Liz Weston: 4 Steps to Disaster Proof Your Finances

By Liz Weston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mother Nature could be excused if she wondered, “How much more prompting do you people need?”

This year delivered epic wildfires, devastating hurricanes, massive floods and some pretty horrific earthquakes. Yet many people still haven’t taken a few critical steps to protect their financial lives from such disasters.

Consider setting aside a few hours this week to take care of these four essential tasks:

REVIEW (AND BOOST) YOUR INSURANCE

Most renters don’t have renters insurance, but they need it since their landlord’s policy won’t cover their stuff.

The vast majority of homeowners do have homeowners insurance, but often not enough especially if their policies haven’t been updated regularly to reflect rising construction costs or improvements. Ask your insurer to rerun the numbers to ensure you have enough coverage to rebuild your home completely. United Policyholders, an advocacy group for insurance customers, recommends adding as much “extended replacement cost” coverage as you can afford. This add-on boosts the policy’s coverage limits by 20 per cent to 100 per cent if costs run unexpectedly high, as often happens in disaster zones when rebuilding costs soar. Another smart addition: “building code upgrade” or “ordinance coverage” to pay the higher costs of rebuilding to current standards.

Other key points:

_Homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover floods or earthquakes, so consider buying those policies if your home may be at risk.

_You want “replacement cost ” coverage for your home’s contents, not “actual cash value,” which will pay only pennies on the dollar to replace your stuff.

_You may need extra coverage if you have certain valuables, such as jewelry, collectibles, guns or computers and other home office equipment. Policies typically limit coverage to $1,500 to $2,500 for each of these categories.

_Opt for generous “loss of use” or “additional living expenses” coverage, since that will pay your rent and other costs while your home is uninhabitable. United Policyholders recommends having at least two years’ worth of additional living expense coverage.

If you’re concerned your coverage limits are too low and your insurer won’t let you upgrade, shop around for a better provider.

SCAN IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS INTO THE CLOUD

You may be away from home or not have time to grab your bug-out bag in your scramble out the door. Keeping documents or copies off site is one solution, but anything in your safe deposit box or lawyer’s office could be compromised by the same disaster that wrecks your home, says financial planner Leonard Wright, who evacuated his family from their San Diego-area home during the 2007 wildfires.

“You want it out of the area,” says Wright, a certified public accountant and personal financial specialist who contributed to a detailed disaster guide that the American Institute of CPAs created with the American Red Cross and National Endowment for Financial Education.

Wright uses DropBox, a file sharing and storage site, for family pictures and Box, a similar site known for its security features, for financial documents. Other cloud services include Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud and Google Drive. Documents can be scanned with mobile apps or desktop scanners, which typically cost $200 to $400.

Disaster survivors say the following documents can be particularly important, according to United Policyholders:

_Insurance policies

_Passports and birth certificates

_Family photos

_Tax and loan documents

_Stocks and bonds

_Wills and trusts

_Home blueprints or surveys, if you have them

DO A QUICK HOME INVENTORY

This can be as simple as walking around your home, inside and out, recording your stuff with your smartphone’s video camera and storing that video in the cloud. Or you can use an app, such as Sortly, MyStuff2 or United Policyholders’ UPHelp Home Inventory to photograph and itemize your possessions.

ADD EMERGENCY ACCESS TO YOUR PASSWORDS

Security experts recommend using a password manager to securely store unique, hard-to-remember logins for each account while only having to remember one master password. Password managers also can help a trusted person to take over for you if you die or become incapacitated _ but that person needs access to the account. Some password managers let you offer emergency access to others. Another option is to keep copies of your passwords, or your master password, with your estate planning documents. Services such as Everplans and Fidelity Investments’ FidSafe offer online storage with secure sharing options.

Finally, make a note on your calendar to do all this again next year so all your important documents are kept up to date. Investing a few hours each year can pay off in an easier recovery if disaster ever strikes, and peace of mind even if it doesn’t.

_______

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet .

RECO freezes bank accounts of Toronto area brokerage, substantial sum missing

By Aleksandra Sagan

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ The bank accounts of a Toronto brokerage are frozen to protect consumer deposits after Ontario’s real estate professional regulatory body discovered “a substantial amount” missing.

The Real Estate Council of Ontario issued a freeze order for the first time in about six years on Nov. 1 against RE/MAX Right Choice Inc.

“This is very rare,” said RECO spokesman Daniel Roukema, who could not elaborate further on the sum of money in question.

The Toronto brokerage, located at Centerpoint Mall in the north part of the city, did not immediately respond to requests for comment and its website appeared to be down. A person with the mall’s answering service told The Canadian Press the office appeared to be closed, despite its hours indicating it should be open until 9 p.m. ET.

RECO discovered the discrepancy between how much money the brokerage should have held in trust in its accounts and the amount it possessed last week during a routine check, Roukema said.

People making an offer to buy a home in Ontario must provide proof of a deposit typically about five per cent of the sale price _ to the seller either when the offer is made or shortly thereafter. The brokerage of the realtor representing the buyer will hold the deposit in the brokerage’s real estate trust account until it must be paid to the seller on the closing date.

RECO froze the brokerage’s accounts to protect consumers from further harm, Roukema said.

It’s urging homebuyers and sellers who are involved with the agency or their lawyers to contact the council, he said.

“If anyone has deposited money, then they do have options to file a claim,” he noted. The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation protects eligible deposits at its member financial institutions up to $100,000.

RECO’s investigation is ongoing and the council has not been in contact with police, Roukema said.

RE/MAX Integra, a sub-franchisor that represents about a third of the worldwide RE/MAX network, terminated Right Choice as one of its franchises Monday, Oct. 23 _ prior to RECO beginning its investigation, said Galen Wright, a consultant with Toronto-based FleishmanHillard’s reputation management practice, in an email.

“We recognize that buying a home is one of the most important decisions a person can make,” he said. “We pride ourselves on the values of honesty, fairness and accountability, and we support RECO in their efforts to protect consumers.”

RE/MAX Integra is unable to provide further details on why it terminated the brokerage’s contract, he said.

Alice Keung of Economical joins Insurance-Canada.ca Advisory Board

WATERLOO, ON, October 30, 2017 — Rowan Saunders, President and Chief Executive Officer of Economical Insurance, is proud to announce that Alice Keung, the company’s Senior Vice-President and Chief Transformation Officer, has been appointed a member of the Insurance-Canada.ca Advisory Board This is an external link.

The Advisory Board, inaugurated in 2015, provides Insurance-Canada with advice and counsel on programs and services to best serve the Canadian insurance community.

Alice is the driving force behind implementing leading-edge technologies at Economical. Having delivered a best-in-class digital experience for Canadians through Sonnet, Alice and her team are driving innovation in the company’s business model, transforming the way Economical works and supporting long-term growth opportunities for the company’s broker partners. A seasoned IT executive with extensive public and private sector experience, Alice was named to the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada in 2004 and 2007.

Alice Keung of Economical joins Insurance-Canada.ca Advisory Board

 

“We are delighted to welcome Alice to our Advisory Board,’ said Patrick Vice, Partner, Insurance-Canada.  “Alice will bring strong executive IT and transformation skills that will complement her colleagues on ICAB.”

“I am honoured to join such an august group of Canadian insurance professionals on the Insurance-Canada.ca Advisory Board,” she said. “This organization does very interesting work in areas where insurance and technology meet. The insights and networking opportunities their forums provide are highly valued by everyone in the P&C insurance industry.”

Alice will join a board with a wide range of skills.  Her colleagues are Debra Ambrose, SVP Marketing, Aviva Canada; Andy Bates, SVP Market Relations, JLT; Dario Battista, President & CEO, Isure; David Crozier, President & CEO, Everest Insurance Company of Canada; David Gallagher, SVP Marketing, Hubio; Christine Haeberlin, Client Executive, IBM Canada; Paul MacDonald, SVP & Chief Claims Officer, RSA; Jamie McDougall, VP Analytics, Gore Mutual;  Lorie Phair, Managing Director, Canadian Broker Network; Matt Turack, President, Insurance, CAA/SCO; and Jeff Walker, Vice-President Sales & Business Development, Intact.

About the Insurance-Canada.ca Advisory Board

The Insurance-Canada.ca Advisory Board consists of senior member of the Canadian insurance industry, representing our three major constituencies: Insurers, Distributors, and Suppliers. The board members provide knowledge and advice to increase the value of Insurance-Canada.ca products and services for the communities we serve.

Since 1995, Insurance-Canada.ca Inc. has provided both consumers and insurance professionals with independent and impartial information about technology and the business of insurance in Canada through thought leading events, a deep website, and consulting services.

About Economical Insurance

Founded in 1871, Economical is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with more than $2.2 billion in annualized premium volume and more than $5.5 billion in assets as at June 30, 2017. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Sonnet, Petsecure, Economical Financial, and Family Insurance Solutions.

1-in-4 fraud victims too ashamed to tell their partner what happened

By James Cox | The Sun

Researchers also found a further one in 10 chose not to reveal anything about it amid a fear they would be judged by friends and family.

The study of 1,500 adults who have fallen prey either to financial, identity or online fraud , shows 32 per cent feel there is a stigma attached to anyone who has been ‘taken in’ by a fraudster.

Overall one in four victims admitted feeling hugely embarrassed by what happened, and 31 per cent said they felt ‘stupid’.

Another 38 per cent felt angry at themselves for letting the scam happen, while 12 per cent felt ‘gullible’.

Sadly, the poll suggests the average adult has been a victim of fraud TWICE, and has been targeted 11 times over the last 12 months.

This means during the course of the average adult’s lifetime, they’ll endure 693 attempts to either steal their identity, or their money.

On the occasion where money WAS taken, the average amount lost was £893.34 – and worryingly only six in ten people managed to get their cash back.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK, which conducted the study to launch the Embarrassing Fraud Clinic – an initiative to reduce the stigma surrounding fraud, said: “We want to encourage people to talk more openly about scams, so that we can work together to lift the stigma of fraud.

‘’If people are too embarrassed to even tell their friends and family, then how can we expect them to report it to their banks?

“The Embarrassing Fraud Clinic and our new online fraud intervention service makes up the next phase of our £10 million commitment to helping people stay safe in cyber space, launched earlier this year.

“With the average Brit being targeted 12 times over the last 12 months never has it been more vital for us to lead the fightback against the fraudsters and increase the public’s resilience to cyber-attacks, helping them stay secure in the digital age.

“We hope that the Embarrassing Fraud Clinic gives people a safe environment to discuss their fraud concerns and get advice and tips on how to protect themselves.”

The research also revealed one third (34 per cent) of fraud cases have gone unreported to banks and nearly three quarters (72 per cent) were not reported to the police, due to one in four Brit’s being too embarrassed.

Only two thirds of those who were targeted actually reported the fraud to their bank, and less than three in ten went to the police or Action Fraud.

Interestingly, the average adult wouldn’t report missing money from their account unless it exceeded £112.

One in four felt losing money to a fraudster was MORE embarrassing than doing a live performance on stage, being picked on by a comedian or being stood up on a date.

Victims would also rather walk around with their skirt tucked in their underwear or make a mistake in front of the boss than tell someone about their terrible experiences.

People Hacker, Jenny Radcliffe said: “Falling for scams is very common, and if you are a victim you shouldn’t feel ashamed, or even guilty, because it can happen to anyone, and you are not alone.

“Fraudsters target people from all walks of life as potential victims, and whilst it seems very personal when it happens to you, criminals are generally working through long lists of emails and phone numbers looking to catch someone, anyone, out.

“Awareness is key, and the more people understand about cons and scams the more likely they are to notice something suspicious or question a fraudster, and help to protect themselves.”

Julie Clegg, former Detective and Intelligence Expert on Channel 4’s TV Show ‘Hunted’ added: “The scale of fraud is phenomenal and there is a lot of work to be done to tackle this growing issue.

“I see it every day, and what’s interesting is the common misconception around who is often behind it. Fraud is a multimillion pound global industry and many of these crimes and scams are carefully planned out and executed by “organisations” that could be compared in structure and strategy to a multinational corporation.

“They are technical masters, they have a business plan, they analyse their statistics, they operate in a tactical way, and they hire the best and brightest hackers they can find.

“Not speaking out should you be a victim is really helping the fraudsters so it’s great to be part of the Barclays Embarrassing Fraud Clinic where we are encouraging people to talk more openly about it.”

The Embarrassing Fraud Clinic will be putting on a number of public seminars hosted by Barclays own cyber experts, known as the Digital Eagles.

One in three parents surveyed say their children will always ask them for money if they don’t develop healthy financial habits while young, TD survey finds

Read more

(TSX) In short marijuana, the United States and listing on the TSX/TSXV do not mix

Article by Neil Wiener

On October 16, 2017, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) issued Staff Notice 2017-0009 regarding listed companies engaged in the marijuana business, whether directly or indirectly, in the United States. At the same time, the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) issued a Notice to Issuers virtually identical to the TSX Staff Notice. It is well-known that recreational cannabis has been legalized in certain American states (in alphabetical order, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) yet remains illegal at the federal level in the United States. The TSX Staff Notice and TSXV Notice to Issuers clarify the position of the two Exchanges in light of this legal conundrum. In short, marijuana, the United States and listing on the TSX/TSXV do not mix.

The TSX Staff Notice states the general rule that a TSX-listed company must act in compliance with the rules and regulations of all regulatory bodies having jurisdiction over it. The Staff Notice notes that marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the United States Controlled Substances Act, such that it is illegal under United States federal law to cultivate, distribute or possess marijuana, and that financial transactions involving proceeds generated by, or intended to promote, marijuana-related business activities in the United States may form the basis for prosecution under applicable U.S. federal money-laundering legislation.

According to the Staff Notice, companies listed on the TSX with ongoing business activities that violate United States federal law regarding marijuana are not in compliance with the requirements of the TSX. These business activities may include, among other things, (i) direct or indirect ownership of, or investment in, businesses engaged in the cultivation, distribution or possession of marijuana in the United States (which the Staff Notice refers to as “Subject Entities“), (ii) other commercial arrangements with Subject Entities (presumably, a joint venture, a “streaming” deal, or other similar contractual arrangement), (iii) providing services or products that are specifically designed for, or targeted at, Subject Entities, or (iv) commercial interests or arrangements with entities (CSA) engaging in the business activities described in (iii).

The Staff Notice sets out that the TSX will contact its listed companies by the end of 2017 for a comprehensive review of their marijuana-related activities (if any) in the United States. If a listed company engages in activities that are contrary to TSX requirements, the TSX has the discretion to delist that company. In short, if a TSX-listed company grows or distributes marijuana in the United States, invests in another business that grows or distributes marijuana in the United States, or provides services or products for businesses that grow or distribute marijuana in the United States, the company faces the prospect of being delisted from the TSX.

However, it’s not all bad news for companies in the marijuana industry. The Staff Notice concludes by stating that the TSX continues to welcome listing applicants in the marijuana sector that operate within Canada and comply with applicable Canadian law. Presumably, the TSX will also welcome listing applicants engaged in the marijuana business in other countries in which such activities are legal, provided that the listing applicant can demonstrate to the TSX that it is in compliance with all applicable laws of those jurisdictions. However, until further notice, companies listed or applying for listing on the TSX or TSXV will have to stay away from either marijuana or the United States.

For those Canadian companies with marijuana activities in the United States (for example, a company listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange), the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued CSA Staff Notice 51-352 Issuers with U.S. Marijuana-Related Activities on October 16, 2017. Similar to TSX Staff Notice 2017-0009, the CSA Staff Notice notes the discrepancy between U.S. federal and state law as it relates to the use and sale of marijuana. In short, CSA staff believes that how a company with U.S. marijuana activities ensures compliance with U.S. state-level regulatory frameworks forms an important part of that company’s continuous disclosure record.

The CSA Staff Notice sets out specific disclosure requirements for issuers with marijuana-related activities in the United States, which will apply to continuous disclosure documents such as an annual information form or management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A), and to a prospectus in the event of a public offering. For example, CSA staff expects that an issuer will explain in these documents “whether and how the issuer’s U.S. marijuana-related activities are conducted in a manner consistent with any U.S. federal enforcement priorities”. For those issuers with direct involvement in the cultivation or distribution of marijuana, CSA staff expects in particular that the issuer will outline the applicable regulations of the U.S. states in which the issuer operates and confirm how the issuer complies with applicable licensing requirements and the state regulatory framework. This is more than boilerplate disclosure. Canadian issuers with marijuana-related activities in the United States will have to take cognizance of, and comply with, these specific disclosure requirements. Failure to do so could lead to a request from CSA staff for re-filing of the disclosure document (e.g. annual information form or MD&A) or appropriate enforcement action.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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