practice of journal-keeping with a lively community on sites like Instagram and Reddit. You can find popular and easy-to-use money templates by searching the #BuJo hashtag, or going on Bullet Journal’s official website. You can also keep track of things you did not buy, along with the prices, to add up how much you’ve saved at the end of the exercise. Use what you already have One of the many problems with consumerist culture that Wahl has been trying to correct in her own life is the constant need for “more” and “new.” Before her No Spend experiment, Wahl bought the “newest” blushes and palettes only to realize she already owned similar shades that she hadn’t used yet. Grocery expenses, too, could be cut down if she took a few minutes to log what was already in her cabinets and pantry. Now, she makes an effort to “shop” her closets and products before she buys anything. “In a broader consumer culture, there’s nothing holding you back from buying something, but there’s rarely a suggestion that you should use what you already have,” she says. “We need to look at how to reuse and reduce.” Scale up gradually When Evans started her No Spend Year, she says she cut out virtually all superfluous spending all at once, “cold turkey.” But after about six months, she’d had enough and decided to ease her own rules.

If you’re spending a lot of money on clothes and makeup and things that make you look a certain way, maybe you have some self esteem issues, and you could do something else to improve your self-esteem. Ande Frazier CEO, MyWorth

She still considers the experiment a success, particularly given how her mindset about money and spending has completely shifted. But advises others to ease into it to build better spending habits over time. “You need to learn how to exist in the world, learn how to do that in a way that’s good for you,” she says. “If I were to do it again, I would set out a more scheduled routine of slowly cutting back the things that I wanted to cut back on, instead of all at once.” If a complete No Spend Month or Year is unrealistic, you can always try a Low Spend experiement, by setting a lower budget for your problem spending areas. Find a new hobby Like Wahl mentioned above, one of the keys to success is finding something to fill the time when you might be tempted to shop or spend money. Wahl had her journal, and she was also busy planning her wedding; Evans took on cooking and gardening. Practice saying ‘no’ One of hardest things to do, Frazier says, is saying no to friends or family who want to do some sort of activity. Rather than make up an excuse about why you can’t do something, she encourages people to be straight forward.

It’s a lifestyle change that has rippling effects on all different aspects of your life: mental health, physical health, cultivating a better relationship with your life. Hailey Evans


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-10-31  Authors: alicia adamczyk
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Use this free tool to see if your investments are sustainable

This comes as 85% of individual investors report being interested in adding sustainable options to their portfolios, according to the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. Sustainable investing, otherwise known as impact investing, is a strategy that considers a company’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) impacts crucial to their long-term success. Morgan Stanley found that despite all-time high enthusiasm for impact investing, just over half of investors are act


This comes as 85% of individual investors report being interested in adding sustainable options to their portfolios, according to the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing.
Sustainable investing, otherwise known as impact investing, is a strategy that considers a company’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) impacts crucial to their long-term success.
Morgan Stanley found that despite all-time high enthusiasm for impact investing, just over half of investors are act
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Use this free tool to see if your investments are sustainable

Investors have a new resource at their disposal to make aligning their portfolios with their personal values easier than ever.

The Invest Your Values search tools, created by As You Sow, a nonprofit that promotes corporate social responsibility, “offer investors insight into the environmental and social impact of their portfolios, alongside traditional metrics like financial returns,” according to a press release. Investors can search the name or symbol of mutual funds or ETFs in six search tools, which provide a “report card” on the fund related to one of the following social or environmental issues:

For those interested in limiting exposure to firearm manufacturers, for example, the report card shows the percentage of the fund’s assets invested in gun companies, and if the fund is a member of the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US-SIF).

Investors can also browse a list of As You Sow’s “top rated” funds, which earn the highest returns and the highest “grades” on each of the issues. Financial performance is based on a comparison to the fund’s benchmark index, like the S&P 500.

This comes as 85% of individual investors report being interested in adding sustainable options to their portfolios, according to the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. Sustainable investing, otherwise known as impact investing, is a strategy that considers a company’s environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) impacts crucial to their long-term success.

“It is all about making it easier for regular folks with a 401(k) plan to know in a few clicks if their investments are aligned with their values,” Andrew Behar, As You Sow’s CEO, told CNBC Make It in an email, adding that the company plans to add target-date funds and a comparison tool in the first half of 2020.

Morgan Stanley found that despite all-time high enthusiasm for impact investing, just over half of investors are actually engaged in “at least one sustainable investing activity.” Some of that can be attributed to the friction of being able to identify sustainable funds. With As You Sow’s tools, investors can research their fund options, or select a fund from the “top rated” list to invest in via their IRA or brokerage account (workplace retirement plans are trickier as they only offer select funds to employees). Other companies also offer ESG search tools and ratings, including YourSRI and MSCI.

Each page also provides investors with a “tool kit” to help them talk to financial advisors or other professionals about their desire to invest more sustainably, as well as how to ask their companies to add sustainable options to their 401(k) fund offerings.

Some experts warn that impact investing, a form of active investing, could harm an individual’s returns. But an analysis of 11,000 mutual funds by Morgan Stanley found that sustainable investments “provided returns in line with comparable traditional funds” between 2004 and 2018, and that they may offer more stability during periods of market volatility. But as with all forms of investing, future gains are not guaranteed.

Don’t miss: 85% of investors are interested in impact investing—here’s how to make your portfolio more sustainable

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Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-10-30  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, sustainable, fund, search, returns, tools, tool, social, investments, investing, free, investors, impact, funds


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7 ways to protect your financial information from online scammers

Skimming involves thieves installing devices in ATMs or gas station credit card machines that secretly record an unsuspecting user’s financial information as he or she enters it. Be careful with gift cardsScammers are now using the same tactics they use to steal credit card information to steal gift card balances, McElroy notes. Regularly monitor bank accountsWith all of the sophisticated financial scams that abound these days, consumers are wise is to proactively protect their financial informa


Skimming involves thieves installing devices in ATMs or gas station credit card machines that secretly record an unsuspecting user’s financial information as he or she enters it.
Be careful with gift cardsScammers are now using the same tactics they use to steal credit card information to steal gift card balances, McElroy notes.
Regularly monitor bank accountsWith all of the sophisticated financial scams that abound these days, consumers are wise is to proactively protect their financial informa
7 ways to protect your financial information from online scammers Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-10-29  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, secure, credit, card, mcelroy, ways, gift, cards, scammers, financial, retailers, information, online, protect


7 ways to protect your financial information from online scammers

As online shopping heats up ahead of the holiday season, consumers should be aware of an increasingly common scam called “e-skimming,” the FBI warns. Skimming involves thieves installing devices in ATMs or gas station credit card machines that secretly record an unsuspecting user’s financial information as he or she enters it. In the electronic version, scammers edit JavaScript code and “capture the credit card data in real time as the user enters it,” per the FBI’s announcement. That data is then sold to other malicious actors, or used by the scammer to buy things online. Small- and medium-sized retailers are most at risk of being targeted, per the FBI. While the FBI and security experts make clear it’s primarily the responsibility of merchants to secure their sites and educate employees on the best cybersecurity practices, there are a number of measures anyone can take to help keep their financial information secure. Here are seven things you can do now.

1. Use a virtual credit card

Virtual credit cards are temporary numbers that allow you to use your real credit card without exposing your account information to a retailer’s website. You can use these only once, or however many times you choose. If your information is skimmed or revealed in a data breach it’s okay; you won’t have to replace your real credit card, only close down the virtual card. You can create these virtual cards on Privacy.com, or on your card issuer’s website. Never use a debit card when shopping online. Credit cards offer better protections for consumers. Debit cards act essentially as cash, whereas if a thief uses your credit card, no money is actually taken from you.

2. Pay using a third party

Rick McElroy, principal security strategist at Carbon Black, a cybersecurity firm, tells CNBC Make It that if you’re not using a separate credit card for online purchases, it’s smart to pay through a third-party processor like PayPal or Venmo if the retailer’s site gives you that option. If you use PayPal, for example, the online retailer never sees your information, says McElroy. “They see your email address, but other than that PayPal just sends a token that says the payment was made.” There’s no personal information to steal.

3. Keep your tech updated

Consumers should keep their internet browsers and phone and computer operating systems up-to-date, particularly at this time of year, McElroy says. He suggests everyone turn on the auto-updates on their personal tech. “The attacks on retailers ramp up between Thanksgiving and the first of the year,” he says. “The vendors are already seeing it, so they are putting out continual updates.” He also suggests installing secure browser plug-ins. SiteJabber and Web of Trust, for example, provide community-sourced security ratings for websites. HTTPS Everywhere ensures that the sites you visit are automatically encrypted and secure (when you’re browsing, you want site addresses to begin with “https://” as opposed to “http://”). And if you’re shopping locally, go in person to make a purchase. Small retailers often do not have the resources to completely secure their sites. “From a consumer perspective, stick to the major retailers. They do a pretty decent job of ensuring that stuff is protected,” says McElroy.

4. Be careful with gift cards

Scammers are now using the same tactics they use to steal credit card information to steal gift card balances, McElroy notes. Whereas you’d likely notice a mysterious credit card transaction or money missing from your checking account right away, that isn’t the case for gift cards. “Who checks their gift card balances on a daily basis?” McElory says. “Thieves get a lot longer to hide.”

5. Watch out for phishing emails

Emails from companies purporting to be Apple and Amazon, among others, abound during the holiday season, McElroy warns. Always double check for spelling and grammatical errors, and be weary of emails asking you to click certain links, which might be a phishing attack that gives scammers access to your financial information. “Always be weary of incoming communications,” he says.

6. Regularly monitor bank accounts

With all of the sophisticated financial scams that abound these days, consumers are wise is to proactively protect their financial information. Regularly check bank and credit card statements, and set up credit card and bank account withdrawal alerts. If you receive an alert about a purchase you did not make, immediately alert your bank and credit card issuer.

7. Keep tabs on your credit report


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-10-29  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, secure, credit, card, mcelroy, ways, gift, cards, scammers, financial, retailers, information, online, protect


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85% of investors are interested in impact investing—here’s how to make your portfolio more sustainable

And the strategy is more popular than ever, according to a recent report from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. Some 85% of individual investors, and 95% of millennials, are interested in sustainable options, per the report, which surveyed 1,000 active investors across the U.S. Previous reports have shown similar increases in interest and participation in impact investing, also known as socially-responsible investing. Corporate governance — for example, if a company has eth


And the strategy is more popular than ever, according to a recent report from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing.
Some 85% of individual investors, and 95% of millennials, are interested in sustainable options, per the report, which surveyed 1,000 active investors across the U.S.
Previous reports have shown similar increases in interest and participation in impact investing, also known as socially-responsible investing.
Corporate governance — for example, if a company has eth
85% of investors are interested in impact investing—here’s how to make your portfolio more sustainable Cached Page below :
Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-10-28  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, investors, social, impact, portfolio, companies, investments, sustainable, investingheres, investing, environmental, report, funds, interested


85% of investors are interested in impact investing—here's how to make your portfolio more sustainable

Could the companies you invest in actually help in the fight against climate change or create a more equitable world? That’s the question at the heart of impact investing, or investments made with the intention of creating a positive social or environmental affect in addition to a financial return. And the strategy is more popular than ever, according to a recent report from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. Some 85% of individual investors, and 95% of millennials, are interested in sustainable options, per the report, which surveyed 1,000 active investors across the U.S. Despite that “all-time high” enthusiasm, just over half of respondents are actually engaged in “at least one sustainable investing activity,” such as screening investments for potentially objectionable companies or divesting completely because of a company that does not align with the investor’s values. Previous reports have shown similar increases in interest and participation in impact investing, also known as socially-responsible investing. This is driven by individuals increasingly believing that what they do with their money and retirement savings can have an influence on major issues like climate change, according to Morgan Stanley’s report.

What is impact investing?

In the 1960s, politically conscious individuals began using their investments to “draw attention to social and environmental issues,” and eventually the first Socially-Responsible Investment (SRI) funds were developed, according to a report from the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment. Now, there are a variety of funds based on any number of social and political issues. An investor might want to avoid gun manufacturer stocks, for example, while intentionally investing in companies that promote gender equality. Corporate governance — for example, if a company has ethical work practices or a diverse board of directors — is also an important aspect of impact investing. Climate change is the top reason given for interest in sustainable investing, according to Morgan Stanley’s report. Investors want to buy into companies they believe are good environmental stewards, or at least not actively harmful.

How to get started with impact investing?

If you’re looking for SRI or ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) funds you can invest in them through all of the major brokerages, like Fidelity, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, etc. Wherever you are investing, your broker should be able to provide information on each fund and what type of companies it invests in. If you’re going to research on your own, Morningstar and some other companies offer “sustainability” ratings for funds and indexes, which you can read more about here. As You Sow is a nonprofit of shareholder advocates that identifies publicly-traded companies that are doing good environmental work. One criticism of impact investing is that it’s potentially limiting: Most financial experts recommend investing in a diverse array of companies, and divesting from “problematic” companies could harm an individual’s returns. But Morningstar, an investment research firm, reports that there were over 350 ESG funds available at the end of 2018, and that these funds can offer enough diversity to replace more conventional investments. And sustainable funds actually outperformed benchmarks in 2018, CNBC previously reported.

How to make sure your 401(k) is invested in socially conscious funds?


Company: cnbc, Activity: cnbc, Date: 2019-10-28  Authors: alicia adamczyk
Keywords: news, cnbc, companies, investors, social, impact, portfolio, companies, investments, sustainable, investingheres, investing, environmental, report, funds, interested


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