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Money

The www.FedPrimeRate.com Personal Finance Blog and Magazine

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Liberty Mutual Offers A Free Natural Disaster Guide

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Tornado
www.FedPrimeRate.com: Tornado
Well folks, the season of natural disasters is here. The experts at the National Weather Service are predicting between 13 and 16 named storms, 8 to 10 hurricanes, and 4 to 6 major hurricanes from the Atlantic Ocean this year. Will the Gulf of Mexico deliver another Katrina this year? Where will the next monster Atlantic hurricane hit the Eastern Seaboard? Florida? South Carolina? New York?

And it's the wildfire / tornado season to boot. Everyone from California to Boston should be preparing for the worst that mother nature has in store this summer.

Free Liberty Mutual Natural Disaster Guide

The folks at Liberty Mutual, America's #7 home insurer by size, are doing their part to help Americans prepare for the 2006 natural disaster season. All of Liberty Mutual's home and car insurance customers--in all fifty states--will be receiving one of 3 regional editions of a natural disaster guide in the mail. And even if you're not a Liberty Mutual customer, you can still get the tornado, wildfire or hurricane edition of the guide for free by visiting http://www.libertymutualinsurance.com.

More details can be found below in the snippet from a recent press release:

"The 2006 hurricane season begins in one week, and homeowners from Corpus Christi to Coral Gables to Cape Cod hopefully are heeding the advice of government officials, disaster relief organizations, and insurers by taking actions to protect their homes and families against potential disaster.

This week and next, a helpful natural disaster guide will arrive in the mailbox of every Liberty Mutual home and auto insurance customer as a special four-page insert to the company's Liberty Lines safety magazine. The nation's seventh-largest home insurer is sending more than 3 million guides in three regional editions -- hurricane, tornado, and wildfire/earthquake -- to its customers in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and other at-risk locales.

Anyone who is not a Liberty Mutual policyholder can obtain a free copy of the guide specific to his or her area online at http://www.libertymutualinsurance.com.

'Preparation is the best defense against a natural disaster,' said Ted Gramer, Liberty Mutual senior vice president, Personal Claims. 'You can't change the path of a hurricane, tornado or wildfire, but you can certainly take action to minimize the impact these catastrophes can have on your family and your home.'

Liberty Mutual also offers important preparedness tips for eight types of natural disasters and weather-related damage in the 'Claims' section at http://www.libertymutualinsurance.com.

Ready to Assist

Liberty Mutual claims professionals at centralized call centers throughout the country are available 24/7 at 1-800-2-CLAIMS for customers experiencing hurricane, tornado, or wildfire/earthquake damage this season.

Liberty Mutual disaster claims teams will again be in the heart of damaged regions to assist customers. For hurricanes, experts in the company's centralized catastrophe claims center monitor emerging storms to identify the areas most likely to be hardest hit. Prior to a storm, Liberty deploys adjusters and mobile claims units equipped with the most advanced global positioning, communications, and estimating technologies into those regions to ensure prompt and accurate claims service and payments to affected customers.

About Liberty Mutual

Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group (http://www.libertymutual.com) is a leading global insurer whose largest line of business is personal auto, based on 2005 net written premium. As of December 31, 2005, Liberty Mutual Group had $78.8 billion in consolidated assets and $21.2 billion in consolidated revenue. Liberty Mutual ranks 102nd on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations based on 2005 revenue, and is the eighth-largest personal lines writer and fifth-largest commercial lines writer in the U.S. Liberty Mutual employs over 39,000 people in more than 900 offices worldwide.

Liberty Mutual sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance through its own sales force in more than 400 local sales offices throughout the country, two direct response centers, Prudential agents and the internet. Liberty Mutual is an industry leader in group sponsored voluntary auto and homeowners insurance programs, offering personal lines insurance through payroll deduction and direct billing to employees and members of more than 9,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups."

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Generation X Workers May Be Facing The Biggest Unemployment Crisis

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Generation X Workers May Be Facing The Biggest Unemployment Crisis
Generation X Workers
by CNBC's Karen Gilchrist

Gen X workers aged 45 and older may be bearing the brunt of a global unemployment crisis as the pandemic adds to existing challenges for older workers, according to a new report.

Rapid digital adoption during the pandemic has accelerated the automation of jobs and worsened underlying ageism, making it harder for mid-career workers to secure roles, according to the report from Generation, a non-profit employment organization.

In a global study entitled 'Meeting The World’s Mid-Career Challenge,' the firm found that entry-level and intermediate workers between the age of 45 and 60 face increased barriers due to biases among hiring managers, as well as reluctance among workers to learn new skills.

Generation’s CEO said the report had, for the first time, 'put a number on ageism.'

'This is a demographic that is absolutely in need and it’s very clear that once you reach a certain age, it just becomes much harder to access a job opportunity,' Mona Mourshed told CNBC Make It.

Ageist Misconceptions Prevail

The study, which was conducted between March and May 2021, surveyed 3,800 employed and unemployed people from 18 to 60 years old and 1,404 hiring managers across seven countries.

Despite the varied international jobs landscape -- from the U.S. to the U.K. and India to Italy -- the findings were broadly the same: 45- to 60-year-olds are the most overlooked employee bracket. Indeed, for the past six years, mid-career individuals have made up a consistently high percentage of the long-term unemployed.

Most notably, the research found that hiring managers across the board considered those who are 45-years-old and above to be the worst cohort in terms of application readiness, fitness and previous experience.

Among their top concerns were a perceived reluctance among older workers to try new technologies (38%), an inability to learn new skills (27%), and difficulty in working with other generations (21%).

It comes in spite of evidence that older workers often outperform their younger peers. Indeed, almost nine in 10 (87%) hiring managers said their hires who are 45 years and above have been as good as -- or better -- than younger employees.

Mourshed said the findings highlight underlying biases at play in the workplace.

'It is often the case that like identifies with like when it comes to "isms,"' she said.

For instance, she explained, there is a tendency among hiring managers to opt for hires in their age group. Meanwhile, C.V.-based interviews can make it hard for candidates to demonstrate their skills, she added.
Re-engaging a lost workforce

Training could provide one solution to the issue. Still, the report also highlighted a reluctance to pursue training among job seekers who are 45 years and above.

More than half (57%) of entry-level and intermediate-level job seekers expressed a resistance to re-skilling, while just 1% said training increased their confidence when looking for work. Often, that is due to negative experiences of education, conflicting personal duties, and lack of available programs and financial support for mid-career workers, said Mourshed.

However, she insisted that training can provide real benefits. In the study, almost three-quarters (73%) of career changers aged 45+ said that attending training helped them secure their new position.

It’s one of several solutions put forward by Mourshed as companies and governments grapple with workforce shortages. Other solutions she outlined include:

  • Linking training programs directly to employment opportunities and providing stipends to support workers who are 45 years and above, who are hesitant to engage in training.

  • Changing hiring practices to reduce potential age biases and better assess the potential of age 45+ job candidates by using demonstration-based exercises.

  • Rethinking current employer training approaches to make it easier to fill new roles with existing employees who are 45 years old and above, versus relying on new hires.

  • Improving employment data on a national level to help government organizations address the unique challenges of specific age groups.

  • Given that it is 2021, inter-generational workforces must be a reality that every company seeks to put in place,' said Mourshed.

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Eviction Moratorium Ends July 31, 2021: Could Millions Become Homeless?

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Eviction Moratorium Ends July 31, 2021
Eviction Moratorium

by Gary D. Halbert, of the Forecasts & Trends E-Letter

In March of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the so-called “CARES” Act) which included an eviction moratorium preventing landlords from evicting tenants who were delinquent in paying their rent. The moratorium was originally set to expire at the end of July 2020 but was extended four times to July 31, 2021. That’s this Saturday, and the Biden administration says it will not be extended further.


It remains to be seen how this all plays out. Some forecasters predict we’ll see millions of new homeless people wandering the streets over the next several months. Others think landlords will be reluctant to oust their tenants, especially if they believe those renters will soon get federal or state assistance with paying their unpaid rent. We’ll see.

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In March of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the so-called “CARES” Act) which included an eviction moratorium preventing landlords from evicting tenants who were delinquent in paying their rent.

The national moratorium has been challenged in several courts and its expiration date has been extended four times. It is currently set to expire this Saturday, July 31, and federal officials (including President Biden) have indicated there are no plans to extend it again.

Throughout the moratorium, there has been confusion among renters and landlords regarding federal rent assistance. Landlords complain that some tenants have abused the moratorium by not paying rent, even if they have the money to do so. Tenants complain about the complicated paperwork and the long wait to receive rent assistance funds.

More than 11 million Americans -- 16% of renters -- are still behind on their rent payments, according to analysis by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. Some believe the numbers are far higher. And the moratorium ends this Saturday!

Congress approved more than $46 billion in rental assistance between last December and March for both tenants and landlords, but getting the money into their hands has proved hard for both the federal government and state and local agencies.

Exact amounts of assistance renters and landlords can receive depend on their income and where they live, but renters could get enough to cover rent from as far back as March 13, 2020, unpaid utilities and even, in some cases, future rent. The problem is, the assistance is just not getting to where it needs to go.

The Treasury Department claims that more than $1.5 billion in assistance was delivered to eligible households in the month of June alone — nearly triple the amount distributed since April. Administration officials point to this as a pivotal sign of progress in the program and an indication that once local communities establish a system for handling the money, they will be able to distribute it quickly. That’s good news but, again, the eviction moratorium ends in four days!

The White House announced last week it will convene a meeting of over 2,000 local officials, landlord and tenant advocates, legal experts and other participants from 46 cities to answer questions and raise awareness about emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention strategies tomorrow (Wednesday).

Yet how is that going to help with the deadline looming for landlords to commence eviction proceedings starting next week? I don’t know. With such a big pow-wow at the White House tomorrow, I would think there would be a lot of media coverage on this dire situation on the Wednesday evening news. But we’ll see.

Bottom line: There is a definite risk that millions of renters could be evicted and put on the street just ahead. Now I understand the eviction process is a complicated one, including in most cases going through courts. So, it’s not going to happen immediately after the deadline this Saturday. Yet this could be an economic nightmare over the next several months.

Finally, given the economic magnitude of the start of mass evictions for millions of delinquent renters, and the psychological impacts it would have on the country at large, I could see this throwing stocks into a major correction just ahead.

Hopefully, federal and state agencies can get up to speed muy pronto and assure landlords that the money is coming and convince most not to initiate the eviction process a few weeks longer.

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by Gary D. Halbert, of the Forecasts & Trends E-Letter


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Monday, July 19, 2021

Quantitative Easing Explained

 Quantitative Easing Explained:






How Quantitative Easing Works

How Quantitative Easing Works

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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Beware of LendingTree® Loans

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Beware of LendingTree® Loans

So, I decided to try and consolidate my credit card debt via a LendingTree® loan.

Bad idea. I did not get approved.

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They lure you in with words like "No hidden fees," "No points," "No collateral required," and "Borrow up to $35,000."

Then, when you initiate the loan request at LendingTree.com, you'll be asked to submit all kinds of personal information, like:

  • What's your employment status?

  • What do you need the money for?

  • How much do you want to borrow?

  • Estimate your credit score

  • How quickly do you need the money?

And they'll want you to submit your most sensitive personal information too, like your Social Security number, your address, your current and former employers, etc.


You'll be presented with a list of potential lenders and their terms (maximum loan amount, interest rate, monthly payment, etc.) 

So, despite having a very good FICO® credit score (780), the bank I chose, First Midwest Loan (www.firstmidwest.com) did not approve my application.

Why?  Well, 1) They did not like the fact that I am self-employed and 2) They asked me to submit 2 years of tax returns, which I did not have (The online tax preparer I used promised to save all my returns, but they didn't.) 

So, If you're going to apply for a loan online, be sure you are ready to submit your tax documents.

And if you are self-employed: good luck.

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Of course, applying for this loan resulted in a hard inquiry, so my credit scores will almost certainly experience significant dings.

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Does LendingTree sell your personal / sensitive information?

Well, there's a link at the bottom of the First Midwest Loan homepage that reads, "Do Not Sell My Personal Information."  When you click this link, you are taken to a page that says:


"...Residents of California have certain rights regarding the sale of personal information to third parties. First Midwest Bank, our affiliates, and service providers use information collected through cookies or in forms to improve the experience on our site and pages, to analyze how our site is used, and to present personalized advertising.

At any point, you can opt-out of the sale of your personal information by selecting Do Not Sell my Personal Information.

You can find more information and how to manage your privacy choices by reviewing our California Consumer Privacy Disclosures located on our Privacy information page by following the link on the bottom of any page..."
In other words, unless you visit the bank's opt out page and waste a significant amount of time filling out the opt out form, your personal / sensitive information can be sold to...Whoever....

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Borrowers: Beware

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Nearly Two Dozen Cities Are Handing Out Cash With No Conditions

Free Money
Free Money
Los Angeles is working on a plan that would offer $1,000 per month to 1,000 families using public funds.

 
Income inequality intensified by economic hardships brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has spurred cities across the country to take action by offering some residents a guaranteed income.

The idea of guaranteed income was made popular by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who wanted to give $1,000 a month to every American.

But before Yang brought national attention to the fringe idea, Aisha Nyandoro had her own project up and running in Jackson, Miss.

Income inequality intensified by economic hardships brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has spurred cities across the country to take action by offering some residents a guaranteed income.

Nearly two dozen U.S. cities have started to adopt the idea of no-strings-attached income, which was a popular tenet of former presidential candidate and now New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign. Yang wanted to give $1,000 every month to every American.

But before Yang brought national attention to the fringe idea, Aisha Nyandoro had her own project up and running in Jackson, Miss., NPR reported. Nyandoro started Springboard to Opportunities in 2018, which began giving $1,000 monthly to 20 mothers.

"Unfortunately, without COVID and without the pandemic and the economic downturn, I don't know if we would be having the conversations with the intensity that we are regarding guaranteed income,” Nyandoro told NPR. "But we are. So we'll take it."

Now, cities like Los Angeles are entering the mix, but a city program in LA would be different from Nyandoro’s program. LA is working on a plan that would offer $1,000 per month to 1,000 families using public funds, according to NPR.

America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

President Biden has proposed various programs outside of guaranteed income to target poverty. The president introduced the American Jobs Plan during a joint session of Congress in April, which includes free community college education for all Americans, $85 billion in federal Pell Grants and universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics recorded an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent in April, but a study from researchers at The University of Chicago and The University of Notre Dame estimated the April poverty rate at a pandemic-high 11.2 percent.  

Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow in Economic Studies at The Brookings Institution and a member of former President Clinton’s welfare task force, told NPR Yang’s highly visible push was a major benefit to the movement. Sawhill noted that the burgeoning movement can be viewed as a reaction to policies under Clinton that effectively slashed payments to needy people in order to promote work-based programs.

"One of the things that surprised me is that a lot of welfare moms really don't like welfare,” Sawhill told NPR. "It's not their first choice. They'd much rather be working."

The theory of “welfare queens” became popular as Republicans voiced the idea that some women on federal welfare programs were found to be living lavish lifestyles.

"In Chicago, they found a woman who holds the record," Ronald Reagan said in a radio address in 1976, before his presidency. "She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veteran's benefits for four nonexistent deceased veterans husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year."

But critics on both sides of the political aisle agree that the success of current programs can only offer so much insight into how they will translate on a larger scale and might not adequately reflect conservative concerns.

"The kinds of concerns that most conservatives have about the impact on work are not going to typically show up one year into the experiment," said Scott Winship, director of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute. "They're going to show up five years into the experiment, ten years into the experiment."

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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams

This one is costing both companies and individuals big $$$$.  The scams never end.

From the FBI website:

"...Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise (BEC) — also known as email account compromise (EAC) — is one of the most financially damaging online crimes. It exploits the fact that so many of us rely on email to conduct business — both personal and professional.

In a BEC scam, criminals send an email message that appears to come from a known source making a legitimate request, like in these examples:

  • A vendor your company regularly deals with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address.
  • A company CEO asks her assistant to purchase dozens of gift cards to send out as employee rewards. She asks for the serial numbers so she can email them out right away.
  • A homebuyer receives a message from his title company with instructions on how to wire his down payment.

 

Versions of these scenarios happened to real victims. All the messages were fake. And in each case, thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars were sent to criminals instead.

How Criminals Carry Out BEC Scams

A scammer might:

  • Spoof an email account or website. Slight variations on legitimate addresses (john.kelly@examplecompany.com vs. john.kelley@examplecompany.com) fool victims into thinking fake accounts are authentic.
  • Send spearphishing emails. These messages look like they’re from a trusted sender to trick victims into revealing confidential information. That information lets criminals access company accounts, calendars, and data that gives them the details they need to carry out the BEC schemes.
  • Use malware. Malicious software can infiltrate company networks and gain access to legitimate email threads about billing and invoices. That information is used to time requests or send messages so accountants or financial officers don’t question payment requests. Malware also lets criminals gain undetected access to a victim’s data, including passwords and financial account information.

If you or your company fall victim to a BEC scam, it’s important to act quickly:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and request that they contact the financial institution where the transfer was sent.
  • Next, contact your local FBI field office to report the crime.

  • Also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

How to Protect Yourself

  • Be careful with what information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing things like pet names, schools you attended, links to family members, and your birthday, you can give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.
  • Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message asking you to update or verify account information. Look up the company’s phone number on your own (don’t use the one a potential scammer is providing), and call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.
  • Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.
  • Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Set up two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.
  • Verify payment and purchase requests in person if possible or by calling the person to make sure it is legitimate. You should verify any change in account number or payment procedures with the person making the request.
  • Be especially wary if the requestor is pressing you to act quickly..."


Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams
Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams


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