Dear MCEPC Members and Friends,
Our Board of Directors has contributed some helpful content for you, your families, employees and clients. It is our hope that you are safe and well and coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine measures. At this time where we cannot be with you for an in-person meeting, we hope the following will be valuable until we meet again.
- Small Business – Tax/Legal
- Use the IRS Coronavirus webpage https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus to stay up-to-date on tax changes. It has important information for all the key changes that have occurred so far like moving the tax filing and payment deadlines and offering tax credits for keeping employees through the shutdown.
- The Montgomery County Bar Association has a resource page with lots of information: https://www.montgomerybar.org/about/covid-19-resources.php
- Show that you prioritize employee safety.
- Reaffirm as much as possible the long-term stability of your business.
- Explain how your business mission and customer service still apply—or apply even more—in times of crisis.
- Rely on credible sources of information on COVID-19 for their business decisions:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
- World Health Organization https://www.who.int/
- Johns Hopkins University https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
- Mental Health/Exercise
- Limit how much time you watch the news
- Encourage cognitive stimulation with puzzles, reading, and art projects
- Walk, do body-weight activity, be mindful of what you eat and drink!
- Consider using this time to explore areas in your neighborhood you normally wouldn’t have time for. You may find small, local parks with beautiful scenery, calming bird songs, etc. This can be a safe activity as you are in a car alone or walking alone at a safe distance from others. You can also use this time to read historical markers that you would ordinarily pass by in your car.
- Getting outside, cleaning/gardening is a valuable stress relief and knocks items off the normal to-do list.
- Community Outreach
- Check on elderly neighbors, clients and assist with shopping / shipping of necessities.
- Set people up on Zoom, FaceTime, Google Duo, Skype
- Conduct daily / weekly check-ins on video calls. Group calls are great.
- Be positive on social media. Everyone is stressed.
- Have a virtual happy hour, family gathering, prayer time. How to Have a Successful Virtual Happy Hour https://nyti.ms/2xh9iBV
- Have a (Virtual) Netflix party
- Support local small businesses by ordering online
- Online Meeting Safety As many organizations turn to on-line meeting programs for working remotely, hackers are quickly finding ways to be disruptive. Here are a few tips for keeping your meetings secure:
- Never publish your meeting link on social media. Do not share meeting details through social media or other public channels. This could allow unintended participants to join your meetings.
- Enable your waiting room. Doing so enables you to admit people into your meeting and ensures that crashers cannot randomly join. It’s important to remember if you enable a waiting room feature, you will have to actually permit each attendee to join your meeting.
- Lock your meeting. When you lock a meeting that has already started, no new participants can join. This feature works best when you know all of your invitees are present.
- Make sure you know who your meeting invitation is coming from. Do not click on invitation email links unless you are sure the meeting invite is coming from inside your organization or was a meeting invite you were expecting from a third-party.
- What’s for Dinner?
Support local restaurants by ordering take-out once a week!
Grocery Delivery Services:
Giant Eagle Delivery: https://curbsideexpress.gianteagle.com/
Wal-Mart Grocery Delivery: https://grocery.walmart.com/
Wegmans Delivery & Curbside Pickup: https://www.wegmans.com/groceries-online
Amazon Prime Whole Foods Delivery: https://primenow.amazon.com/
Food Delivery Services:
Uber Eats: https://www.ubereats.com/
Avoid COVID-19 Scams - Scammers, fraudsters, and other criminals are taking advantage of rapidly changing data and facts associated with COVID-19, both in the workplace and in our homes. Government agencies, corporations, and news outlets continue to warn individuals to be mindful of increased fraudulent activities during these uncertain times.
These scams, which can be sent via email, text message, and social media claim to provide COVID-19 updates, sell products, ask for charitable donations, or reference government aid packages. These messages appear to be legitimate in nature but seek to fraudulently obtain personal information, financial gain, and create panic. Use these tips to identify and avoid scams:
Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts claiming to have inside information on the virus. There are currently no vaccines, potions, lozenges, or other prescriptions available online or in-store to treat or cure COVID-19.
Do your homework prior to donating to charities or crowdfunding sites. Confirm the validity of the organization as fraudsters are now advertising fake charities. Do not let anyone rush you into a donation, particularly those who ask for cash, gift cards, or wiring of funds.
Do not click on links or open attachments from sources you do not know. Cybercriminals are using the COVID-19 headline as a tactic to spread viruses and steal information. Do not provide personal information, payment information or sensitive workplace information via suspicious email addresses.
Be suspicious of urgent demands and emergency requests. The health and safety of you and your family is the top priority. Do not fall for scammers threatening fees or fines, cancelled deliveries, and health concerns in exchange for financial gain.
If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Many individuals have begun to receive robo-calls and social media requests for social security numbers, banking information, and gift cards. Scammers promise high paying work from home opportunities, free sanitation and cleaning, as well as COVID-19 protection in exchange for payment and sensitive information.
Be mindful of scammers using government aid packages for criminal gain. Lawmakers have announced plans to send Americans checks to assist with the financial burden of the virus, with details still in discussion. The government will not request payment, nor will anyone reach out requesting personally sensitive health or financial information in exchange for financial support.
Obtain your news from a trusted source. Be mindful of text message scams, social media polls and fraudulent email accounts sharing false information to create panic. Before acting on information, review its source and check a trusted news outlet to confirm its validity.
When in doubt, ask a coworker, family member, or friend for their opinion. Two sets of eyes are better than one. If you believe you have fallen victim of a scam, call your local police at their non-emergency number and consider reporting to the FBI’s IC3 Internet Crime Database.
Investments - Each of you has a different situation based on your age, risk tolerance and goals but the following may offer some perspective.
Why long-term investors should never sell stocks in a panic
During times of extreme volatility, many strategists say avoid panic selling.
Read in CNBC: https://apple.news/AY5C8QDQsTjGYbJe32eNzKA
Why Staying Invested in a Downturn Can Help Your 401k Recover: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/24/why-staying-invested-in-a-downturn-can-help-your-401k-recover-faster.html?__source=sharebar|email&par=sharebar
Stay safe and be well!
Stephen A. Tulli, CFP®
President, Montgomery County Estate Planning Council
Montgomery County Estate Planning Council of PA is affiliated with the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils and joining can fulfill the requirement of belonging to an affiliated local estate planning council to become an Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designee. Please contact the national office at 866-226-2224 to learn more about the Accredited Estate Planner® designation.