Category Archives: Finances

THE VERY BEST ENCRYPTED MESSAGING APPS

If you’d rather not have the government, hackers, your internet service provider, or anyone else potentially intercepting and reading your private communications, you should make sure you’re using a secure messaging app. Specifically, one that uses encrypted messaging.

As you’ve probably noticed (unless you live under a rock, which is slowly sounding more and more like the way to go) internet privacy has become one of the hottest topics of the decade. In 2017, the United States Congress repealed regulations that would help protect your data from being sold by broadband and wireless companies. In 2016, the UK’s Parliament passed the Investigatory Power Act (also known as the Snooper’s Charter), which expands the surveillance power of the UK Intelligence Community and police. And in 2018, Australia forced famous messaging app WhatsApp to include spyware so they could see what you’re typing. Not to mention what’s going on in the news right now concerning privacy. If you aren’t already worried, now is a pretty good time to start wondering just how safe your online communications actually are, and what the most secure messaging app is.

What makes a messaging app secure?

An encrypted messaging app has something more important than cool widgets and a gigantic library of emojis: it has features that work quietly in the background to make sure the app is secure.

End-to-end encryption

The main thing to check for when choosing a messaging app is whether or not it uses end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption means your private chat messages are scrambled, and only the sender and the receiver of the messages have the “keys” to read them. This ensures that no one besides you and the person you’re talking to can decipher the messages.

Ironically, encryption used to be thought of as something only used by the paranoid or those with a compelling need for secrecy, such as political dissidents. It was only after whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents revealing the U.S. NSA’s global surveillance program that the world began to fully understand the importance of encryption and online privacy. Since then, many companies (including Facebook, Apple, and Google) have ramped up encryption on their software.

Default encryption settings

Just because an app offers end-to-end encryption, doesn’t mean that it’s the default setting. Some messaging apps require you to go into the app’s settings and actually turn on the encryption feature, while others only encrypt messages in certain scenarios (for instance, blue iMessages versus green text messages). Because the importance of encryption is still relatively new, many people may just assume the app is safe without knowing if or when their messages are encrypted — so look for one that has encryption on as the default for you and whomever you’re messaging.

Open source code

While fears of reverse-engineering or code backdoors may make it seem counterintuitive for an app maker to reveal an app’s source code, doing so is now widely regarded as an indicator of the app’s integrity. Open source code opens the app up to outside accountability and auditing by experts, which can be a useful way to bring attention to any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the code.

Data collection

While many messaging apps today have started using end-to-end encryption, some still collect data information about you, called metadata. Metadata is kind of like your electronic fingerprint, and includes data such as who you talk to (via your contacts list), for how long, and at what time, as well as information about the device you use, your IP address, phone number, and more. Setting up a VPN app on your mobile device is an easy way to block the collection of this kind of personal information. Both AVG Secure VPN for Android and AVG Secure VPN for iOS are available to help you seamlessly protect your online privacy.

Try AVG Secure VPN for Android

What are the most secure messaging apps for Android & iPhone?

1. Signal

additional-image-signal-620x300

Originally known as TextSecure Private Messenger, Signal has been touted as the gold standard of messaging security by cryptographer Bruce Schneier, Edward Snowden, US congress, and even the European Commission. Available as a free messaging app on iPhone and Android phones, as well as desktops, Signal sends messages across its own data infrastructure.

Signal security features

  • End-to-end encryption
    Messages sent via the Signal app can only be viewed by the sender and receiver. Not even the company behind the app, Open Whisper Systems, can decrypt the messages. In addition to instant messages, you can also make voice calls, group messages, and encrypted video calls.
  • Open Source
    Signal has open source code that can be viewed by anyone. This kind of transparency allows for routine auditing and helps ensure that the app’s security is always up to date.
  • Disappearing messages
    For extra security, Signal allows you to make both sent and received messages “disappear” after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
  • Minimal data storageUnlike many other messaging apps, Signal only stores the metadata required for the app to work, such as your phone number, random keys, and profile information.
  • Password security The app also allows you to set a password to lock it. So even if your phone falls into the wrong hands, your messages will still be protected.

Signal security risks 

The best thing about Signal is that there are virtually no security risks. As long as the app’s developers continue to be diligent about fixing vulnerabilities, Signal will remain at the top of the messaging app food chain.

2. Wickr Me

additional-image-wickr-620x300

Available on both iPhone and Android, Wickr has distinguished itself from the pack by offering secure messaging options for both personal use (Wickr Me) and for businesses and enterprises (Wickr Pro). While Wickr Me is free, Wickr Pro is a paid service that comes with a 30-day free trial.

Wickr Me security features 

  • End-to-end encryption
    In addition to encrypted messaging, in 2018 Wickr announced that its “Me” service will also offer encrypted calling and voice messaging (which are already offered in the Pro version).
  • Screenshot detection
    Wickr recently announced that they will be offering a new feature that allows users to detect screenshots. This means that you will receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of a message you send.
  • Screen overlay protection
    On Android devices, Wickr has released a new feature that allows users to disable “Screen Overlays”. This prevents users from being able to interact with the app when an overlay is detected, and helps protect the app from TapJacking.
  • Third party keyboards
    On iOS, Wickr lets you block Third Party Keyboards. This helps protect your information by preventing third party keyboards from recording usernames, passwords, and other information that is typed into the app.
  • Secure Shredder
    This feature adds an extra layer of security by making sure your already deleted files can’t be recovered with special tools or technology. While Wickr does this for you periodically, you also have the option to manually erase information from your phone.

Wickr Me security risks 

Like Signal, Wickr is generally considered almost foolproof from a security standpoint. Though it was previously criticized for keeping its code closed source, in 2017 Wickr finally released its cryptographic protocol on Github. If you feel like getting technical about the app’s security, you can check out Wickr’s Customer Security Promises.

3. Dust

Dust

Formerly known as Cyber Dust, Mark Cuban’s brainchild messaging app Dust is available on both iOS and Android. The main purpose of the app is to send private messages (or photos and videos) called “Dusts” to your contacts that “turn to dust” and disappear within 100 seconds of being read. “Blasts” are another type of message that can be sent to a group of people, but are read privately. Finally, you can start group chats, simply known as “Groups.”

Dust security features

  • End-to-end encryption
    Dust uses “heavy encryption,” although the code is not actually available for viewing. You can send encrypted text, photo, or video messages, but the app does not allow for voice or video calls.
  • No permanent storage
    Not only are your messages not permanently saved on your phone or the company’s servers (instead they’re sent to the app’s RAM memory until they are accessed by the receiver), you can also erase your messages off of other people’s devices.
  • Screenshot alerts
    If a screenshot is attempted on an Android phone, the name of the person who sent the message is removed, effectively eliminating context from the conversation. Apple prevents apps from blocking screenshots, so instead, iPhone users receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of their sent message.
  • Auto “Dust”
    Messages are automatically erased either within 24 hours, or as soon as they’re read. You can choose.

Dust security risks

There are currently no significant security risks associated with Dust, aside from the potential risks and lack of transparency related to the app’s code not being open source.

4. WhatsApp

additional-image-whatsapp-620x300

With over 300 million daily users, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps being used today. The app’s popularity is definitely one of its strong points, along with the fact that it’s available for free on both iPhone and Android and doesn’t show any ads. You can easily send text messages, photos, as well as short video and voice messages. But are WhatsApp chats private?

WhatsApp security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    In April 2016, WhatsApp implemented a super secure encryption protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems (the company behind secure messaging app Signal) across all mobile platforms. Thanks to this protocol, only the sender and receiver have the keys to decrypt messages sent via WhatsApp, meaning they can’t be accessed and read by anyone else. Voice and video calls are also encrypted.
  • Verify encryption 
    WhatsApp also has a “Verify Security Code” screen in the contact info screen that allows you to confirm that your calls and messages are end-to-end encrypted. The code is presented as both a QR code and a 60-digit number.
  • Two-step verification 
    An optional feature, two-step verification allows you to add more security to your account by setting a PIN number that is required to verify your phone number on any device.
  • Messages not stored
    The only time your message is kept on a WhatsApp server is the period after you send it and before it is delivered to the receiver. If it can’t be delivered for some reason, then the message is deleted from the server after 30 days.

WhatsApp Security risks

  • Unencrypted backups
    WhatsApp messages can’t be intercepted during transmission, but what about message backups on iCloud or Google Drive? The good news for iPhone users is that WhatsApp added encryption protection to iCloud backups in late 2016. But Android phone messages backed up on Google Drive are not encrypted, leaving them potentially vulnerable to hackers, governments that could legally force Google to turn over your messages, or even Google itself. So how can you protect your privacy on WhatsApp as an Android user? Fortunately, you can disable WhatsApp message backups on Google Drive.
  • Facebook privacy issues
    WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014, transferring concerns about the social media conglomerate’s reputation for invasive data collection to the messaging app. While Facebook assures users that there is no possible way for them to view encrypted WhatsApp messages, WhatsApp did announce that they would be sharing user metadata with Facebook, for various purposes such as ad-targeting.

5. Telegram

additional-image-telegram-620x300

Claiming over 200 million users on both iPhone and Android, Telegram has been steadily growing in popularity since its debut in 2013 and is known for its unique group chat feature that can support up to 100,000 members. Earlier in 2018, however, a clash with the Russian government over the app makers’ refusal to hand over the encryption keys resulted in it being banned in Russia entirely. Telegram has also been viewed as controversial because of its status as the preferred messaging app of ISIS. This has further driven the conversation about what responsibility messaging apps have to work with law-enforcement versus keeping user data fully protected.

Telegram security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    Telegram offers a feature called “Secret Chat” that allows you to protect your messages with end-to-end encryption. However, the feature is not default, so you’ll need to know how to turn it on.
  • Passcode Lock
    You can set a 4-digit code to prevent intruders from accessing your messages, which can be useful if your phone gets lost or stolen.
  • Two-step verification 
    Found in Settings, two-step verification requires you to use both an SMS code and a password (be sure you know what not to do when creating a password) to log in to the app. You can also set up a recovery email address in case you forget your password).
  • Open source code
    Anyone can check Telegram’s source code, protocol, and API to make sure it is up to par.
  • Telegram Cracking Contest
    Telegram challenges “hackers” to attempt to break through their encryption and decipher messages, offering a $300,000 reward for anyone who is able to do so. This helps ensure that any potential vulnerabilities will be found and fixed.
  • Self-destructing messages 
    Like many other messaging apps, Telegram also offers a Self-Destruct Timer (for Secret Chats only) that will delete private text messages and media within a preset time limit.
  • Remote logout 
    Because you can log into Telegram from numerous devices at the same time (web, PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.), the app offers the ability to log out of other sessions from the current device you’re using through the Settings menu. This way, if your device is lost or stolen, you can still make sure your messages are secure.
  • Account self-destruct 
    After your account has been inactive for a certain amount of time (six months being the default), your account will automatically self-destruct, completely wiping clean all of your messages and media.

Telegram security risks

  • End-to-end encryption isn’t default 
    You must manually enable Telegram’s “Secret Chat” feature, otherwise chats are only encrypted between your device and Telegram’s server.
  • Logging chat data
    If you don’t enable the Secret Chat feature, then your chat data is saved on Telegram’s servers. The company claims this is in case you lose your device and want to recover your messages, but from a security standpoint, this is a big no-no.
  • Possibly flawed encryption technology 
    Telegram created its own MTProto protocol, instead of using one that is already proven secure, such as the Signal protocol. Many experts have questioned the reasoning behind this, and have expressed skepticism about the lack of transparency surrounding the protocol.

6. Apple iMessage

additional-image-imessage-620x300

The instant messaging service developed by Apple Inc., iMessage is supported by the Messenger application on iOS version 5.0 and later. Allowing users to send text, documents, videos, photos, contact information, and group messages over the internet, iMessage is very popular among iPhone users (and can only be used between them). We’ve already gone over tips on how to keep your iPhone safe, but is iMessage actually secure?

iMessage security features 

  • End-to-end encryption 
    iMessage end-to-end encryption only protects messages between iPhone users (which appear in blue). If you send a message to an Android user for instance, the message is sent as a normal text message (in green) and is not encrypted. Unlike many of the other apps on this list, it seems like Apple won’t be coming out with iMessage for Android. Though iMessage doesn’t directly allow for video or voice calls, its sister app FaceTime does (with encrypted protection).
  • Self-destructing messages
    Many iMessage users are unaware that the app provides a feature that allows you to control how long each photo, video, or message will appear before it’s gone. You can also choose how many times the viewer can see the message. However, the feature is only available with iOS 10 and later.
  • iMessages deleted from servers
    Your encrypted messages only remain on Apple’s servers for 7 days before they are deleted.

iMessage security risks 

  • Encryption weaknesses
    In 2016, researchers at Johns Hopkins University revealed a flaw with Apple’s encryptionimplementation that could leave iMessages vulnerable to decryption. Later, in 2019, researchers from Project Zero presented 6 high-level exploits that allowed them to use iMessages to take over a user’s device. All these issues were quickly patched, but it does imply the risk of other, unknown vulnerabilities lurking in the code.
  • iCloud backups
    If you back up your iMessages to iCloud, these messages are encrypted on iCloud using a key controlled by the company, not you. This means that, if your iCloud is hacked or subpoenaed by a court, they could be revealed. And while Apple has been firm about not creating “back doors” into their system or weakening encryption, they and other tech companies do have a history of cooperating with authorities when it comes to turning over information stored in the Cloud.

7. Facebook Messenger

additional-image-messenger-620x300

Facebook’s messaging app is available for both iPhone and Android phones, and provides a convenient way to keep up with friends and family thanks to its sheer popularity.

Facebook Messenger security features

  • End-to-end encryption 
    In 2016, Facebook added its Secret Conversations feature to secure messages with the Signal end-to-end encryption protocol (also used by WhatsApp). However, Signal and WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption by default, while Secret Conversations must be activated.
  • Self-destructing messages
    You can set Facebook Messenger messages to self-destruct after a certain period of time (between five seconds and 24 hours).

Facebook Messenger security risks 

  • Encryption not by default
    As mentioned above, end-to-end encryption for messages must be activated by the user. This means that messages sent without this feature are only encrypted when sent to Facebook’s server, and then encrypted again when sent to the recipient (whereas end-to-end is directly between sender and recipient). This means a copy of the message remains on Facebook’s servers.

App to avoid: Google Hangouts

additional-image-hangouts-620x300

Despite being available for free on both iOS and Android, Google Hangouts is riddled with privacy and security concerns. Though it does encrypt hangout conversations, it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption — instead, messages are encrypted “in transit”. This means that they are only encrypted between your device and Google’s servers. Once they are on a server, Google has complete access to them. If ordered to do so, Google can tap into private communication sessions and relay that information to government agencies. And with Google’s Transparency Reportrevealing that the company does indeed receive and often fulfill requests for customer information, this is a very real concern.

Additionally, images sent via Hangouts are shared through public URLs, meaning that virtually anyone (who knows a thing or two about URLs) can view your private images. This is definitely not the app you should be using to send…sensitivepics.

How can I stay safe?

We believe everyone has a right to online privacy, and deserves to message their friends and family without worrying about who might be sneaking a peak. In an ideal world, everyone would be using super secure messaging apps like Signal or Wickr to communicate. But with the popularity of less secure or privacy-questionable apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, sometimes the middle ground is more convenient. If you do choose to use a less secure messaging app, pair it with VPN protection. A virtual private network encrypts everything you do online, including messaging as well as other tasks that may expose your sensitive personal info like online shopping and banking. We offer AVG Secure VPN for iOS and AVG Secure VPN for Androidto keep your information safe.

RECOVERING FROM IDENTITY THEFT

What is identity theft?

By Alex Santiago

Identity theft is a serious crime. Identity theft happens when someone uses information about you without your permission. They could use your:

  • name and address
  • credit card or bank account numbers
  • Social Security number
  • phone or utility account numbers
  • medical insurance numbers

How will I know if my identity was stolen?

Here are ways you can tell that someone is using your information:

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you cannot explain.
  • You find credit card charges that you didn’t make.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says someone used your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job.
  • You do not get your bills or other mail.
  • You get bills for utilities or medical services you did not use.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that are not yours.
  • You find strange accounts or charges on your credit report.

What is IdentityTheft.gov?

IdentityTheft.gov is a website that helps you recover from identity theft. You:

  • answer questions about what happened to you
  • put in your name, address, and other information
  • get your Identity Theft Report
  • get a recovery plan created just for you

You also can create an account. The account helps you through the recovery steps and tracks your progress.

What is an Identity Theft Report?

An Identity Theft Report helps you fix your bills and your credit report. Your Identity Theft Report tells your creditors that you should not have to pay for what the identity thief spent.

You get an Identity Theft Report when you report a problem to IdentityTheft.gov. This is your statement about what happened. It lists what accounts are not yours and what charges you did not make.

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It lists:

  • your name, address, and Social Security number
  • your credit cards
  • your loans
  • how much money you owe
  • if you pay your bills on time or late

Who creates my credit report?

A credit bureau creates your credit report. The credit bureau gathers information about you and your credit history.

There are three main credit bureaus:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • Transunion

What is a fraud alert?

A fraud alert tells businesses that they must contact you before they give someone credit in your name. You put a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert makes it hard for someone else to open new accounts in your name.

There are a few kinds of fraud alerts. They are all free:

  • Initial fraud alert – lasts for one year. Use this if you thinksomeone stole your identity.
  • Extended fraud alert – lasts for seven years. Use this if you knowsomeone stole your identity.
  • Active duty alert – lasts up to one year. Use this if you are in the military and deployed.

What do I do when someone steals my identity?

It is very important to act fast.

First, call the companies where you know fraud happened.

  • Explain that someone stole your identity.
  • Ask them to close or freeze your accounts.
  • Then change your password or personal identification number (PIN).

Then visit IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338.

  • Report the crime and get a recovery plan that’s just for you.
  • You can create an account. The account helps you with the recovery steps and tracks your progress.

For Example

Why is it important to act so fast?

If you wait, the identity thief has more time to cheat you. That means there are more problems to fix. Acting fast means there should be fewer problems to fix.

Why should I use IdentityTheft.gov?

IdentityTheft.gov helps you fix problems related to identity theft, like these:

  • mistakes on your credit report
  • accounts that are not yours
  • mistakes on your bills
  • getting extended fraud alerts

IdentityTheft.gov also gives you a recovery plan just for you.

What comes first in my recovery plan?

The first step of your recovery plan is to call the credit bureaus. Ask the credit bureau for an initial fraud alert. It is free and lasts for 90 days. The fraud alert makes it harder for thieves to open accounts in your name.

The next step is to ask all three credit bureaus for a credit report. If someone stole your identity, your credit report is free. Look at your credit report for things you do not recognize.

How do I fix mistakes on my credit report?

Send a letter to the credit bureau to fix mistakes on your credit report. IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters that are filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the credit bureau.

How do I fix mistakes on my bills?

You might find mistakes when you read your bills. There might be charges you do not recognize. You can send a letter to the company that has the mistakes. Ask the company to fix those mistakes.

IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the company. Use the address the company gives for disputes.

Then change your password and PIN with the company that has the mistakes on your bills.

How do I close an account that is not mine?

Your credit report might list accounts that you did not open. You can send a letter to the business that has the account. Ask them to close the account.

IdentityTheft.gov gives you letters that are filled out with your information. You can print the letter, sign it, and send it to the business. Send a copy of your Identity Theft Report with the letter.

A business might ask you to use a form to close an account. If they do, send that form.

What happens when my initial fraud alert expires?

You can put an extended fraud alert on your credit report. An extended fraud alert is good for seven years.

IdentityTheft.gov helps you place the alert. Contact each credit bureau to ask for an extended fraud alert. You might have to give them a copy of your Identity Theft Report.

SECOND ROUND OF STIMULUS CHECKS

It seems everyone in America thinks a second stimulus check for consumers still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 is needed to re-ignite the U.S. economy.

Everyone except the U.S. Senate, specifically Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

While two polls, one conducted by WalletHub and another by CNBC/Change Research, showed nearly nine out of 10 Americas are in favor of a another stimulus check, McConnell wants more time to think about it.

The Senator from Kentucky has been preaching a wait-and-see approach since passing the $2.4 trillion CARES Act March 27. He doesn’t seem anxious to throw more money at a U.S. economy still staggering and in desperate need of financial help for coronavirus.

In no particular order, McConnell is worried that:

  • Another relief package would add trillions more to the federal deficit already skyrocketing past $25 trillion
  • Businesses and schools will be bombarded lawsuits related to the coronavirus
  • Unemployed workers will continue taking advantage of government handouts and resist seeking employment
  • A rush to do something will cause more problems than it solves

Will There Be a Second Round of Stimulus Checks?

Democrats and some Republicans in the Senate have voiced optimism that another relief package will get serious debate during the month of June and might even include some discussion of the $3 trillion HEROES Act that recently passed in the House of Representatives.

The HEROES ACT called for another $1,200 stimulus check for those making less than $75,000 ($2,400 for couples filing jointly), plus $1,200 each for up to three children.

During a radio interview in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell called the HEROES Act “not a serious piece of legislation” and said, “if there is another bill, it will originate in the Senate.”

His peers, no doubt hearing the financial screams of their constituents, will want to respond by talking seriously about the proposal that would put as much as $6,000 into a family budget.

At the very least, the popularity of the first stimulus check almost guarantees that some form of direct financial aid will be coming this summer.

When Might There Be a Second Stimulus Check?

The Senate is in session until July 3, when they will go on a two-week break surrounding the July Fourth holiday. That gives them more than a month to offer new ideas or extract worthy ones from the HEROES Act.

The first relief bill, the $2.1 trillion CARES Act, took only 10 days to draw up, debate and pass. Expecting that kind of action in Round Two would be considered wildly optimistic.

McConnell is adamant that the Senate will draw up the next relief bill, but didn’t say what it would look like or whether a second round of stimulus checks would be part of it. His focus – and likely most potent bargaining chip – is legislation that includes liability protection for businesses and schools.

“Part of getting back to normal is to not let there be a second epidemic in the wake of the pandemic, and the epidemic would be an epidemic of litigation,” McConnell said. “Businesses and schools are not going to open if they’re afraid of being sued. We need to deal with that, or we have no chance of getting back to normal.”

McConnell also is intent on helping states provide unemployment benefits, though he’s opposed to extending the $600 a week bonus that the CARES Act adds to state unemployment checks. That provision expires at the end of July, and may not be resuscitated.

“A lot of folks are getting paid more not to work than to work and that is counterproductive,” he said. “The goal here is to get people back to work. Structuring it the same way again would be a mistake.”

What Is America Saying about Stimulus Checks?

Whenever a new “normal” returns, most Americans want it to include a second stimulus check. The WalletHub poll conducted in late April, showed 84% of Americans want a second wave of stimulus checks. The poll also showed 160 million Americans were three months away from running out of money, meaning time is of the essence.

The CNBC/Change Research poll involved people in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. It was conducted the first week in May and 94% of respondents said it’s important that people who have lost jobs or wages receive relief. Another 74% of respondents support recurring direct payments to individuals until the pandemic ends.

Whether they get it – and how much it’s worth – will depend on how urgently McConnell steers legislation through the Senate. The Majority Leader has made it clear he’s concerned about how the relief packages are impacting the federal deficit, which has flown past $25 trillion.

The CARES Act helped add another $737 billion to this year’s deficit in April, by far the largest monthly shortfall in the 40 years data has been collected.

“We now have a national debt that is the size of our economy for the first time since World War II,” McConnell said. “We’ve got to be aware here of what we’re doing to the long-term future of our country with this level of debt.

“That’s why I think this next bill should be carefully crafted after we begin to see the impact of reopening again.”

Details on the HEROES Act

While McConnell completely dismisses the HEROES Act, there are going to be parts of it that Democrats will push to keep. It is loaded with huge coronavirus cash relief to seemingly every sector of American life. Among the things it provides:

  • Almost $875 billion for state and local governments
  • $200 billion in hazard pay for some essential workers
  • $850 million for child and family care for essential workers
  • $75 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
  • $100 billion for rental assistance for low-income households
  • $75 billion to help homeowners pay their mortgages, property taxes or utilities
  • $25 billion to help the Postal Service survive a steep drop off in revenue.

“Some of the members say let’s take a pause,” Pelosi said on the House floor. “Do you think this virus is taking a pause? Do you think that the rent takes a pause? Do you think that putting food on the table – or the hunger that comes if you can’t – takes a pause?”

The proposed second stimulus payment in the HEROES Act is larger than the first stimulus check under the CARES Act.

But it is a one-time payment, and therefore is far less generous that several other Democratic proposals by Senator Bernie Sanders and members of the progressive caucus. They wanted payments of $2,000 and even $10,000 every week, depending on family size, for the duration of the pandemic. In fact, one of the proposals requested payments for a year after the pandemic.

Those bills never came up for a vote, causing some progressive backlash against Pelosi. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal proposed a bill in April that would have ensured workers receive 100% of their salaries up to $100,000 and provided businesses with funding to cover “essential” expenses such as rent. She was the only progressive member to vote against Pelosi’s bill, saying it didn’t go far enough.

Still, it’s a big, first step. Here’s a closer look at the key points:

  • Stimulus payment – $1,200 for individuals and dependents (Up to $6,000 for families)
  • Payment duration – One-time payment
  • Eligibility – Eligibility would be based on the same income limits as the CARES Act ($75,000 for single filers; $150,000 for married couples filing jointly; $112,500 for heads of households.
  • Payment distribution – Same as the CARES Act. Payments would be distributed through direct deposit or paper check.
  • Cost – $3 trillion.
  • Who introduced the bill? – House Democrats
  • Will it pass? – No, not in its current form. But it puts the ball in the Republicans court, the first step in a massive, trillion-dollar COVID-19 relief bill that likely will pass sometime this summer, and include a second stimulus check.

30 BEST WEBSITES FOR WOMEN TO SHOP

1. Boohoo

Boohoo is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce sites. The booming retailer offers non-stop fashion with up to 100 new pieces hitting the site every day. The majority of styles on offer are under AU$100, and some are even as low as $2, so fill up your basket without any pesky spending guilt.

2. Nasty Gal

Created by “girlboss” Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal began as a humble eBay store selling vintage clothing. Since then, the brand has grown into an e-commerce giant that sells a broad range of genuine vintage and new, vintage-inspired pieces. This site is perfect for girls with a little bit of attitude who like to have a lot of fun.

3. H&M

Do we even need to introduce H&M? The Swedish super-retailer is everyone’s first choice for affordable, fast-fashion clothing, and its online store makes it all available from the comfort of your home. Sit on the couch while stocking up on great basics, lingerie, trends, accessories, workwear, activewear, and even homewares.

4. Free People

If you’re a free spirit or a hippy at heart, Free People is the online shopping destination for you. This bohemian retailer dishes up the goods when it comes to dreamy designs. Fill up your basket with wonderful pieces that are fit for brunch, the beach or a trip around the world. Also, take a look at the brand’s Movement label for great activewear.

Nordstrom has been a leading fashion retailer for over 100 years and is continuing to uphold the title. Although the brand’s online store is obviously a lot younger, it follows suit from Nordstrom’s physical stores in terms of excellent service and extensive product range.

6. Mango

Mango, also known as MNG, offers a broad range of minimally chic clothing and accessories. The brand’s designs are pieces that can be worn every day that easily blend into the rest of your wardrobe.

7. Luisa Via Roma

From sporty to chic, this site has it all. It offers pieces fresh off the runway, exclusive collaborations and discounts across some of the world’s biggest labels. If you’re after curated styles that will make you stand out from the crowd, you can’t look past Luisviaroma – it’s the one-stop-shop for all things beautiful.

8. ASOS

If you haven’t shopped online at ASOS, you’ve seriously been missing out. This site is a one-stop destination for all of your fashion and beauty needs at a reasonable price. Filter through thousands of on-trend products from a variety of brands as well as the ASOS house labels.

9. The Outnet

Created by the people at Net-A-Porter, The Outnet is the ultimate destination for exclusive discounts on more than 350 designer labels. Some of the featured brands include Chloé, Stuart Weitzman and Oscar de la Renta. This is a great place to visit if you’re after your first luxury piece, but don’t want to spend your entire paycheck on it.

10. Farfetch

There’s only one of you, so why wear something that everyone else has? Finding your perfect piece of clothing shouldn’t be a hassle, thanks to Farfetch. With vintage pieces from the labels you love like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace, you can be seen in something that no-one else is wearing.

11. Shopbop

Since its launch in 2000, Shopbop has become a site that fashionistas know and love. It’s the perfect place to shop for both contemporary and designer labels and has an impressive selection of apparel, shoes, bags, and accessories. Another major highlight of this site is that it offers lookbook and wardrobe advice features, which makes the online experience all the more enjoyable!

12. Revolve

You can always count on Revolve to bring you the most trendy pieces you’ll need for a season update, and the site features many prominent designer brands. They’ve even added face masks to their list of products —  so you know they’re keeping an eye on current trends and needs. For convenience, fashion lovers can also get their favorite beauty products on the site, which is super appealing because you don’t have to order from multiple retailers. Revolve’s Shop This Look section is also a fantastic way to find outfits you want to recreate, and their dedicated customer service team will help with any issues.

13. Nordstrom Rack

If you love a bargain, then Nordstrom Rack is the place to go! We all know that designer clothes can come with a high price tag, but this is the site that helps you save money while also getting your hands on your dream brands. At Nordstrom Rack, you can get up to 70 percent off the original department store and boutique prices, and they are continually adding new items to the inventory. Be sure to check in weekly for new arrivals and shop your favorite styles, which can be done from the comfort of your living room. If you want to browse on-the-go, the mobile app also makes shopping super easy!

14. Saks Fifth Avenue

Most people have heard of Saks Fifth Avenue, the famous New York department store, and their online site does not disappoint. Saks is known for fashionable and exclusive items, and you can now shop them from the comfort of your home. Choose from a wide range of designers, pick the trendiest apparel, handbags, and shoes, and finish off your looks with interesting pieces of jewelry and chic accessories. If you need inspiration, The Edit highlights seasonal favorites and trends, and the editorials are always impressive.

15. Topshop

One of our favorite British high street brands, Topshop, is also available online. This site offers all the great styles that you’re used to finding in-store at the same affordable price. Tall, petite and maternity ranges are also on offer for those who want Topshop’s on-trend style but need a different fit. On top of all that, standard international delivery, which is up to nine days, is free when you spend over £100.

16. SSENSE

For the lovers of luxury fashion and independent designers, look no further than SSense. With thousands of incredible curated pieces available, you can find a one-of-a-kind piece that others will adore, or the latest items fresh off the runway. Whether you’re gaga for Gucci or a lover of La Perla, this is the site for you.

17. Uniqlo

Uniqlo is the place to go for basics on a budget. You may not find the most fashionable pieces here, but you will find some great, quality pieces to be the core ingredients of your casual wardrobe. Think comfortable cotton hoodies, cashmere sweaters, down puffer jackets and essential seamless underwear, all for the lowest prices imaginable.

18. Verishop

Verishop is the one-stop-online-shop customers love because they have so many different apartments. From men’s and women’s clothing and apparel to beauty and wellness or stylish pieces for your home, this is the best way to find items you love or the perfect gift for friends and dear ones. Shop from both global and digitally native brands, including Billie the Label, and leisurewear brand LETT. Another highlight is the fast and free shipping and 24-hour customer service, which makes the whole experience easy and fun!

19. MyTheresa

MyTheresa has been around for over 30 years, first as a fashion hotspot in Munich, and later an online extension of the exclusive store. What can you expect from this site? For starters, fast delivery within one business day, free returns within 30 days, and an impressive collection of designer items! The site stocks over 250 international designers, and is known for being one of the best sites to purchase luxury buys, with big names including Acne Studios, Emilio Pucci, and Fendi.

20. & Other Stories

If you live in the U.K., U.S., or one of a selection of European countries, then you are lucky enough to be able to shop online at &OtherStories. The brand focuses on the whole outfit, making accessories an essential part of its business. The clothes are nice, but the pieces to buy are bags, shoes, sunglasses, and jewelry.

21. Coggles

Discover your next favorite piece of clothing on Coggles. Featuring designers like Victoria Beckham, Balmain, and Kenzo, you can filter through thousands of beautiful clothes and accessories to find something perfect for you. From sneakers to fine jewelry, it’s the perfect shopping site for a friend or yourself.

22. Missguided

Missguided is your online shopping destination for young and fun fashion. This site is perfect for anyone who’s not afraid to show a bit of skin. Low cut tops, bodycon dresses and short shorts are a regular occurrence here. Pick up a few of the brand’s continuously on-trend pieces as a cheap way to spice up your usual wardrobe.

23. MatchesFashion

Everyone deserves to treat themselves once in a while, so why not do it on Matches Fashion? From the essentials to the exquisite, this site offers unmatched assistance. If you’re having difficulty making a decision or you need a bit of extra help, let the MyStylist service help you out. Whether you’re unsure of how to put a look together or you need to spark some inspiration, this team is here to help.

24. Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters stocks a huge range of brands and styles so that you can find what you need for the price that you want. Filter products by categories, styles, lengths, sizes, colors, brands and prices to quickly hunt down key items, or just click through pages and browse all the lovely styles.

25. Forever21

Forever 21 offers super-affordable casual wear that is both cute and stylish. This user-friendly online store is the perfect place to pick up all the trends that you want to try without investing too much financially. The brand also loves social media and often re-posts customers’ photos, so get buying and then get snapping to feel the online love

26. ModCloth

Visit ModCloth if you’re on the lookout for indie, vintage, and retro-inspired clothing and accessories. This brand’s democratizing approach to fashion is incredibly refreshing, featuring a variety of models on its site and selling styles to suit everyone. Take a look at the dress section to find some truly beautiful pieces that are perfect for summer days and picnics in the park.

27. Miss Selfridge

Miss Selfridge, which initially began as a part of Selfridges department store in the U.K., is now a part of the Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop. Visit this retailer’s site if you’re looking for fun party dresses or gorgeous day wear.

28. COS

COS is like the older, cooler and much more refined sister to H&M. Made by the same company, COS steers away from fads and passing trends while H&M embraces them. Offering a range of minimal and modern wardrobe essentials, COS will provide you with pieces that last beyond the current season. Although you will pay more than you would at H&M, you’ll get your money’s worth.

29. Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer, which launched its Australian web store this year, offers a range of relaxed and chic styles that are all well within budget. Check out the brand’s extensive range of accessories to find affordable pieces to match every outfit. Also, explore the M&S & Alexa Chung Collaboration for great vintage-inspired styles.

30. Princess Polly

Shopping multiple brands that you love in one spot is as convenient as it is fun. Proving this point is the online retailer, Princess Polly. This site carries several fashionable and affordable brands, including Evil Twin, Minkpink, Somedays Lovin, The Fifth Label, Windsor Smith and Nobody Denim