scams http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/300/all en-US 3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/computer_password_88375551.jpg" alt="Finding sneaky ways identity thieves can access data" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You just can't be too careful nowadays.</p> <p>From 2010 to 2015, identity thieves have stolen <a href="http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/identity-theft-and-cybercrime">$112 billion</a> from U.S. consumers. A staggering 13.1 million victims of identify theft lost $15 billion in 2015 alone. To curb more cases of identity theft, more and more issuers of credit and debit cards are transitioning their clients to cards with chip technology. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-chip-credit-cards-make-life-easier?ref=seealso">4 Ways Chip Credit Cards Make Life Easier</a>)</p> <p>Still, there are plenty of methods for criminals to get a hold of your personal information. Let's review three more ways thieves can steal your identity and how to protect yourself against them.</p> <h2>1. Mailbox</h2> <p>Snail mail can be annoying in more ways that you think. While receiving paper copies of statements of your bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, or investment accounts can save you the cost of printing them out yourself, keep in mind that it also opens the door for potential identity theft. For example, all it takes is a thief to get a hold of a bank account or credit card statement and try his luck changing your mailing address and requesting a replacement card. Don't let somebody go on a shopping spree with your hard-earned dollars!</p> <p>Another target inside your mailbox is any prefilled credit card or loan application. That little trash bin right next to the mailbox area in your apartment building is a gold mine for identity thieves.</p> <h3>How to Prevent It</h3> <p>The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) recommends you avoid leaving mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends. If you plan to be away from home from three to 30 consecutive days, use the <a href="https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/">USPS Hold Mail Service</a> to schedule delivery of all mail on the day of your return.</p> <p>Also, make sure that you deposit any mail containing personal information only on U.S. Postal Service collection boxes and securely discard any letters of preapproved offers of credit. You also can opt out of unsolicited credit and insurance offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visiting <a href="http://www.optoutprescreen.com">www.OptOutPrescreen.com</a>.</p> <h2>2. Fake Public Wi-Fi</h2> <p>Whether struggling to keep your data usage within the limits of your existing phone data plan or trying to upload a perfect Instagram selfie during your trip to Italy, many of us can't resist the promise of free Internet from a public hot spot. Malicious hackers are aware of this and set up fake public Wi-Fi hot spots to lure users and steal their data.</p> <p>Main targets are commuters doing work and exposing valuable information, such as lists of clients, business expense accounts, and invoices. If you think getting your identity stolen is bad, imagine exposing that of your clients or coworkers to cyber criminals. And those hackers don't have to be anywhere close to you: They can be <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=3454066&amp;page=1">up to 100 feet</a> away and still get away with your identity.</p> <h3>How to Prevent It</h3> <p>Only activate your Wi-Fi port when you're about to connect to a known and secure Wi-Fi. Whenever possible, check the authenticity of a hot spot. For example, ask the reception desk attendant at a hotel or check billboards at a mall.</p> <p>When using public Wi-Fi connections, don't visit sites related to your personal finance. If you absolutely must use a public Wi-Fi for work, only do so by connecting through your company's Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt all data during your session.</p> <h2>3. Email</h2> <p>You don't need to be a major celebrity for somebody to try hacking your email account. All it takes is the suspicion that you may have a lot of financial assets or are in the process of a major financial transaction, such as closing a mortgage, executing an estate, or applying for a student loan.</p> <p>While you may think that it takes really complicated hacking skills to decipher a password, the harsh reality is that most people use the simplest of passwords. According to a <a href="http://gizmodo.com/the-25-most-popular-passwords-of-2015-were-all-such-id-1753591514">list of over two million leaked passwords</a>, the top five passwords of 2015 were:</p> <ol> <li>123456</li> <li>password</li> <li>12345678</li> <li>Qwerty</li> <li>12345</li> </ol> <p>Internet uses don't learn from their mistakes: The top two most commonly used passwords of 2015 were also the top two of the list from the previous year. Even worse, nearly three out of four individuals <a href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246902">use the same password</a> for multiple accounts. By unlocking your email password, hackers have a good chance of getting a hold of your other online accounts.</p> <h3>How to Prevent It</h3> <p>Microsoft recommends using passwords that:</p> <ul> <li>Are at least <a href="https://blogs.microsoft.com/microsoftsecure/2014/08/25/create-stronger-passwords-and-protect-them/">eight characters</a> in length;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't contain your username, real name, or company name;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't spell out complete words (sorry sports fans: football and baseball were #7 and #10 in the list of most commonly stolen passwords);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are significantly different from previous passwords; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Are different from passwords used on other websites.</li> </ul> <p>Also, don't use your email to store documents containing sensitive information, such as your social security number or credit card number. If you need to exchange such documents, do so through the encrypted online portal of your financial institution. You'll know it's encrypted when the URL bar shows a &quot;HTTPS.&quot;</p> <p>Finally, learn to identify the meanings of the potential types of padlocks that your web browser uses, such as the <a href="https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-do-i-tell-if-my-connection-is-secure">green and gray padlocks of Mozilla Firefox</a>.</p> <p>Better safe than sorry.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been a victim of identity theft?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-your-auto-reply-email-telling-people-about-you">What Is Your Auto-Reply Email Telling People About You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-weird-ways-to-keep-you-and-your-stuff-safe">7 Weird Ways to Keep You and Your Stuff Safe</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-slash-the-cost-of-wi-fi-when-you-travel">6 Ways to Slash the Cost of Wi-Fi When You Travel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Technology bank statements email free wi-fi identity theft Internet loan applications mail theft passwords protection scams security Thu, 01 Sep 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Damian Davila 1780042 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Find a Legit Virtual Assistant Job http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-a-legit-virtual-assistant-job <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-find-a-legit-virtual-assistant-job" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_virtual_assistant_45281194.jpg" alt="Woman finding a legit virtual assistant job" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Working as a virtual assistant sounds like a dream job. As a remote administrator, serving as a virtual assistant allows you to work from home in your pajamas when it suits your schedule. You get to do more varied work than an at-home customer service representative &mdash; you might manage social media accounts, book travel arrangements, create PowerPoint presentations, or take minutes during online meetings.</p> <p>Moreover, good virtual assistants can make an excellent wage from their homes. Because of how appealing this gig sounds, virtual assistant job listings are rife with scams and fraudulent listings.</p> <p>While some executives will hire virtual assistants on their own, most workers find clients through virtual assistant companies that connect business owners with contractors. The industry is expanding rapidly, and discerning the scams from the real companies is becoming increasingly difficult.</p> <p>Here are some tips to help you find out if a company is a legitimate business.</p> <h2>Check out the Better Business Bureau</h2> <p>While the virtual assistant company&rsquo;s page on the Better Business Bureau site may not be comprehensive, if they do have a presence on the page, that is a good indication that the business is a serious enterprise.</p> <h2>Review Their Website</h2> <p>If the page is littered with typos or broken links, that is a definite sign that the company is not legitimate. Also, pay attention to the company&rsquo;s contact information; if they list a phone number or email address, reach out to them and see if they work.</p> <h2>Do a Google Search</h2> <p>If a company is the real deal, a Google search will reveal other companies who use them, LinkedIn connections, and business profiles. If they are not reputable, you may find people complaining about them on social media or sites like <a href="http://www.ripoffreport.com">Ripoff Report</a>.</p> <h2>Visit GlassDoor</h2> <p><a href="http://www.glassdoor.com">GlassDoor</a> can be a great resource to see what current and past employees experienced at the company. They will share their experiences &mdash; both the good and bad &mdash; such as what to expect regarding salary, working conditions, and whether they got paid.</p> <h2>Understand the Interview Process</h2> <p>Scam gigs will hire just about anyone without much screening, so if you send in a resume and are immediately hired, that is a major red flag.</p> <h2>What to Expect From a Legitimate Company</h2> <p>As a virtual assistant, you will be closely working alongside executives and be privy to sensitive information. Real companies want to make sure you are a person of integrity and have the talent to do the job efficiently to maintain their reputation.</p> <p>A legitimate virtual assistant company is extremely thorough. You will likely have to submit a resume and cover letter, and then undergo an initial phone screening. From there, many companies will have you complete various tests and evaluations to test your speed, accuracy, and professionalism. It is not uncommon to go through second or even third interviews, usually through Skype or GoToMeeting. The entire process can take as long as two months.</p> <p>While the long interview duration can be time consuming, it is a good sign they are doing their due diligence and are an upstanding company.</p> <h2>Where to Find Real Virtual Assistant Jobs</h2> <p>There are a number of virtual assistant firms that are well-known and respected, who hold their virtual assistants to high standards, and pay them decent wages:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.eahelp.com">eaHelp</a>: Virtual assistants mainly work with entrepreneurs, celebrities, and pastors. The pay ranges from $12&ndash;$18 an hour.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.timeetc.com">Time Etc</a>: With Time Etc, you will do everything from book a family&rsquo;s vacation to write blog posts. Pay is usually around $11 an hour.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.zirtual.com">Zirtual</a>: Unlike other companies, Zirtual assistants are full-time employees. While the pay is about $11 an hour, you are eligible for medical and dental benefits.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.fancyhands.com">Fancy Hands</a>: While Fancy Hands is a real company, its structure is very different. They pay per task, with each task paying as little as $2 to $7.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://www.99dollarsocial.com/content-specialist-position/">99 Dollar Social</a>: Unlike other virtual assistant positions, 99 Dollar Social&rsquo;s representatives solely update social media accounts for clients. The pay is approximately $12 an hour.</li> </ul> <p>For many people, getting a job as a virtual assistant is a great way to earn extra income or even transition to working full-time from home. However, because these roles are so attractive, you need be aware of how many scams there are that will try to steal from you. Carefully research potential employers and check out the established and reputable companies to make sure you get paid for the work you do.</p> <p><em>Have you worked as a VA? Tell us about it in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-a-legit-virtual-assistant-job">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-websites-that-will-pay-you-to-write-for-them">22 Websites That Will Pay You to Write for Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-paid-real-money-from-virtual-work">Get Paid Real Money From Virtual Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-money-as-a-chat-or-forum-moderator">How to Make Money as a Chat or Forum Moderator</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-100k-jobs-you-can-do-online">8 $100k+ Jobs You Can Do Online</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-life-skills-every-freelancer-needs">8 Life Skills Every Freelancer Needs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting flexible schedules job listings scams telecommute virtual assistants work from home Mon, 18 Jul 2016 10:00:18 +0000 Kat Tretina 1753208 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do When You Suspect a Scam http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_using_phone_39165382.jpg" alt="Man reacting when he suspects a financial scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Within days of filing my taxes this year, I started getting suspicious phone calls. Apparently, the IRS was suing me and I had to pay a &quot;settlement&quot; amount, or I would be hearing from lawyers pursuing a much greater amount of money.</p> <p>Fortunately for me, my husband works in the financial industry and knows <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-the-irs-doesnt-want-you-to-know-about-them" target="_blank">how the IRS works</a> &mdash; they always send a letter first. Since I knew from the outset that the call was a scam, it was actually kind of funny to be on the receiving end of one of these calls that I'd heard so much about.</p> <p>But for many, many people &mdash; up to one in 10 in <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/9401927/One-in-ten-people-fall-victim-to-scams-investigation-finds.html">the general population</a>, and one in five in <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303330204579248292834035108">the over-65 demographic</a> &mdash; these calls aren't funny at all. They are terrifying, and people will spend whatever they have to in order to keep the supposed IRS off their backs. And this IRS scam isn't the only one!! In fact, there are several common phone scams that take financial advantage of people who simply don't know any better.</p> <p>Wondering how to spot one of these scams, both in the calls you get and in the lives of those you care about? Here are some ideas.</p> <h2>Government Agencies Won't Call You Out of The Blue</h2> <p>Most government agencies will <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/scam-phone-calls-continue-irs-identifies-five-easy-ways-to-spot-suspicious-calls">contact you first by mail</a>, even if they think you owe them quite a bit of money. So if someone calls and claims to be from the IRS, FBI, local law enforcement, jury duty enforcement, or any other government agency, you can be pretty sure that they are scamming you. This is especially true if they are asking you for money, for you Social Security Number, or anything else like that.</p> <p>If you're unsure as to the legitimacy of the call, tell the scammer that you are driving and cannot pay right now, but you'd like to call back as soon as you've stopped. Get as much information as you can, like the name and the official title of the person calling you, and the name of the department they claim to be representing. Then, when you're off the line, do some research. Find a phone number or email address for the department and call them directly. Explain the call you received and that you aren't sure it was legitimate, and let them help you figure it out.</p> <p>These calls can be especially harmful to people who feel vulnerable or afraid, like many elderly people, people living alone, etc. If you know or love someone in one of these categories, make sure they know that these calls can be fake. Offer to back them up if they ever need it, and remind them that they have rights, too.</p> <h2>Cold Calls From Charities</h2> <p>Did you ever get a call out of nowhere from a charity, cause, or campaign asking for an immediate donation? These can be among the most confusing calls to receive, because some non-profits use this as a legitimate marketing technique.</p> <p>If you aren't sure that the call is legit but you're interested in a cause, explain that you are uncomfortable giving out financial information over the phone. Get the exact name of the organization and Google it. See if you can find any reviews of the organization. Then, donate online or call the number provided on the website to make your donation.</p> <p>Also, don't share personal information, like your Social Security Number, over the phone. It is perfectly acceptable to simply say that you don't give out that data that way. If they pressure you, they either aren't legitimate or they might not be an organization you'd want to donate to anyway.</p> <h2>Computer Support Scams</h2> <p>If anyone ever calls you out of the blue and <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/consumer-protection/how-to-identify-a-phone-scam/">asks you to install</a> something on your computer, run away. The programs they have you install will mine your personal data and collect things like usernames and passwords, which the scammer can then use to steal your identity and your money.</p> <p>Instead of following the directions a cold-calling supposed computer tech gives you, you can either tell them that you're not worried about your machine or you can thank them for their information and tell them you'll have someone look at the machine in person (and you can actually do this, if you're concerned).</p> <h2>If You Get Scammed, Act Fast</h2> <p>If you get scammed, take a deep breath. There are still some things you can do to give yourself the best chance of recovery. First, create an <a href="https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/">identity theft report</a> through the Federal Trade Commission. This might not get you your money back immediately, but it will help them follow up on and catch scammers.</p> <p>Next, place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three credit reporting agencies (<a href="http://www.experian.com">Experian</a>, <a href="http://www.transunion.com">TransUnion</a>, and <a href="http://www.equifax.com">Equifax</a>). This automatically causes all three agencies to tell potential creditors to take extra steps to confirm your identity before opening any sort of line of credit, which can stop scammers in their tracks.</p> <p>If you think your Social Security number might be compromised, contact <a href="https://faq.ssa.gov/link/portal/34011/34019/Article/3792/What-should-I-do-if-I-think-someone-is-using-my-Social-Security-number">Social Security</a> and the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft">Internal Revenue Service</a>. They will help you take steps to ensure your number is not used fraudulently.</p> <p>Even if you don't get scammed, report potential scam calls to the FTC. This helps them track and stop scammers before they hurt someone else.</p> <h2>Helping Potential Scam Victims You May Know</h2> <p>Maybe you feel confident that you could avoid being scammed, but you're concerned for elderly relatives or other people you know. Start by having a conversation about the types of scams that are out there and the impact they could have. If you are in a place to do so, set up a system for a loved one where you or another close friend or family member can verify the legitimacy of an organization before the vulnerable person donates. Having this in place ahead of time can help stop the scam before it starts.</p> <p>If you can't have that conversation or you're not sure how well the other person took it, keep your ears open. Many scams play on fear and anxiety, and people who have given into that often talk about it. If someone mentions owing money to the IRS or another government agency, ask some more questions.</p> <p>Similarly, listen for discussions about donating money, prepaying funeral expenses, and more. Even if your loved one has already been scammed, keeping your ears open can help you nip the problem in the bud before it destroys their financial future.</p> <p>If you have a loved one who has been scammed in the past, it might behoove you to set up some sort of joint access to their bank and credit card accounts. That way, you can monitor any money movement and spot transactions that might be fraudulent.</p> <p>You can also teach yourself and your loved ones to become scam resistant. Don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize (if they have something to say, they can leave a message!). Google the numbers before you call them back, as there are websites that will report on whether or not the number belongs to a fraudster. Look up the numbers for the folks who call you independently, so you can check on the legitimacy of the call before you disclose any information.</p> <p>Maybe most importantly, learn to control your own feelings. Dealing with scammers is difficult because they try to manipulate emotions. Staying calm is usually more than half the battle, rather than giving in to fear, anxiety, a desire to help, and more. Train yourself to do this and help the potentially vulnerable people in your life to do the same, and you will be nearly scam resistant.</p> <p><em>Have you or a loved one been scammed? What was the scam and how did you recover?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-a-digital-camera-online-until-you-read-this">DO NOT buy a digital camera online until you read this.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/scams-what-the-ftc-wants-you-to-know">Scams: What the FTC Wants You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-scams-and-cons-that-could-clean-you-out">The scams and cons that could clean you out.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/countrywide-tried-to-steal-my-parents-money-how-you-can-avoid-being-a-victim-of-mortgage-servicing-f">Countrywide tried to steal my parents&#039; money - How you can avoid being a victim of mortgage servicing fraud</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance crime elderly fake calls federal trade commission financial abuse fraud IRS scams theft Tue, 12 Jul 2016 10:00:14 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1749903 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things You Need to Know When Renting-to-Own a Home http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_hand_coins_88170549_0.jpg" alt="What you need to know about renting-to-own a home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your credit scores are too low. Or maybe you've run up too much credit card debt. Whatever the reason, you can't qualify for the mortgage loan you need to buy a home. But there is hope: You can enter into a rent-to-own agreement and begin living in a home today &mdash; one that you might eventually be able to buy.</p> <p>Just be careful: David Reiss, professor of law and research director for the Center for Urban Business at Brooklyn Law School, said that consumers need to be careful when entering rent-to-own arrangements. Often, these agreements end up with tenants losing money that they didn't need to spend.</p> <p>&quot;Potential homebuyers should be very careful with rent-to-own opportunities,&quot; Reiss said. &quot;They have a long history of burning buyers. Does the law in your state provide any protection to a rent-to-own buyer who falls behind on payments? Could you end up losing everything that you had paid toward the purchase if you lose your job?&quot;</p> <p>These worries, and others, are why you need to do your research before signing a rent-to-own agreement. And it's why you need to know these five key facts before agreeing to any rent-to-own contract.</p> <h2>1. How Do Monthly Rent and Final Selling Price Relate?</h2> <p>In a rent-to-own arrangement, you might pay a bit more in rent each month to the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet" target="_blank">owner of a home</a>. These extra dollars go toward reducing a final sales price for the home that you and the owner agree upon before you start renting.</p> <p>Then, after a set number of years pass &mdash; usually anywhere from one to five &mdash; you'll have the option to purchase the home, with the sales price lowered by however much extra money you paid along with your monthly rent checks. Not all companies that offer rent-to-own homes work this way. Some don't ask for more money from tenants each month, and don't apply any rental money toward lowering the eventual sales price of the home.</p> <p>This latter option might be the better choice for you if you're not certain that you'll be able to qualify for a mortgage even after the rental period ends.</p> <p>&quot;A pitfall is if the tenant buyer signs into the program but will never be approved for financing, thus never purchases the house,&quot; said John Matthews, president of operations of Chicago Lease to Own. &quot;That is how the scammers out there have used rent-to-own to hurt people. They sell it to those who should never have been in the program and take their portion of the rent every month used 'for the purchase of their home' knowing that the tenant will never qualify to buy the home.&quot;</p> <p>Make sure you know &mdash; and are comfortable with &mdash; the home's final sales price and monthly rent payments before you agree to a rent-to-own arrangement. And if you don&rsquo;t want to pay extra in rent each month for a home that you might never end up buying? A rent-to-own agreement might not be for you.</p> <h2>2. What Is the Timeline?</h2> <p>To start the rent-to-own process, you and the owner of a home sign a contract listing what the home's final sales price will be after the rental period ends. The contract will also list how long you will rent the home before you have to decide whether to buy the property. The document will state, too, how much you'll pay in rent each month, and how much of that money will go toward lowering the home's final sales price.</p> <p>These are all key facts to learn before you rent-to-own. You don't want too little of your monthly rent going toward a home's final sales price. If it does, you'll barely make a dent in that final sales price.</p> <h2>3. What's an &quot;Option Premium&quot;</h2> <p>After you and the homeowner sign the contract, you'll pay what is known as an option premium. This premium is what gives you the right to purchase the home after the rental period ends. Be aware that this premium is nonrefundable, even if you don't decide to buy the house after your rental period comes to a close. You can expect to pay about 5% of the home's final sales price for your option premium.</p> <h2>4. What Happens to Your Extra Money If You Don't Buy?</h2> <p>If you don't end up buying the home after the rent-to-own period ends, you'll most likely lose the extra money that you paid each month to your landlord. Most landlords will include a provision in their rent-to-own contracts stating that tenants lose the extra rent they send in every month if they pass on their option of purchasing the home.</p> <p>If you're not certain that you will end up buying the home &mdash; and after five years or so of renting a home you might decide that the property or neighborhood is not the right one for you &mdash; be wary of entering a rent-to-own arrangement. You might be throwing away all those extra dollars each month.</p> <h2>5. How Strong Is the Local Real Estate Market?</h2> <p>It pays, too, to study the market in which your rent-to-own home sits. Are housing prices rising in value each year? Or is the market a sluggish one? This is important information to know. What if the home in which you are living loses value during the five years you are renting it? Will you still want to pay that higher final sales price that you negotiated with your landlord?</p> <p>If you signed a contract, you won't have any recourse but to pay more than what the home is worth or to walk away from the deal, meaning that you threw away all that extra rental money you sent your landlord every month.</p> <p>Renters need to be careful, too, when negotiating a home's future sales price. A landlord might ask for a price that is unrealistically high for a specific market.</p> <p>&quot;The landlord will greatly inflate the purchase price of the home when the tenant can buy it,&quot; said Mark Ferguson, founder of Invest Four More in Greeley, Colorado. &quot;The home may be worth $120,000 today, but in a year or two, the price for the tenant will be $140,000 or more. The landlord will justify this because prices always go up. Landlords won't tell you that the average appreciation of homes is 3% to 6% a year, and their price is 20% or 30% higher a year.&quot;</p> <p>It pays to meet with a real estate agent or to study the local housing market on your own. You can never guarantee that a home won't fall in value, but by doing your homework, you can at least increase your odds of renting a property that has a chance to increase in value during the rental period.</p> <p><em>Have you bought a home via rent-to-own? What was the process like for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-need-to-know-when-renting-to-own-a-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-a-30-year-mortgage-is-a-smart-financial-choice">Here&#039;s Why a 30-Year Mortgage Is a Smart Financial Choice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-a-first-time-home-buyer-needs-to-buy-a-house">Everything a First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Buy a House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-home-purchase-in-2010">How to Prepare for a Home Purchase in 2010</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing financing housing market landlords mortgages new homeowners rent to own scams Tue, 12 Jul 2016 09:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1741716 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons to Stay Away From Penny Stocks http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-stay-away-from-penny-stocks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-to-stay-away-from-penny-stocks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/penny_stock_investment_407668.jpg" alt="Learning reasons to stay away from penny stocks" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Penny stocks are inexpensive equities trading for as little as pennies per share. Because they do not meet rigorous financial reporting requirements, you won't find these stocks listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ. Instead, they're traded on the over-the-counter market rather than the stock exchanges where more reputable stocks are found. You've probably heard stories about people getting rich from penny stocks, but consider these reasons to stay away. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-making-the-biggest-investment-risk-of-all" target="_blank">Are You Making the Biggest Investment Risk of All?</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Don't Know What You Are Buying</h2> <p>When I look at buying something that is really cheap, my first question is, &quot;Why is that so inexpensive?&quot; Most penny stock is in companies with few or no assets. It's also hard to know what you are getting, since the financial reporting requirements are less rigorous than for other stocks. Without audited financial reports, it is easy to be misled as an investor and buy stock in a company that is basically worthless.</p> <h2>2. Penny Stocks Can Be Difficult to Sell</h2> <p>A big consideration for any investment is your exit strategy &mdash; how will you get your cash out? Since penny stocks are not traded on stock exchanges, it can be difficult to find a buyer when you want to sell. There are just not that many investors looking for stock in companies with low asset value and less than standard financial documentation.</p> <h2>3. Penny Stock Scams and Fraud</h2> <p>Penny stocks are often associated with scams and &quot;pump and dump&quot; schemes. Some penny stock investors will buy lots of shares of worthless stock, promote it through mass email as the next &quot;hot stock,&quot; and then sell it when the stock price peaks. The stock price then goes back down and everyone who thought they were buying a hot stock is left with a loss and a stock that is hard to sell.</p> <h2>4. Like Day Trading, But Worse</h2> <p>Many people who invest in penny stocks are not investing based on the value of the business, but are trying to make money from the volatility of penny stocks &mdash; buying a stock when the price is moving up, and selling it within a few days before the price goes back down. But you know that trying to time the market is always risky. Doing this with penny stocks is even riskier than with other assets, since limited financial information is available.</p> <h2>5. You Will Likely Lose Money</h2> <p>Since penny stock companies have low asset value, there is significant risk that the company could go bankrupt and leave you with worthless stock. A buy and hold strategy for penny stocks may leave you with zero value instead of growth in the stock price. Even if you don't plan to hold a penny stock for long, you are most likely to notice a penny stock while it is &quot;hot,&quot; meaning you are buying near the peak price and will probably lose money by the time you can sell it.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been burned playing with penny stocks?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-stay-away-from-penny-stocks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/womanhood-microscopic-and-other-hot-stock-tips">Womanhood microscopic and other hot stock tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beginners-guide-to-reading-a-stock-table">Beginner&#039;s Guide to Reading a Stock Table</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-to-make-before-you-start-investing">8 Money Moves to Make Before You Start Investing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-too-much-investment-diversity-can-cost-you">How Too Much Investment Diversity Can Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment day trading fraud losing money over the counter penny stocks scams stock market Mon, 04 Jul 2016 10:00:04 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1743167 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_holding_phone_39165382.jpg" alt="Man learning how to spot a credit repair scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When your credit has taken a significant hit and you need professional assistance, a credit repair company can do wonders for your financial situation. They can help you get your credit back on track and even work to remove errors from your credit report that may be affecting your score. In turn, this can help you more easily qualify for a loan or credit card.</p> <p>However, just as there are people out there who want to help you, there are also people who want to take advantage of your situation for profit. That's why we've provided some of the top signs to help you spot a credit repair scam before you, too, become a victim.</p> <h2>They Ask for Money Upfront</h2> <p>The FTC prohibits agencies from requiring money upfront, before the work is done. Any company that asks for money upfront before providing services is likely trying to get your financial information.</p> <h2>They Provide a New SSN or EIN</h2> <p>Credit repair companies may require your Social Security number. What is <em>not</em> necessary is an employer identification number. If the company requires you to apply for a new employer identification number, this is a good indication that they may be scamming you.</p> <p>Some companies may also provide you with a new Social Security number and suggest that you apply for credit using that new number. This is illegal and you are likely using a stolen Social Security number (often from a child), so you should report the company immediately, before you are involved in an identity theft scheme. Often, the agency will claim that they can provide you with a &quot;<a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0225-credit-repair-scams">new credit identity</a>&quot; using this method, which is a red flag.</p> <h2>They Encourage You to Lie</h2> <p>If the company encourages you to misrepresent yourself, this is a huge red flag. For instance, according to Credit.com, some agencies may encourage you to sign an identity theft affidavit, even if you weren't a victim of identity theft. By misrepresenting yourself, you are only putting yourself in danger.</p> <h2>They Make Lofty Promises</h2> <p>Any information that is correct on your credit report will stay there. This means that accurate reporting like bankruptcy, judgments, and liens will remain on your credit report. A company shouldn't promise to have them removed. If they make these types of impossible promises, they are likely running a scam. If they have aggressive advertising that makes promises in regards to the results they can achieve or how much your credit will recover, then you should steer clear.</p> <h2>They Discourage You From Taking Actions</h2> <p>If they discourage you from contacting any of the three national credit reporting companies directly, run the other way. If they don't inform you of your legal rights and what you can do for free to repair your credit on your own, then they aren't a trustworthy organization.</p> <h2>They Can't Explain Their Services</h2> <p>The agency you are working with should be able to clearly explain in detail what the services are that they'll be providing. If they simply make a claim as to the results they will achieve, or how long it would take them to achieve those results, then you never know what you're getting into. For instance, if they guarantee you will see results in 48 hours, you should know that nobody can make these claims confidently, so they can't be trusted.</p> <h2>They Don't Provide a Clear Contract</h2> <p>A reputable agency is required to provide a contract that clearly describes the services being offered and the total cost of services. It should also clearly state the name and business address of the agency.</p> <p>You have <a href="http://www.bbb.org/blog/2015/06/dont-fall-for-credit-repair-scams/">the right to cancel</a> the contract within three days without incurring any fees, thanks to the Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law. You should also be provided with a copy of these Consumer Credit File Rights upfront. If the company fails to inform you of these rights, run the other way.</p> <h2>They Don't Care About Your Story</h2> <p>Any reputable agency will want to know about your credit history, what the issues are, and what your credit reports look like before discussing their services. If they don't care to know your backstory and start making promises right off the bat, this is a warning sign.</p> <h2>They Ask You to Waive Your Rights</h2> <p>You have rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If the company asks you to waive these legal rights, then you should steer clear.</p> <h2>You Can Do It Yourself</h2> <p>There are certain effective steps you can take on your own to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-secured-credit-card-can-repair-your-credit-score-heres-how-to-pick-the-best?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">improve your credit score</a>. Taking these steps on your own will require some time and effort, but won't cost you anything.</p> <p>If you decide to work with certain credit repair companies, consider first looking them up on the <a href="http://www.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau (BBB)</a>, <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov">Federal Trade Commission</a>, and your <a href="http://www.naag.org/">state attorney general's office</a> to find out if there are any outstanding complaints against them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a>)</p> <p><em>Do you have any experiences with credit repair companies? Were you the victim of a credit repair scam? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-credit-repair-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-when-you-suspect-a-scam">What to Do When You Suspect a Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-must-freeze-your-credit-report">5 Times You Must Freeze Your Credit Report</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-a-digital-camera-online-until-you-read-this">DO NOT buy a digital camera online until you read this.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/scams-what-the-ftc-wants-you-to-know">Scams: What the FTC Wants You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-is-it-okay-to-share-your-social-security-number">When Is It Okay to Share Your Social Security Number?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance BBB credit repair federal trade commission fraud identity theft scams schemes social security number Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:30:28 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1725701 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: How to Avoid Common Travel Scams http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-avoid-common-travel-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-how-to-avoid-common-travel-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/unhappy_travelers_000020679508.jpg" alt="Couple trying to avoid common travel scams" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on common travel scams and how to avoid them, what it really costs when you dine out at work, and ways to increase your miles per gallon.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/0614/Four-common-travel-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them">Four common travel scams and how to avoid them</a> &mdash; Don't buy your bus or train tickets from people hawking them on the street; they're likely fake. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.cleverdude.com/content/the-real-cost-of-eating-out-during-the-work-week/">The Real Cost Of Eating Out During The Work Week</a> &mdash; Taking a lunch to work allows you to finish up last night's leftovers, and it saves you time, too! [Clever Dude]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thefrugaltoad.com/household/increase-mpg">How to Increase Your MPG</a> &mdash; Make sure your gas cap is undamaged. If you hear a hissing sound when you remove your gas cap, it means that your tank is properly sealed. [The Frugal Toad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneyspruce.com/avoid-the-5-biggest-career-mistakes/">Avoid the 5 Biggest Career Mistakes</a> &mdash; If you don't let your superiors know when you're doing something above and beyond your assigned duties, they may not realize what a great job you've been doing. [Money Spruce]</p> <p><a href="http://www.shebudgets.com/lifestyle/fashion/10-ways-fashion-designers-will-try-rip-off/59406">10 Ways Fashion Designers Will Try and Rip You Off</a> &mdash; Designer pieces come with designer prices, but sometimes the quality of the materials are not worth the cost. [SheBudgets]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2015/06/12/7-financial-habits-to-start-in-your-20s/">7 Financial Habits to Start in Your 20&rsquo;s</a> &mdash; It's important to live frugally, but some items are worth the higher price if the better quality means you won't have to pay double for a replacement. [Living Well Spending Less]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/5-ways-to-surprise-dad-this-fathers-day">5 Ways to Surprise Dad This Father's Day</a> &mdash; Plan the day around dad's favorites &mdash; think foods, places, and activities! [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Questions-Ask-Declutter-34352100">8 Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Declutter</a> &mdash; Be honest. Do you have a concrete plan to use an item? [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/keeping-up-with-the-joneses-is-easy-because-being-different-is-hard/">Keeping Up With the Joneses is Easy Because Being Different is Hard</a> &mdash; It's easy to fit in with a group if you go along with their definition of normal. Going against the grain, even if it's good for you, might isolate you socially. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="http://blog.readyforzero.com/3-surefire-ways-set-day-financial-success/">3 Surefire Ways To Set Up Your Day for Financial Success</a> &mdash; Challenge yourself to at least one no-spend day a week! [ReadyForZero]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-how-to-avoid-common-travel-scams">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">5 Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-travel-destinations-for-people-who-hate-crowds">10 Travel Destinations for People Who Hate Crowds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">5 Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/24-train-hacks-from-an-amtrak-veteran">24 Train Hacks From an Amtrak Veteran</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-fall-getaways-you-can-start-packing-for-now">10 Frugal Fall Getaways You Can Start Packing For Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel best money tips scams Tue, 16 Jun 2015 19:00:17 +0000 Amy Lu 1459321 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/for_rent_sign_000018543162.jpg" alt="Man learning how to apartment hunt on craigslist without getting scammed" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Using Craigslist to find an apartment is not a novel idea. As a matter of fact, it's by far the most popular way for prospective renters to find a new place. But it doesn't come without its drawbacks, the biggest being fraud and scams designed to separate you from your hard-earned money. Here are a few of the biggest scams currently going and some tips on how to protect yourself from them.</p> <h2>1. Always Verify the Owner</h2> <p>One of the most popular <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">Craigslist scams</a> these days involves a crook gaining access to the apartment or home, and showing it to you under the guise of being the real landlord or owner. To sweeten the pot, and get you to bite, they might even offer a deal on the deposit, or pick up some of the fees. As you can imagine, this has the potential of ending badly with you losing significant money. They'll end up taking your first month's rent and security deposit and you'll never see them &mdash; or your money &mdash; again.</p> <p>When looking at Craigslist listings, always make sure you verify the owner of the apartment or home. Most counties and cities have websites in place that allow you to look up public records to determine the real owner of the property. If this is not a possibility, drive by the property and look for signs showing that it's actually for rent. Be sure to call the phone number listed at the physical address and verify the owner, as well.</p> <h2>2. If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is</h2> <p>When scanning through Craigslist listings, be cautious of apartments that seem too good to be true, as they probably are. Often these listings are fake and designed to pull you in with the lure of a &quot;fantastic deal.&quot; Also, if a listing sounds terrific, but is chock full of misspellings and bad grammar, proceed with extreme caution as it could be a sign of a fraudulent or fake ad.</p> <p>Do some research ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the local housing market and the going rents and fees. Do this by scanning local classified ads and utilizing websites like <a href="http://hotpads.com/">Hotpads</a> and <a href="https://livelovely.com/">Lovely</a>. Once you do this, you'll be able to easily spot red flags like unusually cheap rent, small security deposits, and lack of tenant screening.</p> <h2>3. Never Give Personal Information Upfront</h2> <p>Another way scammers use Craigslist to try and entice potential victims is by convincing you it's a really hot property, typically via e-mail, and insisting you &quot;act fast&quot; to reserve it. The most typical scam is asking you to submit a rental application before you view the property. This is done in an effort to get your personal information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers.</p> <p>Avoid this situation by always making sure you view the unit and verify the owner <em>before</em> you fill out a rental application. The only thing that a landlord can legally ask you for prior to showing the place is a valid photo ID.</p> <h2>4. Never Trust an E-mail</h2> <p>Unfortunately, scammers are&nbsp;<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/story?section=news/consumer&amp;id=9513869">hacking into the e-mail addresses</a> of landlords and property owners on Craigslist and defrauding prospective tenants by posing as the real owners. The scam typically starts by answering your e-mail inquiry with a hard sell on why they need your personal information (or a deposit) before showing you the place. Because of this, it's always smart to talk to a real person to verify the property. Most scammers don't want to talk to you on the phone and will try to get your money without doing so. If the listing has a phone number, call it, and verify the rental and all the ad details. If all of your phone calls go unanswered, and unreturned, you should move on to the next prospective listing.</p> <h2>5. Never Wire Money</h2> <p>If a landlord or property owner insists on you wiring money to secure a property, it's probably a scam. There is absolutely no solid reasoning to ever pay with a wire transfer. Sending money by wire transfer is essentially the same thing as sending cash and once it has been sent, it's nearly impossible to get it back.</p> <h2>6. Beware of the Middleman Scam</h2> <p>The &quot;<a href="http://info.stevebrownapts.com/blog/bid/292049/9-Ways-to-Avoid-Apartment-Rental-Scams">middleman scam</a>&quot; is when a scammer pretends a property is available for rent on Craigslist and claims to be handling, or managing, the place for the &quot;real&quot; owners. They'll often claim the owner is out of the country and has trusted the place to them. This middleman will attempt to collect rent, a security deposit, and various fees and then will quickly disappear with your money. Typically, they'll use photos and property information copied directly from a real estate website and create a completely fake listing on Craigslist. Avoid this scam by insisting on seeing the property first and verifying that the place is actually for rent by talking directly to the landlord or neighbors.</p> <p>The bottom line is to always trust your gut instinct, especially in terms of the professionalism of the Craigslist listing and the ease (or lack thereof) of reaching the property owner directly. If something about the deal just doesn't seem right, then move on to the next apartment or rental home and avoid the strong potential for a scam. There will always be plenty of legit listings to meet your needs.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been the victim of a Craigslist housing scam? If so, how did it go down?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-decide-how-much-rent-you-can-really-afford">The Simple Way to Decide How Much Rent You Can Really Afford</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-landlords-cant-ask">10 Questions Landlords Can&#039;t Ask</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing apartments craigslist renting scams Wed, 27 May 2015 15:00:09 +0000 Kyle James 1431269 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Job Offers That Are Too Good to Be True http://www.wisebread.com/8-job-offers-that-are-too-good-to-be-true <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-job-offers-that-are-too-good-to-be-true" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/job_offer_000020361617.jpg" alt="Man accepting job offer that&#039;s too good to be true" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>These days, any job offer is one worth considering. Although the <a href="http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000">unemployment rate</a> is under 6%, the <a href="http://www.uticaod.com/article/20150310/News/150309315">median household income</a> in the U.S. actually peaked over 15 years ago. That means in real terms, the average family was better off in 2000 than it is today. So when a new job offer comes to the table, it's always worth taking a look at.</p> <p>However, some of these job offers can be fool's gold. On the surface, they look great. They seem to have everything you'd ever want. But sadly, the grass is always greener until you actually take the job, and see what life is like on the other side. Here are eight job offers that are often too good to be true.</p> <h2>1. Heading Up an Ailing Department</h2> <p>Sales have been low. Performance is down. Customer complaints are at an all time high. The company looks to you to save the day. Now, you're going to head up a department that has more than its fair share of troubles, and you will be the hero who saved the day. Or will you?</p> <p>The problem with this kind of job, whether it's an internal promotion or an external hire, is that it's all risk and very little reward. Say you do work day and night to fix all of the problems; will the company reward you with anything more than a thank you? Will they even acknowledge the part you played?</p> <p>With ailing departments, the problems are usually systemic and ingrained. The chances of you fixing anything in a reasonable amount of time, without requesting sweeping and disruptive changes, are slim to none. You are going to be very unpopular, and are basically accepting the job of &quot;fall guy.&quot; Do you really want that? Think back to all the sports managers who came in to turn around the success of the team. Most don't even come close.</p> <h2>2. Well-Paid Dead End</h2> <p>The good news is, you're getting more money. The bad news&hellip;it's a job no-one else wants &mdash; and with good reason. Dead-end jobs are often disguised as great opportunities, but if you look closely, the signs are there. How long has the job posting been up? Months? Years!? How many times has someone left the role in the last few years? What kind of daily work will you be doing? And most important of all, where does the job lead?</p> <p>Dead-end jobs are the top rung of a ladder you do not want to climb. The only way out is to go to the bottom of another ladder, and that will mean a significant reduction in pay and benefits. Once you've got used to the money, it will be hard to step away.</p> <h2>3. Work-at-Home Job</h2> <p>Is it possible to make a lot of money working from home? Absolutely. However, the vast majority of people who become successful spend a lot of their own time and money making it work and grow. And most importantly, they start the business themselves. If you see a <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2011/12/13/16-work-at-home-scams-to-avoid/">work-from-home ad</a> online stating that you can make six, or even seven figures every year just by mailing a few envelopes or making a few calls, it's purely for suckers.</p> <p>These jobs will lure you in with big profits and testimonials, but there is always a catch &mdash; you have to put some money into the business up-front, and then you'll see the profits roll in. No, you won't. You're only going to make someone else rich. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-worst-work-from-home-jobs?ref=seealso">The 5 Worst Work-From-Home Jobs</a>)</p> <h2>4. Big Promotion to Upper Management</h2> <p>This is it; the offer you've been waiting for. Finally, you get the chance to rub shoulders with the decision makers, and earn the kind of salary you always dreamed of. But not so fast; before you accept the job, look carefully at the position, the hours, the workload, and the stress that may be involved. You could soon find that the extra money is not worth all the extra hours, and additional pressure. In fact, your hourly rate may actually go down when you go from 40 hours per week to 70.</p> <p>Not only that, but when it comes time to trim down the workforce (which sadly happens annually at many companies), you could now be directly in the line of fire. You earn more, but you don't yet have the experience and expertise that comes with time served in that role. Suddenly, that job offer is looking more and more like a promotion to Stress City.</p> <h2>5. Job With Everything &mdash; Except Money</h2> <p>So many people in my industry &mdash; advertising &mdash; get suckered into this one. But it can apply to a vast array of professions. The basic premise is this; you are offered the world on a plate. It's a great company, with awesome people, in a very desirable part of the city. You can walk to work, it's so close. You get to actually have fun at work, and how many people can say that? There's only one tiny drawback&hellip;the salary is horrendous. You'd actually be taking a huge pay cut to get the job, and the chances of making any decent money in the next few years, well, they're slim to none.</p> <p>I have done this. I went from a great paying job with average prospects, to a very poorly-paid job with great prospects. If you did it early on in your career, it can work. Later on, you may find yourself struggling to pay bills and eat, and then you will resent the job that had everything.</p> <h2>6. X-Rated Promotion</h2> <p>This one comes from a good friend of mine (who shall remain nameless, obviously). Several years ago, he was working as a web designer in real estate when a client approached him with a better offer. He said &quot;Come and work for my new business, it's the same hours for a lot more money, and you could really make a name for yourself.&quot; He figured it was real estate, but was surprised to learn that it was creating websites for adult entertainment stars. Even though he knew it could be a black mark on his resume, he took the job. With that industry, once you're in, it's hard to come back into the clean-cut world. He was there for years, and had to take a job with much lower pay to get out. He regrets it to this day.</p> <h2>7. Morally Questionable Endeavor</h2> <p>There is no getting around this; if you take a job with great pay and benefits, but know deep down it is something you don't agree with, you're in big trouble. I experienced it personally when I was offered a cigarette account in my first advertising job. I took it, knowing it would lead to bigger and better things; and to be fair, it did. But the whole time I was working on the account, which was advertising cigarettes to poor people in India, I felt hollow. Don't talk yourself into a seemingly better job if it is going to conflict with who you are as a person. The money may be better, the hours may be shorter, the travel may be insane. However, if you can't look yourself in the mirror when you get home, it's just not worth it.</p> <h2>8. High Turnover Opportunity</h2> <p>Do you have a certain place of business near you that is always changing hands? First it was a pizzeria, then a donut shop, and then a barber's. Now, after a brief stint as a Mexican restaurant, it has become a nail salon. And you know it won't be long before it changes again.</p> <p>For some reason, some locations just never find success. It can also be the same with certain jobs. If you are being offered a lot more money, and benefits, to take a job that five other people have had before you in the space of six years, then you know something is very wrong. Sure, maybe you'll be the one to finally make things right. But more often than not, you'll be interviewing for your replacement soon enough.</p> <p><em>Have you ever taken a job offer only to regret it later?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-job-offers-that-are-too-good-to-be-true">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-never-to-bring-up-in-a-job-interview">5 Things Never to Bring Up in a Job Interview</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-really-make-a-living-in-the-gig-economy">Can You Really Make a Living in the Gig Economy?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-a-legit-virtual-assistant-job">How to Find a Legit Virtual Assistant Job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-youre-working-for-an-impossible-boss">7 Signs You&#039;re Working for an Impossible Boss</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-low-key-jobs-for-people-who-hate-stress">5 Low Key Jobs for People Who Hate Stress</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting business employment job offers scams work Mon, 06 Apr 2015 09:00:07 +0000 Paul Michael 1367860 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Warranties That Aren't Worth It http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_000019329937.jpg" alt="Woman shopping and learning which warranties aren&#039;t worth it" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us believe that it's better to be safe than sorry.</p> <p>However, when it comes to buying warranties, you may be acting on emotion. It's time to step back and take a closer look at those extended warranties &mdash; your extra peace of mind may be coming with a hidden high cost. Here are four warranties that aren't worth it.</p> <h2>1. Warranties That Are Too Expensive</h2> <p>According to the Service Contract Industry Council, most <a href="http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/consumer-tips/2014/12/be-in-the-know-before-buying-extended-warranties/">extended warranty costs</a> are 10% to 20% of the sales price. Anything above that 20% benchmark may be too much, particularly for small ticket items. For example, a $20 extended warranty on a $55 panini press is a waste of money.</p> <p>On the other hand, buying a $150 warranty on a $2,000 computer is a more sensible purchase. Not only is that warranty just 7.5% of the total price, but it'd also cover the high cost of replacing parts.</p> <h2>2. Warranties Shorter Than Those From Your Credit Card</h2> <p>There is no need to pay twice for coverage that you may already have. As long as you complete the entire purchase on a single credit card, most major credit card companies will extend the original manufacturer's warranty up to one additional year.</p> <p>Review the fine print on your credit card's extended warranty for other applicable limits, such as the maximum purchase price and maximum dollar value of claims within the same year. As long as you're aware of applicable exclusions and requirements, having a credit card with an excellent extended warranty can be a lifesaver. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-advantage-of-free-extended-warranty-from-your-credit-card-issuer?ref=seealso">How to Take Advantage of the Free Extended Warranty From Your Credit Card Issuer</a>)</p> <h2>3. Warranties for Products With Low Repair Rates</h2> <p>Some people claim that things aren't built to last anymore. However, surveys from Consumer Reports seem to indicate that it may all just be in our heads. The <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm">repair rates</a> for several items are going down.</p> <ul> <li>Laptops had a repair rate of 36% in 2010, and 24% in 2013.</li> <li>LCD TVs had a repair rate of 15% in 2010, and 7% in 2013.</li> <li>Dishwashers already had a <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/warranties.asp">low repair rate</a> of 13% back in 2004.</li> </ul> <p>Consumer Reports found that appliances usually don't break during the extended warranty period. Even when breakdowns occur, the median cost of a repair ($152) isn't that much more than the median price of a warranty ($136).</p> <p>A great alternative to extended warranties for products with low repair rates is to put the money you would have spent on the warranty in a savings account, instead. By &quot;self-insuring,&quot; you're keeping the money and gaining interest on your rainy day fund.</p> <h2>4. Unsolicited Car Warranties</h2> <p>There are warranties that aren't worth the money, and then there are warranty scams.</p> <p>For several decades, the FCC has been warning consumers about <a href="http://www.fcc.gov/guides/auto-warranty-scams">auto warranty scams</a>. Malicious companies prey on consumers whose auto warranties are about to expire &mdash; or in some cases, they may not even be close to expiration. Back in 2008, the Better Business Bureau received more than <a href="http://www.bbb.org/central-illinois/migration/other-news/2009/02/bbb-warns-deceptive-auto-warranty-solicitations-plague-consumers-nationwide/">140,000 consumer calls</a> to confirm the legitimacy of companies claiming to sell auto warranties.</p> <p>For example, in the year that the basic warranty of my 2012 Volkswagen Passat was set to expire, I started receiving unsolicited mail with warnings in big, bold letters; &quot;Final Notice: Expiring Auto Warranty.&quot; After ignoring a couple of these mailers, additional ones started pouring in with labels such as &quot;<a href="http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/28440855-e863-431f-9e60-c46e13226298/Warranty-mailer.aspx">2nd Attempt</a>,&quot; &quot;Time Sensitive,&quot; or &quot;<a href="http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/9c4deb4f-8f10-4206-bd5b-2ab75bf70bcc/Warranty-Mailer-2.aspx">Vehicle Alert Notice</a>.&quot; Then, the calls started coming in every single week. It was all from unscrupulous car warranty salespeople.</p> <p>Don't cave in to the pressure and protect yourself against potential car warranty fraud:</p> <ul> <li>Don't provide any personal or financial information over the phone to unsolicited telemarketers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Resist high-pressure pitches from salespeople or mailers that urge you to act now. Those &quot;final deadlines&quot; extend for several months over and over.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>These car warranties rarely pay claims. The BBB reports that <a href="http://stlouis.bbb.org/storage/142/documents/vehicleservicecontractstudy2011.pdf">93% of vehicle service claims</a> are denied under these warranties.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Never agree to any contract without having a physical copy of the contract and an appropriate timeframe to review the fine print.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A major red flag is the requirement of a down payment to view a contract. Don't agree to pay over the phone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Search online for the name of the company offering the auto warranty (such as <a href="http://www.ncdoj.com/getdoc/221259f6-b0a2-40aa-801c-f76835f31be2/AG-Cooper-gives-auto-warranty-sellers-the-boot.aspx">U.S. Fidelis</a>), since some of those companies are often in trouble with the law. Or, check the company with your <a href="http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/">state and local consumer agencies</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>File a complaint with the FCC by visiting <a href="http://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov">consumercomplaints.fcc.gov</a>, calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322), or writing to Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Place your phone number on the <a href="http://www.donotcall.gov">National Do Not Call Registry</a>.</li> </ul> <p><em>What are some warranties that you wished you never paid for?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-brands-with-the-best-warranties">6 Brands With the Best Warranties</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-purchases-with-financing-options-that-depreciate-fast">4 Purchases With Financing Options That Depreciate Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim">The Gift Card Scam of 2011: Don’t Be a Victim</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-home-buys-you-should-never-skimp-on">8 Home Buys You Should Never Skimp On</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping appliances Cars electronics repairs scams warranties Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:00:11 +0000 Damian Davila 1360904 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Types of Bargains You Should Skip http://www.wisebread.com/10-types-of-bargains-you-should-skip <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-types-of-bargains-you-should-skip" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/going-out-of-business-sale-111946185-small.jpg" alt="going out of business sale" title="going out of business sale" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I love a good bargain. If you're reading Wise Bread, I'm sure you do as well. However, some bargains are more like a wolf in sheep's clothing. They appear to be deals on the surface, but when you really look at them you realize they're either ploys to make you spend more, or they're a complete waste of money altogether. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-ripped-off-by-one-of-these-8-unnecessary-services?ref=seealso">Are You Getting Ripped Off by One of These Unnecessary Services?</a>)</p> <p>Here are 10 such &quot;bargains&quot; that should give you cause for concern.</p> <h2>1. Going-Out-Of-Business Sales</h2> <p>Take care these aren't run by a liquidation firm that is trying to get as much money as possible for the products. You'll find products marked down that are actually marked up from the original selling price, but are now being compared to a Suggested Retail Price.</p> <p>Investigators at ABC news found on &quot;product after product we could peel back the surface price tags to reveal the old prices below. For example, the surface price tag on a Calphalon saucepan said $124.99. But the one underneath said $109.99. Rachael Ray cookware? $199 on the new label, $179 on the old. The tag on a curtain scarf said $39.99 on the top, but peel it back carefully and there was another price tag for $27.99 below.&quot;</p> <p>In some cities, stores have been &quot;going out of business&quot; for years. Even when Blockbuster went out of business, the prices they were charging for used DVDs were comparable to the prices of new DVDs online.</p> <h2>2. Really Cheap Footwear</h2> <p>They may look decent enough, but your feet deserve good support, and any shoe or sneaker under $20 is going to have some major quality issues. A lot of these shoes are made in very undesirable places by impoverished laborers, and the emphasis is always about making the cheapest product possible. Not only will they give you back problems and cause blisters and other foot maladies, they'll also disintegrate within a few months of wear.</p> <p>Unless it's a genuine quality shoe that was marked down by 80%-90%, you should avoid cheap footwear at all costs.</p> <h2>3. Zero-Interest Financing</h2> <p>There's a caveat to this one. If you are someone who is meticulous about paying bills, and know with absolute certainty that you'll never miss a payment, you should consider it. Otherwise, don't bother. Free credit comes with a ball and chain of legal documentation that is designed to jump on you should you miss a single payment, or not pay off the loan in full within a certain time frame. The interest is calculated throughout the life of the loan, often at an exorbitant rate (think 25% and greater) and it's <em>all</em> added on if you make one mistake. Zero-interest financing can be great for a select few, but for others, it can be a nightmare.</p> <h2>4. Doorbusters</h2> <p>Black Friday is coming, and you'll see adverts and flyers advertising insane &quot;doorbusters&quot; deals. Just be careful with these, and do your research. Doorbusters items are often old models that the store wants to dump, or are not even bargains at all. The Wall Street Journal found that many of these <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324851704578133530559716180">doorbusters were available at lower prices</a> at other times that year, and pricing research firm Decide Inc. found that &quot;nearly one-third of the products had been sold at lower prices this year.&quot; It may say doorbuster, but it doesn't mean it's a deal.</p> <h2>5. Many BOGO Offers</h2> <p>BOGO used to mean Buy One, Get One free. Now it means anything from Buy One, Get One 50% off, to Buy Ten, Get One free (which is technically BTGO). The BOGO offers can be great money savers, <em>if</em> you want two or more of anything you're setting out to buy. But they are often designed to coax you into buying more of a product than you really want; and often, more of a product that the store is trying to get rid of. Just remember to average out the cost of the product, and if you can use all of it (especially if it's a perishable).</p> <h2>6. Floor Models</h2> <p>Stores like Best Buy will often let you buy floor models at reduced prices, but beware. First, you have no idea how long the floor model was actually on display. This is not a big deal for a dishwasher or fridge because they aren't in use. But for HDTVs, Blu-ray players, laptops, and other electronics, it's significant. You can ask an employee, but usually they don't know. Being on for 18 hours a day is wearing out the life of the product, and you don't want to take that risk. You also have to consider factory warranties, any missing accessories, and return policies. Then, look at the price of a new product (it may be on sale), or one that is &quot;open box.&quot; The latter is a much better deal as it will be a reduced price for something that's simply missing its packaging. Floor models are often too big of a risk, despite the hefty discount.</p> <h2>7. Extended Warranties</h2> <p>Also called service plans, these are sold to you as a bargain. &quot;It's just an extra $50 to cover your product for three years,&quot; says the store clerk as you're checking out with a $200 printer. Well, it's $50 you don't need to spend, and it adds a significant cost to the item you're buying. <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/extended-warranties/buying-guide.htm">Consumer Reports says</a>, &quot;Our data show that products usually don't break during the two-to-three-year period after the manufacturer's warranty expires and the service plan is in effect.&quot; To put it bluntly, you're paying for something that won't be needed until it's expired. Don't bother. It will be money down the drain.</p> <h2>8. Interest Checking Accounts</h2> <p>Banks want you to skip the free checking and earn interest on your money. But it is often just a way to get you paying a monthly fee for a return that's almost insignificant. You will often need to keep a minimum balance in that account to earn a paltry rate of return, and when you look at the statements every month you'll see your banking fees are greater than what you're getting back. Unless you've got a <em>ton</em> of money in a regular free checking account (which is unlikely), you should stick to traditional free checking.</p> <h2>9. Rental Car Insurance</h2> <p>It may sound cheap enough at the counter when you're signing the paperwork; especially when you compare it to the hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars you may have to spend should someone even ding the car while it's in your possession. But the truth is, most people don't need it. Your current car insurance policy will usually extend to a rental car. If you pay with a credit card, it will almost certainly offer rental car coverage in the transaction. The sales clerk will scare you with bug numbers and what-if scenarios, but seriously, skip the &quot;bargain&quot; that's &quot;just a few extra bucks for a lot of protection.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Overdraft Protection</h2> <p>Federal law now states that you have to opt in to overdraft protection (it used to be an opt out clause) but you really need to stay away from it.</p> <p>The pros of overdraft protection are weak to say the least. Sure, you won't have your card declined at the register, or be humiliated in a restaurant. But to be honest, you really should have a better handle on your money to avoid that ever happening anyway.</p> <p>The cons? They're huge. A simple $4 cup of coffee can cost you $35 in overdraft protection fees. In fact, a study by Moebs found that &quot;the average customer who took out a $100 loan from a payday lender paid about $17.97 in interest and fees, compared to the <a href="http://www.moebs.com/Pressreleases/tabid/58/ctl/Details/mid/380/ItemID/169/Default.aspx">$27 average for overdraft fees</a>.&quot; When something is looking bad next to a payday loan, you know it's awful! See if you can link your checking to your savings account. It's your money you're using, not the bank's.</p> <p><em>Know of any other bargains we should just skip? Please warn us in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-types-of-bargains-you-should-skip">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-a-digital-camera-online-until-you-read-this">DO NOT buy a digital camera online until you read this.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-non-members-can-get-at-costco-including-cheap-eye-exams">7 Things Non-Members Can Get at Costco (Including Cheap Eye Exams!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-ways-to-save-money-on-clothes">101 Ways to Save Money on Clothes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-you-should-buy-at-costco">15 Things You Should Buy at Costco</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping bad deals bargains over priced ripoffs scams Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:00:13 +0000 Paul Michael 1241337 at http://www.wisebread.com The World's 4 Biggest Credit Card Scams http://www.wisebread.com/the-worlds-4-biggest-credit-card-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-worlds-4-biggest-credit-card-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit-card-scanner-492297013-small.jpg" alt="credit card scanner" title="credit card scanner" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You know that you need to keep your credit cards close and keep an even closer eye on your statements, lest you fall victim to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-card-fraud-and-how-to-avoid-it?ref=inarticle">credit card fraud</a>. But how do credit card scams really happen? Here's a look at some of the biggest card heists, and how they went down. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-2014s-most-common-new-scams?ref=seealso">Don't Be Fooled by 2014's Most Common New Scams</a>)</p> <h2>1. Fake Payment Terminals</h2> <p>In England in 2008, computer science student <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2008/10/29/men-jailed-for-16m-fake-credit-card-factory-81691/">Anup Patel</a> and an accomplice could have caused more than $27 million in losses to banks when they stole some 19,000 credit card numbers through gas station credit card terminals, and set up a home credit card factory to put those numbers on new, working cards.</p> <p>Devices known as skimmers, attached to a credit card scanner or ATM machine and painted to blend in, are a common way for thieves to collect card information. The pair also set up hidden cameras, in order to capture information consumers typed in, such as PINs or other identifying data.</p> <p>In this case, the scammers pocketed about $3.5 million &mdash; before they landed in prison.</p> <h2>2. Employee-Operated Skimmers</h2> <p>Sort of like the above example, but with more sleight of hand, is the technique of double scanning a credit card in a restaurant or retail establishment. A waiter or waitress can slide your card through the restaurant terminal to apply legitimate charges, then slide it through another scanner in an apron pocket to collect data for future fraud. The irony here is that you will probably tip the person who just robbed you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-dining-out?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for Dining Out</a>)</p> <p>In 2011, the <a href="http://www.usfoods.com/your-business/cost-control/archive/beware-of-credit-card-skimming.html">Secret Service busted a 28-person ring</a> who worked at steakhouses, targeting high-limit cards, and ran up $1 million in charges at luxury stores before getting caught.</p> <h2>3. Hackers</h2> <p>The largest thefts of credit card information hit the stores directly, not individual customers. Hackers sneak software onto the store's credit card processing computers, or break into databases where customer information is stored, accessing millions of card numbers at a time. Fortunately, the merchants and credit card companies involved typically cover any losses to consumers in these incidents.</p> <h3>TJX Companies: More Than 45 Million Card Numbers Stolen</h3> <p>With a <a href="http://www.securityfocus.com/news/11455">security hole that gaped open from 2005 through 2007</a>, the owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and other stores admitted that it would probably never know the full extent of customer information stolen from it. Because the breach had been going on so long before the company warned cardholders, lots of fraud was perpetrated using the stolen information, including $8 million in merchandise theft by one gift card fraud ring in Florida alone.</p> <h3>Target: 40 Million Card Numbers Stolen</h3> <p>Target advertised hard in the run-up to 2013's Black Friday, and was rewarded by millions of shoppers pouring through store doors. Unfortunately, many of those shoppers later found out their credit card information had been stolen when they swiped their cards at Target's registers. The culprit was a simple piece of malware installed on a company computer that managed to spread itself to every register of every store, and siphon up customer data as they swiped their cards. Target promised that customers would lose no money due to the breach, but Target lost big time, with a <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-13/target-missed-alarms-in-epic-hack-of-credit-card-data">46% decline in sales and a $61 million recovery bill</a>.</p> <p>It also cost CEO Gregg Steinhafel his job.</p> <h3>CardSystems Solutions: 40 Million Card Numbers Stolen</h3> <p>A <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2005/06/17/news/master_card/">virus installed on computers of this third-party Mastercard and Visa transaction processor</a> in 2005 resulted in the compromise of 40 million customers' card numbers, in an incident that first awakened many consumers and credit card industry insiders to the very real danger of cybercrime. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/keep-your-credit-card-safe-while-shopping-online?ref=seealso">Keep Your Credit Card Safe While Shopping Online</a>)</p> <h2>4. Credit Cards Created for Fake or Stolen Identities</h2> <p>If a thief steals your credit card number and starts running up charges, chances are you'll notice the illicit charges on your card statement and put a stop to it. But crooks who manage to take out new credit accounts in real or fictitious names can get away with running up more bills for longer.</p> <p>In 2013, <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/newark/press-releases/2013/four-plead-guilty-in-200-million-international-credit-card-fraud-conspiracy">four conspirators were charged</a> in Trenton, NJ with setting up an elaborate network of fake identities to borrow more than $200 million. The victims here were mainly credit card companies and businesses, since many of the 7,000 false identities under which they set up credit accounts were fictional. They managed to create good credit profiles for their fictional identities by setting up shell businesses and reporting paid-off loans in the straw borrowers' names.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud? How did you find out?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-worlds-4-biggest-credit-card-scams">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-scams-and-cons-that-could-clean-you-out">The scams and cons that could clean you out.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-sneaky-ways-identity-thieves-can-access-your-data">3 Sneaky Ways Identity Thieves Can Access Your Data</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything">Top Seven Reasons Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-smartphone-apps-that-manage-and-maximize-your-credit-card-rewards">3 Smartphone Apps That Manage and Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit cards credit theft crime identity theft scams Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1203754 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Be Fooled by 2014's Most Common New Scams http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-2014s-most-common-new-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-be-fooled-by-2014s-most-common-new-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/scam-184760721-small.jpg" alt="phone scam" title="phone scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Scams will never go away. From medieval England to modern day America, people will always try to find ways to get money the easy way. These scammers are still relying on methods that have worked for centuries, but there are updated scams that you should always be on the lookout for. So, acquaint yourself with these current scams and cons (some will be new, while others will sound very familiar). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for?ref=seealso">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a>)</p> <h2>Vishing (AKA, The &quot;No Hang Up&quot; Scam)</h2> <p>Leading the charge in 2014 is a dastardly scam that is relatively new, but very effective if you don't have your guard up. The scammer will call pretending to be someone from the police department, or your bank, or credit card issuer. They will inform you that your card has been compromised in some way, and advise you to call the bank in question. This preys on the belief that you should always call your bank or financial institution, and not the other way around. The clever part about this scam is that the original caller stays on the line with you, in a three-way conversation, and hears everything you tell your bank. The best way to avoid this is to simply hang up the phone and start a new call. If you have been compromised, you will soon find out. If you haven't, you'll know someone was trying to con you.</p> <h2>The &quot;One Ring&quot; Cell Phone Scam</h2> <p>This is a very simple scam, and those are usually the most effective. The crooks simply <a href="http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/24909781/consumer-alert-one-ring-cell-phone-call-scam">call your number once and hang up</a>. You will check your cell phone to see that you have a missed call, and curiosity may just get the better of you. But when you call, the number will be from an area code that is not from the US (although it looks like it). Instead, it will be to a place like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, or Grenada. It may even be to an adult sex line. Before you realize what's going on, you've been charged $19.95 to connect, and $9 per minute. A piece of software like <a href="http://www.truecaller.com/">Truecaller</a> can help you, but if in doubt don't ever call a dubious number back. They'll call you again if they really need to get hold of you.</p> <h2>Sticky ATM Keypads</h2> <p>Once again, ATMs are being targeted by thieves. In the past, <a href="http://blog.credit.com/2013/05/credit-card-skimming-scams-arent-going-anywhere/?utm_source=Yahoo&amp;utm_medium=content&amp;utm_content=IB_5&amp;utm_campaign=sneakiest_scams">skimming</a> devices were successful. Then crooks would place small blockages in the card slot that would make it appear that your card had been swallowed by the machine. Now, we have <a href="http://www.atmsecurity.com/index.php?searchword=stuck+key&amp;ordering=newest&amp;searchphrase=exact&amp;limit=100&amp;option=com_search">sticky keypads</a>, and they really are sticky. The scammers apply an adhesive to buttons like ENTER, CANCEL or CLEAR. When you press one of these buttons, the keypad sticks, and you are unable to complete the transaction. When you pop inside the bank to report the problem, the thief lying in wait simply unsticks the key with a screwdriver and completes your transaction for you. If you can, always use an ATM inside a trusted bank or building. They are much more difficult to tamper with, and you have staff at hand to help out.</p> <h2>Catfish Catphish</h2> <p>By now, you have probably heard the term &quot;catfish.&quot; It describes someone who is online claiming to be looking for love, but using a fake identity and photos. Now, this has turned into &quot;catphishing,&quot; and these people are not really looking for love at all&hellip; they want money. The catphishers will use legitimate dating sites to start the conversation, but will quickly want to talk or chat outside of the dating site &mdash; because they don't want to be tracked through it. After leading you on with photos and compliments, they will suddenly find themselves in a desperate situation that needs money to fix, and quickly. Never, ever fall for these online dating scams. If they refuse to talk over Skype or meet, be very wary.</p> <h2>The &quot;Ads On Your Car&quot; Scam</h2> <p>There are legitimate businesses out there that will pay you to put advertising on your car. There are also scammers looking to make a quick buck from unsuspecting people looking to make a little extra money.</p> <p>The scam starts with an advert placed on a local website, perhaps Craigslist, offering you up to <a href="http://www.bbb.org/blog/2012/05/putting-ads-on-your-car-scam-says-carol/">$600 per week to put adverts</a> for name brands (Coca-Cola, Heineken, etc) on your car. That should be your first clue; legitimate companies don't pay anywhere near that amount. Then, when you apply for more information, you are sent an upfront payment for even more than the amount they owe you. The idea being you cash the check, keep part of the money, and send the rest to a &quot;designer&quot; working on the project. Of course, this is just a variation on the common &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/419_scams">advance fee</a>&quot; scam. Don't fall for it, and do your research.</p> <h2>The Free Vacation Scam</h2> <p>With people still on tight budgets, vacations are turning into staycations, and the idea of escaping to a sunny foreign destination seems like a pipe dream. Then, these free vacations come along &mdash; &quot;Congratulations, you've won a four-day vacation in Jamaica!&quot; This usually comes in the form of a letter or piece of junk mail, but many people fall for it.</p> <p>Sadly, there's little chance of ever escaping to a relaxing vacation.</p> <p>First, you'll be asked to join a travel club. This can cost $300. Then when you go to book the holiday, you will be greeted with tons of black out dates, regulations, and additional fees. Before you know it, you've spent a small fortune on a &quot;free&quot; vacation, and if you do manage to escape, it will be to a very sub-par vacation that cost a lot less than all the fees you paid.</p> <h2>Penny Auctions</h2> <p>It's tricky to use the word scam with this one, as it is legal. But that doesn't make it something anyone should be participating in. Penny auctions seem like a way to get a high-cost item at an insanely low price &mdash; Apple laptops for $60, HDTVs for $100. But, the actual chance of getting one of these items for that price is very slim indeed. For a start, although the price of the item may only be $60, people may have spent 10 times that amount bidding on it. That's because it can cost 60 cents to place a bid for one cent. You may well place 100 bids, or $60, and get absolutely nothing for your money. Here's a <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/upgrade-your-life/hidden-dangers-penny-auctions-163331290.html">statement from a Yahoo! writer</a> who tried a penny auction site:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">I bought $60 in bids and got in on an iPad auction. I bid occasionally, trying to time it when the counter neared zero, but I quickly blew 40 bucks in bids. Someone always jumped in at the last second, usually someone using the automated bid setting. So I signed up for automated bids myself, and I was amazed. My $20-worth of remaining bids flew out in 24 seconds. And I didn't win. My 60 bucks was goners! In fact, I watched the most aggressive bidder make 30 bids a minute for 2 more hours until the auction ended. 3600 bids, at a minimum 55 cents a bid. That's $1980 for a device that costs retail $499, and that guy didn't even win!</p> <p>Bottom line: If you want to do an auction, use <a href="http://www.ebay.com/">eBay.com</a>, or another legitimate auction site. The penny auctions are designed to prey on your desire to get an amazing deal. Don't fall for it.</p> <p><em>Have you seen any of these scams or others in the wild? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-2014s-most-common-new-scams">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-apartment-hunt-on-craigslist-without-getting-scammed">6 Ways to Apartment Hunt on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-signs-that-a-winning-notification-email-is-a-fake">6 Signs That a Winning Notification Email Is a Fake</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs 419 scams catphishing modern scams phone scams scams Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 1153222 at http://www.wisebread.com A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them) http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car-salesman-151336938-small.jpg" alt="car salesman" title="car salesman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Used car salesmen are generally portrayed in the media as sleazy, greasy guys in too-tight polyester suits that are trying to take you for a ride &mdash; and not just in that lemon sitting on the lot. Of course, not all used car salesmen fit that stereotype, but at least part of that image is accurate: There are dirty tricks that they're putting into action to get that bill of sale signed&hellip; by you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-car-salesmen-dont-want-you-to-know?ref=seealso">17 Things Used Car Salesmen Don't Want You to Know</a>)</p> <p>Jason Lancaster made a living as a used car salesman for a decade &mdash; at an &quot;upstanding dealership,&quot; he says &mdash; but he's now committed to exposing the less-than-ethical business practices because he believes that &quot;customers deserve better.&quot; He left the car business in 2007 and started a website &mdash;<a href="http://www.accurateautoadvice.com">Accurate Auto Advice</a> &mdash; devoted to sharing accurate advice and information with consumers. According to Jason, &quot;The mission of the site is to give consumers advice that's 100% true. A lot of the info I see about car buying is false or misleading, and I'm trying to correct that.&quot;</p> <p>Lancaster exposes some of the more dastardly car-buying schemes in the following four tactics &mdash; and some advice about combatting them.</p> <h2>1. The Scream</h2> <p>Think of &quot;The Scream&quot; tactic as a riff on the good cop/bad cop scenario. The gist of it is that the buyer wants a certain car or a certain price that the dealer doesn't have or can't match. At the same time, the buyer says that they're not ready to buy at the moment. Instead of sending the buyer on their way without any hope of getting what they want &mdash; which, in truth, isn't available &mdash; the salesperson plants a seed that what the buyer wants may be available when he or she is ready to buy and suggests that they contact the dealer before they make any decisions at another dealer.</p> <p>&quot;Then, you sit back and wait for the phone call,&quot; says Lancaster. &quot;If the customer calls you for an unbelievable price, you tell them that you remember what they want and they need to come in to complete the deal. They come down to the dealership believing that you're going to meet their price, get their car, etc., and THEN you tell them the bad news.&quot;</p> <p>That's where the namesake &quot;scream&quot; comes in. Angry that they came back to a dealer that isn't willing to give them what they want when it was suggested that they would, the buyer, in theory, takes their frustration out on the salesperson &mdash; or the bad cop, if you will. And that's when the good cop &mdash; the manager, in most cases &mdash; comes in to seal the deal.</p> <p>Lancaster continues, &quot;The manager comes over, apologizes, then explains how the customer wanted a price that wasn't realistic (or a car that isn't available), that $XX is the very best price there is, offers to throw in a freebie, and makes the deal. If the salesperson is sufficiently scolded, and the manager is good at calming people down, it can work OK.&quot;</p> <p>The problem with this scenario, as Lancaster points out, is that the buyer no longer trusts the salesperson, which means that they'll never come back to them again. &quot;It's great in the short term, but really damaging to the dealership in the long term, so a lot of dealers won't permit it.&quot;</p> <h3>How to Avoid The Scream</h3> <p>First, don't let on that you're not ready to buy right now. That's basically where this scheme begins. Instead, inform the salesperson that you're looking for a car, and you want to find the best price possible, so you're keeping your options open by visiting other dealerships.</p> <p>To flip this tactic on its head altogether, round up a few prices on comparable cars from area dealers and bring them to the table with each salesperson. If the salesperson doesn't want to be competitive, and you don't feel like you're getting the best or fairest deal possible, walk. Simple as that. If they want your business, they'll work with you to find the most reasonable deal for the dealership and for you.</p> <h2>2. Rolling a Car They Know You Can't Finance</h2> <p>What's a dealership manager to do when he wants to move a vehicle off the lot, but he's dealing with a buyer who won't agree to make a sufficient or realistic down payment or who has bad credit with no chance of getting a good finance rate? Lancaster says there are two choices:</p> <ul> <li>The salesperson can tell the buyer what a realistic interest rate will be, and what that means for their payment; or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The salesperson can tell the buyer whatever they want to hear about interest rates, have them sign paperwork and take delivery, then call them back in a week or so and tell them the terms have changed.</li> </ul> <p>Did you just have a WTF moment, too? Truth is this tactic works &mdash; and it's still used fairly often for three important reasons, according to Lancaster:</p> <ol> <li>People want to believe the dealer tried to get them a good interest rate, says Lancaster. &quot;If you bring them back, show them all the decline notices from the banks, etc., you can prove to them that you tried. Then they'll admit their credit is bad and agree to a higher interest rate and payment.&quot;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>People usually show their new car off to friends and family, often the day they get it or the day after. Losing the car a week later would be embarrassing, so people will often pay more just to avoid that embarrassment.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Most dealerships make customers sign something called a &quot;bailment agreement&quot; that says the dealership can charge a very high fee for the use of the vehicle if financing falls apart, according to Lancaster. &quot;When I was in the business, bailment was $50 a day and $0.50 a mile. If someone drives a car for a week, that's $500+. That's a big cash penalty a lot of people don't want to pay.&quot;</li> </ol> <h3>How to Avoid This Trick</h3> <p>To avoid the dealer changing your finance rate after you take delivery, consider these three suggestions:</p> <ol> <li>Secure financing before you arrive at the dealer; or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Request that the dealer show you a copy of the bank approval (they can print it out and show you easily enough); and/or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't sign a bailment agreement, at least not one that specifies payment of a penalty for miles driven and days of use.</li> </ol> <p>&quot;The bailment agreement is typically the first or last document the dealer will show you,&quot; says Lancaster. &quot;If you see anything that says you agree to pay for vehicle use should financing fall through, don't sign it. However, understand that this may keep you from buying a car if you have poor credit. Sometimes, people with poor credit don't have much of a choice, unfortunately.&quot;</p> <h2>3. &quot;This Is the Finance Rate the Bank Came Back With&quot;</h2> <p>As you may know, dealers can make a percentage of a vehicle's interest rate if they can mark it up. One of the easiest ways to mark up interest rates is to bring a customer into the finance office, ask them a series of probing questions about their credit report, make a show of submitting something to &quot;the bank,&quot; then showing them a piece of paper and saying, essentially, &quot;this is what the bank came back with.&quot;</p> <p>Another dirty trick, of course, but it works.</p> <p>&quot;The customer assumes that whatever you're showing them is the actual interest rate they qualified for, not realizing that the dealership has marked the interest rate up 2% to 3%&quot; Lancaster explains. &quot;This is done all the time. Even at nice dealerships. Even today.&quot;</p> <h3>How to Avoid This Trick</h3> <p>The best way to avoid this trap? Join a credit union and ask them for pre-approval on a vehicle loan. Credit unions almost always offer excellent finance rates. From personal experience, I can tell you that my husband has done this in the past, and it's always resulted in a smoother negotiation. Lancaster echoes that sentiment and offers an additional tip: &quot;If you can't join a credit union, I'd go online and see what you can do to secure a loan from one of the lenders that partner with <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/">Edmunds.com</a>, <a href="http://www.cars.com/">Cars.com</a>, etc.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Failing to Disclose Damage</h2> <p>Prior damage to a vehicle will almost certainly play a part in your decision to buy a particular used car. But how do you know what that car has endured? Unfortunately there's no easy way to find this out &mdash; and it's not entirely the fault of the salesman or dealer.</p> <p>&quot;Depending on the damage and the state you live in,&quot; Lancaster says, &quot;dealers may not be under any legal obligation to disclose a vehicle's prior history. The vehicle could be a 'lemon' (manufacturer buy-back), it could have suffered damage while on the dealership's lot, it could have substantial body damage &mdash; and the dealership doesn't have to say a word about it.</p> <p>&quot;While a CARFAX report can help, CARFAX reports are often incomplete. I've seen CARFAX reports that are missing considerable information, to the point where it makes me doubt the quality of their service. In any case, dealers will lie about damage or problems because they're under no obligation to tell the truth, and the consumer can't prove the dealership lied after the fact.&quot;</p> <h3>How to Avoid This Trick</h3> <p>So what can you do to at least try to get the most up-to-date, complete, and accurate information about the vehicle? The answer here isn't the most appealing, but it's sort of a better-safe-than-sorry situation.</p> <p>&quot;The best way to protect yourself is to pay for an independent vehicle inspection and buy a CARFAX or AutoCheck report,&quot; advises Lancaster. &quot;A good inspector can usually spot a vehicle with undisclosed damage, and CARFAX/Autocheck reports are usually good about indicating if a car is a manufacturer buy-back (AKA someone else's lemon).&quot;</p> <p>If you choose to go this route, there are mobile used car inspection services in most medium-sized cities. If you live in a small town, you can take your car to the nearest independent mechanic and ask them to look it over.</p> <h2>How to Beat a Used Car Salesman</h2> <p>In addition to revealing these trickster tactics, Lancaster also has advice for car buyers, so you can walk into the dealership knowledgeable and (hopefully) maintain the upper hand.</p> <h3>Buy From a Reputable Franchise</h3> <p>Buy from a franchised new car dealership, as most of these &quot;tricks&quot; won't fly. New car dealers are carefully monitored by state authorities and the automakers they represent, so they're very careful.</p> <h3>Get It Inspected</h3> <p>Have whatever it is you're buying professionally inspected. It costs $100 to $150, and it's worth every penny.</p> <h3>Secure Financing First</h3> <p>Arrange financing at the local credit union then ask the dealer if they can beat that rate. Outside of a credit union, most of the larger banks have some sort of auto finance program, and most of the popular car sites have a partnership with finance companies.</p> <p><em>Have you ever scored a great deal on a used car from a dealership? How did you do it? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">4 Warranties That Aren&#039;t Worth It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-gasoline-so-cheap-a-cost-comparison-of-40-common-household-liquids">Why is Gasoline So Cheap? A Cost Comparison of 40 Common Household Liquids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/car-buying-part-2-into-the-devils-domain">Car Buying Part 2 – Into the Devil&#039;s domain.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-your-new-car-send-mom-not-dad-to-the-dealer">Save on Your New Car: Send Mom, Not Dad, to the Dealer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-cast-iron-skillets">The 5 Best Cast Iron Skillets</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Shopping car dealerships Cars scams shopping used car Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1153218 at http://www.wisebread.com Are You Getting Ripped Off by One of These 8 Unnecessary Services? http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-ripped-off-by-one-of-these-8-unnecessary-services <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-getting-ripped-off-by-one-of-these-8-unnecessary-services" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cash-541474-small.jpg" alt="cash in trash" title="cash in trash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For many of us, money is tight these days. In fact, a recent study reveals that 76% of Americans are now <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/24/pf/emergency-savings/">living paycheck to paycheck</a>. With money so tight, and over one quarter of the population having no savings at all, this is not the time to be spending money on services we do not need. Here are eight unnecessary services you should stop paying for. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-fees-you-need-to-stop-paying-right-now?ref=seealso">8 Fees You Should Cut</a>)</p> <h2>GPS Navigation</h2> <p>Believe it or not, cell phone companies have GPS navigation services available to you for a monthly fee. With AT&amp;T, it's <a href="http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/ringtones-downloads/att-navigator.jsp">AT&amp;T Navigator</a>. With Verizon, the service is called <a href="http://www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/consumer/products/navigator.html">VZ Navigator</a>. They range in price from $4.99 to $9.99 a month, and they are completely pointless. Whether you own an Android or iOS smartphone, you have built-in turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts. It uses GPS, it's always updated and it's completely free. The only reason you'd pay for a service like this through AT&amp;T or Verizon is if you had absolutely no idea about GPS, or you signed up for a 30-day free trial and forgot to cancel. Either way, dump it. You are paying for a service you already get for free.</p> <h2>Cell Phone Insurance</h2> <p>Sticking with phones, another nasty service you'll often be pressured into buying is cell phone insurance. For a &quot;low&quot; fee of around $7-10 per month, you can insure your very pricey phone against accidental damage. Here's the problem with that; <a href="http://www.moneycrashers.com/cell-phone-insurance-worth-it/">it's a gamble</a>.</p> <p>Let's say you spend $7 a month to insure your phone. Over the course of the 2-year contract, that's $168. You will also have a deductible to pay, should your phone meet the requirements of the contract (remember, not everything is covered). Those deductibles average $150. That's over $300 you've spent, should you ever need to replace your phone. Chances are, you won't.</p> <p>But you can forget all of this and ask your home insurance agent to draw up a <a href="http://www.startribune.com/blogs/212962001.html">&quot;personal articles&quot; policy</a>. It will be half the price of the insurance offered by your cell phone carrier, and it won't come with a deductible. Or, you can just bank the $7 per month, and if you ever do need to replace your phone, go to the refurbished models on eBay. You'll save a lot of money.</p> <h2>Extended Warranties</h2> <p>With few exceptions, extended warranties are a rip off; especially when you buy them from the place you buy the original item. When it comes to electronics like laptops, printers, tablets, and monitors, they are just not worth the paper they're printed on.</p> <p>The fact is, most products do not break in the first three years anyway. The first year is always covered by a complete manufacturer's warranty. And after the third year, the item is usually not even worth repairing. Now, sometimes it can be a good idea to pick up an extended warranty from a third party, especially on something you plan to keep for a long time. If it comes with an option to replace it with a current model, even better. But Consumer Reports says you should never buy an extended warranty; the big box stores are heavily incentivized to sell these marked up plans. That also goes for car purchases, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-advantage-of-free-extended-warranty-from-your-credit-card-issuer?ref=seealso">How to Use Your Credit Card's Free Extended Warranty</a>)</p> <h2>Rental Car Insurance</h2> <p>If you've ever had to rent a car, you'll know the sales pitch all too well. &quot;Sir, would you like to decline the rental insurance and risk paying thousands of dollars should you get into a crash?&quot; It's made to be a big, scary decision. And for $30 a day, why take the risk?</p> <p><a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/06/04/should-you-purchase-rental-car-insurance">Well, it's not a risk at all</a>. The rental insurance is optional, and you are already covered by the comprehensive and collision insurance you have on your own car. Personal Accident Insurance and Personal Effects Coverage are usually covered by your home, life, and health insurance policies. In fact, the only time you should ever consider car rental insurance is if you do not own a car, and thus, don't have car insurance.</p> <h2>Credit Reports</h2> <p>It's important to monitor your finances closely, especially these days with so many hackers and identity thieves around. But don't pay for credit reports. <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/">Annualcreditreport.com</a> gives you access to your reports from the three credit reporting companies, completely free, once every 12 months. Split them up into four months intervals, one from Experian, one from Equifax, and one from Transunion. That will give you a great picture of how your credit is doing. DO NOT sign up for monthly services from places like freecreditreport.com (oh, the irony of that name), who will charge you $12.99 per month for a service you can get for free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-truly-free-credit-report?ref=seealso">How to Get a Truly Free Credit Report</a>)</p> <h2>Monitored Home Security</h2> <p>You may think peace of mind is worth $50-$100 every month, but just bear in mind that monitored home security is <a href="http://money.msn.com/home-insurance/article.aspx?post=0ea54ad8-1ca1-4d0b-92c7-caa97f40fee6">not giving you the protection</a> you may think.</p> <p>Aside from the fact that many people don't even remember to turn it on regularly, know that anyone serious about robbing you will not care about the home security system. They know police response times can average 30-45 minutes, and more in bigger cities. They also know people ignore the sirens, as 80% are false alarms. So although the alarm may be blaring, they'll be in and out before ever being noticed. These alarms are easy to disable, and you will get locked into a 3-year contract that will auto renew if you don't remember to call before the renewal date. If you have a dog, it's a way better alarm. And for those about to cite the insurance reduction, it equates to about 15%... nowhere near your monthly fee.</p> <h2>Dating Sites</h2> <p>If you're looking for a date, you can pay lots of money every month to places like <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10869249">Match.com</a> and <a href="http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-2822544-11199560">eHarmony</a>. Or, you can use free services like <a href="http://www.pof.com/">PlentyOfFish</a> and <a href="https://www.okcupid.com/">OKCupid</a>. Sure, there are more features on the pay sites, but several people I have talked to say that they've had the same luck on free services as they have on the expensive ones. Of course, if you are using free sites you should make an extra effort to look up information on the people you are choosing to meet. Take precautions. But anyone you meet, whether from a free or paid site, can be an angel or something far less than that. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-online-dating-first-date-get-a-drink?ref=seealso">Get a Drink on the Online Dating First Date</a>)</p> <h2>Credit Repair</h2> <p>You hear the ads all the time. If you have debt coming out of your eyeballs, and owe everyone more money than the government owes China, you should call this number for help. Sure, you can call them and they can sort a few things out for you. But they will charge a nice fat fee, and you can do everything they do if you just do a little research. Some of them will say they can remove black marks from your credit, but what they'll often do is dispute it, then run a new report to show you they're worth the fees you're paying. Later, those black marks go right back on. So, <a href="http://credit.about.com/od/creditrepair/qt/avoidrepairscam.htm">avoid credit repair services</a> at all costs.</p> <p><em>Any other services that are certain rip-offs? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-ripped-off-by-one-of-these-8-unnecessary-services">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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