5 Tips for Protecting Your Finances as You Grow Older

Financial abuse of elderly Americans is a serious problem.

Up to 6.6% of Americans aged 65 or older have lost money to exploitation, fraud, and theft, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC says that “elder financial exploitation is emerging as the most prevalent form of elder abuse” in the United States. And with 10,000 people turning age 65 each day in this country, the problem of elder financial abuse is forecast to worsen in coming years.

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Fortunately, there are steps seniors can take as they age to protect themselves from fraud and manipulation — either by scammers or, in some cases, by friends and family. Many seniors also need protection from themselves as money management often becomes difficult as physical and cognitive functions decline with age. Here are five ways to protect yourself.

1. Automate your finances

Americans are increasingly on their own when it comes to managing their money in retirement. In 2017, $14.5 trillion was held in self-directed retirement accounts in the U.S., according to asset management firm Cerulli Associates. That’s a lot of money to manage, and it often becomes difficult for elderly people to handle their finances as their physical and cognitive functions decline. For this reason, seniors should automate their finances. Seniors should have all sources of income — such as pension funds, Social Security, and disability payments — deposited directly into their bank accounts. Similarly, regular bills such as utilities, insurance, and mortgage or rent payments should come out of your bank account automatically on set days each month. Automating your finances will make it easier to manage them and to track money flowing into and out of your bank accounts.

2. Require an authorized signer

Another way people can protect their finances is by setting up an authorized signer on their bank account. An authorized signer has authority to sign checks, to make deposits and withdrawals on behalf of the account holder, and to access account information such as balances and activity. However, an authorized signer does not have ownership over your bank account and has no rights to the account’s assets unless they are designated as the account beneficiary in the event of your death. This setup is different from a joint account: A joint account holder shares ownership of a bank account and the money in it. A joint account holder also has the ability to withdraw all funds in a bank account and close it.

An authorized signer should be someone you trust, whether it’s an adult family member, neighbor, or friend. Making that trusted person an authorized signer will enable them to keep an eye on what’s happening with your bank account and ensure that no single person, including you, makes a large or unusual transaction. Again, choosing an authorized signer you trust is critically important.

3. Establish a power of attorney

One of the very best ways for elderly Americans to protect their finances is to establish a power of attorney. This means giving a trusted person (again, a family member, friend, or neighbor) authority to manage your financial affairs, including your property, if you are not able to do so yourself — even temporarily. A power of attorney is different from a will in that it ensures your wishes are followed while you’re alive. (A will ensures that your wishes are respected after you’ve died.) You can also appoint more than one “agent, or “attorney-in-fact” (the legal terms for people who have power of attorney). Many lawyers recommend this, as it ensures that no single person can act unilaterally when it comes to your money and property, thereby reducing the risk of fraud, theft, and financial mismanagement. You can require that two or more agents make all decisions together regarding your affairs.

Typically, agents can access bank accounts, manage investments, file tax returns, deal with health insurance, and sell property. Power of attorney is used when seniors lack the mental capacity to make their own financial decisions. It is also used when elderly people still have their mental faculties but, due to illness or infirmity, need help managing their finances. You will need to obtain the forms necessary for awarding enduring power of attorney in the state where you live. The completed forms should be reviewed by a lawyer and signed by you and the agent(s) you designate in front of a notary public. Typically, there are two types of power of attorney: one for financial decisions and the other for medical decisions.

4. Avoid cash

It is never advisable to keep large amounts of cash around your house or in a wallet or purse where it can be easily accessed by other people, and paying with a bank or credit card provides an electronic record. This can be valuable in the event that someone makes fraudulent purchases with your card as, a “paper trail” can help the bank or law enforcement identify the culprit and recover your money. Further, credit card companies are very good at spotting and declining unauthorized charges before you even notice any foul play has occurred. On top of all that, even if an unauthorized charge does go through, federal law limits your liability to $50 — and most credit card issuers in the U.S. offer $0 fraud liability.

Elderly people are often used to having cash on hand, as they remember a time before ATMs and online banking. But dealing in cash is hazardous, as it can easily go missing. Try to keep a trail of your financial transactions that can be reviewed by you or an authorized signer, agent, lawyer, or banker. This is the best way to know where your money is and where it has gone.

5. Get an annual credit report

Request a free credit report from each of the major U.S. credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — each year, as is every American’s right under federal law. You can request those credit reports at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. A credit report will contain any unusual or potentially fraudulent financial activity involving your accounts, such as credit cards you may not have ordered or unauthorized purchases. If you or someone you trust notices unusual financial activity, report it to the big three credit bureaus, your bank, and other financial institutions that you do business with regularly. They can cancel fraudulent credit cards and put holds and other safeguards on your accounts.

Growing old comes with many challenges, adjustments, and responsibilities. And few are as important as protecting your finances from fraud, manipulation, or theft. Elder financial abuse is a real and growing problem. Being aware of the problem and taking steps to protect yourself is the best way to ensure that your twilight years are comfortable and free of financial stress.

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Amazon touted as big win for NY, but math is more complex

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The political backlash over Amazon’s NYC HQ2 deal

Tech:NYC Executive Director Julie Samuels on the fallout from Amazon’s decision to locate one of its second headquarters in New York city.

New York officials tout their deal to land a new Amazon headquarters as can’t-miss math. The city and state put up $2.8 billion in tax breaks and grants. In return, they get an economic engine expected to generate $27 billion in new tax money over a quarter-century.

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“This is a big moneymaker for us. Costs us nothing,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when the agreement was announced.

Experts say the economic equation isn’t that simple.

The state’s predicted 9-to-1 return on its investment was based on a widely used economic model that compares the costs of tax incentives with expected tax gains, but it didn’t factor in the substantial costs of accommodating Amazon’s growth in the city, economic development researchers said after reviewing the documents.

The city and state will have to spend money to educate the children of Amazon workers, improve public transportation to get them to work, collect their garbage, adjust police and fire coverage, and provide all sorts of other services for a growing number of people.

“Claiming 9-to-1 isn’t just implausible. It is a dishonest way to present the return on these incentives,” says Nathan Jensen, a University of Texas professor of government who has been critical of the way economic development incentives are used.

The reports also don’t measure the Amazon “HQ2” project against any other possible development of its intended site in the booming Long Island City neighborhood.

Four academic and think tank researchers who weren’t involved in the state’s cost-benefit analyses said that while its methods were standard, its scope was limited.

“It’s a standard cost-benefit approach, but it tends to talk a lot about the benefits and not a lot about the costs,” said Megan Randall, a research analyst at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “That’s not to say that the costs will automatically override all the benefits … (but) cities should be armed with that knowledge.”

More from FOX Business…

    New York state’s evaluation of the Amazon deal is based on an assumption that the company will ultimately create 40,000 relatively high-paying jobs in the city by 2034. That’s the maximum number foreseen in a deal that starts with a promise of 25,000 jobs by 2028.

    The state-commissioned analysis by Regional Economic Models Inc. also predicts Amazon’s presence in the city will eventually create 67,000 other jobs outside the company, in industries from tech to real estate to restaurants that might serve Amazon workers.

    Over 25 years, all those new jobs will generate about $14 billion in state income and sales taxes and about $13.5 billion in city taxes, according to that analysis and a city report also involving a REMI model.

    Cuomo lauded that as “the highest rate of return for an economic incentive program that the state has ever offered.”

    REMI’s analysis is deep and thorough, the state’s economic development agency said.

    “Their model is widely considered to be the gold standard for economic and fiscal impact analysis and has been recognized for its analytical depth, sophistication and flexibility,” Adam Kilduff, a spokesman for Empire State Development, said in an emailed statement.

    A representative of the city’s economic development agency did not respond to questions about the analysis.

    The analysis may be right about tax revenue, but “it’s incomplete,” said Timothy Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and a leading expert on incentives. “You need to look at the spending side.”

    Opponents of the project have raised alarms about adding to the strain on subways, sewers and schools already struggling to keep up in the fastest-developing neighborhood in New York City.

    Some improvements are already in the works. The Amazon agreement promises a new school and infrastructure upgrades. Critics, including some local politicians, are skeptical it will do enough.

    They’ve held a series of rallies and protests and are exploring possible options to try to stop the project.

    While voters in New York City support bringing Amazon’s campus to the city, they are divided when it comes to the incentives from the city and state, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

    The survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, found that 57 percent of city voters support Amazon’s decision, while 26 oppose it. Forty-six percent of respondents support the incentives, however, compared with 44 percent who said they are opposed.

    Beyond the costs of growth, the New York analyses also don’t address some other questions, experts said.

    David Merriman, a University of Illinois at Chicago public administration professor who specializes in tax issues, said it didn’t consider the possibility of economic growth in Queens even if Amazon never came.

    There were prior plans for big commercial and residential development on part of the potential Amazon site that have now been scuttled in favor of accommodating the company.

    The state analysis also didn’t examine whether New York could have bagged the same prize while offering less, as Virginia did to score an additional Amazon headquarters there.

    “A proper analysis would take seriously that we are uncertain how much, exactly, was needed to attract HQ2 to New York,” said UT’s Jensen.

    Amazon officials have said “the driving factor” in choosing New York and Virginia was the availability of enough tech talent, not the tax incentives.

    Despite the unanswered questions, Bartik argues the financial bottom line isn’t necessarily the point.

    “I honestly don’t think that the main thing that people should be looking at is whether or not it makes money for the state government. That’s not the purpose of state government,” he said. “The bigger impact is if you create jobs that otherwise wouldn’t be there.”

    Average US price of gas drops 22 cents per gallon to $2.51

    The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has plummeted 22 cents a gallon (3.8 liters) over the past three weeks, to $2.51.

    Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that falling crude oil costs are the main reason for the decrease at the pump.

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    The average gas price has dropped 40 cents in the past three months.

    The highest average price in the nation is $3.58 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lowest average is $1.91 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    The average price of diesel fell 9 cents over the past two weeks, to $3.18.

    Is a Gold IRA Right for You?

    Gold IRAs function exactly like regular IRAs, except instead of investing in stocks and bonds, you’re purchasing gold coins and bullion. Silver, platinum, and other precious metals can be included as well.

    While the notion of buying gold, a trustworthy investment, sounds safe, it doesn’t mean that a gold IRA is the best vehicle for your retirement savings. Here are a few things you should know before you go for the gold.

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    Why choose a gold IRA?

    Many people see a gold IRA as a supplement to their other retirement funds, in part because the value of gold tends to move in the opposite direction of paper assets, like stocks and bonds. So when stocks and mutual funds are losing value, gold is usually gaining it, and vice versa. The idea here is that if your other investments take a hit, your gold will increase in value to help compensate, hedging your losses.

    While the value of gold fluctuates like anything else, it has remained a valuable commodity for thousands of years, and it will likely remain valuable for many decades to come. But there are a few drawbacks to opening a gold IRA that should give a would-be investor pause.

    The drawbacks of a gold IRA

    When you open a gold IRA, you will have to pay a one-time account setup fee, along with annual custodian fees. There may also be additional fees for transactions and withdrawals. These are typical of any IRA, but they may be higher for a gold IRA because these accounts are rare and fewer companies offer them.

    In addition, because gold is a physical commodity, it has to actually be stored somewhere. IRS standards say that unless you have an LLC, the gold must be kept by the IRA custodian, not the account owner. The company charges you for the storage fees and insurance to protect your gold, in case the facility is robbed. This charge is unique to gold IRAs and may be a flat fee or a percentage of your assets.

    Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to be wary of investing in a gold IRA is the unpredictability in the price of the metal. The cost of gold shot up to more than $1,000 per ounce during the Great Recession, but before that, its value had remained relatively constant between $300 and $500 per ounce since 1980. When you consider that the inflation rate during that same period rose nearly 152%, the investment doesn’t look as appealing. If you invested $500 in something that kept pace with inflation back in 1980, it would have been worth $1,258 just before the Great Recession hit in 2007. But if you’d invested in gold over that same time span, your $500 investment would barely have appreciated at all. That means you effectively lost $758. If you’d instead held on to that gold and sold it when it hit $1,895 an ounce in 2011, you’d have made $1,395. https://www.thebalance.com/gold-price-history-3305646

    If you do plan on opening a gold IRA, don’t put too much of your money into it, especially if you’re nearing retirement age. Most experts recommend only having 10% or less of your retirement portfolio in gold to minimize the risk of losing your investment.

    How to open a gold IRA

    The first step is to open a self-directed IRA with a custodian offering gold IRAs. Then, you put money into the account, just as you would with a normal IRA. You can deposit funds from a savings account or roll over an old 401(k) or IRA into your gold IRA.

    From there, it’s up to you to decide which metal dealer you want to work with. Your custodian may have partners it can recommend to you, or you can find one on your own. Alternatively, if you find a metal dealer that you like, they may be able to recommend a custodian for you. It’s worth noting that the metal must meet certain IRS fineness standards — 0.995 or higher and produced by a government mint or other accredited institution — in order to be included in a gold IRA, so be sure the products you’re looking at are up to snuff.

    Before opening a gold IRA, you need to get your hands on a copy of the company’s fees, so you know exactly how much you’ll be paying. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask the metal dealer and the custodian questions. Make sure the custodian you choose is licensed and has insurance to protect your gold in case it’s stolen.

    When you’re ready to begin drawing on your gold IRA, you will simply reverse the process and liquidate your gold into cash. It’s important to keep in mind that gold IRAs are still subject to the early withdrawal penalties that traditional and Roth IRAs are. You will also have to pay taxes when you sell off the gold, unless you have a Roth gold IRA.

    Alternatives to opening a gold IRA

    If you want to invest in gold but don’t want to deal with the extra hurdles associated with a gold IRA, you should consider investing indirectly instead. You could buy shares of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks the value of gold. You could also purchase stock in a gold mining company instead. This way, you still get some of the same benefits without the extra hassle and expense of opening a gold IRA.

    Many people choose to invest in gold because they know it’s always going to be considered valuable. But that value can fluctuate wildly over time, or worse, it could stay the same. This makes it a bit of a risky investment. If you are considering a gold IRA, make sure you understand exactly what you’re signing up for and limit your exposure so that you aren’t hurt too badly if the value of gold takes a hit.

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    Better Buy: Square vs. American Express

    New digital payment providers like Square (NYSE: SQ) have been shaking things up in the payment space, but traditional payment providers like American Express (NYSE: AXP) are not going away. People still love their credit cards, and that means you don’t necessarily have to chase the flashy new start-ups to find a good investment in the payments industry.

    Let’s take a look at where both companies stand in this matchup.

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    Squared away

    Square has had great success with its strategy of selling card readers to small merchants and then cross-selling those merchants additional services like payroll and accounting tools to help merchants grow their business. Since the company’s IPO in 2015, the stock is up 430%, which gives Square a $29 billion market cap.

    One of the main issues with Square is that it hasn’t generated a profit. The company posted a rare profit of $20 million in the last quarter, but most of that was from unrealized gains on Square’s equity investment in Eventbrite — an online event planning service. Excluding that gain, Square lost about $17 million last quarter. However, the company has generated positive free cash flow of $71 million over the last year.

    Management has made the decision to plow cash into growing the company, which is the main reason Square generally reports a quarterly net loss. Most of the company’s expenditures go into product development and marketing.

    Here is Square’s performance on the top line through the first three quarters of 2018:

    Overall, the high growth rates Square continues to post across the business show that the strategy is working beautifully so far. Particularly encouraging is the 129% growth in subscriptions and services, which generates the highest gross margin. Also, the percentage of gross payment volume coming from larger sellers continues to grow year over year, which shows that small merchants continue to stick with Square as they grow their businesses.

    Square is looking like a growth machine, but that growth currently comes at a steep price.

    AmEx enters the fast lane

    Shares of American Express are up 13% year to date and have outperformed the broader market. The company has posted strong results this year, as card spending is up and the number of AmEx cards in force continues to grow.

    AmEx’s double-digit growth in revenue over the last year is impressive since competition has been tightening. Digital payment providers and merchants are ramping up investment in their own payment solutions, which presents challenges for traditional card companies. But it’s clear people still value the range of benefits and rewards that come with their AmEx card.

    AmEx makes most of its money from charging merchants fees (called discount revenue) for accepting AmEx at point-of-sale. This is two-thirds of the company’s total revenue, with annual fees from card members making up about 10%. In return for these fees, AmEx uses data and other services to help merchants grow their businesses.

    It’s this model of charging fees and reinvesting that revenue into valuable services for both merchants and card members that provides American Express with a strong competitive advantage. Management has been doubling down on spending to deliver more benefits and rewards for card members, which should eventually come back in the form of continued revenue growth.

    Keep in mind, this could cause some margin pressure in the short term, especially if competition gets tighter, which would cause management to spend even more on benefits to attract card members.

    However, even with the emergence of new digital payment solutions and the growing adoption of peer-to-peer payment apps, the company’s performance this year says the AmEx brand is as relevant as ever and should be a good place to invest for the long term.

    Which is the better buy?

    I think both stocks would be great investments at the right price, so this decision boils down to valuation.

    Square is obviously growing much faster, but after a run of more than 400% over the last three years, the stock trades at a frothy 100 times next year’s earnings estimates. Taking growth into account, Square’s PEG ratio still looks relatively high, at 2.74.

    On the other hand, Amex is on pace to grow revenue 9% to 10% in 2018, while adjusted earnings per share should grow between 24% to 26% year over year. At a modest forward P/E of just 14 times next year’s earnings estimates, AmEx shares have both near-term and long-term upside potential. Plus, AmEx shareholders get a dividend yield of 1.48%.

    Considering all of this, I believe American Express is the better buy at current prices.

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    ‘La lista’: For some U.S.-bound migrants it means hope. For others, despair

    Every morning in Plaza Viva Tijuana, Mexico, volunteers set up a blue tent, unfold a plastic table, and open up a silver-and-black ledger. And every morning the migrants come — hundreds of them —  with their children and their belongings, hoping this will be the day the man with the ledger reads out their name.

    Those who are called can proceed up the nearby ramp to U.S. Border Security for their initial asylum claim interview. But since the caravans started arriving, the ledger’s pages have been filling up fast. And a recent change in U.S. immigration policy means these days few migrants are called.

    Many are now reluctantly giving up their American dream and accepting a free bus ride back to their country of origin. Others, like Manuel Orellana, are still holding out hope.

    Orellana is one of the last in line. He fiddles with his ID card nervously as he waits his turn to add his name to the list or what migrants call “la lista.” Orellana fled Honduras because he said he accused the government of fraud in recent elections.

    “I started hiding because the police and state security were following me,” he said. “I’m here because of a life-or-death situation.” CBC News could not independently verify his claims. 

    ‘I can wait’

    Now, after making the painful 4,500-kilometre journey, he’s finally about to add his name to the list, the only way migrants can legally cross over to San Diego, Calif., for a U.S. asylum screening.

    The men and women behind the table taking down names say Mexican immigration authorities are ostensibly in charge of the ledger, but it’s run by volunteers who are themselves on the list.

    The book has been around for years, long before the recent caravans, and written on its pages are the names of asylum-seeking migrants from around the world.

    But since November, when thousands more began arriving together in Tijuana, the backlog has skyrocketed. There are reportedly more than 5,000 names on the list.

    There are reportedly more than 5,000 names on the list, and on average volunteers only read out 60 names a day on average. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

    The U.S. began the practice of “metering” or limiting the number of people who are allowed through to seek asylum at one time during President Barack Obama’s administration, after an influx of Haitians came to Tijuana seeking U.S. asylum. Under the administration of President Donald Trump, that process has slowed down even further; only about 60 names are called on average each day. 

    As one of the last names on the list, Orellana could be waiting in Tijuana for months. He said that doesn’t phase him.

    “I feel like I can wait,” Orellana said. “There’s no need for me to jump the border fence. I want to go through the process in the right way.”

    But doing it the right way might no longer be enough. In recent months, the Trump administration has made it harder for many of these migrants to meet the definition of a refugee.

    Honduran migrant Manuel Orellana said despite being near the bottom on a list of thousands, he’s willing to wait patiently and do things ‘the right way.’ (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

    Dotted among the migrants are students from Washington and Lee University’s School of Law, volunteering to help with asylum claims.

    Their law professor, David Baluarte, said lately U.S. immigration officials have been been “reinterpreting” asylum law.

    “It’s making it much more difficult for people to pass that initial interview and actually go and seek protection in the United States,” Baluarte said.

    Legal difficulties

    Under U.S. law, a person may seek asylum based on persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

    In June, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed U.S. immigration officers that “in general” claims based on domestic or gang violence will not establish the basis for asylum or refugee status.

    “These changes have been, I think, really focused and tailored to the population that’s been coming from Central America,” Baluarte said.

    Migrants waiting to hear their names insist they’re willing to put themselves through what they call a “nightmare” to give their children a shot at the American dream. Others have put that dream on hold. 

    The volunteers who administer the ledger are migrants themselves whose names are also on the list. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

    A couple of kilometres away in downtown Tijuana, a different line, a different list. Another group of migrants, including Franklin Deras, are waiting to apply for asylum, but not in the U.S. They’re hoping to stay in Mexico.

    Deras said, almost sheepishly, that the vision that lured the caravan’s migrants to the border was a “mirage.”

    “Having arrived here in Tijuana, things are a lot different than we thought,” he said. “We thought they would open the border and welcome us but it was the exact opposite.”

    Many migrants at Plaza Viva Tijuana said they are willing to put themselves through the long asylum process to give their children a shot at the American dream. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

    Deras doesn’t want to add his name to “la lista” only to wait months for asylum in the U.S. that he now feels will never be granted. He feels the system is rigged on both sides of the border.

    There have been accusations of bribes being exchanged for a preferred place on the Mexican asylum list. During the reading out of names, this reporter witnessed a furtive exchange of money but was unable to ascertain what it was for.  

    Law students from Washington and Lee University in Virginia have volunteered to help the migrants with their asylum claims. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

    So now Deras and hundreds of others are applying for work permits that would allow them to stay in Mexico for a year. While some still hope to cross over to the U.S. one way or another, Deras said Trump has made it clear they have no future across the border.

    “You can earn well here, so I wouldn’t need to go over to the States,” he said. “Mexico gave me the opportunity, so maybe I won’t leave.”

    High-tech car theft and talcum powder warning: CBC’s Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

    Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

    Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday. 

    High-tech car theft on the rise

    If you have a wireless key fob for your car, you might actually be helping thieves. That’s according to an automotive security specialist who says thieves can intercept and reroute their signals (even when they’re inside homes). The spike in car thefts in the Toronto area even prompted one dealership to ask Lexus to install tracking systems on all high-end SUVs.

    In our April 2016 investigation, we went on the hunt for the mysterious device police believe thieves are using to steal your car.

    Expensive veggies, cheaper meat

    The latest study of food prices has good news for meat eaters and bad news for veggie lovers. Vegetable prices are projected to rise by 4-6 per cent, while meat prices are predicted to drop by three per cent and seafood prices by two per cent. Experts say a shift away from eating meat to a more plant-based diet is reducing demand, while vegetables are being identified as a “luxury item.”

    Vegetable prices are projected to rise by 4-6 per cent, according to the Canada Food Price Report for 2019. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

    Seniors restrained in long-term care

    Do you know a senior living in a long-term care facility? A report released last week found the number of seniors kept in daily physical restraints in Newfoundland and Labrador (12.1 per cent) is twice the national average. One resident says her father felt he was “being punished” and that he was only freed when he had a visitor. Earlier this year, our hidden camera investigation revealed a spike in nursing home abuse and violence in Ontario.

    Beware of talcum powder

    If you’re stocking up on baby powder or other talc products, be careful where you use it. Health Canada is warning talcum powder could be a danger to your lungs and ovaries. The advisory focuses on the safety of talc products including cosmetics, baby, body, face and foot powders; diaper and rash creams; and genital antiperspirants and deodorants.

    The Canadian government says breathing in talcum powder could lead to potentially serious respiratory effects, while exposure in the vaginal area may be associated with ovarian cancer. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

    What else is going on?

    A Montreal restaurant has been ordered to pay $15K in damages to a former hostess who was told she couldn’t wear cornrows at work. The Quebec Human Rights Commission said Lettia McNickle was the subject of racial discrimination by Madisons New York Grill Bar in downtown Montreal.

    Two B.C. high schools crack down on lunch delivery apps. The administration at Semiahmoo and Elgin Park secondary schools have imposed restrictions on apps like SkipTheDishes, as deliveries from local restaurants to the schools became more disruptive.

    Quora says hackers stole information on as many as 100 million users. Users of the question-and-answer website were told they had been logged out and must re-enter a new password. The information hacked included personal information like names and email addresses.

    This week in recalls

    These packaged salads could be contaminated with Listeria; the aluminum hardware on these shower seats could corrode, posing a fall and laceration hazard; this avalanche airbag may not deploy when activated; this dark cocoa bar contains milk, which is not declared on the label; this coffee maker could overheat during use, posing a burn hazard; this drywall hoist could pose a risk of injury to the user; these pacifier clips could pose a choking hazard to young children; the front legs on this high chair could detach from the seat, posing a fall and injury hazard. 

    Marketplace wants to hear from you

    We want to hear about your experience with short-term rental platforms like Airbnb as a guest, host or neighbour. Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca. While we know these platforms are international, we are only focusing on Canadian stories right now.

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    Amish arrivals: Old ways are new again in quiet Manitoba town

    Months after the first Amish families in Manitoba started arriving in the town of Vita, the sight of their horse-drawn buggies rolling down the highway still draws crowds to the windows.

    “People are always quite excited to see them,” said Eva Dyck, who owns Eva’s Restaurant along the town’s main highway. “I think it has brought people out from the surrounding areas to see if they can catch a glimpse of the buggies driving by.”

    Last year, signs warning drivers about the black buggies started appearing along the roads, and local officials installed hitching posts in town for the Amish to tie up their horses. In April, a group of 11 families began arriving by charter bus from southern Ontario, which until recently had been the main home for Canada’s Amish population.

    The Amish community in Vita, Man., a town of 500 people 120 km southeast of Winnipeg, is the first in Canada to settle west of Ontario, according to a professor who studies the issue and the new Amish transplants.

    The Amish moved west in search of new farmland. In the same vein, other Amish communities have moved east in recent years into other parts of Canada, including P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

    Much like Old Order Mennonites, the Amish live simply, eschewing modern conveniences that tie them to the wider world, and mostly relying on their own power and that of their animals for work and transportation.

    The Amish in Vita put orange reflector triangles on the backs of their buggies to warn other drivers on the highways. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

    “We are overwhelmed almost in seeing that people in the 21st century here are making a livelihood the way our forefathers did in the 19th century. That is quite an eye opener,” said Edward Penner, a councillor for the rural municipality who helped the Amish settle in the area.

    New farmers

    The desire to become farmers, coupled with the high price of farm land in southern Ontario, motivated the move to Manitoba, said Edward Miller, one of the recently arrived Amish men.

    The 30-year-old smiles and waves when a CBC reporter pulls into his driveway. He and his family have just returned from his brother-in-law’s house in their black buggy with an orange, reflective triangle on the back to warn other drivers there’s a slow-moving vehicle ahead.

    As Miller unhitches his horse from the carriage, his wife and his six children go inside their two-storey home, which Miller and other community members built themselves.

    Edward Miller lives with his wife and their six children in this house just outside of Vita, Man. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

    A herd of young cows stands in a fenced-in pasture, beside a tall, narrow building that serves as a henhouse and a place to store their water tank.

    Miller wears dark blue coveralls and a straw hat over his curly red hair. A thin beard covers his face except for his upper lip, in the traditional Amish style.

    Amish people don’t allow photos or recordings of themselves, because their faith considers pictures to be sources of pride, which is antithetical to their values of humility and simplicity. But Miller is happy to talk about what brought his family to Manitoba.

    Back in his parent’s community near London, Ont., most of the families made a living making various products to sell, but Miller wanted a different life.

    “We kind of thought it was good for the young people to work on a farm, because in a shop, the father isn’t at home as much with the children,” he said. “If the children want to be out there [in the fields] with Dad, that seems to work good.”

    These young cows will be sold to dairy farmers in the area once they are fully grown. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

    The land Miller and the other Amish purchased has never been farmed, so they have spent the past summer weeding, clearing brush and pulling out boulders, all without the aid of machines.

    Miller’s parents wanted his family to stay in Ontario, but he says land prices made purchasing a farm impossible.

    “They weren’t really too happy. We didn’t really want to [move away], but there was no way we could farm back there. Any farm would cost you a million dollars.”

    The families live on properties scattered over about 10 square kilometres. They started looking for property in the area about two years ago, when Penner said a group of Amish showed up on his doorstep.

    Edward Penner, councillor for the rural municipality of Stuartburn, Man., helped the Amish settle in when they moved to the area. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

    Penner sold some of his own property to the Amish, and housed some of them while they explored other options. They have continued purchasing properties that come up for sale, in preparation for at least three more families expected to arrive in the spring of next year.

    Before then, the families already here will have to survive their first winter on the Prairies. By placing their water tank in the loft above their chickens, Miller hopes their body heat combined with the force of gravity will keep their water from freezing.

    “I don’t know what’s going to happen when it goes down to minus 40,” he said.

    All heat in Miller’s home is provided by burning wood in a stove. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

    Emergency compromises

    Without cars or telephones, the Amish rely on others to help them travel long distances or to make phone calls in an emergency.

    In late October, Miller’s brother-in-law Tobias suffered a brain bleed and needed to be rushed to hospital. His wife ran to a neighbour’s house to call an ambulance, and he was taken to hospital in Steinbach and later Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg for emergency surgery.

    Tobias temporarily lost some of his cognitive functions and had difficulty recognizing family members and everyday objects, but slowly he’s bouncing back.

    “That was pretty scary, but he’s coming along good,” Miller said.

    When it comes to modern medicine, the Amish will use it when necessary to save someone’s life.

    “Who’s going to define the line that it’s not in the religion to help someone?” said Chris Hershberger, Tobias’s brother.

    Instead of covering medical expenses through the public health system, however, the Amish choose to pay for their care out of pocket. Other members of the Manitoba community, as well as people in communities in Ontario and the United States, pooled money together to pay Tobias’s hospital bill.

    Miller uses this machine to spread manure over his fields. (Cameron MacLean/CBC)

    Hershberger and his family live on a farm about half a kilometre away from Miller. Whereas Miller’s home is two storeys, Hershberger’s is a low single-story structure made from concrete blocks, with soil piled up around three sides for insulation.

    A gas-powered generator sits just inside Hershberger’s front door. Although the Amish choose not to take power from the grid, they will generate their own if needed. The family has a fridge and freezer to preserve food when they are away from home — and to keep ice cream from melting, Hershberger says.

    “My way of thinking is keeping it in the centre is the right path. One extreme is as bad as the other,” he said.

    Horse-and-buggy people

    According to the most recent census data from 2011, there are more than 3,300 Amish people in Canada. They began arriving in what was then Upper Canada in the 1820s.

    They didn’t migrate beyond that until the last couple of years, when some groups established settlements in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

    A Mennonite horse and buggy travels on the side of the road near St. Jacobs, Ont., just north of Waterloo on March 31, 2012. (Adam Gagnon/Canadian Press)

    The Amish are a denomination of Anabaptist Christians that broke away from the larger Mennonite church in 1693, and are largely indistinguishable from Old Order Mennonites in terms of their religious beliefs, said Royden Loewen, chair of Mennonite studies at the University of Winnipeg.

    “The Amish tend to wear beards without moustaches and the Old Order Mennonites tend not to wear beards. The Amish meet in homes and barns for their church services whereas the Old Order horse-and-buggy Mennonites will have a church, simple church, meeting houses,” he said.

    Although Old Order Mennonites are more common in Canada — there are about 9,000 in this country — Amish are more well known. When a group of Old Order Mennonites settled around Gladstone, Man., in 2006, many media reports mislabelled them as Amish.

    This is because “the Amish outnumber the horse-and-buggy Mennonites in the United States very significantly, whereas in Canada, it’s the other way around,” Loewen said.

    New neighbours

    Inside Eva’s restaurant in Vita, three women sit chatting about the new neighbours.

    “I’m not sure how everyone feels about them. I have no qualms with them. I like the sound of the clippy-clops coming down the street,” said Alice Brasseur.

    Alice Rondeau recalled a scene from earlier in the summer when one of the Amish men tied his horse up outside the laundromat in town. Rondeau was sitting outside drinking coffee, when she noticed the flies starting to bite the horse.

    “The horse reared up, broke his lead, he turned around and they’re so smart, he got onto the highway, he looked up and down, and went home and left the fellow here,” she said with a laugh.

    A group of women sit discussing the new Amish community in Eva’s restaurant in Vita, Man. From left to right: Eva Dyck, Anne Brasseur, Iris Osadchuk, and Alice Rondeau. (Cameron MacLean)

    Although the horse-drawn buggies have provided a new source of entertainment for the locals, their droppings on the town’s streets and highways have caused frustration for some.

    “We’ve had a couple complaints about them, about the horse droppings on the road,” said Penner. “We approached the group and they are cleaning up inside the town. Out in the country they’re not, but in the towns or in the streets they clean up after themselves. That has calmed the town down.”

    The women in Eva’s look forward to reaping the benefits of the hard work of the Amish when they sell their garden vegetables and baking at next summer’s farmers’ market.

    “This way we won’t go to the store and buy it, we’ll go and buy it fresher,” said Iris Osadchuk.

    Despite his uncertainty about what the winter will bring, Miller says there are good people in town willing to help out.

    “Everybody that met us here in Vita, they were good as pie,” he said.

    ‘We’re getting robbed’: Meet the faces behind France’s yellow vest protests

    Some travelled by bus, others by train. Their list of demands is as long as it is varied.

    But every member of the “yellow vest” protest movement who came to Paris on Saturday said they’re fed up. Many say the cost of living has risen, while their wages have stagnated for years.

    A range of taxes has them angry, but also a general feeling that Macron doesn’t care about the working class. He slashed France’s wealth tax and his critics see him as being more at ease with (and caring more about) Europe’s elites than France’s poor.

    Feeling squeezed, they say demonstrating is the only way the French government will listen.

    Thousands of the so-called “gilets jaunes” (named after the fluorescent vests every driver carries in the car) descended upon the capital for the fourth Saturday in a row, despite the government’s announcement it would cancel the fuel tax hikes that sparked the movement.

    Skirmishes and violence continued, but several demonstrators told CBC News they wanted to distance themselves from the troublemakers — those the government considers “radicalized.”

    Here are some of the stories behind the vests.

    ‘We have to be able to feed our families’

    Jordan Fournier and Gregory Costard are both landscapers from Normandy, more than 200 kilometres away. They demonstrated at roadblocks before coming to Paris on Saturday. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

    Jordan Fournier and Gregory Costard are both landscapers from Normandy, more than 200 kilometres away. They made the trip to Paris just for Saturday’s demonstration.

    “We’re not lazy; we do want to get to work, but we have to be able to feed our families,” said Fournier, a 26-year-old father of two.

    In previous weeks, Fournier and Costard, 39, showed their support at one of the hundreds of roadblocks spread out across France. Demonstrators have been stopping traffic, particularly at roundabouts, as a way of protesting against the government.

    “With the roadblocks, we just p**s off our compatriots more than anything else,” Fournier said, so instead “we go to the capital, show that we’re here and that we’ve had enough.”

    ‘We can’t live anymore’

    Sabine Bockstal, a 62-year-old retiree living in Paris, says she can’t afford to treat her grandchildren. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

    Sabine Bockstal, a 62-year-old retiree living in Paris, says she came with her family in mind.

    Bockstal retired in July. “I couldn’t stand working for nothing.”

    A mother of three and grandmother to 10 others, she blames government tax hikes for putting a squeeze on the working class.

    “I can’t treat my grandchildren,” she said.

    Unlike some in the yellow vest movement, she’s not demanding President Emmanuel Macron resign, but rather he should “stop taxing us so much we can’t live anymore.”

    ‘Financial death’  for the working class

    Rémi, an auxiliary nurse, wore a blue cap emblazoned with the Gallic rooster, an unofficial national symbol of France. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

    Rémi, an auxiliary nurse, wore a blue cap emblazoned with the Gallic rooster, an unofficial national symbol of France.

    He’s demanding early elections to oust Macron after he says the president imposed “financial death” on the working class.

    Rémi, who declined to give his last name, travelled 315 kilometres from his home in Dijon, along with 50 other protesters together on a train.

    He says 40 of them were detained upon their arrival in the capital for carrying gas masks.

    “I hope they’re OK,” he said, “and I hope they’ll be let go tonight.”

    Macron ‘should come down off his pedestal’

    Chantal and Daniel both work as taxi drivers in Nantes, about 400 kilometres away. They say they’re making ends meet, but there are many less fortunate. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

    Chantal and Daniel both work in Nantes, about 400 kilometres away. After three weeks of watching the Paris protests from afar, they decided to come show their support in person.

    Both declined to give their last names.

    As taxi drivers, “if we want to work a lot, we can manage,” Daniel said. “But there are less fortunate people who barely make minimum wage, full time.”

    Chantal described the president as “scornful.”

    “He should come down off his pedestal and talk to us,” she said.

    Macron did not make a public statement about the protests on Saturday.

    ‘We’re getting robbed’

    Damien Lefebvre, an unemployed 27-year-old from Normandy, says he sees people turning to food banks. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

    Damien Lefebvre, an unemployed 27-year-old from Normandy, says France has lost its middle class.

    He says he sees more and more people turning to food banks to be able to feed themselves.

    “We’re getting robbed,” he said, in reference to growing financial pressure on the working class. “We can barely manage to have self-respect.”

    Lefebvre said the government hasn’t received the movement’s message yet.

    He pointed to the thousands of yellow vests on Paris’s Champs-Elysées avenue and a cloud of police tear gas wafting above the Arc de Triomphe on Saturday afternoon.

    They “must have problems with their hearing or their vision.”

    Getting around Trump: Trudeau focuses on other ‘levers’ to end tariffs

    After months of fruitless efforts with the Trump White House, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears ready to make Canada’s case for the lifting of steel and aluminum tariffs directly to allies in Congress and across the U.S., as U.S. workers and businesses also feel the sting of the border taxes.

    In a wide-ranging interview with The National’s Rosemary Barton that airs Sunday, Trudeau talked about the duties that were slapped on Canada, supposedly because steel and aluminum posed a risk to U.S. national security — and his game plan to have them removed.

    “I mean we, obviously, want to get rid of those steel and aluminum tariffs,” he said.  “But we also see the path toward ratification as a place where there are continued conversations from members of Congress, from business or associations in the U.S., from governors who also want to see these tariffs gone, and we’re going to keep working on that.”

    “Every step of the way there continue to be levers to pull on and we’re going to continue to do what Canadians expect us to do, which is look at every opportunity to stand up for our interests.”

    Tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum imports from Canada were put in place on May 31, taking effect the next day. 

    Every step of the way there continue to be levers to pull on.– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

    That same night, Canada announced its retaliation: On July 1, dollar-for-dollar countermeasures would be imposed on up to $16.6 billion in U.S. goods, including steel, aluminum and other products like whisky, chocolate, and orange juice. 

    It was a calculated retaliation, aimed at key Republican districts — like in Kentucky and Wisconsin — and other swing states like Florida. 

    Trade and tariffs

    Last year, the Canadian steel industry employed more than 23,000 workers and contributed over $4 billion to the country’s GDP. Canada also buys more U.S. steel than any other country in the world. 

    To try to soften the blow, the federal government announced a compensation package for Canada’s steel and aluminum industries in June.

    Trudeau government officials made it clear from the start, if the U.S. lifted their “unjust and illegal” tariffs, the Canadian ones would disappear as well. 

    The National’s Rosemary Barton interviews the prime minister, including asking about the U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

    But as the weeks and months passed, it became clear Donald Trump was ready to pour more gas on the fire. 

    “I don’t want to do anything bad to Canada. I can — all I have to do is tax cars — it would be devastating,” he said in September.

    The president threatened a 25 per cent duty on autos, which experts said would cripple the Canadian industry.

    All the tariffs were introduced under the guise of a little-used section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act. The clause gives the president power to impose duties on foreign products if the White House deems they would “threaten to impair the national security.”

    Those car tariffs never materialized, and at the end of NAFTA re-negotiations, Canada was able to secure an exemption for a certain number of auto parts from possible future auto tariffs. 

    Prodding Trump on tariffs

    Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland long maintained the tariff discussions were separate from the trade deal negotiations, but in the final days before the new CUSMA pact was reached, Canada sought a tariff shield from the U.S. during trade meetings in Washington. 

    Trudeau has also spoken directly with Trump about the tariffs on several occasions. 

    There were reports from Mexico that the tariffs might be lifted once the CUSMA was signed, but as the three North American leaders put pens (or Sharpies, in the case of Trump) to paper at the G20 summit at the end of November the tariffs remained. 

    This summer the U.S. filed complaints at the World Trade Organization against Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico and Turkey in response to retaliatory tariffs launched against the United States.

    The prime minister is unfazed. 

    “We will not rest while those barriers remain,” Trudeau said at the G20. 

    And as General Motors plants across the continent, including one in Oshawa, Ont., prepare to close, Trudeau used that issue to prod Trump once more on the tariffs.

    “Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries.”


    Watch The National’s full interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network, or on CBC’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.