You’ve Been Pulled over by the Cops – Now What?

You ran a red light.

You were driving over the speed limit.

You were quickly checking your phone while driving.

You knew it was wrong, but you didn’t think you’d get caught – until you saw the flashing lights in your rearview mirror! You’ve been pulled over by the cops. Here’s what you should do next.

Pull over when it’s safe

First things first, signal your intention to pull over to the right side of the road, and look for a well-lit spot with enough room for you and the police car to safely park. Once you’ve come to a complete stop, turn off your engine and wait inside your car for further instructions from the officer. It may take a few minutes for them to approach your vehicle, as they may need to run your license plate number.

Know your rights

It helps to know your rights in a traffic stop. Keep in mind that police officers can pull you over for any reason when driving. If asked, you are required to provide your driver’s licence, ownership information and proof of insurance. Otherwise, you are not required to answer an officer’s questions unless you’ve been involved in an accident.

If an officer suspects you’ve been drinking, they are allowed to administer a roadside breath test. Police officers are allowed to look in the windows of your car, and use a flashlight to do so if it’s nighttime. However, cops are not allowed to search your vehicle without a warrant, unless they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that they will find illegal drugs, alcohol or evidence related to a crime.

Look for credentials

You have the right to ask for a police officer’s credentials, and you might want to consider it if you’ve been pulled over by an unmarked vehicle. There have been several cases of fraudsters posing as police officers to steal cars or solicit money for fake tickets. You can also call 911 to confirm that the vehicle belongs to the police.

Keep your documents accessible

As mentioned above, you are required to provide your license, ownership papers and proof of insurance if asked. To make the traffic stop as painless of possible, make sure you have those items in an easily accessible location at all times. Wait to be asked by the officer before you collect your documents. Once they have asked, let them know you’ll be opening your glove compartment or your purse to retrieve the items.

Maintain your composure

You might be annoyed at the inconvenience of a stop, or angry that you were the one pulled over when other drivers were also breaking the law. Whatever the case, you can vent to friends and family later. When interacting with the officer, listen politely and respond respectfully. If you don’t feel like you’re being treated fairly by the officer, don’t pick a fight or respond defensively. You can note their name and badge number and file a complaint at another time.

Fight it later

While you shouldn’t argue over the merits of the ticket during your traffic stop, you can consider fighting it later. Not only can your ticket come with a fine and demerit points, but it can also raise your car insurance rates the next time you’re renewing your policy or looking for a quote. With all those potential consequences, it can be worth contesting your ticket in court, since you’ll avoid the fine, demerit points and insurance increases if you win.

You can do your best to prevent a traffic stop by obeying the rules of the road, but if you do see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, remember these tips to make the best of a bad situation.

AI, Marketing and the Skilled Workforce Needed to Drive Its Progression

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have become common components of emerging modern technologies, from the algorithms that recommend new products for purchase to the chatbots that provide customer service assistance on many commerce websites.

Some digital marketing now incorporates AI to great effect, and these approaches can be beneficial, particularly in highly competitive spaces.

  • The use of AI in digital marketing can help optimize a user’s website experience by predicting consumer behavior, personas, cycles, and customer service needs.
  • As mentioned above, AI helps to optimize processes, which can benefit return on investment (ROI). AI can make a payment process more secure and frictionless, and machine learning can help collect better data from customers.
  • Search sessions on a site will be improved by AI assistance, since AI will be able to better predict user behavior and search terms.
  • Reaching the right audience for your brand will be an easier and more efficient process with the help of AI, which can allow for better targeting based on behavior, demographics, etc.
  • AI will improve sales models and other predictive elements, as machine learning and other AI-related tools can process data more fully and more quickly than humans.

However, many wonder about what sort of skills or talents are needed in the workforce to fully take advantage of all the benefits of AI-aided marketing. How can AI be implemented in marketing approaches if there is a lack of professionals who know how to develop and manage machine learning and AI-based tools?

While there is currently a talent gap between the needs of these emerging AI-related jobs and the skills present in much of the existing marketing workforce, many marketing professionals are taking the talents they possess — creativity, resilience, and risk tolerance — and working to build up their analytical skills. Many successful marketing professionals are learning skills related to AI, machine learning, and data proficiency through online courses or short-term workshops, or going back to school to learn more about data analytics, programming, and mathematics.

In addition, since AI is a quickly evolving field, agility is one of the qualities most prized by companies seeking individuals who can innovate and develop the technology for new applications. Many companies are finding that, when it comes to working with AI, it is useful to hire professionals who are creative thinkers, who have a high degree of resilience, and who are not afraid to take risks — and then encourage those employees to acquire and refine their skills through training programs or experience on the job.

AI and machine learning are already present in much of the digital space, and the influence of these technologies will only increase in the next few years. AI-aided marketing and AI-skilled employees will be less of a luxury and more of a requirement for companies and brands in the future.

How Social Payments Are Transforming Financial Transactions As We Know Them

In honor of arrival of the Year of the Dog in February, I sent my nephew in China a gift of money through a chat app on my phone. He pocketed it happily, using the same app to express his appreciation, thanks and best wishes back at me for the new year.

It was another day, another dollar, as they say, or the everyday sort of transaction that people in some countries like China don’t think twice about. For people in most Western nations, though, this sort of payment system is still something of a curiosity.

That’s changing fast, though. And as the social sharing economy continues to evolve, look for such peer-to-peer transactions over people’s social feeds to become the norm. It quite possibly may disrupt the traditional banking system as we know it.

Venmo, PayPal’s free digital wallet, was an early player in Western economies, launched in 2009, but really taking off in 2014 as Android Pay and Apple Pay made their much vaunted debuts. Other entries since – Facebook Pay, Google Wallet, Square Cash – speak to a concept whose time has come. Case in point: Venmo handled $17.6 billion in transactions in 2016; that almost doubled to $34.2 billion last year.

If there’s a model for the rest of the world to follow, it’s China’s. Its system was a response in a country that had no credit card use, and whose banks were inefficient and underused. In less than 10 years, two rival payment services, Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Alipay, have transformed China’s financial ecosystem by making mobile payments – especially social mobile payments – an easy and accessible option.

As social payments continue to catch on in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and other nations, it’s moving us ever closer to becoming cashless economies. In fact, Sweden may be an example today of how we’ll all be operating in the not-to-distant future. A mere 1 percent of the value of all payments made in Sweden are in coins or notes. Its citizens live for their bank cards, but over half Sweden’s population depends on the leading social payment smartphone app, Swish.

It’s not just the world’s more privileged societies that stand to benefit from this evolving financial ecosystem. Social payments stand to bring much needed financial services to countries with significant populations of unbanked or underbanked people. Financial inclusion, of course, is key to lifting them from poverty.

Even if traditional banking services aren’t available to such populations, mobile phones increasingly are. Their pace of adoption is on a positive trendline, at 37 percent of the populations of underdeveloped economies.

Not surprisingly, both Tencent and Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial (formerly known as Alipay) see an opportunity to make inroads in countries where people may be unbanked, but not unphoned. Both are moving aggressively in Southeast Asia as part of that quest; at the end of last year, the Alipay service reportedly had 280 million users of its four local payment platforms in Thailand, India, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The sharing economy is real and expanding rapidly. By 2025, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study found, spending in the five components that comprise it (travel, car sharing, staffing, streaming and, no surprise, finance) may hit $335 billion – or half of total spending in those areas.

It’s not just social payments that will help to reshape the financial sector. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will be another facet, a means for settling payments directly and without much hassle or effort.

Either way, though, if this new social order we’re developing can advance those who currently have no access to things the rest of us take for granted like financial services, then it’s all to the good.

How You Can Learn to Trade on Rules-Based Trading

We are creatures of habit. Habits form patterns that become rules of a sort for how we live our lives in a dependable way.

One of the most compelling illustrations of this is Danish photographer Peter Funch’s “42nd and Vanderbilt” project. He stood at that corner in New York City and from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. between 2007 and 2016 took photos of commuters on their daily pilgrimage. Many of them were the same people, day in and day out, just more grey and grizzled over time. Their faces always had the same expressions, mostly grim. Many wore the exact same shirts in 2016 that they wore in 2007, or shirts in a similar color and style. They also consistently did the same things, like holding a to-go coffee cup the same way.

That sort of habitual consistency is also frequently seen in the stock market. People who figure out how to read the patterns and act accordingly can make a lot of money, and because of that consistency, they can do so in a way that mitigates a lot of the risks of playing the market.

It’s called rules-based trading, and I should know because it’s a strategy I’ve used and share.

Rules-based trading is really a dependable approach for beginners and those with a low appetite for risk. It’s quite simple, actually, for those who do their homework and who are mindful of and keep to schedules.

It’s a way to piggy-back off the seasonal buying and selling that marks the activities of the institutional investment community, and reflects both bullish and bearish environments. Here are some examples.

On the bull side, take a look at Rockwell Automation. Between Nov. 13 and Dec. 26 in 21 of the last 23 years, the stock has gone up, with an average return of 5.76 percent. The return on options plays: 50 percent to 100 percent.

On the bear side, there’s Skecher, whose stock has declined between Sept. 14 and 27 in 17 of the last years, showing an average 6.82 percent decline. Putting options on that play will get a return of 50 percent to 100 percent.

Here’s why this system is a good one to put in place. You know what you’re getting. It’s designed to “set and forget.” You place your trade and don’t do anything more with it until it’s stopped out, the target is reached or you hit a trailing stop loss. You’re set as long as you keep it all within the precisely defined windows.

You avoid the psychological pressures of trading, but still get the fun of watching how it’s going without having to constantly be monitoring and analyzing new information. However, you do have to do your homework to identify likely targets (through data available on platforms like Yahoo Finance and Bloomberg) and apply the option strategy that fits.

Rules-based trading is an excellent way to build market knowledge and discipline that, over time, you’ll be able to take to the proverbial bank.

Certus Trading makes it easier to get into rules-based trading with our Profit Scheduler Club for options. We do the data analysis and show what options strategies will apply best, equipping you to comfortably make the trade.

Will Comprehensive Insurance Provide Coverage for a Hit-and-Run?

There are many kinds of vehicle insurance that will provide coverage for any type of damage you may encounter on the road, including a hit-and-run auto collision. Whether you are seeking liability coverage, collision insurance, or an uninsured motorist policy, damage to a vehicle specifically after a hit-and-run is typically covered under one of the following policies.

Hit-and-Run Accident

A hit and run, as defined by insurance companies, is an accident caused by someone driving and then deliberately exiting the crime scene without leaving contact identification. Surprisingly, these types of incidents are not uncommon. The Foundation for Traffic Safety by AAA states that about 11% of collisions are alarmingly caused by hit-and-run confrontations.

Collision with Attended Vehicle

An auto accident where the other driver intentionally leaves the scene of the crash can be extremely difficult to resolve. The best way to approach the situation is to keep a written record of the information for the other party, including information regarding the vehicle, insurance, and driver. Be sure to call the police as soon as possible, as a police record is most likely required in your state. If you have any identifying contact information for the other party, their insurance company can be contacted, and a claim for loss can be filed directly with them. Insurance policies with collision coverage may include repairs for a hit-and-run with an attended vehicle, but the deductible should first be paid.

Collision with Unattended Vehicle

If a vehicle gets smashed while the owner is not with it, a hit-and-run accident may have occurred. A witness would be advantageous to have if anyone was nearby and saw the collision and they could recognize who damaged the car; however, normally it will be up to the owner of the damaged vehicle and the insurance company to repair the car.

The manner in which the damage took place will determine what kind of insurance coverage will be required to repair the damage. For instance, if a radio was stolen and a window was broken in the process, a comprehensive auto insurance policy should take care of all of the damage. Comprehensive coverage includes vandalism and theft. Nevertheless, if a person drove forward in a parking lot too far and hit your vehicle, and then proceeded to drive away, your comprehensive insurance policy likely would not apply due to comprehensive coverage not including damage by another car. Liability would apply in this example.

Uninsured Motorist Policies

Many states offer insurance protection from motorists who may be under-insured or even uninsured. These policies will cover you in hit-and-run accidents; however, a deductible is typically required prior to the policy beginning. However, Ohio, Louisiana, Illinois, Georgia, Colorado, and California do not allow for uninsured motorist policies to cover hit-and-run accidents, but collision coverage may be able to provide assistance.

Hit-and-run accidents are no matter to be taken lightly. Justice should be served, and offenders must take responsibility for the damage they have created.

Collectible Investments That You Can Enjoy

Investing in collectibles takes a little bit of good sense, a healthy portion of patience and a whole lot of love. You’ll need to be familiar with the subject matter in order to distinguish valuable pieces from garbage, and the more experience you have — either as a scholar, a professional or an experienced hobbyist — the better. You will also need the patience to wait for your objects to appreciate, like any investment, but you may need to fight the temptation to consume or wear out your favorites before they reach their prime. Finally, you’ll need to love collecting these items since, to be honest, they probably won’t pay off big financially. You’re likely to get higher returns in enjoyment than money.

Fine art. Decorate the walls of your home and literally watch while they increase in value (or not). A keen eye for truly valuable art and excellent timing are what you need to succeed in this area. Thomas Kinkade paintings that were once valued at over $20,000 are now valued at about $39.99. And beware of the forgeries.

Applied art. Ceramics and jewelry will give you a more tactile experience than paintings — just be careful to handle them with care and keep little prying hands clear of the display case.

Antiques. This is another collectible you can use to decorate your home. With all the popular antiques shows on TV, many people might consider themselves experts without good cause, and some antiques dealers may be asking too much. If you do invest in antiques, also invest in a stack of drink coasters. Also research which oils are safe for keeping your pieces in good condition.

Numismatic coins. These collectibles cover the range of ancient coins to modern but rare currencies. It can be fun to hold a silver denarius coin that circulated within the Roman Empire and think about how it was spent.

Antique guns. Here’s a collectible that has appreciated fairly well lately. High-end English shotguns have gained approximately 3% – 5% per year.

Fine wine. This will require a finely-tuned nose, a cellar and the self-control not to drink away your investment.

Small batch whisky. This is similar to investing in fine wines, but it can attract an entirely different group of buyers. If you like drinking whisky and smoking cigars, the whisky will gain value while the cigars probably won’t. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Rare books. These delicate investments may carry great sentimental value. Keep in mind that the value of rare books, such as first editions, is highly dependent on condition. Don’t even think about reading through a fine first edition because you’ll wear out the binding.

“When first getting involved in collectible investments, treat them like penny stocks,” says Jason Baril, an attorney with Wreck Into a Check. Don’t spend your nest egg on the venture. Allocate only enough that you can afford to lose, and consider any monetary appreciation a welcome benefit.

Correcting Mistakes in Your Credit Score Files the Right Way

Your credit report counts for a lot. The information it contains can make all the difference when you apply for a mortgage, a car loan, a credit card or practically any form of credit line. Even, as Layne Davlin of Net PEO, points out, affect you chances of getting the job you want. So that the information is correct is very important.

What many people do not realize though is that to find a mistake or two on your credit report is not unusual. Both credit reporting agencies – Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada– accept information about consumers from lenders but they do not actually do very much to verify its accuracy before adding it to a consumer’s credit file.

Add to that the fact that not all lenders report to both credit bureaus, often meaning that an account that has been settled or closed is still shown as open or owing on certain credit reports and you can see the potential for mistakes is certainly there.

Finding Mistakes on your Credit Report

Because a mistake on your credit report can cost you dearly it is important that even if you are not too concerned about building credit because you have good credit you check your credit report at least once a year, to make sure that inaccurate information is not hampering your credit score.

Each credit bureau is obliged to provide you with one free copy of your credit report every 12 months. When you get these reports, you should go through all the entries on them to verify that they are accurate.

Do not just look at negative items though, check everything. Unfortunately, the first time some people realize that they have had their identity stolen is when they check their credit report and see credit accounts listed that they have never heard of.

Reporting a Mistake on Your Credit Report

If an entry on a credit report is a genuine mistake, then you have the right to ask the credit bureau to remove it from your report. This can be done by writing a simple letter to the credit bureau and enclosing the supporting information you have (if you have any) to back up your assertion.

At this point the credit bureau is obliged to investigate your claim and will attempt to contact the creditor to get “their side of the story”. The creditor only has a short window of time in which to respond though and if they do not respond in time the entry is removed by default.

Some people are uncertain about just what an appeal letter to a credit bureau should contain. it does not have to be at all complex though. Simply list the entries you are questioning, your reasons why and then ensure you have included your name, address and a copy of the report containing the disputed items.

You should send the letter by registered mail so that you have proof of mailing should the dispute not be resolved in a timely manner (usually 30 days or less) and you have to contact the credit bureau again, which you should do if the dispute is not resolved within a month or so.

Disputing All the Negatives on Your Credit Report

Improving a poor credit score is a major priority for a lot of people and they will look for any way they can to speed the credit repair process up. One of the ways many of them do this is to consult a credit repair company to help them with their endeavors.

Unfortunately for all the good, helpful credit repair services that are out there, there are also a number of bad ones. Some of these companies give people a piece of advice that is very bad too – that they challenge all the negative entries on their credit report, even if they are all valid.

The reasoning behind this relates to the amount of time a creditor must respond in to an investigation by the credit bureau. That window is short, and the gamble being taken by reporting a valid entry as a mistake is that the creditor will not respond in time and that the entry will then be removed by default, giving the consumer’s credit score a bit of an instant boost.

Sometimes this does work. The problem is though that the act of reporting a valid entry on your credit file as a mistake can be considered fraud. And sending the letter can score you a count of mail fraud as well.  The credit bureaus (and the law) will not care that you were acting on the advice of someone else, all penalties would be accessed to you, not a credit repair firm you might have worked with. and those penalties might be far worse than having a poor credit rating ever was!

End of Toys R Us Leaving Glut of Vacant Space in Lower Quality Locations

The glut of vacant retail real estate space is only going to grow as consumers’ preference for the online versus brick-and-mortar shopping experience continues to claim victims. Toys R Us is the latest and not unexpected retailer demise, and its planned liquidation of as many as 700 stores across the United States is expected to leave millions of square feet of space vacant.

Nothing’s certain about the extent of the potential damage, though, as the company is still trying to negotiate possible rescues. One would combine its 200 top U.S. performers with its Canadian operations, for example.

Either way, there’s still going to be a lot of retail space available, even though landlords should have anticipated the closing given the chain’s long-standing issues. What will make the outlook murkier, though, is the patchwork strategy Toys R Us has used in choosing sites for its stores.

Many of the holes that will be created with the Toys R Us closing will be at strip shopping centers. A percentage of strip malls in the U.S. are in fact doing well – like those that have managed a solid tenant mix of Internet-resistant stores and other concerns like restaurants and specialized medical services like physical therapy services.

But over half of the Toys R Us locations in the U.S. are in what the real estate industry considers low quality, and that will be troublesome to landlords looking to fill their space at similar rates (if they are able to fill them at all).

And it’s not just the quality of the malls that’s an issue. The average Toys R Us space is around 30,000 square feet, when the biggest retail demand seems to be for 25,000 square feet or less. Retailers of a similar size to the chain that might otherwise be interested in the better locations are staying where they are and remodeling or refocusing on their digital capabilities. And while smaller stores are in Target’s sights, it’s eyeing cities and college towns for its expansion – not necessarily where Toys R Us has been situated.

Meanwhile, if the future of the chain’s Canadian operations seems appreciably brighter than in the U.S., it may be due to the “location, location, location” emphasis of the expansion strategy that started in the 1980s.

The Toys R Us Canadian footprint has been far different than in the U.S., with many in prime locations and a mix of big and smaller stores. While some of the properties may have below-market rents, landlord exposures would still be far less than they would be with such older retailers as Sears.

The slow demise of Toys R Us is a story that is still unfolding, and the impact on the commercial real estate market is just one of its various complications. It will be interesting to see how much creative use is made of the space – and how many and for how long lesser locations stay vacant.

Secondary Mortgage Market in GTA – Weighing the Pros and Cons

Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have decreased this year compared to last. The Toronto Real Estate Board reported that sales were down almost 35 percent in February 2018 compared to February 2017. In addition, prices have dropped, with the average sales price falling 12.4 percent for all housing types.

As 2018 moves forward, buyers are getting used to the new mortgage rules and the government regulations that went into effect on January 1 of this year. Home buyers are adjusting to the new housing market measures and have had to recalibrate their plans because of the higher interest rates and new mortgage stress testing guidelines.

What that means is that realtors have to be creative if they’re going to make sales in this market.

For both buyers and realtors, the secondary mortgage market can provide an alternative to traditional bank mortgages, one that in many instances, should be considered. Obtaining a mortgage from an alternative lender is frequently easier and quicker than getting a traditional mortgage. While it is true that buyers often need to have a larger down payment, and the loans are generally more expensive, the secondary mortgage market can provide a solution for buyers who are looking for a different course of action and for realtors who want to help their clients.

One of the great advantages of the secondary mortgage market is that it can provide a short-term solution for buyers who can then, at a later date, make different arrangements, perhaps through a traditional bank mortgage.

For example, a GTA home might have been selling for $1.4million a year ago, and today that same home will likely go for $1.05 million. If a buyer is putting 25 percent down, they will carry a mortgage of $787,500. Most secondary mortgages have a duration of one year or less. So, at 8 percent per year, the buyer is paying in one year 4 percent extra on the mortgage, or $31,496. That means effectively that the property costs an extra $31,496. That’s not really significant since the buyer could close in a buyer’s market that’s discounted. In a year’s time, the buyers can investigate refinancing with a traditional bank mortgage, and will hopefully be in a much better situation.

Realtors who want to guide buyers towards the secondary mortgage market should exercise caution, however, and recommend alternative lenders only to those buyers who can carry such a mortgage and have the financial resources and income ability to refinance within a year.

I would also recommend that GTA realtors who are interested in offering advice about the secondary mortgage market establish direct relationships with alternative lenders rather than with mortgage brokers; brokers will often charge substantial fees, which can add to the costs incurred by the buyers.

Although sales in the GTA market have taken a downturn, there are still a number of ways for both buyers and realtors to take advantage of the market conditions.

Why More Canadians Are Retiring With Debt and What It Means

As Canadians, we live in a country where certain rights and freedoms are expected, hoped for and, some might say, taken for granted. The freedom to retire early is one many of us begin grappling with as we approach middle age. Ironically, many Canadians won’t be ready to retire until they are significantly older.

The reason? Debt.

Unfortunately, too many retired people – 34% — over 55 years old still carry consumer debt, according to Statistics Canada. In fact, a recent Equifax Canada report found that the debt load of seniors is outpacing that of their younger counterparts.

It’s not as though Canadians have always carried a heavy debt burden. In 2012, 42.5% of people over 65 still had debt, a jump of 55% when compared to seniors in 1999.

A number of economic, social and cultural factors are to blame, say experts. They point to divorce, illness and large mortgages as some of the culprits. Experts also explain that children, grandchildren and other family members may also be at fault, as they often look to their parents and grandparents to lend them hand. In fact, a 2015 survey showed that 18% of first-time home buyers are gifted their down payments thanks to relatives, typically parents.

But, children can’t shoulder all of the blame.

Low interest rates have made debt much more attractive. Further, cottages, pricey vacations, fancy cars and other expensive toys may be out of reach for the average pensioner. Paring down and cutting back in your sixties may not seem fair. After all, you’ve worked decades, aren’t you entitled to a little luxury? Your fixed retirement income simply may not support your lifestyle any more. Perhaps it’s time to downsize and sell your 3,000 square-foot home?

If selling isn’t an option, many house-rich, cash-poor seniors can look to their houses for equity. Often by the time a person retires, he or she has either paid off their mortgage or is only owing a small amount. Because house values have increased in recent years, in some markets quite significantly, tapping into a home’s equity may be something to consider.

Still, as a borrower, you need to be aware of how you are intending to pay back the loan. Is it possible to make monthly payments or would you prefer to have your estate pay off the loan after you die?

No matter how the money is borrowed, the process should be well planned out. Know what you need it for. Have a repayment plan in place. Don’t borrow more than you need – that often leads to trouble.

Dwayne Rettinger

Executive Financial Consultant

Investors Group Financial Services Inc.

Rettinger & Associates Private Wealth Management

This is a general source of information only. It is not intended to provide personalized tax, legal or investment advice, and is not intended as a solicitation to purchase securities. Dwayne Rettinger is solely responsible for its content. For more information on this topic or any other financial matter, please contact an Investors Group Consultant.