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To Pay or Not to Pay: How to Survive a Ransomware Attack

Imagine this: You open an e-mail that seems to come from Google, prompting you to click a link to reset your password. But when you click, a mysterious .exe file downloads and launches. Slowly, all the files on your desktop turn into white paper icons, and the names of all your files turn into scrambled nonsense.

What is happening here? Unfortunately, you’ve probably fallen victim to a ransomware attack.

The threat defined

Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

Being self-employed has many advantages — the opportunity to be your own boss and come and go as you please, for example. However, it also comes with unique challenges, especially when it comes to how to handle taxes. Whether you're running your own business or thinking about starting one, you'll want to be aware of the specific tax rules and opportunities that apply to you.

Understand the self-employment tax

Quiz: How Much do you Know about Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Social Security is an important source of retirement income for millions of Americans, but how much do you know about this program? Test your knowledge, and learn more about your retirement benefits, by answering the following questions.

Questions

1. Do you have to be retired to collect Social Security retirement benefits?

a. Yes

b. No

2. How much is the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker?

a. $1,360

b. $1,493

c. $1,585

d. $1,723

529 college savings plan

529 college savings plan

A 529 college savings plan is one of the best vehicles for multigenerational college funding. 529 plans are offered by states and managed by financial institutions. Grandparents can open a 529 account on their own — either with their own state's plan or another state's plan — and name their grandchild as beneficiary (one grandchild per account), or they can contribute to an existing 529 account that has already been established for that grandchild (for example, by a parent).

Key Retirement and Tax Numbers for 2017

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service announces cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans, thresholds for deductions and credits, and standard deduction and personal exemption amounts. Here are a few of the key adjustments for 2017.

Retirement plans

How do I know which credit card rewards offer to choose?

Credit card reward programs are more popular than ever. In order to keep up with such high demand in a competitive market, credit card companies are coming up with new and more enticing offers every day. How do you know which one to choose?

Growth, Value or Both

The terms growth and value are often used to describe two different investment strategies, yet many investors may want both qualities in an investment. Famed investor Warren Buffett put it this way in a 2015 interview: "I always say if you aren't investing for value, what are you investing for? And the idea that value and growth are two different things makes no sense.... Growth is part of the value equation."1

Financial New Year’s Resolutions: Using Tech to Stay on Track

The New Year is symbolic in many respects. It gives you a chance to start fresh and set some goals that can improve your life in ways large and small. But if you’re like many people, familiarresolutions like “lose weight” or “go to the gym” slowly fade into darkness by mid-February, leaving you feeling disappointed in yourself.  

Year-End Financial Planning Checklist

As 2016 draws to a close, it’s time to begin organizing your finances for the New Year. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of key planning topics to consider.

 

Savings and investments

Charitable Donations this Holiday Season

The holidays are a popular time for charitable donations. With so many charities to choose from, it's more important than ever to ensure that your donation is well spent. Here are six tips that can help you make smart and effective charitable donations.

1. Choose your charities wisely