Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fisher Capital Management News Directory-iiii

Written by Tim Goff

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - With gold prices at an all time high, state regulators are warning investors to beware of scam artists.

"With a really bad economic downturn, with the recession, not only does it cause the average person to become fearful, but it also causes the scam artists to come out because they know that everybody is far more vulnerable than they were before," stated Judith Shaw, administrator of the Maine Office of Securities."Anytime somebody is telling you that they can give you a high rate of return with little or no risk to you, you really need to think twice about that," she added.

In recent weeks her office has received several calls from residents concerned about transactions they have made buying and selling gold. She says many of the advertisements on the internet, radio and television make claims that are not backed-up by the companies actions.

"They send their money, there is a promise that the gold exists - maybe gold bullion - and that the seller who has reached out and made the contact will save that gold or silver in some safe location," explained Shaw. "The danger is in many cases the gold doesn't exist."

She recommends people do their business locally, because the state has regulations in place to protect consumers that may not be in place in other states where these companies are located.

"As with anything, check to see if the entity is regulated by the state of Maine and check with the appropriate agency to make sure that there are no problems, issues or bad marks as to that entity," she said. "We all have to be wise consumers, whether we are purchasing gold or some other commodity, or whether we are choosing to sell a personal possession."

At Maine Gold and Silver in South Portland, record gold prices have their showroom flooded with customers looking to sell off unwanted items, or invest in bars and coins of gold and other precious metals.

"We have a track record," explained John Colby. "Customers depend on us and we pay high prices. We have people driving 2 or 3 hours to see us."

He says gold prices fluctuate, so they use technology to give customers up to the second prices whether buying or selling.

"There is volatility," said Colby. "Right now gold has gone down about 20 bucks from its high on the day, but in the long term I think gold and silver are going much, much higher."

Shaw recommends consumers interested in selling gold or other precious metals check the price at a couple of businesses to get a better idea of the value of the item they intend to sell and find the best price.

She says people should also ask about how the metal will be weighed, the price will be determined and the quality verified.

She does not recommend people send their unwanted jewelery away in an envelope in the hopes that someone, somewhere else will give them a better price. She says it is easier to keep your money than fight to get it back.

She also says if someone is using high pressure tactics, walk away and take your business elsewhere.

If you are interested in buying gold and silver, she suggest consumers call the Maine Office of Securities at 207-624-8581 or visit their website before investing. The state maintains a database of reputable companies and can help determine if a seller is on the level.

Shaw says if you do buy gold from an out of state company, you should have the metal shipped to you and store it in a secure location like a bank's safety deposit box or vault.

She also says be aware of any fees imposed for shipping and the transaction before completing the deal.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said Shaw. "It may sound like an old cliche, but it is absolutely right on."


Monday, September 12, 2011

Fisher Capital Management News: Scams artists go digital with latest attack

By Emma Johnson for the Midland Daily News

Recently Dave Hunt of Midland was sent an email asking that money be sent to help a friend who suffered a setback while traveling in London. The email was convincing; but then he found out that the friend, Sharron Such, of Edenville Township, had never left town.
Hunt says what made it so convincing was that he compared the message’s email address to Sharron’s email in his address book and they matched up. The email was also signed Sharron with two ‘R’s instead of one, an uncommon spelling.
What tipped him off?
Hunt says the first thing that put up a red flag for him was that the email started out with “Hi,” and he thought it odd that Sharron didn’t use his name in the greeting.
“I sent her a reply – which she never got,” said Hunt. “I asked three personal questions only she would know.” From his obscure questions Hunt, predictably, never got a response.
Hunt called the police, but they said they only deal with cases where people have been scammed and money has been exchanged.
Hunt called other people on a church committee Sharron and he are both on and the other committee members had also received the email.
Since this happened, Hunt said he’s heard many stories from other people about scam emails.
Hunt says it’s frustrating, though. In real life, another person he’s friends with was in Paris and her wallet was stolen. Luckily her husband had charge cards to get them back home. “So, it happens,” Hunt said. “You want to help – if it’s legitimate.”
Sharron Such found out her email had been hacked when she was contacted by an organization she’s involved with that knew she wasn’t gone.
“I felt violated,” said Such.
Such contacted Yahoo within 36 or 48 hours and they recovered her account. According to Such, if Yahoo is notified more than 24 hours after the fact it makes it harder for them to recover the account, but they can still do it.
When Such was able to access her email again she changed her password.
She received emails and voice messages from people – including a friend from London – who said they believed she’d been scammed, and people who were skeptical but wanted to investigate in case she really did need help. In some emails her name was spelled with one ‘R’ instead of two, which clued people in. However, a quote in the signature of her emails “made some people think twice,” said Such.
Sharron’s husband, George Such, recorded a message on their answering machine to let people know Sharron was not stranded in London. “My wife is safe and sound,” the message went, “but if you want you’re welcome to send us money!” he joked.
Such contacted the FBI, but they said it’s just people sitting in a room trying different passwords until they get one and there wasn’t much they could do.
“It made for an interesting day,” said Such. “Anything I was planning on getting done that day didn’t get done.”
Such said no one sent money to her knowledge.
Henry Dufour, a technician at Compucom in Midland, says he hears about email scams from people every day.
Many emails are marked as spam, but then thieves make up new scams to try to bypass the filters. Besides the London scam, Dufour says a new one is making an email that looks like a Facebook notification.
Dufour says if something in the address doesn’t seem right or a graphic looks outdated, or it just doesn’t look right then he recommends visiting the site directly instead of clicking the link.
“Always confirm,” Dufour stressed.
Don’t open emails if your intuition tells you not to. Durfour say some scammers have technology that can generate a “message read” notice so they know if they’re reaching a real email address.
Dufour also warns about looking at private information using public Wi-Fi. He says if you check web-based email or Facebook you sign in on a secured site (https), but after it’s authenticated with your correct username and password, you go to an unsecured site (http). Hackers can use sniffing software to find you. “Once you’re in it’s all open,” he said. Especially not recommended is online banking using a hotspot.
Also make sure if you’re using wireless internet at home that it’s encrypted because stumbling software can pick up what’s available. “You’d be amazed at what’s open,” he said.
On websites that you log into, don’t tell your browser to remember passwords and make sure to sign out. Also, use different passwords. If someone breaks into one thing, they will use that password to try to break into other things. When selecting a password, don’t use a word followed by the number one. Dufour says that’s easy to figure out. Make complicated passwords by using unique numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters.
Staying current with good anti-virus software and updating to the latest browsers that have closed up security issues is also a good idea, according to Dufour.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fisher Capital Management News Directory:Who Will Replace The FSA?

The UK’s banking regulation is at the forefront of political attention once again, as the Chancellor, George Osborne, is in pow-wow with a Treasury Select Committee to progress the government’s regulatory plans.
As we know only too well, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) took some of the rap for the string of banking failures that came close to collapsing the entire Western world’s banking system. And when it came to analysing the reasons for the failure of the current regulatory regime, the government decided it needed a scapegoat — er, I mean, needed to restructure the FSA to ensure that such a thing can never happen again.
The key failure was seen as a lax approach to regulating the banks themselves, leaving it pretty much up to them to work our whether their practices and investment products made good sense, rather than having the FSA’s people closely scrutinise every new chopped and diced sub-prime mortgage-based derivative that each bank happened to think was their latest and greatest hot cake.
As we now know, this self-regulation actually amounted to no real regulation at all, and the real estate derivative bubble was based on little more than lots of poor people who couldn’t pay their mortgages. And subsequent debts upon debts based on the back of it all turned out bad.

The new banking regulator

So that’s the bit that’s being taken away from the FSA, regulation of the banking and finance industry, and it’s being handed to a new body called the Prudential Regulation Authority(PRA). Well, I say new body, but it will comprise around 25% of the FSA’s current people, so really it’s a bit of the same old body but with a new name.
Though to be fair, it will have a new directive too, to regulate in a more direct hands-on manner. And having an organisation with just one prime responsibility should hopefully result in better focus.
The PRA will be directly responsible to the Bank of England and will be chaired by Mervyn King, with Hector Sants taking on the role of chief executive. It will approach its responsibilities in several ways.
There will be new regulations covering capital structures and liquidity, which should hopefully rein in excessive leverage and strengthen the banks’ ability to withstand the kind of capital withdrawal that brought down Northern Rock.
And there are going to be more direct supervisory actions, and a better focus on handling crises when they do happen — the PRA won’t be trying to totally prevent failures, but to put in place better procedures for minimizing the pain when they do happen.

What’s left becomes the FCA

The other new body, which really is just what’s left of the FSA with a new name, is to be called the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). And it will carry on with the same business of investigating fraud and tackling boiler room scammers and all the other assorted crooks who spend their days trying to part honest folk from their hard-earned savings.
Essentially it’s going to be business as usual at the FCA, but there is expected to be more of a forthright and pro-active culture — and that’s something we’ve already been seeing from the last days of the FSA in its current form, in the welcome shape of new records in fines and imprisonment.
There is one new power to be wielded by the FCA, and that is to oversee and promote choice and competition in the financial product market. To that end, the FCA will be able to examine the design of such products and place its own requirements on them, and restrict the sales and promotions of any that it deems inappropriate — having both temporary bans and permanent bans amongst its chief weaponry.

Of course, this all has to go through the usual parliamentary procedures before it comes into effect, and there are likely to be various tweaks, but it’s unlikely there will be any major change of this plan now.

Will it all work?

The FCA’s role seems relatively uncontroversial, with it essentially carrying on with the same old FSA approach to the bad guys which we have seen does get results. There will be some doubts, though, concerning its veto powers over the design of financial products, so we shall have to wait and see how effectively it flexes that particular muscle.
But the big unknown is the PRA and it’s new approach to banking regulation. While many will welcome the closer scrutiny, and while more stringent capital requirements should lower the chances of serious liquidity squeezes, a lot of people will be asking whether the new body will be any better at foreseeing looming crises than the banks themselves were.
Still, we’ll find out soon enough, when the next crisis hits.