August is coming to a close and it has not been pretty..
If you write checks and mail them, be careful of the latest check scam. Criminals steal mail from street boxes looking for envelopes with checks. They then use nail polish remover to clear all lines except the signature line. Next step is to fill in the criminal name and place some number in the amount line and deposit the check. Another risk of using checks! Mail Fraud - Check Washing.
One way around this if you insist on using checks is to mail the envelope at the post office. That is what we do if we need to use a check to pay a bill or an individual. We also try to use Zelle, and we do recommend Venmo although we do not have an account and any other online service to pay bills. Bill pays typically deposits their envelopes directly to a post office. Of course, there is no perfect solution because many individuals are not comfortable with using online methods that connect bank accounts to the internet and all those vulnerabilities.
Another thought would be to keep small balances in bank accounts and use brokerage accounts to buy short term Treasuries. That is our strategy. Also check your credit cards daily as well as bank accounts to detect anything funny. My wife JoBeth had her credit card stolen online this weekend and it was a total headache. No monetary loss but way too much time and aggravation spent dealing with the issue. Use two factor verification for all your accounts. Credit card companies are good at detecting fraud normally although they fell down in our case this weekend. We are filing a complaint with Chase. Also make sure you freeze your credit accounts online. That would be Transunion, Experian and Equifax. By freezing your credit, no one can open a bank account, credit card, or apply for a loan. Of course, that would apply to you as well and you have to visit all three credit bureaus to freeze your account separately. You can unfreeze your account as well for a designated period of time if you are applying for credit cards or loans, opening bank accounts. Sometimes when you apply for insurance, the company will do a credit check as well, but this is not usually what happens. Here is a link to get started: How to Freeze Your Credit - NerdWallet
August is coming to a close and it has not been pretty for stocks or bonds and interest rates. Calendar wise, we are heading into a typically challenging couple of months for equity markets. The biggest challenge might not be interest rates going forward but might be earnings expectations. Typically, analysts are very bullish on earning and then lower expectations as we get closer to earnings releases for the quarter. Markets have a big element in performance that is forward looking about 6 months. Analysts expect gains for SP 500 earnings in 2024. This year, earnings have been better than expected but continuing that trend for higher earnings is complicated. We already have stocks valued at historically high levels especially with interest rates and inflation running high. If earnings are lower than expected because of a consumer slowdown in spending or a general economic slowdown we will be looking at a stock market decline. Right now, we are in the middle of earnings season with Nvidia reporting higher earnings than expected today driving Artificial Intelligence related stock higher. The push and pull continue as always.
Labor Day weekend merge to Schwab
It’s baaaackkkk. Pumpkin spice season that is.
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