Stock Markets around the world have continued their historic rally from the March 23rd lows. As of this writing, the S&P 500 is up about 40% from the bottom. We want to thank our clients for their trust and confidence during this difficult time. We have tried to communicate the need for a disciplined approach to investing and so far, that discipline has been rewarded. We expect volatility to be around for the foreseeable future. You can expect us to stick to our discipline as economies around the world reopen.
Every crisis brings out the good and bad in people. Good people can look for the positive in a bad situation. COVID-19 new cases and deaths have been falling in most areas around the world and 2.3 million people have recovered from the virus. In my own town, I have never seen so many families riding bikes or taking walks together. On a personal level, working from home has allowed me to spend more time with my daughter than I ever would have during the week, and it has been very special for me.
Unfortunately, a crisis can also bring out the bad in people. It has been a stressful and scary time for a lot of people. That is the perfect environment for misinformation and scams. As I have heard about more and more scams that prey on people, I wanted to highlight some common ones and provide some ways to protect yourself. Here are some the most common scams going around now:
- Someone telling you they need help (money) right away but can’t talk on the phone. This will commonly come in the form of an email and the scammer may even pretend to be a grandchild or relative. Often, they ask for cash or gift cards and ask for it quickly. To protect yourself, always insist on speaking on the phone and verifying the person’s identity with questions only they would know.
- Fake Charity Scams. If a charity is claiming to be related to helping with the Virus in some way it should be easy to verify. If you haven’t heard of the charity, can’t confirm it is legitimate, do not give. There are numerous ways to help where you can be sure it is getting to the right place.
- Money for treatment scams. No hospital is going to call a friend or relative and ask for payment on another person’s behalf.
- Scams relating to Stimulus or CARES Act benefits. Before you give anyone personal information, think twice. They may pose as a government representative and try to get you to pay fees or give financial information out. The Stimulus check is either coming as a direct deposit or a check. Do not engage someone trying to get you to give up information.
- Social Security fraud. The Social Security Administration warned of fraudulent letters going out threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits because their offices are closed.
The Federal Trade Commission has put a list of ways to protect yourself:
- Don’t respond to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government. Here’s what you need to know.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
- Be wary of ads for test kits. Most test kits being advertised have not been approved by the FDA and aren’t necessarily accurate.
- Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from lowpriced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information. And don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
- Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.
The information contained herein was obtained from sources considered reliable. However, its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.
La Ferla Group does not provide legal or tax advice. You must consult with your legal or tax advisor regarding your personal circumstances.
Contact La Ferla Group if you have any questions; if your financial situation, individual needs or investment objectives have changed; or if you would like to impose or change any investment restrictions on your account(s).
La Ferla Group LLC (“La Ferla Group”) is a federally registered investment adviser with its principal place of business in the State of New York. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. This brochure is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its investment advisory and management services. For information pertaining to the registration status of La Ferla Group, please contact La Ferla Group or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).
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Regis R. Dillon, CFA, CFP®
Chief Investment Officer