What is a smishing text and how can you protect yourself from email and phone scams?

SMISHING, phishing and vishing are just three of the ways in which criminals will try to fleece you of your hard-earned cash.

So how can you protect yourself from these frauds and scams that help fill the scammers pockets?

What is SMiShing?

Essentially, SMiShing is a variation of phishing.

Only instead you receive an SMS message on your mobile phone.

A villain will get hold of your phone number, either because you listed it on social media, or because they bought data that has been hacked or leaked from a legit company.

Mass text messages are then sent and the probability is that someone will fall victim.

Like the other scams on this last, SMiShing messages are very sophisticated and it's easy to fall victim to them.

One example of a SMiShing attempt could be a message pretending to be from your bank or credit card, encouraging you to click on a link which directs you to a different site, where your details will be stolen.

Another example will be a message from a number telling you that you have won a prize, and that you have to click on a link to claim it.

A similar message will inform you of suspicious activity on an account of yours, or that there is a survey you need to fill in, and that you have to click on a link to activate it.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker pretends to be a reputable entity or person in email or on a website.

It is a method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive e-mails and websites.

It can be a request from your bank or a note from someone in your company — all to make you click a link or download an attachment.

What is Wangiri?

Wangiri (literally translated as ‘one ring and cut’ in Japanese, where it first originated) is a scam that involves a fraudster calling a mobile phone number at random, hanging up after one or two rings, and therefore encouraging the recipient to call the number back.

Three Mobile say these numbers are often from an automated system resulting in a dramatic increase in such calls and are usually internationally-based meaning a customer could receive a charge for returning the call.

What is vishing?

This is when criminals – already armed with enough information on you – ring up and pretend to be someone.

They then try to get your bank details off you or even to convince you to transfer money.

Sometimes the caller will try to make you believe your money is in danger and that you have to act quickly or risk losing it.

This can cause people to panic and often make them act without thinking.

Also, the phone number can appear genuine.

Sometimes criminals can hold your telephone line, so if you hang up to call back the bank, you are actually speaking to the fraudsters who never hung up. 

Background noises can be played so it sounds like a call centre rather than some creep in their bedroom.

How can you protect yourself from email, phone and text scams?

According to Three Mobile, there are tips to keep yourself protected from bogus calls and messages.

  • Do not submit any personal details when requested to do so via text message
  • Delete any suspicious messages without opening links
  • If you have already entered your bank details after receiving a text message, contact your bank immediately and cancel your card while monitoring your account for unusual activity
  • Do not give out any personal information to anyone claiming to be calling from your bank on an unknown number. Always hang up, and call your bank direct to check if they need to speak to you
  • Contact Three or your provider  if you think you may have received a smishing message – reporting any suspicious message
  • Do not answer or call back if you receive an unexpected call from an unknown international number

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Asian Shares Slip As Fed Chief Warns Of Long Downturn

Asian stocks fell sharply on Thursday after a stark warning from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks. Renewed U.S.-China tensions also dented investor sentiment.

Chinese shares fell after a U.S. government retirement fund said it halted plans to invest in Chinese stocks this year amid growing criticism that the move would channel the savings of government workers to companies that are working against the national security goals of the United States.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index ended down 27.71 points, or 1 percent, at 2,870.34, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 350.56 points, or 1.5 percent, to 23,829.74.

Japanese stocks extended losses for a third straight session as the yen strengthened and investors cautiously watched the partial lifting of a state of emergency imposed over the coronavirus outbreak for 39 of the country’s 47 prefectures.

The Nikkei 225 Index plunged 352.27 points, or 1.7 percent to close at 19,914.78, while the broader Topix plummeted 28.14 points, or 1.9 percent, to 1,446.55.

Sony slumped 3.9 percent after the company reported a more than 36 percent drop in net profit for the full year through March 2020 and said it anticipates an at least 30 percent decrease in operating profit for the current year to March 2021.

Tech stocks like Advantest and Tokyo Electron lost around 3 percent. Takeda Pharmaceutical surged 4.7 percent after it provided an upbeat earnings outlook for the full year.

Australian markets fell sharply after Powell warned of extended economic weakness and domestic data showed enormous job losses last month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the forced shutdown of many businesses.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index tumbled 93.20 points, or 1.7 percent, to 5,328.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 95.70 points, or 1.7 percent, at 5,418.

The jobless rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 6.2 percent in April, up from 5.2 percent in March but well beneath expectations for 8.3 percent.

The Australian economy lost 594,300 jobs last month to 12,418,700 – missing forecasts for a decline of 575,000 following the increase of 5,900 jobs in the previous month.

Full-time employment decreased by 220,500 to 8,656,900 people, while part-time employment decreased by 373,800 to 3,761,800 people, official data showed.

The big four banks fell between 2.4 percent and 3.2 percent, while energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search lost around 3 percent.

In the mining space, BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto ended down between 0.6 percent and 1.3 percent. Gold miners Newcrest Mining soared 3.6 percent and Regis Resources advanced 1.4 percent after gold prices rose overnight.

Graincorp spiked 11.6 percent after the bulk grain handler reported a turnaround to a profit in the first half of the year following the sale of its Australian Bulk Liquid Terminals business and the de-merger of United Malt.

Seoul stocks ended lower, with a grim forecast from the Fed chairman and growing concerns over renewed trade tensions between the United States and China keeping investors nervous.

The Kospi dropped 15.46 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,924.96. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 1.1 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix tumbled 3.6 percent. Top chemical firm LG Chem gave up 2.1 percent and leading steelmaker Posco shed 2.9 percent.

New Zealand shares finished modestly lower as Finance Minister Grant Robertson unveiled an unprecedented NZ$50 billion fund to save jobs and reduce unemployment to pre-coronavirus levels within two years. The benchmark NZX-50 Index fell 42.87 points, or 0.4 percent, to 10,745.16.

Malaysia’s KLSE Composite Index closed nearly unchanged. Malaysia’s GDP grew 0.7 percent on a yearly basis in the first quarter, data from Bank Negara Malaysia showed. That was much slower than the 3.6 percent rise in the fourth quarter of 2019 but confounded expectations for a decline of 1.5 percent.

U.S. stocks hit a three-week low overnight after Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned of a prolonged recession from the viral outbreak and urged Congress and the White House to act further to counter what is likely to be a severe downturn.

Powell also said that negative interest rates are not under consideration, but the Fed will continue to use all tools to their fullest until the crisis has passed and the economic recovery is well under way.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 2.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1.6 percent and the S&P 500 dropped 1.8 percent.

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McDonald's workers plan strike over coronavirus protections

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Workers at McDonald's resaurants in 20 cities will go on strike Wednesday to put pressure on the company to improve employee protections during the coronavirus outbreak, according to USA Today..

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The protest will take place a day before the company holds its annual meeting.

McDonald's workers have come down with the virus in 17 states,  according to labor organizers.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MCD MCDONALD’S CORP. 179.57 -0.26 -0.14%

There is a survey that reportedly says up until early April, 42 percent said they were told not to wear masks and gloves by management.

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The Service Employees International Union supports the employee action and is organized by the "Fight for $15" minimum-wage labor campaign.

The company disputes the allegations by the workers, saying they are not representative of the 850,000 McDonald’s employees nationwide., according to USA Today.

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In an ad in the New York Times, McDonald's says "It is planning to open dining room at restaurants where permitted and says its 14,000 locally owned restaurants are “putting safety first.”

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Charts Suggest Semiconductor Stocks Are Headed Higher

Companies that operate within the semiconductor industry supply the products that underpin much of modern-day convenience. Based on the chart patterns discussed below, it appears as though bullish active traders are betting that the recent surge in momentum will continue. More specifically, prices have recently risen above major levels of resistance, which could be a signal that the long-term trend is headed higher from here.

SPDR S&P Semiconductor ETF (XSD)

Active traders often turn to popular exchange-traded products such as the SPDR S&P Semiconductor ETF (XSD) when they want to get a sense of where a specific market niche is headed. For those who are unaware, the XSD ETF provides targeted exposure to the semiconductor industry and comprises 35 holdings from across the United States.

As you can see from the chart below, the price fell sharply below the support of its 200-day moving average during the panic selling that dominated March. The bounce from the lows was strong enough for the price to regain the newfound resistance, and recent price action suggests that the bulls are in control of the momentum again. Based on the pattern, active traders will likely set target prices near the upper trendline at $115 and protect their position by placing a stop-loss order below $95.35 in case of a sudden shift in market sentiment.

NVDIA Corporation (NVDA)

The top holding of the XSD ETF, which is also the most well-known semiconductor stock at the moment, is NVDIA Corporation (NVDA). As you can see from the chart, the break above the 200-day moving average in August 2019 was a clear signal of the start of a major uptrend. March's sell-off sent the price of the stock toward the influential support level, and the subsequent bounce has now led to a break beyond the previous swing high, which is a sign that many trend traders will use to mark the start of a move higher.

Bullish traders will likely anticipate a continued surge in buying pressure. Traders will likely protect long positions by placing stop-losses either below the horizontal trendline near $313.50 or the combined support of the 200-day moving average and ascending trendline near $226.98, depending on risk tolerance and investment horizon.

Inphi Corporation (IPHI)

Another top holding of the XSD ETF that will likely capture the attention of trend traders is Inphi Corporation (IPHI). As you can see from the chart below, the price has been trading within an established uptrend for most of the past year.

While the sell-off in March had many traders worried about the conviction of the bulls, the subsequent bounce and break above the ascending trendline has eased the concern and put the momentum back in the favor of the bulls. Bullish traders will likely expect the uptrend to continue and place stop-losses below one of the aforementioned support levels in case of a sudden shift in momentum.

The Bottom Line

Semiconductors and technology stocks in general have reiterated their critical role in modern-day society. Traders looking to gain exposure to the niche semiconductor industry may want to take a closer look at the XSD ETF and its top holdings because many of the charts are pointing to a higher prices from here.

At the time of writing, Casey Murphy did not own a position in any of the assets mentioned.

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State Pension warning for unmarried couples – inheritance rules could catch you out

The benefit is offered by the government after a person makes years of contributions through National Insurance payments. Upon reaching retirement age, Britons are entitled to make a claim on the weekly sum which provides regular income for the retired. Previously, the State Pension age stood at 60 for women and 65 for men.

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However, the government has enacted change which will see the entitlement age rise, in increments, to 66 for all workers ahead of rises to an eventual 68.

Traditionally, couples, even those who are divorced, can use their spouse or former spouse’s National Insurance contributions to increase their basic State Pension.

This move does not reduce the amount of State Pension the other person receives, and can only be claimed if the person does not remarry or enter into a civil partnership.

However, for those who are living with a partner and unmarried, do the rules remain the same?

There are significant differences for unmarried couples to note which could affect entitlement.

The State Pension system is based entirely around the system of legal marriage and civil partnership.

The situation, then, becomes complicated for those who are in a couple, but unmarried.

Pension Wise, the government’s website, has offered a warning that those who are not married or in a civil partnership cannot inherit pensions.

This means that after the death of a partner, the surviving person could be barred from receiving benefits. 

For pensioners who have reached retirement age before April 6, 2016 – the ‘old’ pension rules apply.

While surviving spouses can inherit a full state pension based on their husband or wife’s National Insurance record, this does not apply to cohabiting couples. 

However, the government has been petitioned for law changes as a result of millions of couples currently living unmarried.

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Steve Webb, the former Pensions Secretary, said there is currently no indication the government plans to change the law to allow unmarried partners to inherit state pensions.

While Mr Webb highlighted a number of cases brought before the Supreme Court from unmarried people, these concerned specific bereavement benefits for those of working age.

Although other cases have succeeded, there is little precedent for a case being tried on State Pension inheritance. 

Now that civil partnership is an option for opposite sex couples, Mr Webb advised pensioners to consider this option.

He told ThisisMoney: “The DWP may argue that since cohabiting couples now have an alternative to marriage which would bring them within the scope of inheritance under existing law, there is no need for any further changes. Indeed, older cohabiting couples may wish to consider whether registering a civil partnership would be advisable so that a surviving partner automatically inherits any share of their late partner’s state pension.”

In the case of private pensions, cohabiting couples also do not have automatic benefit rights.

The surviving partner would not benefit from the deceased partner’s estate, unless they had specifically named them as a ‘nominated beneficiary’.

This means unmarried couples are required to take additional steps they would be entitled to automatically if married. 

Each private pension scheme operates under its own rules, so couples who aren’t married are urged to state who they wish their pension to be paid out to in the event of their death.

All pensioners are encouraged to undertake research into their individual circumstances and consult a financial adviser if necessary. 

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Goldman Says Narrow Breadth in S&P 500 a Bad Sign for Stocks

The narrowing group of winners in the S&P 500 doesn’t bode well for the future performance of U.S. stocks, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The U.S. benchmark is around 17% below its February record, but the median stock trades 28% from its peak, Goldman strategists including David Kostin wrote in a note Friday. Meanwhile, the five largest companies make up 20% of the gauge’s market capitalization, exceeding the 18% level the measure reached in March 2000 and raising investor concerns about narrow market breadth, they said.

“Sharp declines in market breadth in the past have often signaled large market drawdowns,” the strategists wrote. “Narrow breadth can last for extended periods, but past episodes have signaled below-average market returns and eventual momentum reversals.”

Breadth narrowed ahead of the recessions in 1990 and 2008, in the tech bubble, and during the economic slowdowns of 2011 and 2016, according to the note. In the recent rally, market leaders have been the same large-cap, strong-balance sheet stocks that had been outperforming before the outbreak, resulting in a surge in already-elevated market concentration, it said.

Goldman’s caution dovetails with that of Bloomberg Intelligence Chief Equity Strategist Gina Martin Adams, who said in a report Thursday that that U.S. equity breadth has not moved at a pace consistent with strong rallies off lows. Less than half the members of the S&P 500 were trading above their 50-day moving average, she noted.

In early February, before the coronavirus sell-off, Kostin and his team had downplayed the dominance of large-cap technology giants in the U.S. benchmark, arguing that lower growth expectations, lower valuations and greater reinvestment could help them sustain their leadership.

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Hong Kong Police Disperse Protesters Gathered at City Mall

Hong Kong police dispersed more than 100 protesters who had congregated on a couple floors in a shopping mall Sunday in defiance of a regulation banning groups of more than four people to help stem the coronavirus pandemic.

The demonstration came a week after the arrest of 15 prominent pro-democracy activists in connection with unauthorized assemblies last year. The protesters in Cityplaza mall in Taikoo Shing, near Quarry Bay in eastern Hong Kong island, carried posters in support of those arrested, opposing new security laws and calling for the “liberation” of Hong Kong.

On Friday, about 100 pro-democracy protesters rallied at a luxury downtown mall at lunchtime in one of the largest demonstrations since the Covid-19 pandemic descended on the city early this year. The outbreak effectively halted pro-democracy protests that had rocked Hong Kong for months.

Hong Kong police said in a statement that such gatherings were prohibited even if protesters clustered in separated groups of four, “as long as the persons gather for a common purpose in public place.” On Friday, the government had rejected an application by a pro-democracy labor group for a May 1 march, citing concerns about public health and security risks.

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Roche To Launch New Serology Test To Detect COVID-19 Antibodies

Swiss drug maker Roche is set to launch its newly developed serology test to detect COVID-19 antibodies by early May. The company considers antibody test as the important next step in the fight against COVID-19.

According to the company, the new Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serology test helps to detect antibodies in patients exposed to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2. This virus causes the COVID-19 disease.

Antibody testing is central to find out people who have been infected by the virus, especially those who do not display symptoms. The detection of these antibodies could help indicate if a person has gained immunity against the virus and inform treatment decisions.

The company expects the test could support priority screening of high risk groups, such as healthcare workers and food supply workers who might already have developed a certain level of immunity and can continue serving and/or return to work.

The test uses human serum and plasma drawn from a blood sample, to detect antibodies and determine the body’s immune reaction to SARS-CoV-2. Hospitals and reference laboratories can run the test.

Roche said the test will be available by early May in countries accepting the CE mark. The company is also working with the US Food and Drug Administration for an Emergency Use Authorization.

The company is planning to increase monthly production to high double-digit million tests by June and further scale up production as fast as possible.

Rival drug maker Abbott on Wednesday had launched a lab-based serology blood test for the detection of the antibody, IgG, for COVID-19. The company is significantly scaling up its manufacturing for antibody testing and is expecting to immediately ship close to 1 million tests in the current week to U.S. customers.

Abbott will ship 4 million tests in total for April, and expects to supply 20 million tests in the U.S. in June and beyond.

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State Pension 2020: Pension changing in May – full list of changes

The contributory benefit is paid to pensioners who have provided decades of National Insurance payments to the government throughout their working lives. Pensioners are provided with a sum of money each week, which helps with the cost of living after finishing work. The sum of money is made available for pensioners who have contributed years of National Insurance payments throughout their working lives.

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Those who are entitled to the benefit can currently expect to receive, at the most, £134.25 per week on the basic State Pension.

However, on the full new State Pension, claimants may be entitled to slightly more money – at £175.20 per week.

The State Pension recently saw an increase in line with the tax year as part of the Triple Lock Mechanism implemented by the Conservative government.

This system sees the State Pension rise by whichever is the highest in a year: average earnings, the rate of inflation, or 2.5 percent. 

On April 6, the start of the 2020/21 tax year, the State Pension figure rose by 3.9 percent in line with average earnings across the UK.

The State Pension age was traditionally set at 65, however there are some additional changes alongside the tax year that those set to reach pension age should look out for. 

The age at which a person becomes eligible to claim State Pension is set to change, meaning the benefit could be further off for some Britons.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed the eligibility age will now move to 66, with an eventual rise to 68.

A statement on the government’s website has said the move is in line with continuing increases in life expectancy, which means Britons are spending longer in retirement than in the past.

Changes will take place in increments, with those born between particular dates affected.

And the next major changes is due to take place on May 6, 2020.

Most recently, anyone born between June 6, 1954 and July 5, 1954 will see their state pension age immediately rise from 65 to 66.

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The government plans to increase the State Pension age to 68 between 2037 and 2039. 

This will also affect those born between April 6, 1970 and April 5, 1978, who will see their State Pension age rise to between 67 years and 1 month, and 68 years depending on date of birth. 

While State Pension is not automatically paid, it is easy for those approaching pension age to keep track of the money to which they are entitled.

The government sends a reminder to retired people no later than two months before they qualify for the sum, reminding them to make a claim.

And the government’s website also includes a State Pension calculator which can help Britons determine when they will receive the State Pension, and how much they could be entitled to. 

By entering date of birth and gender, the tool states when a person becomes eligible for the sum.

The State Pension can also be increased through a series of individual decisions.

A retired person can choose to delay a claim on their pension to increase the total sum, or speak to a financial adviser to provide ways to gain more money.

Additional support is also provided to those who are disabled or who need assistance with utility bills and rent.

Pensioners may also qualify for additional DWP benefits depending on their financial situation, which can be checked through the government’s website. 

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Schumer believes coronavirus small business loan deal reached

Schumer says deal reached on coronavirus interim stimulus

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says lawmakers have a deal on coronavirus stimulus and will pass in the Senate Tuesday. FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo with more.

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WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress moved toward a fourth coronavirus relief bill expected to top $450 billion, as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said all major provisions were agreed, and that the Trump administration has signed off on a national testing strategy.

"I believe we have a deal, and I believe that we will pass it this afternoon at 4 p.m. (2000 GMT)," Schumer told CNN.

He said the package would include more money for small businesses and hospitals as well as the testing strategy that will help states lift extensive stay-at-home orders and advisories intended to slow the spread of the potentially lethal respiratory disease.

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"We need a national strategy, as the governors have said, to get the kinds of testing that's done, to get the contact tracing, to make the tests free," Schumer said. He said President Donald Trump – who has talked about testing as largely a state responsibility – had agreed to this "and it will be in the proposal."

Republicans and Democrats have been battling for more than a week over what to include in the fourth round of financial stimulus intended to ease the heavy economic toll of a pandemic that has killed more than 42,000 Americans.

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There was no immediate announcement of a deal, however, from the Republican side. Republicans control the Senate, and aides cautioned there was no deal until that announcement was made.

A deal would end a stalemate over Trump's request to add to a small-business loan program. Congress set up the program last month as part of a $2.3 trillion coronavirus economic relief plan, but it has already run out of money.

Some of the details of the new package emerged on Monday. It is expected to include at least $300 billion for a small business payroll loan program and a separate provision of $50 billion for another small business disaster loan facility.

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Addressing concerns that previous legislation had overly benefited larger, better-connected small businesses, Schumer said $125 billion of small business funds in the package will go to "mom and pop" and minority-owned stores.

There will be $75 billion for hospitals, he said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday that the plan would include $25 billion for testing.

But Schumer said Republicans resisted sending more money to state and local governments.

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If the Republican-majority Senate passes the bill on Tuesday, it could move to the Democratic-majority House as soon as Thursday, House leaders said.

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(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Lisa Lambert; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

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