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How to make it, spend it, and invest it

22 Jan 2020

1.22.20 Internet privacy law for minors; Paper check fraud grows; Socially responsible investing

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Post by MoneyRadio Staff

Other than recent initiatives in California, the U.S. is lagging when it comes to internet privacy protections. This spring, strict online privacy rules for anyone under 18 will go into effect in Britain. For underage citizens, personal information will be private. If a kid is using YouTube, Google can’t track that use. No tracking, data mining or subsequent targeted advertising to kids can take place. We need such a law in the U.S. In addition to Google and Facebook, gaming companies, and other social media are using our kids as fodder to develop massive databases for targeted ads. Naturally adults should have privacy rights as well. Affected companies are under so much pressure to grow revenue, the moral ethical equation gets pushed aside. These are powerful companies that can buy off U.S. politicians to work in their favor. We should have clear privacy protections for children. The British are using a market-based approach, allowing users to set up default privacy settings for all users, or go through a process of age verification. And this has real teeth. If a company violates the law, the fine is 4% of their worldwide revenues. That’d be gigantic for Facebook or Google. At last, a strong way to deal with reckless big tech.

An American Bankers Association survey finds that attempted check fraud has gone up 60% in the last 2 years. One of the great vulnerabilities in the banking system is a traditional paper checks – an analog device that does not provide adequate security in a modern digital era – already banned in some countries. If you routinely carry a checkbook with you, stop doing so. If a single check of yours falls into the wrong hands, the danger to you is can include jail time for check fraud. Also business are a big target for check fraud. It’s safer to operate electronically.

Lots of investors are becoming interested in socially responsible investing. They don’t want their retirement money going into ‘bad’ companies. But the criteria is hard to define. Tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, coal, oil are company areas some define as bad. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing principles is one criteria, but can be defined very differently among fund managers. Before you choose a socially responsible fund, understand how that is defined. It may omit companies you champion. Facebook is loved by some investors. Others love to hate it. Also, when you start slicing and dicing, you shrink the pool of companies eligible to be part of an investment. Before you jump into this, see how ‘socially responsible’ is defined by the fund choice available to you. And look at the expenses. Often investment houses will charge more in expenses for these funds.

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