The creation of cryptocurrencies or digital currencies such as Bitcoin has bankers, financiers and governments pondering the long-term potential economic and political ramifications for the future. While the increasing use of digital currencies demonstrates the power of a secure, secretive payment transfer system, it also has created a loophole from government control.
The S&P 500 Index grew 5.8% in the first quarter in response to the massive fiscal stimulus and the anticipation of a significant economic rebound. The recent passage of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package added to the previous five major stimulus bills totaling over $5.2 trillion. Lawmakers as well as the Federal Reserve have responded dramatically to the COVID pandemic flooding the market with liquidity and the markets responded positively. The COVID-relief money flooding into depository institutions is being used for consumption and investment and helping corporate earnings rebound quickly.
When checking your inbox this time of year, you may receive an email purportedly from the Internal Revenue Service. The subject line gets your attention with words such as “coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and "Stimulus,” and the email seems real, with the IRS logo and other official-looking text and graphics.
iTestCash is a company dedicated to helping big and small businesses throughout the U.S. and abroad. Its CEO, Alex Reichmann, comes from a family that has spent their lives focused on the protection of people’s money. His grandfather’s company invented the counterfeit detector pen that many banks and retail businesses use to identify counterfeit bills.
With the completion of the fourth quarter of 2020 corporate earnings releases, investors are monitoring daily COVID headlines, rising interest rates, and the potential for a new stimulus program. Corporate earnings were mostly better than expected and guidance for the year ahead was surprisingly strong.
Cybercriminals are targeting small businesses with increasingly sophisticated attacks. “Corporate account takeover” is a form of identity theft of a business. Criminals phony emails pretending to be someone you know to trick you into clicking on links or attachments that can lead to malicious software being installed on your computer. Once this happens, they will ask you to enter credentials where they will gain access to your email account. At that point, they will send emails to the bank appearing to be from you to initiate ACH and wire transactions.
The S&P 500 Index was down 1% in January based on investors’ revised expectations of corporate revenue growth and earnings. First, the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and inoculation process is proceeding slowly while the virus is mutating. The new strains appear to be slightly more virulent and the vaccination timeline will take longer and delay economic normalization. Second, the peaceful installation of the Biden Administration with impactful policy changes have added uncertainty. New executive orders are being launched daily with an emphasis so far on changing carbon emissions, raising the minimum wage and bringing about social justice. Third, the expectation for further fiscal stimulus in the next 100 days is losing its enthusiasm. The passage of another $1.9 trillion relief package so soon after the recently passed $900-million package seems excessive even for the new Congress.
Companies of all sizes are being targeted by criminals through business email compromise scams. In these scams, cybercriminals gain access to an employee’s legitimate business email through social engineering or computer intrusion. The criminal then impersonates the employee often a senior executive or someone who can authorize payments and instructs others to transfer funds on their behalf. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, over $10 billion has been lost by victims in the U.S. due to these scams.
“Any business that conducts transactions overseas or regularly performs wire transfers should stay alert for these scams,” said Certified Information Security Manager Margo Leiter. “Companies can protect themselves and their employees by using alternative communication channels to verify any large transaction requests and by educating their employees on potential red flags of fraud.”