Consumer Affairs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4809/all en-US Here's How Debt Settlement Can Make Your Debt Worse http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/financial_problems.jpg" alt="Financial problems" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The commercials, usually played on AM radio or late-night TV, promise an easy solution to your debt woes: Debt settlement companies say they can eliminate your debts in as little as two months or reduce the amount you owe by 65 percent, 75 percent, or 85 percent.</p> <p>That sounds pretty great. But debt settlement isn't quite as simple as those commercials promise.</p> <p>Working with debt settlement companies &mdash; firms that negotiate lower debt amounts with your creditors &mdash; comes with serious financial repercussions. And plenty can go wrong. Before you sign up for debt settlement, make sure you explore your other options.</p> <h2>A dangerous gamble</h2> <p>The biggest problem with debt settlement is that it's a gamble. You're gambling that the process will work and that your debts will either be eliminated or lowered. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this will actually happen.</p> <p>And because of how debt settlement companies operate, you can cause severe damage to your credit while taking this bet. Say you are struggling to afford your monthly credit card payments and a host of large medical bills. You call a company specializing in debt settlement. That company will then tell you to stop making your payments to this creditor.</p> <p>That sounds like terrible advice (because it is). The debt settlement company's goal here is to convince your creditors that there is no way you can afford to pay off your debt in full. But it often takes months for the settlement company to convince your creditors to lower your debt. Defaulting for that long ruins your credit.</p> <p>At the same time, the debt settlement company will ask you to make regular payments to it, which the company will deposit in a savings account. During the time that you're not making payments to your creditors but you are making them to the debt settlement service, the company will negotiate with your creditors, hoping to reduce the amount you owe to each of them.</p> <p>Once your creditors and your debt settlement company reach an agreement, the company will use the funds you've deposited to pay off the remainder of your debt, taking a cut as its own fee.</p> <h2>It doesn't always work</h2> <p>Unfortunately, debt settlement doesn't always work. A report by the Association of Debt Settlement Companies made to the Federal Trade Commission in 2007 reported that on average, only 45 percent to 50 percent of consumers complete a debt settlement program once they've started it. Many customers take actions that will hurt their credit scores only to gain no financial relief by doing so.</p> <p>In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported even lower rates, saying that less than 10 percent of consumers successfully complete a debt settlement program.</p> <h2>You could be charged high monthly fees</h2> <p>The National Foundation for Credit Counseling says that many debt settlement companies charge monthly fees for their services that can run as high as $89 a month. That's a lot of money for a service that might not reduce your debt significantly anyway.</p> <h2>You'll pay a lot even if your debts are reduced</h2> <p>Debt settlement companies typically charge their clients in one of two ways: They'll either charge a percentage of your total debt for their fee, or a percentage of the final debt amount that they negotiate.</p> <p>Say you owe $70,000. If the company charges you 20 percent of your total debt, you'll pay $14,000 for their services. Maybe the debt settlement company reduces that $70,000 debt to $35,000. If the company charges, say, 20 percent of your final negotiated debt, you'd pay $7,000.</p> <p>Obviously, it's better to work with a company that charges you a percentage of your settled debt. But even then, you'll be paying plenty for debt settlement.</p> <h2>Your credit score might crash</h2> <p>Debt settlement can devastate your credit score. Any time you pay a credit card bill more than 30 days late, for example, your credit score will fall by 100 points or more. If you deliberately do this while working with a debt settlement company, you will see your score plummet.</p> <p>Your credit report will also list any debts that were settled. This is considered a negative on your report because your creditors were forced to accept less than what they were owed. This, understandably, might make creditors less excited to work with you in the future.</p> <p>Often, debt settlement companies negotiate a debt that has already been charged off, meaning that the original creditor has given up on collecting it and has sold the debt to another creditor that then tries to get at least some money from you. Such debt will be listed as charged off on your report. This negative mark will remain on your credit report for seven years, and won't disappear just because you eventually settled the debt.</p> <h2>Alternatives</h2> <p>Fortunately, there are alternatives to debt settlement.</p> <ul> <li> <p>If you have a high enough credit score, you can apply for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards" target="_blank">balance transfer credit card</a>. Many of these cards have low or no interest for periods of at least a year &mdash; often longer. You will have to pay a balance transfer fee (usually 3 percent of your balance) and be very careful about finishing paying your balance before the introductory period ends and a new, much higher rate kicks in. But for some people, this option works. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-hidden-dangers-of-credit-card-balance-transfers?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Hidden Dangers of Balance Transfers</a>)</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>You can also check with your bank or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-use-peer-to-peer-lending-to-pay-down-credit-card-debt" target="_blank">peer-to-peer lenders</a> to get a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-personal-loans-may-be-better-than-credit-cards" target="_blank">debt consolidation loan</a> at a lower interest rate than you're paying now. But with these types of loans you'll also need a good credit score.</p> </li> </ul> <ul> <li> <p>If you don't have good credit, consider contacting your creditors directly to work out a repayment plan that fits your budget. Creditors are under no obligation to work with you, but many will as a way to eventually get the money that you owe them.</p> </li> <li> <p>You can also work with a nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency to craft a debt management plan (DMP). The counseling agency will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf, typically resulting in a 20 percent lower interest rate and a 50 percent lower monthly payment.</p> <p>You will usually have to close all of your credit card accounts while you're under the DMP, but the upside is that you will only have one payment to make and that's to the credit counseling agency. Closing your accounts will cause a temporary dip in your credit score, but a DMP is much less harmful overall to your credit than debt resettlement. You can find nonprofit credit counselors in your area through one of two associations: the <a href="https://www.nfcc.org/locator/" target="_blank">National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)</a> or the <a href="http://fcaa.org/" target="_blank">Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA)</a>.</p> </li> <li> <p>As a last resort, you may consider bankruptcy. This is sometimes less damaging to your credit report than a debt settlement, though certain types of bankruptcy stay on your credit report for longer. Be sure you thoroughly assess the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-times-bankruptcy-is-the-right-move" target="_blank">pros and cons of bankruptcy</a> before taking this step.</p> </li> </ul> <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/heres-how-debt-settlement-can-make-your-debt-worse">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/pay-these-6-bills-first-when-money-is-tight">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</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/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">How to Deal With Collection Agencies</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/we-are-our-own-worst-enemy">We Are Our Own Worst Enemy</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/do-we-really-need-help-in-getting-more-debt">Do we really need help with getting more debt?</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/solving-a-debt-dilemma-with-debt-settlement">Solving a Debt Dilemma with Debt Settlement</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Debt Management bad advice credit score Creditors debt settlement fees hidden dangers repayment plans Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:00:12 +0000 Dan Rafter 1985925 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Misleading Gadget Marketing Gimmicks http://www.wisebread.com/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fun_with_virtual_reality_headset.jpg" alt="Fun with virtual reality headset" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Consumers now have thousands of computers, tablets, e-readers, phones, game consoles, and other gadgets to choose from. Unfortunately, technology marketing teams have a frustrating history of creating misleading marketing campaigns &mdash; from the commercials they create to the facts listed on product listings. Here are eight misleading marketing gimmicks to be aware of before you purchase any new tech toys.</p> <h2>1. PlayStation 4 Pro's 4K graphics</h2> <p>The new PlayStation has been marketed as a new 4K gaming experience. Despite the marketing claims, developers have begun to admit that the <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2016/09/08/ps4-pro-isnt-4k-that-doesnt-matter/" target="_blank">console doesn't have the processing power</a> to render a true 4K image. Instead, the PS4 Pro fills in half of the required pixels for a 4K image (like a checkerboard) and utilizes an algorithm to fill in the missing pixels for a 4K screen, which will still result in a high definition gaming experience, but not technically 4K.</p> <p>The PS4 Pro will be close enough to 4K image that most gamers won't be able to tell the difference. Mislabeling the PS4 Pro as 4K isn't malicious, but it's still indicative of an industry that continually oversells image quality as true 4K.</p> <h2>2. Video game trailers with misleading images</h2> <p>Video games, every once in awhile, mislead gamers about the quality of the graphics. Gamers awed by the trailers, purchase the game, and then are disappointed by the poorer-than-advertised image quality. Game marketers hoodwink gamers in two ways: pre-rendered images and cross console game images.</p> <p><a href="http://www.craveonline.com/entertainment/1157417-steam-makes-major-change-no-mans-sky-false-advertising" target="_blank"><em>No Man's Sky</em> has come under fire</a> (and an investigation by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority) for using concept art and pre-rendered footage to advertise their game in a manner that over-exaggerates the graphics.</p> <p>In 2010, <a href="https://www.gamespot.com/articles/final-fantasy-xiii-ad-banned/1100-6273824/" target="_blank">Final Fantasy XIII's trailer</a> was banned by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for using PlayStation 3 clips to advertise the Xbox 360 version of the game. The trailer convinced individuals to purchase the game, only for them to discover the Xbox 360 version of the game had lower quality graphics.</p> <h2>3. Available storage space</h2> <p>Available memory is an important aspect of many purchases. Is 8GB enough? Or would a 32GB device be better? Each consumer needs to make an educated decision which device best fits their needs. The problem is that tech manufacturers often choose to not advertise how much of the memory has already been used by preinstalled software and hardware.</p> <p>How big can the discrepancy between advertised and available storage be? In the past, <a href="http://wgntv.com/2015/01/02/16gb-iphone-not-really-a-16gb-and-now-apple-is-being-sued-over-it/" target="_blank">Apple iPhones and iPads had 20 percent less</a> storage space than advertised. And in one case, one of <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2013/1/29/3929110/surface-pro-disk-space-windows-8" target="_blank">Microsoft's tablets had less than half</a> of the advertised storage space.</p> <p>Before you purchase a new device, check user reviews for the product, and the product listings on Amazon, as the site tends to list both overall and available memory.</p> <h2>4. Laptops with overinflated battery power estimates</h2> <p>Laptop manufacturers rarely advertise a realistic battery estimate. Major tech companies have fallen into a maddening habit of unrealistically tweaking power tests to skew the results far higher than most consumers can expect.</p> <p>Users might get the projected battery power out of the laptop if they dim the screen far lower than comfortable, increase battery power saving settings far higher than useful, and never play games or watch movies.</p> <p>On average, laptop power projections tend to be two to four hours lower than what the company claims. If you're in the market for a new computer, you can find out just how much each major computer company over-exaggerates their battery life by checking <a href="http://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/03/which-laptop-battery-tests-manufacturers-overstate/" target="_blank">computer battery tests conducted</a> by Which.co.uk.</p> <h2>5. E-readers with misleading battery calculations</h2> <p>The manufacturers of e-readers are slightly more honest (if you read the fine-print) about their attempts to mislead consumers about the battery power of their devices. Amazon's Voyage's specs at the very top of the page state the &quot;battery lasts weeks, not hours.&quot; At the very bottom of the page, Amazon reveals that it will only last weeks if it is used half an hour per day.</p> <p>It's not just Amazon. Barnes &amp; Nobles advertises that their NOOK GlowLight Plus has &quot;weeks of battery life&quot; and later reveals the 30 minutes of reading time per day formula they used to come up with the number.</p> <h2>6. E-readers cause &quot;no eye strain&quot;</h2> <p>Amazon has claimed for years their Kindles don't cause eye strain. Recently they softened their claim by advertising their newer Kindles can be read for hours without eye strain.</p> <p>It's true that the Kindle is slightly easier on the eyes in some circumstances, but it won't necessarily eliminate the chance of eye strain after hours of reading.</p> <p>The New York Times explains that <a href="https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/do-e-readers-cause-eye-strain/?_r=0" target="_blank">e-readers can be great in bright settings</a> but cause strain in dark settings due to E-ink low contrast ratio and the backlight on the screen. An e-reader can eliminate some eye strain, but integrating breaks into your reading binges every 20 to 30 minutes is a far more useful method.</p> <h2>7. Unlimited phone data plans</h2> <p>Are you tired of meticulously monitoring your data consumption each month? Phone companies have an answer for that pesky problem. Just sign up for an unlimited data plan.</p> <p>These plans sound wonderful, but the reality is slightly less than ideal. For example, Verizon's plan only ensures 4G LTE service for the first 22 GB of service. After that, they can decrease your speed of service. Other networks offer similar caveats. T-Mobile, AT&amp;T, and Sprint all have policies that allow them to decrease the speeds they grant individuals once they reach 22 to 28GB each month.</p> <p>Think very carefully before signing onto an unlimited plan, the cost might not be worth the service offered. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-prevent-your-smartphone-from-wasting-data?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Ways to Prevent Your Smartphone From Wasting Data</a>)</p> <h2>8. Surround sound headphones</h2> <p>Headphones are often marketed as surround sound gadgets even if they <a href="http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/08/02/surround-sound-headphones-explained" target="_blank">don't offer a true surround sound experience</a>. When consumers pay for a surround sound experience, they expect that the headphones or stereos used will send sound toward an individual from every direction.</p> <p>A large portion of the marketplace offers simulated surround sound headphones and other gadgets that have two speakers and utilize internal and external amps that turn stereo sound waves into a surround sound experience.</p> <p>Simulated headphones are typically cheaper, but they don't offer the same level of high quality surround sound experience.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks">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/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</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-items-you-should-never-buy-online">8 Items You Should Never Buy Online</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-common-shopping-myths-debunked">6 Common Shopping Myths, Debunked</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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping advertising marketing gimmicks shopping tips tech gadgets tech toys Tue, 20 Jun 2017 08:30:18 +0000 Samantha Stauf 1969194 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Items You Should Never Buy Online http://www.wisebread.com/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/problems_buying_online_with_credit_card.jpg" alt="Problems buying online with credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Online shopping makes life easier. There's no doubt about that. But what about when it doesn't? Depending on the retailer, returns can be a huge hassle, and some make it difficult for you to prove that an item was received in poor condition or wasn't what you ordered.</p> <p>With most purchases, the reward outweighs the risk. However, when online shopping, just because you can buy an item without leaving your home, doesn't mean you should. Here are a few things that aren't worth buying online.</p> <h2>1. Cars</h2> <p>There's no way to tell if a car, or any vehicle, actually works unless you drive it. Since you can't test drive a vehicle online, purchasing that way is risky. Also, most used car-buying advice tells you to have a mechanic look at the car before you buy it. There's no way you can do that without having access to the car in-person.</p> <p>Besides, what's more fun than a test drive? How else will you know that you enjoy driving the car, that it is comfortable, and has the features you want? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-you-can-score-a-great-deal-on-a-new-car?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Times You Can Score a Great Deal on a New Car</a>)</p> <h2>2. Pets</h2> <p>With all of the places out there that treat animals terribly &mdash; think puppy mills and unlicensed breeders &mdash; buying online is a huge gamble. After all, if you don't see where the animals were raised and get a clue as to how they were cared for, your sweet ball of fluff could arrive with a terrible and costly disease.</p> <p>Plus, meeting a pet in-person helps you determine if their personality is a good fit for you and your family. The only way to find out about that is to see the animal before you buy or adopt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-best-pets-for-frugal-animal-lovers?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 8 Best Pets for Frugal Animal Lovers</a>)</p> <h2>3. Real estate</h2> <p>Buying any sort of property should be done in-person, even if you have to travel to see it. Unless you view the property, you'll have no real idea of its condition. If you've seen any real estate photographs lately, you know that they can make a home or a piece of property look drastically better than it actually is.</p> <p>Looking at property in-person also gives you a much better idea of its size, shape, and suitability for your life than you'll get if you just look at it online.</p> <h2>4. Prescription medication</h2> <p>There are many reputable pharmacies that sell prescriptions at discounted rates, but there are also many that aren&rsquo;t. While these may make some effort to get you the right drug at the right time, you won't really know what you're getting. And you won't know if the place is inspected and regulated, either.</p> <p>The only exception to this would be purchasing from an online pharmacy that you have access to through your doctor or insurance company. These are much more likely to be reputable, because they have to prove themselves to get that sort of professional affiliation.</p> <h2>5. Name brand knockoffs</h2> <p>It's tempting to buy designer knockoffs online, but the truth is that it's not worth it. Many of the sites that sell these items are not secure, or are located in countries where online security, overall, is lax. You can never know what might happen to your credit card information once it's out there.</p> <h2>6. Large appliances</h2> <p>There are great deals on large appliances online, but what happens if it doesn't work out? They can be impossible to repackage, and then you have to arrange (and sometimes pay for!) the item to be picked up again. Besides, who can tell if the color is actually going to match and be perfect for your home unless you see the item in-person first. Save yourself a massive potential headache and buy these in the store. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</a>)</p> <h2>7. Furniture</h2> <p>This is similar to the discussion of large appliances, above. While it's possible to get a great deal on an item when you purchase online, the potential return process makes the whole thing less desirable.</p> <p>In addition, you need to make sure that your furniture is comfortable and that you like the materials. Unless you can sit on that couch or open and close the drawers on the dresser, you won't know that until the item is delivered.</p> <h2>8. Mattresses</h2> <p>There are some mattress companies that only sell online. While some people swear by these products, it seems dubious to me. After all, we spend about ⅓ of our lives asleep! You need to know that you'll be comfortable, and the best way to do that is to try out a mattress in a store, and then to check that it comes with a warranty. Most companies will take your mattress back for a certain number of days, so you can try it out first. If you do purchase a mattress online, confirm that it comes with a reasonable trial period.</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/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online">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/how-to-prevent-a-drunken-online-shopping-spree">How to Prevent a Drunken Online Shopping Spree</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/6-things-its-better-to-buy-at-the-last-minute">6 Things It&#039;s Better to Buy at the Last Minute</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-one-question-you-should-ask-before-every-major-purchase">The One Question You Should Ask Before Every Major Purchase</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/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</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-common-shopping-myths-debunked">6 Common Shopping Myths, Debunked</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping internet scam never buy online online shopping shopping tips Shopping Tricks Spending Money Mon, 19 Jun 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1966172 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Common Shopping Myths, Debunked http://www.wisebread.com/6-common-shopping-myths-debunked <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-common-shopping-myths-debunked" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/surprised_funny_woman_with_shopping_bags.jpg" alt="Surprised Funny Woman with Shopping Bags" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As consumers, we are bombarded by a lot of rules and advice about the purchases we make. Do this, don't do that, buy this, buy often, and so on. However, most of this &quot;helpful advice&quot; comes from the very people who have a significant stake in seeing us open our wallets more often. Here are six common shopping myths that we have debunked. Don't fall for the hype.</p> <h2>1. Black Friday is the best day of the year for deals</h2> <p>The frenzy surrounding Black Friday makes it feel like the ultimate shopping day. This is the day you'll get all of those bargains just before the holidays; you are going to save a fortune, right? Well&hellip;yes and no.</p> <p>There are some legitimately crazy-great deals on Black Friday, but they are extremely limited and go quickly. The other deals throughout the day are not guaranteed to be the lowest prices of the year. In fact, many items can be less expensive at other times during the year. You will also be bombarded with prices that are compared to the MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price), which is seldom the regular retail price, even when there's no sale. And, of course, online deals and Cyber Monday give you similar chances to save. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-genius-ways-to-save-on-cyber-monday?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Genius Ways to Save on Cyber Monday</a>)</p> <h2>2. Replace your mattress every 7-10 years</h2> <p>A good rule to remember with a mattress is YMMV (your mileage may vary). Depending on the quality of your mattress, how it is used, how you care for it, what mattress protector you use (if any) and a host of other factors, you could easily get 15 or more years from your mattress.</p> <p>If you are away on business a lot, and live alone, it could last 20 years. On the other hand, you may need to replace it earlier than seven years if you have kids using it as a trampoline every day, it's a low end mattress with a low coil count, or it has suffered from significant spills, accidents, and other damage. It's like an oil change, or a pair of sneakers. It's not the age of the mattress &mdash; it's the mileage.</p> <p>Once you realize you're waking up stiff and sore, and you're tossing and turning at night, it's time to start looking around. But don't believe an arbitrary number given to you by companies invested in making money off new sales.</p> <h2>3. Any food past its sell-by-date must be thrown away</h2> <p>This is another rule we follow blindly, causing people all over the globe to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-wasting-13-of-the-food-you-buy-heres-how-to-stop" target="_blank">waste one-third of all food</a>. We follow the rule because of the date on the package, also known as a &quot;best before date&quot; or &quot;best by&quot; and these are all just as confusing. The sell-by date is a guide given to stores so that they keep only the freshest produce on the shelves.</p> <p>However, there is a huge difference between freshest and edible. Those dates are not meant for consumers to live by. Food can remain good for days, weeks, months, or even years after those sell-by dates. Canned goods, including low-acid foods like meat, vegetables, and fish, may be good for up to five years, according to the USDA. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-eat-this-a-quick-guide-to-expiration-dates-and-food-safety?ref=seealso" target="_blank">A Quick Guide to Expiration Dates and Food Safety</a>)</p> <p>You have to use your best judgment, and your senses. Does it look good, smell good, feel good, and taste good? It's probably fine. If you get a whiff of something you don't like, it feels slimy or unusual, or just sets off red flags, then trash it. But don't throw away anything based on some arbitrary date given to ensure maximum freshness. You're literally throwing money into the garbage.</p> <h2>4. Diamonds are a girl's best friend</h2> <p>Sure, Marilyn, Sheryl Crow, Prince, Shirley Bassey, and Miranda Lambert have all crooned about diamonds. The ads you see on TV and online make it seem like gifts of diamond rings, necklaces, and earrings are the best possible gift to get for a woman. But it's all just fakery, marketing hype, and clever campaigning centered around the DeBeers brand.</p> <p>For decades, DeBeers has been stockpiling diamonds to keep the price artificially high. And in the '80s, they released an odious campaign announcing that &quot;you can't look at Jane and tell me she's not worth two months' salary.&quot; Actually, she's worth a lot more. Your partner is priceless, but the ring on her finger? It's almost worthless once you put it on there.</p> <p>If any woman believes that the ring on her finger is insurance against things going wrong, she is sorely mistaken. That $10,000 diamond ring will fetch between $2,000 and $3,000 on the secondary market &mdash; if you're lucky.</p> <p>Diamonds are only worth about&nbsp;<a href="http://diamondcuttersintl.com/qa/mrs-4/" target="_blank">19.7 percent of the original price</a> once you leave the store. Unlike an investment, a diamond never goes up in value. Get simulated diamonds for a fraction of the price, or a different gemstone altogether. Spend the rest of the money on gold, property, or something that has a much better shot of going up in value over the years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-great-reasons-to-choose-a-secondhand-engagement-ring-and-where-to-find-one?ref=seealso" target="_blank">3 Great Reasons to Choose a Secondhand Engagement Ring</a>)</p> <h2>5. Bulk-buying always saves you money</h2> <p>Can you save money buying in bulk? Of course you can. The warehouse clubs with annual membership fees are excellent for certain products, and you should take advantage of them. But don't blindly assume that bigger is better. Sometimes, the per-item cost is actually more expensive in a bulk pack. Examine the labels closely, and see if what you're paying per item, or per ounce, is the best deal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-creative-ways-to-save-money-with-bulk-buying?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Creative Ways to Save Money With Bulk Buying</a>)</p> <h2>6. Outlet stores are your best bet for high-end discount goods</h2> <p>Who doesn't love shopping in outlet stores? You see these big brands everywhere, and then look at the price tags with shock; 70, 80, and even 90 percent off! This is a frugal shopper's dream.</p> <p>Well, not quite. Outlet stores propagate the myth that high-quality unsold items are being sold at a fraction of their original price. They maintain that these are last season's goods that rich people buy at full price, and you can grab them at a bargain because you don't care about being on-trend. This is all false.</p> <p>As reported by BuzzFeed, barely <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/sapna/customers-finally-aware-that-most-outlet-merchandise-is-now" target="_blank">10 percent of the inventory</a>&nbsp;in an outlet store is left over from the original full-price stores. Most of it is made specifically for these outlets, using lower-quality materials from &quot;brand-appropriate&quot; vendors. They may carry labels you love, but these are not of the quality you will ever find on the racks in Nordstrom, Saks, Gap, and the like.</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/6-common-shopping-myths-debunked">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/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online">8 Items You Should Never Buy Online</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/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances</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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</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-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks">8 Misleading Gadget Marketing Gimmicks</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-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping myths debunked shopping myths shopping tips shopping trends true or false Mon, 05 Jun 2017 09:00:09 +0000 Paul Michael 1959135 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Cash In On Getting Bumped From a Flight http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-cash-in-on-getting-bumped-from-a-flight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-cash-in-on-getting-bumped-from-a-flight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-180110401.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to cash in on getting bumped from a flight" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Even before a United passenger was infamously dragged off a plane because his flight was overbooked, most people dreaded getting <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight" target="_blank">bumped from a scheduled flight</a>. And yet, there are travelers who actively <em style="font-size: 13px;">try </em>to get bumped in order to reap the financial rewards airlines sometimes offer, which is usually a few hundred dollars in vouchers for future flights.</p> <p>However, airlines have been known to offer higher amounts, and cash or gift cards instead of vouchers. And now that United has rewritten its rules to offer customers up to $10,000 to give up a seat (and Delta will pay up to $9,950), there could be some real profit in the pursuit of the bump. Let's look at some tried and true bumpee tactics to learn how you can get in on the action.</p> <h2>Pad your travel itinerary with extra time</h2> <p>You've probably heard gate staff announcing that they're looking for folks to give up their seats, and then offer an escalating reward. As the numbers climb higher, you sit there kicking yourself for booking your flight the night before the wedding you're supposed to attend, making it impossible for you to take the deal.</p> <p>When possible, fly in a day earlier than you think you need to. Not only does this give you the freedom to accept a bump, but it makes it less likely that you'll miss your event due to other delays.</p> <h2>Choose a bump-friendly airline</h2> <p>Some airlines bump travelers more often than others. Fortunately, this data is publicly available. The Department of Transportation records two kinds of bumps: voluntary, as in, they paid you to give up your flight; and involuntary, as in what happened to <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-united-dragged-passenger-dao-0414-biz-20170413-story.html" target="_blank">Dr. David Dao on that United plane in Chicago</a>.</p> <p>In 2016, Delta had the most voluntary bumps at 129,825, followed by Southwest at 88,628, and United at 62,895. It's impossible to say if United's new, more passenger-friendly booking policies will change this in the next year, but based on past behavior, Delta is your best bet for getting paid to give up your seat.</p> <p>Delta has also been known as being particularly generous with its rewards; a Forbes columnist and her family <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurabegleybloom/2017/04/09/why-delta-air-lines-paid-me-11000-not-to-fly-to-florida-this-weekend/#208638f74de1" target="_blank">got paid $11,000</a> in gift cards to give up seats on several flights in one weekend. Sure, some of it was luck, but they also had a flexible travel schedule, they were willing to give up their seats each time their flights were rebooked, and they negotiated bump compensation to get the best deals.</p> <h2>Choose a bump-friendly flight</h2> <p>While some travel experts dismiss the notion that flights at any given time are more likely to be overbooked, others advocate booking flights on those nightmare days other flexible travelers avoid: the holidays, Monday mornings, and during periods of bad weather. The biggest downside to this tactic is that flights tend to be more expensive during busy times.</p> <h2>Have alternate plans in mind</h2> <p>Sometimes I've not volunteered for bump compensation simply because I didn't have enough time to think through how a schedule change would affect my plans. But if you know the opportunity to get bumped is a possibility, you can make contingency plans.</p> <p>How would you know in advance that you might get bumped? Check the day before, and before you leave for the airport, to see if the flight is full. You can find out if a flight is sold out by going through the booking process up until the part where you would pay on the airline site, or you could check the seat maps on <a href="https://www.expertflyer.com/" target="_blank">ExpertFlyer</a>.</p> <p>Once you know your flight is fully booked, research alternative flights that would get you to your destination at a satisfactory time, warn friends and family that you might be late, and pack a snack for a possible extended wait at the airport. Most importantly, avoid checking luggage.</p> <p>For most people, getting bumped means arriving late. But sometimes people give up their trips altogether, for the right offer. That columnist who got paid $11,000 originally thought she was going to be late to see family in Florida, but when the offers got richer and the family got bumped again and again, they ended up giving up their weekend altogether. For them, at that price, it was worth it.</p> <h2>Request the bump the right way</h2> <p>This is perhaps the most important step of all. Some airlines, including Delta, allow you to <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/how-delta-masters-the-game-of-overbooking-flights/" target="_blank">indicate when checking in</a> if you'd be willing to give up your seat for compensation, and for how much.</p> <p>For other airlines, your best bet is to arrive at the gate early, luggage in hand, and let the gate staff know that you'd be interested in being &quot;voluntarily denied boarding.&quot; If you have already researched an alternative flight, tell them about it. If they have multiple volunteers, staff are more likely to choose someone who makes the rebooking process easy for them. Then, stick close to gate area so you don't miss any announcements.</p> <h2>Negotiate well</h2> <p>So you've been chosen for voluntarily denied boarding! The work isn't over yet. Before agreeing to go ahead with the deal, ask (nicely) for these things:</p> <ul> <li> <p>A good seat on the rebooked flight of your choice.</p> </li> <li> <p>A higher amount. They offered $500? It doesn't hurt to ask for $800.</p> </li> <li> <p>Meals and lodging during your delay.</p> </li> <li> <p>Cash instead of vouchers.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Vouchers have expiration dates and other restrictions that can make them hard to use. Most airlines offer vouchers as a default; so ask if you can get cash or gift cards instead.</p> <p>If the airline is asking you to fly the next day, it will probably also cover your hotel and dinner for the night. If the delay is less than a day, you should be able to get meal vouchers to use at the airport. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-websites-for-last-minute-airfare-deals?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Best Websites for Last-Minute Airfare Deals</a>)</p> <h2>Understand that it's never a guarantee until the plane takes off</h2> <p>Even after planning ahead and negotiating a bump, chances are you'll end up on your original flight anyway. Usually gate staff gathers a list of volunteers, but it's not a done deal until the flight boards, because if anyone misses the flight, they won't need to bump you after all. With this in mind, make sure to let the staff know you want to retain your seat assignment and boarding pass while you wait.</p> <p>And however it ends up, don't forget to thank the gate staff who worked with you! Smart frequent travelers even carry gift cards or chocolates to thank staff members who get them bump offers.</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/how-to-cash-in-on-getting-bumped-from-a-flight">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-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight">What to Do If You Get Bumped From a Flight</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-free-perks-you-should-ask-for-on-your-next-flight">7 Free Perks You Should Ask for on Your Next Flight</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/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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-eat-street-food-safely-while-traveling">How to Eat Street Food Safely While Traveling</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-most-affordable-beach-towns-in-mexico">8 Most Affordable Beach Towns in Mexico</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel bumped from a flight flight passenger flight tips making money overbooked flight travel tips United Airlines Thu, 18 May 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1948479 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances http://www.wisebread.com/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-185311029.jpg" alt="Woman asking questions before buying a refurbished appliance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some form of risk comes with any purchase, whether it's a new or refurbished item. Fortunately, refurbished appliances and electronics can be a great deal, if you do your research first. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-secret-to-buying-electronics-for-cheap?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Why Refurbished Electronics Are Such a Great Deal</a>)</p> <p>Refurbished products are items that have been used, opened, or slightly damaged in some way. They have been repaired to return them to a &quot;like-new&quot; status. If you're thinking about buying a refurbished item to save some cash, ask yourself the following questions first.</p> <h2>Is it a good deal?</h2> <p>Large appliances are designed to last a long time with little maintenance, so you can feel confident about buying a one- or two-year-old refurbished appliance. As a general rule, if a refurbished item includes a full warranty, working parts, and significant savings, it's a good deal.</p> <p>Another way to quickly determine whether a particular purchase is worth it is to subtract the amount of depreciation from the original cost of the appliance. For instance, if a new appliance is $500 and is expected to last 10 years it would have $50 depreciation per year. If you are purchasing the item after two years, you'd ideally want to find something that is under $400 ($500 - two years of $50 depreciation = $400). (For help with this number, check out: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-long-these-6-appliances-should-last" target="_blank">Life Expectancy of 6 Major Appliances</a>)</p> <h2>Can you find a better price elsewhere?</h2> <p>Use a price comparison site like PriceGrabber to first determine where you can get the best deal. Then, compare the total costs of refurbished versus new appliances. New appliances frequently come with free or discounted delivery, which can save you quite a bit off the total cost. Inquire about shipping costs before deciding on a used appliance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-stupid-shopping-mistakes-even-smart-people-make?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Stupid Shopping Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a>)</p> <h2>How can you find a reputable seller?</h2> <p>It's important to choose a reputable retailer. While you might be able to save more money with a private seller or local repair shop, there&rsquo;s a chance you won't be able to do anything if the item turns out to be a lemon.</p> <p>You can find great deals on refurbished items both in-store and online. Consumer Reports suggests <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/electronics-computers/should-you-buy-refurbished-electronics/" target="_blank">purchasing refurbished electronics at Amazon</a>, but warns that they don't always include warranties. You can also see customer reviews on Amazon, which can help you make your purchasing decision.</p> <h2>What about warranty coverage?</h2> <p>Refurbished appliances are often covered by a warranty from the manufacturer or store. If the appliance has no warranty, or a very short one, it might be a warning sign that you're getting a dud.</p> <p>Even if the seller doesn't offer a new warranty, you might still receive what's left of the original warranty. These warranties tend to last between 30 days and one year, so they aren't usually as long as you would get with a new item. And while you can add an extended warranty to brand-new appliances, you can't do the same with refurbished items. Some warranties only cover new parts, so you'll want to inquire about exactly what the warranty covers.</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/4-questions-to-ask-before-buying-refurbished-appliances">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-9"> <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-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks">8 Misleading Gadget Marketing Gimmicks</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-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling 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/8-items-you-should-never-buy-online">8 Items You Should Never Buy Online</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-common-shopping-myths-debunked">6 Common Shopping Myths, Debunked</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> Consumer Affairs Shopping appliances buying used home goods refurb refurbished appliances refurbished items shopping shopping tips tech gadgets Wed, 17 May 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1948476 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You Get Bumped From a Flight http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-163031146.jpg" alt="Man learning what to do after getting bumped from a flight" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Overbooked flight? Somebody's going to get bumped &mdash; a common, but inconvenient aspect of travel by airplane. Indeed, it's within an airline's power to deny ticket-holding passengers a seat on a flight. Of course, passengers have some control in these situations, as well. The next time you're forced to give up your seat on an oversold domestic flight, know that <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights" target="_blank">these are your rights</a>, from the federal Department of Transportation.</p> <h2>1. Remember that airlines must seek volunteers first</h2> <p>Before an airline can bump anyone involuntarily, they need to first find passengers who are willing to give up their seats. If you have some flexibility in your schedule and can arrive at your next destination a bit later than originally planned, you can give up your ticket in exchange for a later departure time. If you decide to volunteer to give up your seat, find out whether the airline is able to issue you a new ticket or if you'll be flying standby. If it's the latter, find out whether the airline can offer you any compensation toward food or lodging while you wait. It could be a while, and, as we all know, airport cuisine isn't cheap.</p> <h2>2. Ask about compensation</h2> <p>If you are bumped involuntarily, ask an airline representative what, if any, compensation you are entitled to. You are entitled to compensation if, for example, the airline fails to arrange substitute transportation to get you to your final destination within one hour of your originally scheduled arrival time. The amount depends on the price of the ticket and the length of the delay. For example, if your new travel arrangement itinerary is scheduled to get you to your domestic destination between one and two hours after your originally scheduled arrival time, the airline is required to pay you 200 percent of your one-way fare to your final destination that day (up to $675 maximum).</p> <h2>3. Request a written copy of your rights</h2> <p>DOT requires each airline to offer all involuntarily bumped passengers a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets to fly on an oversold flight and who doesn't. This is your guide to navigating any bumped seating situation. You will be less likely to miss out on any compensation owed to you if you request and keep a copy of this with you.</p> <h2>4. Seek a refund for any prepaid upgrades</h2> <p>If you prepaid for an in-flight amenity, such as premium seat selection, and you do not receive those services on your substitute flight, the airline that bumped you must refund those charges. There will be times an airline is unable to honor prepaid amenities if, for example, the plane you are on for your replacement flight is not equipped with the same bells and whistles available on your original booking.</p> <h2>5. You get to choose: free tickets, vouchers, or a check</h2> <p>You have the right to insist on compensation by an on-the-spot check for the dollar amount equal to the ticket price. Alternately, airlines may offer free tickets or dollar-amount vouchers for future flights. The choice is yours!</p> <p>Our advice: If you paid a higher-than-normal rate for your ticket, opt for the check. This way, you'll have a shot at rebooking a new trip for less, leaving you with the leftovers to spend however you desire.</p> <h2>6. If you aren't compensated fairly, you can pursue a complaint</h2> <p>If being bumped costs you more than the airline will pay you on the spot, you can try to negotiate a higher settlement with their complaint department. But don't cash the check or use the voucher while you're negotiating. As soon as you spend your compensation bucks, your right to haggle for more is gone.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%2520to%2520Do%2520If%2520You%2520Get%2520Bumped%2520From%2520a%2520Flight.jpg&amp;description=What%20to%20Do%20If%20You%20Get%20Bumped%20From%20a%20Flight"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20to%20Do%20If%20You%20Get%20Bumped%20From%20a%20Flight.jpg" alt="What to Do If You Get Bumped From a Flight" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-get-bumped-from-a-flight">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/how-to-cash-in-on-getting-bumped-from-a-flight">How to Cash In On Getting Bumped From a Flight</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-timing-is-everything-when-saving-money-on-travel">Why Timing Is Everything When Saving Money on Travel</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/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</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-ways-students-can-travel-abroad-for-less">7 Ways Students Can Travel Abroad for Less</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-costly-flight-booking-mistakes-you-make-all-the-time">8 Costly Flight Booking Mistakes You Make All the Time</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel Airfare bumped from a flight flight passenger flights travel tips United Airlines Thu, 11 May 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1944520 at http://www.wisebread.com 2017 Tax Day Freebies and Discounts http://www.wisebread.com/2014-tax-day-freebies-and-discounts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/2014-tax-day-freebies-and-discounts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/eating-162329350.jpg" alt="woman holding burger" title="woman holding burger" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tax Day this year is Tuesday, April 18, and you know what? It's going to be a good day. Did you know you can get free stuff from a variety of restaurants and other businesses?</p> <p>Being a Wise Bread reader, you'll probably already have filed your return and pocketed that sweet refund months ago anyway. If not, let a free cup of shave ice or massage ease your last-minute, form-filling frenzy.</p> <h2>2017 Tax Day freebies</h2> <p>These companies are treating taxpayers to something gratis on or around Tax Day.</p> <h3>1. California Tortilla</h3> <p>Free chips and queso with any purchase when customers say the password "<a href="http://californiatortilla.com/2016/04/taxdayfreequeso2016/">tax man</a>."</p> <h3>2. Great American Cookies</h3> <p>The chain will continue its tradition of offering a free treat on Tax Day. This year it will be a <a href="http://www.greatamericancookies.com/press/great-american-cookies-gears-up-for-a-doozie-of-a-40th-birthday-celebration-with-great-deals-this-spring/">Birthday Cake cookie</a>.</p> <h3>3. HydroMassage</h3> <p><a href="http://www.hydromassage.com/taxday.cfm">Free massages all week</a>, from April 15 through April 22, with printable coupon.</p> <h3>4. Kona Ice</h3> <p>For what Kona Ice calls National Chill Out Day, the company's trucks will be parked at post offices, tax preparation centers, and businesses nationwide to hand out free cups of tropical shaved ice &mdash; and Hawaiian leis to boot.</p> <h3>5. Office Depot</h3> <p>Shred up to five pounds of documents for free until April 29 with <a href="http://www.officedepot.com/cm/print-and-copy/shredding">printable coupon</a>.</p> <h3>6. Schlotzsky's</h3> <p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1883774011903199/">Free small Original sandwich</a> with purchase of medium drink and chips.</p> <h3>7. Tony Roma's</h3> <p>Tony Roma's will be "writing off" a signature dessert for guests from April 15 through April 17. Any guest who orders an entr&eacute;e at a participating Tony Roma's will receive a coupon for a free dessert.</p> <h2>Tax Day deals</h2> <p>In addition to the free offers listed above, a number of businesses are offering special discounts for Tax Day.</p> <h3>1. Chuck E. Cheese's</h3> <p>This kids' utopia promises a tax day deal this year but hasn't disclosed the details yet.</p> <h3>2. Boston Market</h3> <p>Boston Market is offering a $10.40 Tax Day meal special: Half chicken individual meal with two sides, cornbread, a regular fountain beverage, and a cookie. In-restaurant only, no online orders.</p> <h3>3. Sonic</h3> <p>Half-price cheeseburgers on Tax Day.</p> <h3>4. White Castle</h3> <p>Between April 14 and April 18, Harold and Kumar's favorite restaurant will give customers 15 percent off all in-store orders.</p> <h3>5. Noodles &amp; Co.</h3> <p>If you filed your taxes digitally, you can get $4 off any $10 <a href="http://order.noodles.com">order placed online</a> using the code <a href="http://www.noodles.com/taxday/">TAXDAY17</a> at checkout. The promotion runs from April 12 through April 18.</p> <h3>6. Bruegger's Bagels</h3> <p>From April 12 through April 19, Bruegger's will be offering a Big Bagel Bundle (baker's dozen of bagels and two tubs of cream cheese) for $10.40. Stay tuned to <a href="https://www.brueggers.com/">their website</a> for a printable coupon</p> <h3>7. Chili's</h3> <p>Participating Chili's will be offering $6 blueberry and pineapple margaritas all day on April 18.</p> <h2>Past offers we may see this year</h2> <p>These companies have offered tax day deals before, but haven't yet announced what they'll do this year. Keep an eye on their websites and social media feeds!</p> <h3>1. Hard Rock Cafe</h3> <p><a href="http://www.hardrock.com/promo/sing/">The Sing for Your Supper promo</a> offered a free burger to anyone with the courage to sing on stage.</p> <h3>2. Staples</h3> <p>Like Office Depot, this chain usually shreds up to five pounds of documents free this time of year.</p> <h3>3. Arby's</h3> <p>The fast food chain has previously offered free curly fries on Tax Day.</p> <h3>4. AMC Theaters</h3> <p>Sometimes these guys give you a free small popcorn on Tax Day.</p> <h3>5. Cinnabon</h3> <p>Cinnabon has previously offered two free Classic Bites on Tax Day.</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/2014-tax-day-freebies-and-discounts">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/10-ways-to-get-free-or-almost-free-airline-tickets">10 Ways to Get Free (or Almost Free) Airline Tickets</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/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</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-score-free-food-at-chick-fil-a">6 Ways to Score Free Food at Chick-fil-A</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/dont-pay-more-guide-to-price-matching-and-cheat-sheet">Don&#039;t Pay More! Guide to Price Matching and Cheat Sheet</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/what-to-buy-and-avoid-buying-in-march">What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in March</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs discounts freebies tax day Mon, 17 Apr 2017 14:21:34 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1135644 at http://www.wisebread.com Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_scared_internet_511483528.jpg" alt="Woman learning to stop making password mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Elaborate passwords are a necessity in today's internet-obsessed world. Unfortunately, too many of us still rely on simple passwords that make us easy targets for hackers.</p> <p>A study by the online security provider Preempt found that <a href="https://blog.preempt.com/weak-passwords" target="_blank">35 percent of LinkedIn users</a> have exceptionally weak passwords that pose no challenge to hackers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen?ref=seealso" target="_blank">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a>)</p> <p>Want to boost your online security and keep your personal information safe from hackers? Then here are some key password mistakes to avoid.</p> <h2>1. You use the same password across various accounts</h2> <p>This is one of the biggest password mistakes too many of us make. We reuse passwords from site to site. It doesn't matter how complex these passwords are &mdash; whether they are an incomprehensible mess of lowercase letters, numbers, and uppercase letters. If you are using the same password at multiple sites, you are vulnerable. A hacker only has to crack this password once to access several of your accounts.</p> <h2>2. Your password is all numbers or all letters</h2> <p>One of the easiest ways to make your password more challenging to crack? Use a wide variety of characters, numbers, lowercase letters, uppercase letters, and even symbols such as your keyboard's dollar sign and asterisk.</p> <p>Never make your password all letters or all numbers. These are some of the easiest passwords to guess.</p> <h2>3. You don't mix up where you put those numbers</h2> <p>Maybe you take the next step and you do put numbers and letters in your password. Where you put those numbers matters, however. Too many of us simply put a string of numbers at the front or at the end of our passwords. If you want to create a stronger password, sprinkle numbers throughout it, and don't simply bunch them all together. Also, don't use obvious numbers, such as your street address, the year you were born, or the years during which your children were born.</p> <h2>4. You rely on short passwords</h2> <p>It's difficult to remember long, complicated passwords. But such passwords are also more difficult to crack. Don't create a password that's too short. Online security experts have different opinions on this, but keep your passwords at least 12 characters long, and you'll be a lot better off. The longer your password, the more work hackers have to do to guess it. Many might give up and go after less difficult passwords.</p> <h2>5. You follow well-known patterns</h2> <p>You might think you've created a complex password, one filled with letters, numbers, and symbols. But if your password follows certain well-known patterns, hackers can crack it with little effort, relying on password-cracking programs.</p> <p>Security consultant KoreLogic in 2014 studied the users at an anonymous Fortune 100 company. It found that about half of the users relied on five patterns to create their passwords. KoreLogic discovered, too, that 85 percent of the users at this company relied on just 100 common password patterns.</p> <p>What are the three most common patterns that KoreLogic uncovered? Users relied on one uppercase, five lowercase and then two digits, such as Pdregt45. They also relied on one uppercase letter, six lowercase letters and two digits, such as Tjiktrg39, and one uppercase letter, three lowercase letters and four digits, such as Pewy1476.</p> <p>When creating passwords, then, avoid these most common of patterns. Your password might seem perfectly random to you. Hackers won't see it the same way.</p> <h2>6. You start your password with an uppercase letter</h2> <p>Mixing upper- and lowercase letters in your passwords is a good idea. But don't start your password with an uppercase letter and then follow it with a string of letters that are all lowercase. Instead, randomly capitalize letters throughout your passwords.</p> <h2>7. You aren't careful with exclamation marks</h2> <p>Some sites might require passwords that include not just letters and numbers, but at least one symbol, too. Adding symbols can dramatically increase the complexity of your password. Just don't fulfill the symbol requirement by putting an exclamation point at the very end of your password. Too many users already do that, and it makes cracking your password an easier task.</p> <h2>8. You always place numbers next to each other, no matter where you put them</h2> <p>So, you avoid the common mistake of putting numbers only at the beginning and end of your passwords. That's good. But don't place numbers next to each other, either. Users have the habit of bunching numbers together in their passwords, no matter where they put them. This is another common mistake that makes your passwords easier to hack.</p> <h2>How to manage all these passwords</h2> <p>Following all the above tips poses one big problem: How are you supposed to remember all these random and long strings of numbers, letters, and characters?</p> <p>One way is to use a password manager, like LastPass, Dashlane, or 1Password. This allows you to store your passwords through their encrypted and secure system, so when you visit a site, your login credentials will be saved and you can login without needing to remember your password. Unless you have a superb memory or don&rsquo;t have very many online accounts, this is one of the safest ways to keep your passwords and have it easily accessible.</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/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes">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-4"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</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/google-yourself-challenge-how-much-can-people-learn-about-you-online">Google Yourself Challenge: How Much Can People Learn About You Online?</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Technology identity theft internet safety internet security login password protection passwords safe password Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Dan Rafter 1927496 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Avoid a "Sweetheart Scam" http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-476845526.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to avoid a sweetheart scam" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The &quot;Sweetheart Scam&quot; is nothing new, but the internet and dating sites have made it much easier to pull off. Scammers scour online profiles and use their charm to convince the victim that it's love at first sight. Before they know it, they're handing over all their money and valuables. Then, the scammer moves on.</p> <p>The FBI reports that <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/audio-repository/news-podcasts-inside-sweetheart-scams.mp3/view" target="_blank">losses from sweetheart or dating scams</a> have doubled in the past 10 years to between $15,000 and $20,000 per victim.</p> <p>It's a horrible crime. But, you can use these tips to avoid it, or stop someone you know from getting taken in by this heinous con.</p> <h2>1. Try not to get involved with anyone right after a relationship</h2> <p>Be wary about getting involved with someone else soon after an ended relationship. The sweetheart scam preys especially on those who are divorced, widowed, or recently single.</p> <p>At this time, you're at your most vulnerable. You're emotionally unstable, and you may be craving the attention of a new partner. You are more likely to be open to suggestion. Scammers are superb at reading your emotional state and manipulating you. So, be aware of anyone who approaches you soon after a break up of any kind, and if money comes up, walk away.</p> <h2>2. Don't give money or valuables to anyone</h2> <p>You could have met the nicest person in the world. They seem kind and honest. They are charming. They tell you everything you want to hear. But, pretty soon after laying this groundwork, the requests come in for money and valuables.</p> <p>They're small at first. They may ask for a few bucks to help cover a phone bill until payday, and they promise to pay you back. However, the requests will only get bigger as they gain your trust. Before you know it, you're handing over hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to someone because you genuinely think they love you. All they love is your cash. Once they have bled you dry, they'll move on. Don't give anyone money until you have a long, proven relationship, and know everything about them.</p> <h2>3. Research your new sweetheart<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Never take anyone at face value. The internet has given scammers an incredible resource. They can find images of people they want to look like, create fake websites, steal personal videos, and even create hundreds of phony friends.</p> <p>Even if everything is going great, do some digging. It doesn't hurt to do a background check; they're inexpensive and can give you a great deal of information. If you discover they have horrible credit and a history of bad debts and dubious deals, you may want to ask them about it. Do a reverse image search on their photos. Are they who they say they are? Are they insanely good looking? Check phone numbers. Check places like LinkedIn and Google+ to see if the information they have told you checks out. It never hurts to be too careful. If they're too good to be true, they probably are.</p> <h2>4. Talking on the phone isn't enough</h2> <p>There's nothing wrong with beginning a long-distance relationship, and for thousands of people every year, it works. But scammers love to operate over phones and emails. They'll refuse to show their real face, or meet in person. You've probably seen Catfish, the MTV show, and know how this goes. Fake photos, fake Facebook and Twitter profiles, sometimes even phony voices. Although seeing someone's face over a video call like Skype won't automatically protect you from a scam, it's a step in the right direction.</p> <p>If you get resistance, and a bunch of excuses, block this person. There is no reason someone cannot video chat in this day and age. Technology is dirt cheap, and even libraries have computers with webcams.</p> <h2>5. Find a safe place to meet and talk</h2> <p>If you want to avoid a sweetheart scam, meeting someone in person is essential. You'll get a much better impression of them face to face. So if you've reached the point where you're ready to meet, do it in a safe place. That is not your home, and it's definitely not their home.</p> <p>You are looking for a place that is well known to you, is occupied by people and/or staff, and has an easy way for you to leave. A public park is fine if it's during the day and plenty of people are around. But your best bet is usually a busy coffee shop or restaurant. These days, many bars and restaurants are staffed with people who know about the dangers of meeting people online. They may have notices posted in the bathrooms, providing code words that you can use to get you out of the situation.</p> <h2>6. Be wary of an early &quot;I love you&quot;</h2> <p>Do lightning-fast romances happen? Of course. Are two people meant to be together, and feel it the second they meet? Yes, sometimes. But the vast majority of people fall in love over time. You get to know the person intimately. You find out their flaws, and love them for every single one. You meet their family and friends. It's a process. If someone you meet blurts this out after a week or two, alarm bells should be ringing.</p> <h2>7. How's their grammar?</h2> <p>Many sweetheart scams originate in places like Nigeria, where English is a second language. Although technology like Google Translate helps to disguise this, you should pick up on mistakes that feel weird. This is not to say you should become a grammar Nazi, but if the texts and emails you get are worded in an odd way, with spelling errors most people wouldn't make, you may want to do some digging. Of course, talking on the phone, video chatting, and meeting in person would easily clear up this particular point of contention.</p> <h2>8. Listen to your friends and family</h2> <p>There's an expression that directly applies to sweetheart scams; you can't see the forest for the trees. When you become involved with someone, the heart rules the head for a while. You can get caught up in the other person so much, you don't see the obvious; that they're taking you for a ride.</p> <p>So, during this time, listen to your friends and family. At first, they may just give you subtle hints. But as you begin handing over money, they will usually raise the red flags and tell you to get out of the relationship. Don't ignore them. If they suspect your new love is not all he or she appears to be, take a step back. Do the research. They may be wrong, but if enough of them raise concerns, you should be worried.</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/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-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-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/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</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/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</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/what-is-sopa-and-how-will-it-affect-you-0">What Is SOPA, and How Will It Affect You?</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/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-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> Consumer Affairs Technology con artists Internet manipulation online dating online relationships sweetheart scams theft warning signs Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Paul Michael 1921002 at http://www.wisebread.com 18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-629293194.jpg" alt="surprising ways your identity can be stolen" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people have already been victims of the most basic forms of identity theft &mdash; having fraudulent charges on your credit card. Those even less lucky have been victimized in more aggressive ways, with criminals obtaining medical care, working, and flying in our names.</p> <p>Unwinding that mess can take years and thousands of dollars. The effect is exacerbated by the fact that the crime doesn't generally stop with the one person who stole your information. Credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other data gets packaged and sold on the underground Internet so that different people all over the world could be impersonating you at the same time.</p> <p>&quot;It's a pain. It does cause a lot of stress,&quot; said Lindsay Bartsh, of San Rafael, California, who said that straightening out a web of fraudulent medical bills, flights, job applications, and credit applications took every minute of her free time for a year.</p> <p>How does it happen? Here's a look at both the most common ways thieves steal our data, as well as some of the newest ploys to watch out for.</p> <h2>1. Mail Theft</h2> <p>Bartsh believes this time-honored tactic is how her personal information got out into the criminal underworld. An expected W-2 tax form never arrived. Assuming it was stolen, it would have given thieves a wealth of information, such as Social Security number and workplace.</p> <h2>2. Database Hacks</h2> <p>When a large corporation gets hacked, the effect can be widespread. When the U.S. government's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/federal-eye/wp/2015/07/09/hack-of-security-clearance-system-affected-21-5-million-people-federal-authorities-say/?utm_term=.af013608cbff" target="_blank">Office of Personnel Management was breached</a>, some 22 million people had their personal information exposed. (I was one of the many who received a warning about this, because I had a writing contract with a government agency.)</p> <h2>3. Malicious Software</h2> <p>If you have a virus on your computer, you may suffer more than a slowdown or a system crash. Some malicious programs that spread as viruses record every keystroke you type, allowing thieves to find out your online banking username and password. These programs can infect your mobile phone as well as your computer.</p> <h2>4. Search Engine Poisoning</h2> <p>This is a sneaky way of tricking people into giving up their own personal data, or getting malicious software onto a person's computer. The criminals create a fake website similar to a real one, or that could plausibly be a real one.</p> <p>One tactic is for you to click through to the fake site and try to buy a product, entering your credit card or debit card number. Another way they try to get you is for you to unknowingly download information-stealing software onto your computer.</p> <p>Where does the search engine part come in? These criminals manipulate Google and other search engines' algorithms to get their phony sites ranked high in search listings, leading users to believe they must be legit. Fortunately, Google has made progress in preventing this in recent years, but it still happens.</p> <h2>5. Phishing</h2> <p>Phishing is a term that broadly means &quot;fishing&quot; for personal information through a variety of common social interactions &mdash; so-called &quot;social engineering.&quot; The most common phishing attack happens when you get an email that looks like it came from your bank or another legitimate company. It may come with an alarming subject line, such as &quot;overdraft warning&quot; or &quot;your order has shipped.&quot; When you click a link in the email, you may see a login screen identical to your normal login, which will trick you into entering your username and password. You could also be asked for more identifying details, such as Social Security number and account number.</p> <p>Fortunately, banks have put some countermeasures into place to fight phishing. You can also protect yourself by not responding directly to incoming messages. If you get an email that looks like it's from your bank, type your bank address into your browser instead of clicking the link, sign in, and check your account's message center. Or just call your bank's customer service number.</p> <h2>6. Phone Attacks</h2> <p>The Internal Revenue Service has been warning for several years that <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/scam-phone-calls-continue-irs-identifies-five-easy-ways-to-spot-suspicious-calls" target="_blank">scammers are calling people claiming to be the IRS</a>, either claiming that they have a refund due or owe money. Fishing for information via the phone is also known as &quot;vishing,&quot; as in, &quot;voice phishing.&quot;</p> <p>If they're taking the refund tactic, they'll probably ask for your bank account number or other personal info, supposedly in order to send you your refund. If they say you owe, they may ask for a credit or debit card number, or worse, try to get a payment in a way that's not traceable or refundable, like through a prepaid debit card.</p> <p>This kind of scam is also known as &quot;pretexting,&quot; and the really good scammers make it seem realistic by having some basic info about you on hand before they call, like your address and date of birth, which are pretty easy to find online.</p> <h2>7. Text Attacks</h2> <p>In another twist on phishing, &quot;smishing,&quot; or SMS phishing, sends you a text message encouraging you to click a link that will either trigger the download of malicious software or direct you to input personal information.</p> <h2>8. Fake Wi-Fi Hotspot</h2> <p>Also known as an &quot;evil twin&quot; hotspot, this is a Wi-Fi connection setup in a public place, like a cafe, with a name that leads you to believe it was provided by someone trustworthy, like the cafe owner. The evil twin Wi-Fi hotspot really connects you to the Internet, just like a legit connection. The difference is, the evil twin is provided by a hacker, who uses specialized software to eavesdrop on information you're sending out &mdash; like your bank password or Social Security number &mdash; or to direct you to a malicious website like those described above.</p> <p>When a hacker interrupts your attempt to access a legitimate website and steals the data you're trying to send, it's called a &quot;<a href="https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Man-in-the-middle_attack" target="_blank">man in the middle attack</a>.&quot;</p> <h2>9. Dumpster Diving</h2> <p>Another low-tech but very effective method is simply pawing through recycling bins, looking for discarded credit card offers, bills, medical records, and other paperwork that could have personal information on it. Not only can identity thieves hit you at home, they could also search dumpsters outside of medical offices, schools, and banks.</p> <h2>10. Workplace Theft</h2> <p>A U.S. Department of Justice survey of convicted identity thieves found that a third of them <a href="https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/219122.pdf" target="_blank">accessed victims' information through their jobs</a>. The criminals worked for mortgage companies or at government agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, where they had access to treasure troves of client information. Others lifted information from job applications.</p> <p>Back in 2000, just one guy was responsible for stealing 33,000 people's credit reports at his credit industry help desk job. He sold the reports to thieves who, according to news reports, used the information to steal up to $100 million.</p> <h2>11. Burglary</h2> <p>When someone breaks into your home or car, it may not be the loss of your jewelry, cash, or laptop that hurts the most. If they find your credit cards, Social security card, or tax returns &mdash; or get such information off a stolen computer &mdash; you could be in for severe identity theft.</p> <h2>12. Pickpocketing</h2> <p>Another old-fashioned crime that has thrived in the era of high-tech data theft, pickpocketing nowadays commonly leads directly to identity theft. In fact, a major ID theft ring busted 10 years ago targeted crowded events to steal wallets and convert the information inside to valuable dossiers of information, which they would later resell.</p> <h2>13. Mobile Phone Theft</h2> <p>If you have authorized your phone to make payments on your behalf, saved passwords for banking and retail sites, or saved other personal data on it, having the device stolen could cost you a lot more than the replacement cost. Phones that aren't password- or fingerprint-protected are most vulnerable.</p> <h2>14. Mobile Phone Account Hijacking</h2> <p>Another form of ID theft targeting phones happens when someone gets ahold of your account information and uses it to <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/identity-theft-mobile-phone" target="_blank">order a new phone or line</a>, with the bill going to you.</p> <h2>15. Shoulder Surfing</h2> <p>This technique involves watching over someone's shoulder as they enter a password at the ATM, or using a camera to steal the information from farther away. This could also be a tactic for getting someone's phone password before physically stealing the phone.</p> <h2>16. Skimming</h2> <p>This nefarious technique involves stealing credit or debit card information with a card reader that may look just like a legitimate card reader. Skimming devices have been found at gas station pumps, on ATMs, and at retail store registers. Or, waiters in restaurants can put your card through a skimmer when they take it to the back to finalize your bill.</p> <h2>17. Friend and Family Theft</h2> <p>Also known as &quot;familiar fraud,&quot; this crime happens when the ID thief is your child, your parent, even your spouse. Sadly, it's not uncommon for parents to abuse the identities of their own minor children in order to get credit. In a <a href="https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/587/the-perils-of-intimacy?act=0#play" target="_blank">disturbing story broadcast on <em>This American Life</em></a>, Rachel Rosenthal couldn't figure out how her identity thief kept catching up with her, no matter how many accounts she closed &mdash; until she realized that the thief lived in her own home and had access to all her mail and documents. It was her boyfriend, who had been &quot;helping&quot; her financially, with money he withdrew from <em>her</em> bank account.</p> <p>Often, these crimes take place in the context of real relationships, where one party happened to turn on the other party. But there are also crooks out there who look for partners specifically to steal their identities, especially on dating sites and social media.</p> <h2>18. Social Engineering Targeting Companies</h2> <p>You don't have to work for a credit agency or mortgage bank to get customer information if you are skilled enough to trick employees into giving it to you. Thieves may call an airline, posing as a secretary who needs her boss's trip information, or call a company pretending to represent a client or supplier. A friendly fast talker may be able to get employees to skip security protocols and give out information they shouldn't. Every call the thief makes is a little easier, armed with the information from the last call</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/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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> <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/stop-making-these-8-risky-password-mistakes">Stop Making These 8 Risky Password Mistakes</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/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</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/get-your-own-identity-what-to-do-when-yours-is-stolen">Get Your Own Identity! What to do when Yours is Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Technology hijacking identity identity theft phishing skimming stolen identity tech news Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:00:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1905168 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-479413254_0.jpg" alt="Man learning how to recognize predatory lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Predatory lending has long been a problem for consumers. There is no exact definition of a predatory lender, but in general, these lenders either try to overcharge consumers for loans, or talk them into riskier loans that come with higher interest rates. Predatory lenders have one goal: They want to make as much money as possible on their loans, regardless of whether the loan product actually makes financial sense for the consumers.</p> <p>How, exactly, do people fall for this? It's actually not surprising when you understand the degree of manipulation predatory lenders will use. By targeting mainly elderly, low-income, or simply uninformed victims, these financial predators bank on convincing folks with poor or no credit that they have no other options for obtaining financing.</p> <p>If you don't fit the above criteria, don't think you're completely off their radar, either. Should you ever lose your job, need cash for an emergency, or suddenly find yourself facing steep medical bills, you just might be the next target of a predatory lender.</p> <p>Worried that a predatory lender might have targeted you? Here are the warning signs.</p> <h2>The Lender Wants You to Sign Now</h2> <p>Honest lenders will never pressure you to sign loan documents before you are comfortable. Legitimate lenders give you time to study the paperwork and research the fees and rates associated with the loan.</p> <p>Predatory lenders want you to sign paperwork as quickly as possible. That way, they can stick you with their high-cost loans before you have the chance to research lower-cost alternatives. Never do business with a lender who pressures you to act quickly. The odds are high that such a lender is a predator.</p> <h2>The Interest Rate Suddenly Rises</h2> <p>Predatory lenders like to entice new customers by advertising below-market interest rates on their websites or print ads. But when you actually call these lenders, you're told that you don't qualify for these low rates. Once these lenders have you on the phone, they'll try to convince you to sign up for a loan with a far higher rate.</p> <p>Don't fall for this trick. Companies that advertise interest rates that are far lower than their competitors are usually not trustworthy. The odds are high that these are predatory lenders trying to trick gullible borrowers.</p> <h2>They Tell You Not to Worry About Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Legitimate lenders rely heavily on your FICO credit score to determine if you should qualify for a loan and at what interest rate. This score tells lenders how well you've paid your bills in the past.</p> <p>Beware of lenders who say that your credit score doesn't matter or that they can approve you for a loan no matter how low your score is. Lenders who make these promises will charge you sky-high interest rates because they know that you're desperate for a loan. You're much better off working to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">improve your credit score</a> than taking out a costly high-interest-rate loan. Pay all your bills on time and pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible. Slowly, but steadily, your credit score will start to rise, and you can avoid the high rates of predatory lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>The Lender Asks You to Lie</h2> <p>Making false claims about your income or debt on a loan application is a crime, and you could face significant fines if you do. Predatory lenders, though, might encourage you to inflate your income or provide other false information.</p> <p>Ignore this temptation. No legitimate lender will ask you to lie on an application. Instead, lenders will take extra steps to make sure that the information you do provide on an application is true. For instance, they'll ask you to provide copies of your most recent paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and tax returns to verify your income.</p> <h2>Your Lender Tries to Talk You Into a Riskier Loan</h2> <p>Be careful if your lender continues to push a loan that sounds risky. Maybe you want to apply for a fixed-rate loan with a term of 15 or 30 years. If your lender pressures you to instead apply for an interest-only loan with a balloon payment &mdash; or something equally as complicated or risky &mdash; walk away. Legitimate lenders will never try to talk you into a loan that you don't want.</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/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">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/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters</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-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</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/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Panic If Your Credit Score Drops</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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</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-things-you-need-to-know-about-credit-scores">5 Things You Need to Know About Credit Scores</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs credit score interest rates lies loans manipulation predatory lending risk scams warning signs Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:31:34 +0000 Dan Rafter 1901334 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Tell if That Home Business Opportunity Is Really a Pyramid Scheme http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/women_chatting_tablet_506624473.jpg" alt="Women learning if a home business is a pyramid scheme" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Work from home! Get out of debt! Make a full-time income selling products you love! Such are the promises of companies and their agents looking to recruit people to be distributors or &quot;consultants&quot; for them.</p> <p>These types of &quot;job opportunities&quot; are called multilevel marketing (MLM), and most people who sign up never realize the benefits. If you're considering becoming a distributor for an MLM company, beware of the many warning signs that you could end up making little to no money, or worse, adding to your debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/multi-level-marketing-the-future-or-folly?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Multi-Level Marketing: The Future or Folly?</a>)</p> <p>Tupperware, Avon, and Mary Kay are some of the best known MLM firms, though they sometimes shun that term in an attempt to distance themselves from controversy-laden companies such as Herbalife and Amway. Both of those companies have been accused of making inflated earnings claims and of being pyramid schemes. The main difference between MLM companies and true pyramid schemes is that the primary purpose of a pyramid scheme is recruiting other distributors, rather than making direct sales. Pyramid schemes are illegal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-work-from-home-jobs-you-should-avoid?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Terrible Work-From-Home &quot;Jobs&quot; You Should Avoid</a>)</p> <h2>What Are MLM Companies?</h2> <p>MLM companies, also called network marketing or direct selling companies, incorporate a business model in which representatives make money in two ways. The first is direct sales to consumers &mdash; often friends and acquaintances &mdash; through parties, social networks, and other web sales. The second income source is commissions from sales made by team members you recruit, also known as &quot;down line&quot; distributors.</p> <p>IBISWorld estimates the direct selling industry makes $41 billion in revenue and employs about 800,000 people. Intense competition from mass merchandisers has kept growth to a modest 0.6%.</p> <h2>MLM Promises Are Tempting</h2> <p>The sales pitches of MLM companies can be alluring, especially for stay-at-home moms, students, and the unemployed. Just imagine, they exclaim, a work day that includes jumping on social media, talking up strangers at the grocery store, or networking with friends. By selling products you love and believe in, you could earn extra money while enriching others' lives. And if you could convince a few friends to become distributors beneath you, you could have your own business &mdash; becoming the &quot;boss&quot; for the first time in your life. The promise is this: If you pour your heart into your business, get people to sign up beneath you, and never give up, you can (and will) become successful &mdash; no matter what.</p> <p>And when it comes to recruiting new distributors, some MLM companies pull out the big guns. It Works! &mdash; a company that sells body wraps, supplements, and personal care products &mdash; advertises huge cash payouts for new distributors who meet specific sales goals. How huge? The company frequently advertises bonuses of $15,000 or more for their top tier sellers, although it's hard to find concrete data on how many sales you need to make to earn these bonuses, or how they are paid out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-part-time-jobs-to-do-while-your-kids-are-at-school?ref=seealso" target="_blank">17 Part-Time Jobs to Do While Your Kids Are at School</a>)</p> <h2>The Problem With Multi-Level Marketing Operations</h2> <p>While people can and do earn huge sums of money with MLM companies, there are myriad pitfalls to avoid. First, it can take a ton of sales to get anywhere near the mind-blowing income levels posted on corporate websites. And to reach the highest ranks of earners with any MLM, you may need to recruit dozens of people to work beneath you (with them recruiting people to work beneath them as well).</p> <p>Secondly, as we mentioned before, the line between MLM firms and pyramid schemes is fuzzy. In a pyramid scheme, the price of the products sold is inflated, making them hard to sell and causing the vast majority of participants to lose money. The <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0065-multilevel-marketing" target="_blank">Federal Trade Commission (FTC)</a> warns of the similarities, noting:</p> <blockquote><p>Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it's probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.</p> </blockquote> <p>Even if the company is legitimate, most MLM companies require a &quot;buy in.&quot; You'll need to pay a certain amount of cash upfront to sell their products. While these &quot;starter kits&quot; normally cost a nominal amount (a few hundred dollars), they will certainly start your business in the red. If you're trying to make money to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off?ref=internal" target="_blank">pay off debt</a>, that's the last thing you need. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-signs-the-job-is-too-good-to-be-true?ref=seealso" target="_blank">11 Signs the Job Is Too Good to Be True</a>)</p> <h2>How Much Do MLM Distributors Really Make?</h2> <p>If you make money right out of the gate, then a nominal investment could be money well spent. Unfortunately, most distributors for MLM companies barely eek out a profit, let alone earn a full-time income from home. You can find proof directly on their websites.</p> <p>Let's go back to It Works!, the body wraps and personal care products company. According to its <a href="https://www.myitworks.com/Legal/Income/" target="_blank">2015 annual income disclosure statement</a>, 82% of its representatives had been with the company for an average of one month and were still on the first rung of the payment hierarchy &mdash; distributor status. Their monthly earnings ranged from a low of $1 to a high of $3,847, with a monthly average of $54.</p> <p>Income grows incrementally up the ranks, and tends to coincide with longer time spent growing the business. But income growth is slow, and the percentage of distributors who stick around more than a month drops dramatically. Only 7.8% of It Works! sales people are at the Executive level. They've been there an average of three months and earn an average of $231 a month. About 0.6% of reps are at Double Diamond level, making an average of $4,741 a month after 13 months of effort.</p> <p>Of course, some huge, mythical incomes do exist. According to the disclosure, the top tier income earner (. 02% of all distributors) &mdash; Ambassador Diamond &mdash; pulls in around $37,583 per month.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the average income for all It Works! Distributors was only $227 per month in 2015.</p> <p>And It Works! is far from the exception; their distributors actually make more than those working for many other MLM companies. Check out these annual income figures from other multilevel marketing disclosures for more proof:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://issuu.com/thirtyoneleader/docs/income-disclosure-statement-2015" target="_blank">Thirty-One Gifts</a>: a company that sells organizational totes and monogrammed bags. In 2015, the average consultant (92.1% of distributors) earned $548 per year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://meltascent.com/download/scentsy-income-disclosure-statement/" target="_blank">Scentsy</a>: a company that focuses on candles and wax warmers. In 2014, the average lowest-level rep, called an Ecsential Consultant, earned $81 per year, while the average Certified Consultant (one level up from Ecsential) earned $463 per year.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://www.advocare.com/opportunity/" target="_blank">Advocare</a>: a company that sells nutritional supplements and diet products. In 2015, the average annual compensation paid by Advocare to active distributors was $1,586.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="http://www.beachbodycoach.com/uploads/fckeditor/mdbody/File/downloads/statement_of_independent_coach_earnings.pdf" target="_blank">BEACHBODY</a>: a company that sells fitness products and nutritional shakes. In 2015, the average BEACHBODY coach earned $502.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://www.isagenix.com/~/media/compliance/earnings-statement/us-en-earnings-statement.pdf" target="_blank">Isagenix International</a>: a company that focuses on nutrition and diet products. In 2015, 87% of Isagenix business builders earned between $702 and $2,101, on average per year.</li> </ul> <p>As you can see, the average &quot;little guy&quot; is not making bank with any of these companies. In fact, your average distributor may be earning $100 per month or less. If they're a hobbyist who signed up for product discounts, then that might be fine by them. But when someone signs up to follow their dreams, the reality of not earning much can burn.</p> <p>MLM supporters argue that the reason so many people don't earn more is because they aren't really dedicated to building the business. Barriers to entry are very low, so many people sign up, then lose interest and give up in a way they wouldn't if they were building a regular business in which they'd had to invest more.</p> <p>But there are also real challenges to growing a viable business using the MLM model, even for committed salespeople. For example, many MLMs ask you to focus your sales efforts on family members and friends, which can be awkward and presents a limited pool of customers. Even if you expand your sales network, the products may be overpriced, making them difficult to sell.</p> <p>Lastly, it's not easy to grow your sales if your MLM is overly saturated with distributors already. And if you happen to recruit a distributor (the key to earning commissions), they then often become your competition.</p> <h2>Tips for Vetting an MLM Company</h2> <p>Just like anything else, it pays to do some research before you sign up for a multilevel marketing company. As the FTC notes, it's smart to not only consider the products, but to learn more about the company itself.</p> <p>Questions to ask should include:</p> <ul> <li>How long has the company been in business?</li> <li>What is its standing with the BBB?</li> <li>Has the company been sued for deceptive business practices?</li> <li>What are the company's annual sales?</li> <li>What percentage of average sales are made to distributors, as opposed to retail consumers?</li> </ul> <p>Beyond those considerations, the FTC suggests making sure you understand compensation structure, terms and conditions, and potential business expenses. Also, get all the company's details, including their refund policy, in writing.</p> <p>The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also offers an array of tips for people vetting a MLM and trying to avoid a pyramid scheme. According to the SEC, you should:</p> <ul> <li>Watch out for MLMs that don't appear to offer a product or service. If you can't figure out what a MLM sells, run.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be leery of MLMs that promise huge returns in a short amount of time. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be skeptical of companies that offer compensation for little work. Terms like &quot;easy money&quot; and &quot;passive income&quot; should be a red flag.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Look for proof of retail sales. Ask to see documents that show how the MLM generated revenue from the selling of its products to people outside the program.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Think long and hard before you &quot;buy in.&quot; Question the value of any opportunity that makes you purchase a product to get started.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Watch out for complex commission structures. If it's hard to understand how you'll get paid or you can't figure out how commissions work, beware.</li> </ul> <p>Lastly, the FTC and SEC both suggest avoiding MLMs that place a heavy emphasis on recruiting members to work beneath you. The hallmark of a pyramid scheme is when you make more money recruiting than you do for product sales.</p> <p>Check out these <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/multilevel-marketing" target="_blank">FTC</a> and <a href="https://www.sec.gov/enforce/investor-alerts-bulletins/investoralertsia_pyramidhtm.html" target="_blank">SEC</a> pages for further details on how to vet a multilevel marketing company. While these companies do offer a path to earning extra income, the reality is that most of that income goes to the very top few earners, not to the average distributor like yourself. And if you don't wind up earning much, the costs of buying a &quot;starter kit&quot; and hosting parties could easily leave you in the red.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holly-johnson">Holly Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme">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/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">How to Protect Yourself From an Investment 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/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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make">The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make</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-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Consumer Affairs businesses distributors MLM multilevel marketing pyramid schemes sales scams self employment work from home Fri, 03 Mar 2017 10:30:39 +0000 Holly Johnson 1902525 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-157397600.jpg" alt="Woman making sure her private info stays private" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a world where so many of us share everything from the birth of a child to our weight loss goals on social media, privacy might seem like a moot point. But the reality is, growing identity theft threats make safeguarding personal details more important than ever.</p> <p>The good news is, there are simple things you can do to keep yourself safe. It is just about paying attention to where your personal information could leak out, and plugging the holes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/careful-your-cc-may-be-sharing-this-private-info?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Your Credit Card May Be Sharing Your Private Info</a>)</p> <h2>1. Destroy Unneeded Paper Documents</h2> <p>Any junk mail that contains a credit offer. Old documents with your signature, Social Security number, date of birth, or other identifying details. Old tax returns. Convenience checks from credit cards. These are some of the most sensitive items that you should never dispose of without shredding. Buy a <a href="http://amzn.to/2jwjGhw" target="_blank">crosscut shredder</a> or take your documents to a business shredder to destroy, or burn the paper in your fireplace.</p> <h2>2. Safeguard Your Mail</h2> <p>The <a href="https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/TipThieves.aspx" target="_blank">U.S. Post Office recommends</a> that you pick up your mail promptly after delivery and always put the mail on hold if you go out of town. Some folks take it a step further by investing in a locking mailbox or renting a post office box away from their residence. Remember to protect outgoing mail as well, by dropping it into a secure mailbox or handing it to the carrier, instead of leaving it out for the carrier to pick up.</p> <h2>3. Be Wary of Online Forms</h2> <p>You may be asked for your name, email address, home address, phone number, date of birth, and other personal information many times a day on the Internet. And often, it's legitimate to share that information &mdash; for instance, when signing up for a food delivery service. But when asked for personal details, ask yourself who's behind the request &mdash; a reputable brand, or a company you've never heard of? Is the sign-up really necessary?</p> <h2>4. Don't Overshare on Social Media</h2> <p>First of all, know who you're sharing with when you post something on social media. On Facebook, you can choose to share a post with the public, with all your friends, or only a subgroup of friends. Personally, I don't know all the people I've accepted friend requests from very well. So most of the things I post &mdash; especially potentially compromising information such as an upcoming surgery or vacation &mdash; are only shared with a select group of close friends and relatives.</p> <p>Second, there are some things you don't want to share with anyone &mdash; not even relatives. Hundreds of thousands of people each year have their <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/21/identity-theft-victims-may-know-the-culprit.html" target="_blank">IDs stolen by someone they know</a>. Never post a photo of personal documents, like a new passport or even a kid's report card. Beware of documents that may be visible in the background of snapshots, like that tax form stuck to your fridge with a magnet.</p> <h2>5. Conduct Periodic Audits of Your Online Info</h2> <p>This sounds complicated, but it's actually easy. First, Google your full name. Look yourself up on &quot;people search&quot; websites, especially <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/01/12/youve-probably-never-heard-of-this-creepy-genealogy-site-but-its-heard-all-about-you/?utm_term=.620bcefdccc0" target="_blank">FamilyTreeNow</a>, which allows people to search for personal data without paying or signing up for an account. A lot of the info you will find on these sites are public records, but that doesn't mean you want to make it easy for potential data thieves to aggregate all public info about you for free. Opt out of all such sites, which may take some time clicking around, but is worth it.</p> <h2>6. Be Suspicious of Everyone Who Handles Your Information</h2> <p>Your children's school and your doctor's office probably aren't out to rob you, so you might feel comfortable sharing any information they ask for. Here's the thing, though: Do you know if they're storing those documents securely or disposing of them properly when no longer needed? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft</a>)</p> <p>One way to limit your exposure to this risk is to give as little information as possible. Yes, every school form might ask for your child's medical insurance ID, but is it really necessary? At the doctor's office, decline to write your Social Security number on paperwork. They don't need it on every piece of paper in your file.</p> <p>Another way to limit your exposure is to ask staff how papers are handled and secured, and to push for better safety in the likely event that there's room for improvement.</p> <h2>7. Keep Your Computer Clean</h2> <p>Logging onto bank, mortgage, and credit accounts to pay bills, check balances, and transfer money is incredibly convenient. It can also be incredibly dangerous if you do it on a compromised computer. Be wary of what you click, whether it's an app you download or a link or attachment in email, because if your computer gets a virus, it could do more than slow it down. Hackers can use such Trojan horses to slip a keystroke logging program onto your computer, recording everything you type, including usernames and passwords. Never log onto banking and other sensitive sites using public Wi-Fi connections.</p> <p>Besides avoiding clicking dodgy links and regularly scanning your computer for malware, you can safeguard your online banking data by regularly changing your passwords, and by making your passwords really hard to guess.</p> <h2>8. Limit What You Carry Around With You</h2> <p>Stealing your purse or wallet is another way thieves can get ahold of your private information. Don't carry anything more than you need &mdash; one or two credit cards and your driver's license should do. Leave your Social Security card at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-never-keep-in-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Things to Never Keep in Your Wallet</a>)</p> <h2>9. Opt Out of Junk Mail</h2> <p>You can sign up to <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0262-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email" target="_blank">stop credit and insurance companies</a> from sending you preapproved offers, which could be used to take out accounts in your name. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-remove-yourself-from-mailing-lists-and-eliminate-junk-mail?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Remove Yourself From Mailing Lists and Eliminate Junk Mail</a>)</p> <h2>10. Don't Get Caught by a Phisher</h2> <p>Beware of impostors asking for your bank password or other information. You may already know that if you get an alarming email purportedly from your bank, you can go straight to your bank website and log on, or call them, instead of clicking the link.</p> <p>But increasingly, phishers are reaching victims by phone as well. So many people have been tricked into installing malicious software or giving up credit card numbers by fake &quot;Microsoft tech support&quot; calls that <a href="https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx" target="_blank">Microsoft set up a page</a> warning the public about them. The Internal Revenue Service has set up a <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-urges-public-to-stay-alert-for-scam-phone-calls" target="_blank">similar warning</a> about criminals who call posing as IRS agents and ask for money or personal data. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a>)</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/10-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">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-9"> <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-signs-that-a-winning-notification-email-is-a-fake">6 Signs That a Winning Notification Email Is a Fake</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/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen">18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs data emails identity theft malware personal information phishing phone calls scams security viruses Thu, 02 Mar 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1898692 at http://www.wisebread.com Do You Know How Dirty Your Money Is? http://www.wisebread.com/how-dirty-is-your-money-really <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-dirty-is-your-money-really" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-531714398.jpg" alt="Person learning how dirty their money really is" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cash. We need it to live. But have you ever stopped to think of what it is you're touching when you hold a $20 bill, or a handful of nickels and dimes? Unless they're crisp bills straight from the mint, or freshly unwrapped quarters, the chances are, they've changed hands many, many times. Let's break it down, and discover the filthy truth of what might be lurking on the money in your wallet.</p> <h2>The Lifespan of Bank Notes and Coins</h2> <p>Coins are built to last. Right now you can find coins for sale that date back to the age of Julius Caesar. The average <a href="https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/coin-lifespan/" target="_blank">lifespan of a coin is around 30 years</a>, but some can still be in circulation after 50 years or more. They change hands thousands of times, and never get cleaned.</p> <p>Conversely, &quot;paper&quot; money is nowhere near as hardy, but as it's <a href="http://www.bep.gov/hmimpaperandink.html" target="_blank">made up of 25% linen and 75% cotton</a>, it's not really paper at all. It's cloth. This makes it resistant to folds (the average bill can be folded back and forth over 4,000 times before tearing), with a humble dollar bill lasting almost five years. However, because the material is also absorbent, it has the chance to pick up a multitude of germs and bacteria.</p> <h2>What's on Your Money?</h2> <p>The Dirty Money Project, in New York, has been studying our money for years. Their findings are not for the faint of heart. Each dollar bill carries roughly 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface. Common microbes found include the ones that cause acne and other skin problems. Anthrax was also detected, but fear not, it was not the weaponized variety.</p> <p>The Southern Medical Journal also did one of many studies conducted on the state of our one-dollar bills. A staggering <a href="https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-98033286.html" target="_blank">94% of the bills they tested contained pathogenic</a>, or potentially pathogenic, organisms. In other words, almost every one-dollar bill you touch contains a bacterium, virus, or microorganism that causes disease. Now, what kind of disease you come into contact with is a matter of blind luck.</p> <p>Furthermore, the very dangerous bacteria MRSA (which can lead to the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis) was discovered on <a href="https://newsspc.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/cash-credit-cards-spreading-harmful-bacteria-spc-professors-work-shows/" target="_blank">80% of the dollar bills studied in a test</a> by St. Petersburg College professor Shannon McQuaig.</p> <h2>Specifically, What Germs Are on Bank Notes?</h2> <p>Of the many studies done, several of which have been cited in this article, the following dangerous microorganisms were found:</p> <h3>Streptococcus</h3> <p>This isn't too much of a concern. Should you contract this, you will most likely get a sore throat, although it can cause skin infections, urinary tract infections, and even pneumonia.</p> <h3>E. coli</h3> <p>You know this one well, especially after the spread of it last year at several Chipotle locations. Although many types of it are harmless, some can be deadly. E. coli has led to anemia and kidney failure, which can lead to death. Most people who get ill from it suffer stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.</p> <h3>Salmonella Enterica</h3> <p>A major cause of food poisoning, you will usually get this by eating contaminated food. However, anyone who handles raw food or fecal matter, and then handles money, can be responsible for spreading it.</p> <h3>Staphylococcus Aureus</h3> <p>This causes the staph infections you have probably heard about. Most commonly, this is a skin infection, but it can also lead to pneumonia, food poisoning, and blood poisoning.</p> <h3>MRSA</h3> <p>A type of staphylococcus aureus that is very dangerous, because it is resistant to antibiotics and other drugs in the methicillin class.</p> <h3>Proteus</h3> <p>This is a bacterium found in the intestines of animals, and in the soil. It will most likely cause a urinary tract infection, which is easily treatable.</p> <h2>Your Money Is Downright Disgusting</h2> <p>It's filthy. It's teaming with bacteria. It's infested with germs. And it really can make you sick. If you handle money on a regular basis, it's advisable to wash your hands regularly, and use hand sanitizers as often as you can. Don't lick your fingers to count money, as that can obviously have nasty results. You should also avoid touching money and then eating food with your hands, but as that is something that happens often (restaurants, bars, food carts, football games) you should carry a pocket hand sanitizer and apply that before you eat. Also, don't put money in your mouth, not even for a bet, and don't put your hands near your mouth after touching money.</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/how-dirty-is-your-money-really">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/germs-dirt-bacteria-infection-immune-system-antibiotics-disease">Are we too clean for our own good?</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/when-greed-backfires-an-iphone-story-1">When greed backfires - an iPhone story.</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/what-booze-teaches-us-about-money">What Booze Teaches Us About Money</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/would-you-accept-200000-if-you-didnt-know-where-it-came-from">Would You Accept $200,000 If You Didn&#039;t Know Where It Came From?</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/five-calls-you-can-make-now-to-save-hundreds-to-thousands-of-dollars">Five calls you can make now to save hundreds to thousands of dollars</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs bacteria cash cleanliness dirty money germs money Spending Money Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:00:13 +0000 Paul Michael 1893507 at http://www.wisebread.com