Articles for September 2017

The Equifax Data Breach

Have you been affected?  If so, how can you try to protect yourself?

On September 7, credit reporting agency Equifax dropped a consumer bombshell. It revealed that cybercriminals had gained access to the personal information of as many as 143 million Americans between May and July – about 44% of the U.S. population. The culprits were able to retrieve roughly 209,000 credit card numbers, in addition to many Social Security and driver’s license numbers.1

How can you find out if you were affected? Visit equifaxsecurity2017.com, the website Equifax just created for consumers. There, you can enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number to find out. (Having to enter the last six digits of your SSN hints at how significant this breach is.)2

If you are among the consumers whose data was hacked, Equifax will ask you to return to equifaxsecurity2017.com to enroll in an identity theft protection product, TrustedID Premier. This program will provide you with free credit monitoring for a year. (The lingering question is whether your data could be used easily by criminals afterward.)1,2

How should you respond? Beyond simply taking Equifax up on its offer of one year of identity theft insurance and free credit monitoring, you can take other steps.

Check your credit reports now. (Unless you have already done so in the past month). You can get one free credit report per year from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. To request yours, go to annualcreditreport.com. Scrutinize your credit card and bank account statements for unfamiliar activity, and sign up for email or text alerts offered by your bank or credit card issuer(s), so that notice of anything suspicious can quickly reach you.

Consider changing the password for your main email account. A weak password on that account is a low bar for a cybercrook to hurdle – and once hurdled, that crook could potentially pose as you to change the passwords on your financial accounts.3

Regarding bank, investment, and credit card account passwords, avoid the obvious. Too many people use simple passwords based on their pet’s name, their last name and year of birth, the high school they attended, etc. Sadly, these same simple facts are often answers to security questions for credit card and bank accounts. Ask your bank or credit card issuer if you can use additional, random words or a PIN for passwords or security question answers. That way, you can avoid logging in using data that is in the public record. You want your password to be long and random, to make it harder for a would-be thief to guess.

You may want to consider paying for additional identity theft protection for years to come. This is one way to try and shield yourself from the unauthorized use of your Social Security number, driver’s license number, email accounts, and credit card numbers.

If someone calls you out of the blue claiming to be from Equifax, do not cooperate with them. Unless Equifax is returning your call, they will not contact you by phone. The same applies if you get a random, unsolicited email or text from “Equifax” – do not comply, or you may inadvertently hand over personal information to a fraudster. Stay vigilant, today and in the future.

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

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

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.

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.

Citations.

1 – wired.com/story/how-to-protect-yourself-from-that-massive-equifax-breach/ [9/7/17]

2 – washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/09/08/after-data-breach-equifax-asks-consumers-for-social-security-numbers-to-see-if-theyve-been-affected [9/8/17]

3 – cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2017/09/devastating_data_breach_at_equ.html [9/8/17]

 

 

When Should You Buy a Car?

Could timing be a factor in getting a better deal?

If you are on the verge of shopping for a new or late-model used vehicle, some recent research from TrueCar may interest you – and even lead you to some savings. TrueCar, which monitors both U.S. auto dealer sales and dealer incentives and discounts, says that Monday and Thursday are the ideal days of the week to buy. Fewer buyers head to dealerships on those two days than any other, and the average sales discount off MSRP is slightly higher (8.1% compared to 7.5% on Sundays).

Fall and winter may be the right season to arrange a car or truck purchase. October is when dealerships tend to offer their biggest discounts on full-size pickups. November sees the deepest discounts on compact and mid-sized cars. Markdowns on luxury and mid-sized SUVs tend to be largest in December. Also, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are often the very best days of the year to buy. TrueCar found an average discount of 8.5% off MSRP on January 1.2

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

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

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.

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.  

Citations.

2 – cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/6-best-times-to-buy-a-car [3/31/17]

Celebration of the Common Worker

In honor of Labor Day 2017

It has been known by many different names–Worker’s Day, Labor Day, the last big weekend of the summer-and sadly, once Labor Day passes, we put the summer clothes away, drain the swimming pools and fountains, and start to batten down the hatches for winter.

“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country,” notes Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. “All other holidays are (to some degree) connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another.  Labor Day…is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.”

The holiday is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the country.

The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected to be the annual holiday, and the idea spread with the growth of labor organizations.  In 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Originally, Labor day was to be celebrated with a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and spirit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. In recent years, the celebration has undergone a change, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem.  The change is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression.  Addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics, and government officials are given wide coverage in the media.

The vital force of American labor has added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute to the creators of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership-the American workers.

As you and your family gather for this celebration, may you find comfort and joy in knowing that America still has the strongest, most stable economy in the world, all thanks to those who work for the common good every day. 1

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 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.

Citations

1 – www.dol.gov