Articles for June 2015

The ABCs of IRAs

This popular retirement savings vehicle comes in several varieties.

What don’t you know? Many Americans know about Roth and traditional IRAs … but there are other types of IRAs. Here’s a quick look:

Traditional IRA (or deductible IRA) is an individual savings plan for anyone who receives taxable compensation. IRA assets may be invested in any number of vehicles, and contributions may be tax-deductible. Earnings in a traditional IRA grow tax-deferred until withdrawal, but will be taxed when withdrawal begins – and withdrawals must begin by the time the IRA owner reaches age 70½.

Roth IRA offers you tax-free compounding, tax-free withdrawals if you are older than age 59½ and have owned your account for at least five years, and the potential to make contributions to your IRA after age 70½ without having to take RMDs.

SIMPLE IRAs are qualified retirement plans for businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

SEP stands for Simplified Employee Pension. These traditional IRAs are set up by an employer for employees and funded by employer contributions only.

Spousal IRA is actually a rule that lets a working spouse make traditional or Roth IRA contributions on behalf of a non-working or retired spouse.

Inherited IRA is a Roth or traditional IRA inherited by a non-spousal beneficiary.

Group IRA is simply a traditional IRA offered by employers, unions, and other employee associations to their employees, administered through a retirement trust.

Rollover IRA. Assets distributed from a qualified retirement plan may be rolled over into a traditional IRA, which may be converted later to a Roth IRA.

Education IRA (Coverdell ESA) provides a vehicle to help middle-class investors save for a child’s education.

Consult a qualified financial advisor regarding your IRA options. There are many choices available, and it is vital that you understand how your choice could affect your financial situation. No one IRA is the “right” IRA for everyone, so do your homework and seek advice before you proceed.

Traditional IRAs are accounts funded with tax deductible contributions in which any earnings are tax deferred until withdrawn. Unless certain criteria are met, IRS penalties, restrictions, and income taxes may apply on any withdrawals taken prior to age 59 1/2. Traditional IRA account owners should consider the tax ramifications, age and income restrictions in regards to executing a conversion from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The converted amount is generally subject to income taxation. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth IRAs. Their tax treatment may change.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

 

 

 

Social Media Life After Death

What happens to our online presence after we pass away?

Are profiles immortal? Are memories lost? How do the major social media sites handle a death among their users?

Facebook adopted a policy of “memorializing” the pages of deceased users. If you pass away, your page won’t disappear – unless you or your loved ones decide that it should. Once memorialized, no one can log into it any further. The page is taken out of Facebook’s general search option, but the wall remains open for tribute postings by Facebook friends. In fact, only friends can see the profile/timeline.1

 Memorialization isn’t the only choice available. An account can be taken down if “verified immediate family members” or executors request.

LinkedIn might memorialize your profile if you pass away. In its privacy notice, LinkedIn states: “If we learn that a User is deceased, we may memorialize the User’s account. In these cases we may restrict profile access, remove messaging functionality, and close an account if we receive a formal request from the User’s next of kin or other proper legal request to do so.” 2

Twitter takes a very thorough approach to deactivating accounts of deceased users. Executors or “verified immediate family members” must mail or fax requested documentation to its San Francisco headquarters.3

When a Twitter user dies, no heir, relative, friend or executor can log into the account – no one. Its policy states, “We are unable to provide login information for the account to anyone regardless of his or her relationship to the deceased.”3

Your digital assets can be managed after your passing. Websites like Legacy Locker and DataInherit exist to help people safeguard and convey online data to heirs. Sites such as Great Goodbye, Great Respectance and 1,000memories serve as portals for last emails, last videos and posthumous online tributes. Perhaps the online world is better prepared for our passing than we are.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at Ph# 641-782-5577 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

1 – www.facebook.com/help/?page=185698814812082 [3/8/12]

2 – www.linkedin.com/static?key=privacy_policy [6/16/11]

3 – support.twitter.com/groups/33-report-a-violation/topics/148-policy-information/articles/87894-how-to-contact-twitter-about-a-deceased-user# [6/16/11]

 

 

The Ransomware Threat

Cybercrime has reached a new level.

Imagine cybercriminals holding your files for ransom. It sounds like something out of a movie set in the distant future, but business owners and households are facing such a threat today.

Hackers are now using ransomware to hijack computers and hold files hostage in exchange for payment. Malware programs like CryptoWall, CryptoLocker and CoinVault spring into action when you unsuspectingly click on a link in an email, encrypting all of the data on your hard drive in seconds. A “ransom note” appears telling you that you need to pay $500 (or more) to access your files again. If you fail to pay soon, they will be destroyed.1

Worldwide, more than a million computer users have been threatened by ransomware – individuals, small business, even a county sheriff’s department in Tennessee. The initial version of CryptoLocker alone victimized 500,000 users, generating more than $3 million in payments along the way.2,3

The earliest ransomware demanded payments via prepaid debit cards, but hackers now prefer payment in bitcoin, even though few households or businesses have bitcoin wallets. (The emergence of bitcoin effectively aided the rise of ransomware; keeping the payment in virtual currency is a hacker’s dream.)2,3

If your files are held hostage, should you pay the ransom? The Department of Homeland Security and most computer security analysts say no, because it may be pointless. By the time you get the note, your files may already be destroyed – that is, encrypted so deeply that you will never be able to read them again.

Some people do pay a ransom and get their data back. As for prosecuting the crooks, that is a tall order. Much of this malware is launched overseas using Tor, an anonymous online network. That makes it difficult to discern who the victim is as well as the attacker – if one of your workers thoughtlessly clicks on a ransomware link, you cannot find, scold or even help that employee any more than you could locate the hacker behind the extortion.3

How do you guard against a ransomware attack? No one is absolutely immune from this, but there are some precautions you should take.

First, back up your data frequently – and make sure that the storage volumes are not connected to your computer(s). Cloud storage or a flash drive that always stays in one of your computer’s USB ports is inadequate. If you back up your files regularly enough, weathering a ransomware attack becomes easier.3
Keep your anti-virus software renewed and up to date. Those alerts you receive about the latest updates? Heed them.

Never click on a mysterious link or attachment. This is common knowledge, but bears repeating – because even after years of warnings, enough people still click on mysterious links and attachments to keep malware profitable.

Ransomware is a kind of cyberterrorism. This is why the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings about it. When you deal with terrorists, playing hardball has its virtues. As Symantec Security Response director Kevin Haley told NBC News: “If none of us paid the ransom, these guys would go out of business.”2

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – rackspace.com/blog/dont-be-held-hostage-by-ransomware-hackers/ [1/15/15]
2 – nbcnews.com/nightly-news/security-experts-you-should-never-pay-ransomware-hackers-n299511 [2/4/15]
3 – tinyurl.com/n3rcrsm [12/8/14]