Hostage Data: Ransomware and Protecting Your Digital Information

Hostage Data: Ransomware and Protecting Your Digital Information

On May 7, 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, which carries almost half of the East Coast’s fuel supply from Texas to New Jersey, shut down operations in response to a ransomware attack. Colonial paid a $4.4 million ransom not long after discovering the attack, and the pipeline was reopened within a week. While there was enough stored fuel to weather the outage, panic buying caused gasoline shortages on the East Coast and pushed the national average price of gasoline over $3.00 per gallon for the first time since 2014.

U.S. Credit-Card Debt Levels See Record Drop in 2020

U.S. Credit-Card Debt Levels See Record Drop in 2020

Despite the financial challenges experienced by Americans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. credit-card debt dropped to record levels in 2020, decreasing by almost $83 billion.1 This unprecedented drop was likely the result of individuals receiving financial assistance through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and having access to more cash. Economic aid in the form of stimulus payments, suspended student loan payments, and broad state-sponsored unemployment benefits, allowed Americans to pay down their balances.

Increased Interest in Medicare Advantage Plans

Increased Interest in Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are an alternative to Original Medicare, offered by private companies that contract with Medicare to provide Part A hospital insurance and Part B medical insurance benefits, and often include prescription drug coverage and extra benefits. Competitive bidding and changes in Medicare payments to these plans have led to improved benefits and a large increase in the percentage of beneficiaries who choose the private option.

SECURE Act Changed IRA and Retirement Plan Inheritance Rules

SECURE Act Changed IRA and Retirement Plan Inheritance Rules

At the end of 2019, President Trump signed a federal spending package that included the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. A provision in this legislation effectively eliminated the “stretch IRA,” an estate-planning strategy that allowed an IRA to continue benefiting from tax-deferred growth, potentially for decades. Most nonspouse beneficiaries, including children and grandchildren, can no longer “stretch” distributions over their lifetimes.