Consumer Affairs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4809/0 en-US 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-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/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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 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-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-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/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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-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/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> 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-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/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/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-jobs-for-people-who-hate-the-9-5">10 Great Jobs for People Who Hate the 9-5</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-ways-to-keep-your-private-info-private">10 Ways to Keep Your Private Info Private</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-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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/phishing-scams-continue-to-plague-social-media-sites">Phishing Scams Continue to Plague Social Media Sites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </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-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-booze-teaches-us-about-money">What Booze Teaches Us About Money</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-ways-valentines-day-picks-your-pocket">8 Ways Valentine&#039;s Day Picks Your Pocket</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/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-4 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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </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 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Home Warranty http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516251216.jpg" alt="make the most of your home warranty" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you have ever bought a home with a real estate agent, chances are they told you they convinced the seller to include a home warranty in the deal.</p> <p>Unfortunately, those home warranties often turn out to be difficult to use. I have a friend in Florida whose central air system failed twice while the home was still under warranty, and the company found a different reason each time to deny the claim. I myself have had home warranty companies (initially) deny a claim for a clogged drain and a broken garbage disposal. Even when the warranty does cover a problem, many consumers are disappointed with the quality of the repair service.</p> <p>Is it impossible to get results from a home warranty? No, it's not. While I'm not a huge fan of the policies, I personally have had home warranties pay for themselves several times over. It wasn't easy, though. Here are some tactics for getting the most out of your home warranty.</p> <h2>Shop Around for Policies</h2> <p>Not all home warranties are created equal. If you're buying your own warranty, first check the company's reputation, and then look at the different levels of coverage it offers. If the warranty is being given to you with a home sale, you can ask your real estate agent the same questions.</p> <h2>When Something Breaks, Contact the Warranty Company First</h2> <p>You have no heat in the dead of winter! Shouldn't you call the furnace company first and worry about getting compensated for it later? Not so fast. The home warranty company may not cover a repair if you hire someone first, and later contact them.</p> <p>Some warranty companies offer 24/7 support, but if the warranty company puts you on hold forever or can't send a technician for a week, you may be in a tough spot. What you do then comes down to how much you want your claim covered, and how much damage &mdash; like frozen pipes &mdash; might occur while you wait.</p> <h2>Read Your Contract Before Calling</h2> <p>When filing your claim, explain exactly how your problem qualifies for warranty coverage. For instance, say your warranty covers appliances but not plumbing. Your dishwasher failed and caused water damage to your kitchen floor. Don't call and simply tell them you have flood damage in your kitchen. Call and report that your warranty-covered dishwasher malfunctioned and damaged your floor.</p> <h2>Be Persistent, Both With Phone Agents and Service Providers</h2> <p>Continuing with the above scenario, if the phone agent tells you your floor damage isn't covered, have the contract handy so you can cite the passages that support your claim. And if the agent isn't helping you, ask to be transferred to a manager. Follow up in writing or by email if denied.</p> <p>Once a service provider is dispatched, be present for the visit. Some providers will show up, charge the visit fee, and say that the repair isn't covered &mdash; without thoroughly investigating. If they try to say it's not covered, point out why it should be. Contact their supervisor if necessary before paying the fee.</p> <h2>Ask If You Have a Choice of Service Providers</h2> <p>Before agreeing to allow a service provider into your home, check their online reviews. In my experience, home warranty companies sometimes send low-rated providers. You can look up a provider on Angie's List or Yelp quickly while on the phone with the service company. If it's a terrible company, ask to have a better one dispatched.</p> <h2>Ask If You Have the Option of Taking a Cash Payment</h2> <p>Warranty companies do sometimes offer cash instead of replacing an appliance. On the downside, the cash they pay probably won't cover your true replacement cost. On the upside, if you get the cash, you can choose the model and installer you want.</p> <p>My home warranty company offered a $500 check when our water heater broke shortly after we bought our current home. Our new water heater cost twice that with installation, but we were glad to have the flexibility to upgrade the unit and work with a more reputable plumber than the warranty company initially sent.</p> <h2>Be Persistent Even If You're Not Sure Who's Right</h2> <p>The home warranty initially refused to cover my clogged drain because it was in the basement, leading to the outside of the house, and they only covered the inside the house. Was this argument valid? I wasn't sure, but because it required jackhammering and repairing my basement floor, it was going to be a very expensive repair &mdash; so I just kept at them. I emailed, I faxed, I called. It took weeks, but I finally got the company to pay for the repair &mdash; probably just to get me off their back.</p> <h2>Don't Schedule Service If You Know the Repair Isn't Covered</h2> <p>When the home warranty company dispatches a service provider to your house, they'll charge you a visit fee of $35 to $100 &mdash; whether they fix anything or not. So there's no sense calling them for a repair that falls outside the coverage, and there's certainly no sense misrepresenting your repair. You'll just lose the service fee.</p> <h2>Keep a Close Eye on Older Appliances and Systems During the Warranty Period</h2> <p>Is your furnace making a funny noise, but you can live with it? If your warranty expires soon, it may be worth paying the visit fee to have a technician check it out, just in case that noise indicates a major problem that will come to a head just after the warranty expires.</p> <h2>Keep Your Expectations in Check</h2> <p>Don't get surprised or angry when your home warranty provider tells you they won't cover a claim. Go in with a lot of patience and persistence on tap, and try your best to get something out of them. In the end, if you end up with a less-than-perfect repair or a smaller-than-desired check, acknowledge that at least you got something. Life's too short to waste time fuming at a company that angered you.</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-get-the-most-out-of-a-home-warranty">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-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">4 Warranties That Aren&#039;t Worth It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-a-home-energy-audit-will-save-you-money">4 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money</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/citimortage-told-me-to-default-on-my-loan-if-i-want-their-help">CitiMortgage Told Me to Default on My Loan</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/making-home-affordable-expanded-again-borrowers-allowed-to-refinance-loans-up-to-125-percent-of-valu">Making Home Affordable expanded again - borrowers allowed to refinance loans up to 125 percent of value</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-can-renters-do-if-their-landlords-are-in-foreclosure">What can renters do if their landlords are in foreclosure?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing Angie's List appliances cash payouts filing claims home warranties phone agents repairs services Wed, 15 Feb 2017 10:30:29 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1889842 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Mold on Common Household Items http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-get-rid-of-mold-on-common-household-items <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-easy-ways-to-get-rid-of-mold-on-common-household-items" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-543337910.jpg" alt="Man learning how to get rid of mold on everyday items" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Mold is everywhere. It might even be hiding on everyday items that you didn't even think to check. With continued exposure, you can begin developing respiratory problems or allergic reactions.</p> <h2>Where to Look for Mold</h2> <p>Here's where mold might be lurking.</p> <h3>Toys</h3> <p>Recent <a href="http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/news/a42382/sophie-the-giraffe-mold/" target="_blank">findings of mold</a> in children's sippy cups and teething toys have led to widespread panic among parents. However, most pediatricians agree that a <em>small </em>amount of mold exposure is usually <a href="http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/kids-parenting/should-parents-throw-out-rubber-toys-like-sophie-the-giraffe" target="_blank">okay for children</a>, except if your baby has a mold allergy or an immune deficiency. However, your child's toys should be cleaned regularly so that they don't accumulate a significant amount of mold over time. If you notice shadowing coming from inside of the toy, or the toy smells bad, then you need to clean it to reduce the chance of you or your child getting sick from mold exposure.</p> <p>Children's toys, dog toys, and bath toys can become covered in mold. Mold can also grow inside of a squeaky toy or any toys with a hole. If a toy is safe for the tub, then it's also usually safe for the top rack of the dishwasher for routine cleanings. For fabric toys, consider running them through the washer and dryer regularly.</p> <p>To disinfect the toys with bleach, fill up a covered container with 1 gallon of hot water and 1/4 cup bleach. Cover and allow the toys to soak for about an hour. You can also do the same thing with a mix of 1 gallon water and 1/2 cup white vinegar. If you'd like to skip the bleach altogether, then consider boiling the toys in hot water.</p> <p>Going forward, make sure that the toys are allowed to drain properly so they don't get filled up with mold again. You can also plug up the holes with a drop of hot glue to prevent water from getting trapped inside. As a general rule, if an item is not meant to be wet, don't get it wet. For instance, throwing toys not meant for the bathtub into the bath may be inviting mold into your life.</p> <h3>Kitchen Tools</h3> <p>Certain items are more susceptible to mold, such as anything that may be hiding moisture or food. For <a href="http://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/12-smart-ways-to-use-bleach/" target="_blank">butcher block cutting boards and countertops</a>, Reader's Digest suggests dipping a brush in a solution of 1 t bleach and 2 quarts water. Scrub the area in small circles and wipe clean with a damp cloth. The bleach solution can also be used to clean countertops and plastic tablecloths.</p> <p>Your trash can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew, so on occasion, flush the garbage pail out with a hose. Use the bleach solution to scrub the can clean.</p> <h3>Bathroom Tools</h3> <p>Plastic bathroom items, such as shower mats, can become susceptible to mold. To disinfect, soak the items in hot water and bleach for about an hour. You may need to scrub the items to remove any clingy mold.</p> <p>The hot water and bleach solution should work well for bathroom tools, shower caulking, and bathroom tiles. You can even mix the solution in a spray bottle to spray over grout and moldy areas.</p> <p>Your shower curtain can quickly grow mold, especially if you don't stretch the curtain out so it can dry properly. Wash your curtain with a load of towels, or clean it with hot water, bleach, and a small amount of laundry detergent and allow to hang dry.</p> <p>Make sure to frequently wash your bathroom towels and rugs to prevent them from growing mold. Moisture invites mold, so make sure to allow items to dry completely. You may also want to squeegee your shower walls and shower doors to speed up the drying process and prevent mold.</p> <h3>Outdoor Items</h3> <p>Just as your indoor items are susceptible to mold, your outdoor items (like tablecloths, plastic lawn furniture, and gardening tools) can also be susceptible to mold if they are exposed to moisture. Sanitize these items by washing them with the bleach and water mixture. For gardening tools or items susceptible to rust, rub a few drops of tea tree oil on the surface after drying to prevent rust.</p> <h2>How to Get Rid of Mold</h2> <p>Now that we know where mold might be hiding, here are some easy ways to get rid of it.</p> <h3>1. Bleach</h3> <p>Mix 1 gallon of hot water with 1/4 cup bleach for a quick disinfecting spray. Regardless of what you use the bleach solution on, it's important to thoroughly rinse the area with hot water afterward so that you aren't exposing your home or your family to bleach. Make sure never to mix bleach with ammonia or vinegar. Bleach is the best option if you're dealing with a <a href="http://cleaningallstars.com/the-truth-about-mold-removal-bleach-vs-vinegar/" target="_blank">nonporous surface like glass or tile</a>.</p> <h3>2. Vinegar</h3> <p>Mix 1 cup white vinegar with 1/4 cup water. Spray it on the item's surface, let it dry, and rinse and wipe clean.</p> <h3>3. Tea Tree Oil</h3> <p>Mix 1 t tea tree essential oil with 1 cup hot water or distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray it on the item's surface, allow it to sit, and wipe away.</p> <h3>4. Hydrogen Peroxide</h3> <p>Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup water. Spray it on the item's surface, let it dry, and rinse and wipe clean.</p> <h3>5. Baking Soda</h3> <p>Mix 1/4 T baking soda into a spray bottle of water. Spray moldy surfaces, scrub, and rinse clean. You can even spray the area again and allow it to dry to prevent future growth. You can also spritz this solution into carpeting after vacuuming.</p> <h3>6. Store Favorites</h3> <p>Purchase quick cleaning solutions that can remove mold and help prevent the regrowth of mold and mildew. Items like <a href="http://amzn.to/2jLmTrY" target="_blank">Lysol Disinfecting Wipes</a> and <a href="http://amzn.to/2kMjkzq" target="_blank">Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover</a> can get the job done quickly. You may also want to invest in something like the <a href="http://amzn.to/2kjZ23j" target="_blank">OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set</a>, which can deep clean areas that could be housing mold.</p> <h2>What Should You Toss?</h2> <p>Some items just aren't worth the trouble and should be tossed and replaced, for safety's sake. In fact, many professionals recommend throwing a toy away that shows signs of mold growth. If you notice significant mold growing inside of your child's toys, or you aren't able to clean them well enough on your own, it's best to just replace them with new toys that won't trap water.</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/6-easy-ways-to-get-rid-of-mold-on-common-household-items">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/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</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/30-household-products-vinegar-can-replace">30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace</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/25-things-to-throw-out-today">25 Things to Throw Out Today</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-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</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/254-uses-for-vinegar-and-counting">254 Uses for Vinegar. And Counting.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Home cleaning cleaning hacks cleaning products getting rid of mold mold mold on toys Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:30:38 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1889191 at http://www.wisebread.com So Far Trump Has Called Out 6 Companies: Here's How They've Done http://www.wisebread.com/so-far-trump-has-called-out-6-companies-heres-how-theyve-done <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/so-far-trump-has-called-out-6-companies-heres-how-theyve-done" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-576909262.jpg" alt="trump has called out these companies" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Even before he took over the @POTUS Twitter account, President Trump had long been using the 140-character social media network to settle scores, sound off on critics, initiate attacks, as well as denounce or praise the mechanics of several American businesses. Find out what happened to companies Trump has boosted or blasted. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-a-donald-trump-presidency-could-impact-your-wallet?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways a Donald Trump Presidency Could Impact Your Wallet</a>)</p> <h2>1. The New York Times</h2> <p>On several occasions, Trump has taken on The New York Times on Twitter, calling the newspaper &quot;so totally wrong,&quot; among other things. In one anti-Times Twitter episode, Trump claimed that the newspaper &quot;is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the 'Trump phenomena.'&quot;</p> <p>So how did The Great Gray Lady fare? In a tweet responding to Trump's claims of falling readership, the newspaper's parent company said that new subscriptions were surging on the heels of Trump's public criticism. As a result, stock in the Times' parent company soared tenfold <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/29/new-york-times-subscriptions-soar-tenfold-after-donald-trump-wins-presidency.html" target="_blank">immediately following Election Day</a>.</p> <h2>2. Boeing</h2> <p>Trump called for the cancellation of a deal with Boeing to develop a new Air Force One. &quot;Cancel order!&quot; he tweeted, calling the situation &quot;totally out of control,&quot; citing sky high costs.</p> <p>In the immediate wake of the incident, nervous investors drove Boeing stock down by selling off shares, but the stock's value ultimately rebounded. Boeing has since engaged in several talks and price negotiations <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/01/17/donald-trump-boeing-ceo-conversation/" target="_blank">with Trump</a>, and company officials have said that the two parties are close to making a deal on the cost of the new presidential aircraft fleet.</p> <h2>3. L.L. Bean</h2> <p>Linda Bean, granddaughter of L.L. Bean's founder, came under fire in the media when news broke that the thousands of dollars she had donated toward Trump's presidential candidacy were, in fact, illegal. Liberal groups responded by initiating boycotts of the Maine retailer. Then Trump chimed in: &quot;Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean,&quot; he said on Twitter.</p> <p>In an interview on Fox Business Network, Linda Bean said her company experienced an <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/01/12/linda-bean-calls-boycott-un-american-trump-says-thank-in-tweet.html" target="_blank">&quot;uptick&quot; in business after Trump's tweet</a>. She did not provide specific numbers.</p> <h2>4. Fiat Chrysler</h2> <p>&quot;It's finally happening,&quot; Trump tweeted. &quot;Fiat Chrysler just announced plans to invest $1 BILLION in Michigan and Ohio plants, adding 2,000 jobs.&quot; The praise came after Trump criticized automakers for importing vehicles to the U.S. from Mexico. Fiat officials said its decision to make <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2017/01/09/trump-lauds-fiat-chrysler-but-ceo-seeks-policy-clarity/96361424/" target="_blank">the $1 billion investment</a> praised by Trump had long been in the works, and was not in reaction to criticism by Trump. &quot;It wasn't a pre-emptive strike against a tweet,&quot; said Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.</p> <p>Nonetheless, Fiat's stock value enjoyed a bump on the heels of the announcement of its investment in Michigan and Ohio, and Trump's subsequent kudos.</p> <h2>5. Carrier</h2> <p>A hallmark of the Trump campaign was keeping American jobs within U.S. borders. For Trump, news that Carrier would export 1,400 jobs from Indiana to Mexico became a symbol of a larger problem. But Trump moved to negotiate with the company, securing a deal in which more than half the jobs said to be headed for Mexico would instead remain in Indiana. As part of the deal, the air conditioning manufacturer received <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/business/economy/trump-carrier-pence-jobs.html?_r=0" target="_blank">seven million dollars in tax incentives</a>. &quot;Big day on Thursday for Indiana and the great workers of that wonderful state,&quot; Trump tweeted. &quot;We will keep our companies and jobs in the U.S. Thanks Carrier.&quot;</p> <p>Carrier benefited from Trump's use of the company's plans to export U.S. jobs to Mexico by becoming the recipient of $7 million in state tax breaks.</p> <h2>6. CNN</h2> <p>&quot;You are fake news,&quot; Trump told a CNN reporter at the last news conference before his inauguration, adding, &quot;Your organization is terrible.&quot; The remarks by Trump came after CNN reported that intelligence officials had briefed Trump on an unverified document alleging that the Russian government has compiled unflattering and compromising information about him. Trump punctuated his opinion on CNN's reporting of the matter with a tweet: &quot;@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!&quot; CNN responded by saying that it stands by the story.</p> <p>Despite losing viewers <a href="http://www.thewrap.com/donald-trump-says-cnn-ratings-tanking-since-election-is-he-right/" target="_blank">since the election</a>, CNN is up in year-to-date viewership. CNN's Jake Tapper, who contributed reporting to the network's story on the dossier allegedly compiled by Russia, tweeted this: &quot;<a href="https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/819554352939618304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" target="_blank">@TheLeadCNN was #1</a> in its time slot in the demo Tuesday, thanks for watching folks!!&quot;</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/so-far-trump-has-called-out-6-companies-heres-how-theyve-done">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/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves</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-be-the-best-customer">How to be the best customer</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/10-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-wallet">10 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet</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/can-you-spare-a-square-5-quick-tips-on-toilet-paper-usage">&quot;Can you spare a square?&quot; 5 quick tips on toilet paper usage.</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-to-refill-an-ink-cartridge-with-a-small-piece-of-tape">How to refill an ink cartridge with a small piece of tape</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Boeing business news carrier cnn donald trump fiat LL Bean potus president the new york times trump twitter Fri, 03 Feb 2017 10:30:27 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1884231 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-453477539.jpg" alt="what to do if your airbnb is awful" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have a friend, I'll call her &quot;Diane.&quot; Diane was excited to find an affordable two-bedroom Airbnb rental in Chicago. She looked forward to spending the holidays meeting up with old friends and saving money by cooking for her family instead of eating out every night.</p> <p>Instead, she ended up wasting the first few days of her trip on the phone with Airbnb customer service, and the unit's owner &mdash; who had provided a nearly empty apartment. This was not what she expected from the listing.</p> <p>&quot;The whole place felt like an abandoned afterthought,&quot; Diane said. She learned the owner had moved out and left very little behind &mdash; no couch in the living room and not enough kitchen supplies to put together a meal.</p> <p>Airbnb can be a great way to save money and enjoy neighborhoods outside tourist districts &mdash; when things go well. But some guests have been frustrated by the company's response when things don't turn out as advertised.</p> <p>Airbnb Spokesman Nick Shapiro calls negative experiences &quot;extremely rare&quot; on the service, but said that when they happen, Airbnb wants to get problems fixed and get guests into a better situation if necessary. He points out that guest refunds come directly from the host, and if the company seems to ask tough questions when people complain, it's because it must protect both hosts and guests.</p> <p>&quot;We are negotiating with another user's money and we are not there on the premises, so we do our best to work with both the host and the guest to find the most fair outcome,&quot; Shapiro said.</p> <p>It is possible to get a refund or replacement accommodation from Airbnb when a rental isn't up to snuff. But you need to play by their rules &mdash; and even then, it isn't always easy. Despite trying her best to follow every rule, my friend never ended up getting the full refund or hotel reimbursement she asked for, although she did get some money back from the host after bugging out early. If you find yourself in a similar situation as &quot;Diane,&quot; here's what you can do.</p> <h2>1. Act Quickly</h2> <p><a href="https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/544/what-is-airbnb-s-guest-refund-policy" target="_blank">Airbnb's policy states</a> that guests must file a claim within 24 hours of check-in in order to claim a refund. They are pretty strict about this. Just contacting them within the first 24 hours &mdash; as Diane did &mdash; isn't enough. You have to file a complaint within that period to comply with the refund policy.</p> <p>The company holds payments for the first 24 hours, to give the guest time to verify that all is as it should be. Shapiro explained that since Airbnb staff can't verify complaints in person, caution is necessary.</p> <p>&quot;It can be easy for a bad actor to fabricate evidence, which ultimately hurts a host. If a guest contacts us on day three of their five-night reservation complaining that the listing is messy, there is no way to know if that mess was caused by the guest or not.&quot;</p> <p>If you discover a problem late at night, don't wait until business hours to complain. Airbnb provides 24/7 customer service everywhere.</p> <h2>2. Contact the Host</h2> <p>If you call Airbnb to complain about a rental, they'll tell you to contact the host first.</p> <p>&quot;Giving them a chance to fix an issue is the fastest way to make sure you get what you need,&quot; Airbnb explains on its website. But don't wait long to hear back from the host before you request that refund. Remember, the clock is ticking.</p> <p>For this reason, meeting the host for a walkthrough is a good idea, and the best time to bring up any problems with the property.</p> <p>When Diane and her husband met the owner at that nearly empty Airbnb, they accepted the keys and said goodbye to the owner, a move she now realizes was a mistake.</p> <p>&quot;I wish I had been less worried about being polite, and more assertive about the missing items right from the start. Having to confront the person who has your money and holds the keys is really challenging. You just want the guy to leave so you can make a game plan and take it all in,&quot; she said.</p> <p>Another way to prevent problems that the host could fix is to communicate with the host before you arrive,&quot; Shapiro advised.</p> <h2>3. Communicate Through Airbnb</h2> <p>Use Airbnb's messaging system when you contact the host, so that the company can see your message, when you sent it, and the host's reply. Also save a copy of all communications for yourself, in case you need them later.</p> <h2>4. Read Airbnb's Refund Policy Carefully</h2> <p>Only certain conditions may be eligible for a refund in Airbnb's policy, even in that first 24 hours:</p> <ul> <li>If you can't get into the rental;</li> <li>If the listing misrepresents the unit;</li> <li>If the place is dirty or unsafe;</li> <li>If there's an animal there that wasn't disclosed in the listing.</li> </ul> <p>When you submit the refund claim, make it clear how the property qualifies for a refund under these specific conditions.</p> <h2>5. Re-Read the Listing Closely Before Complaining</h2> <p>In order to comply with Airbnb's narrow refund qualifications, it's a good idea to study the listing before contacting them to pinpoint any misrepresentation. It's not a bad idea to print the listing before you travel, in case you have trouble accessing the listing while on your trip. And don't forget to check the photos and captions, not just the main listing text.</p> <p>&quot;Some of the promises for the apartment were in the photo captions,&quot; Diane explained. &quot;So when I first wrote to the owner and Airbnb, everyone claimed there was no promise of a stocked kitchen, etc. I felt like I had imagined it. By the time I realized they were in the photo captions, it was really too late.&quot;</p> <p>It's important to plan your initial complaint carefully, because changing or adding to your complaint later could work against you. Remember, Airbnb staff is looking to protect owners from bad actors.</p> <h2>6. Document the Conditions</h2> <p>Airbnb requires proof in your refund claim, as in photos. Take a picture of that broken window, dirty bathroom, or the gaping hole where the kitchen stove should be, and send it along with your claim.</p> <h2>7. Check the Cancellation Policy</h2> <p>Even if Airbnb and the owner refuse to refund the first night of a stay, if the owner has chosen the <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/home/cancellation_policies" target="_blank">&quot;flexible&quot; cancellation policy</a>, you can go on Airbnb and cancel the remainder of your stay for a refund. Of course, you'll need to check out at that point.</p> <p>With the &quot;moderate&quot; policy, you can get a 50% refund for unused nights. For the stricter policies, you can't get a refund for cancellation after checking in. For a long-term rental, the first month cannot be canceled.</p> <h2>8. Try Social Media</h2> <p>If you feel the host and Airbnb are not being helpful, or you've complained but didn't hear back, a nudge on Twitter or Facebook can get things moving.</p> <p>When Rose Maura Lorre and her family checked into an Airbnb that didn't live up to the listing photos, had treacherous stairways, a minor bug issue, and &quot;a bedroom that really wasn't,&quot; her husband first tried emailing customer service, but then, Lorre said, &quot;I took it to their Facebook page and got an immediate response.&quot;</p> <p>Airbnb found them a new place to stay by the next day, and refunded them for the first night.</p> <p>Diane got a quick response from Airbnb's Twitter team, although the team's proposed solution didn't work for her. They offered money to buy the missing items, but she didn't feel that she should have to spend her vacation time stocking someone else's kitchen.</p> <h2>9. If the 24-Hour Window Has Passed, Complain Anyway</h2> <p>Shapiro acknowledges that sometimes guests discover a problem mid-stay.</p> <p>&quot;This is where our customer service team has more responsibility to make a judgment call,&quot; Shapiro said. &quot;We have to ask questions like, 'Why was this not discovered until now?' 'Is this something that the guest somehow could be at fault for?'&quot;</p> <p>Airbnb didn't give Diane a refund, claiming that, although she had complained right away, she had raised the qualifying issues with the apartment too late. But other customers have had better luck. The blog Root of Good describes getting a <a href="http://rootofgood.com/bad-experience-airbnb/" target="_blank">full refund and an apology voucher</a> when he complained two days after checking into a filthy apartment.</p> <h2>10. Try the Owner Again</h2> <p>For Diane, more problems popped up throughout her stay, like a hairball lurking under the bedsheets. When she wrote to Airbnb again, they directed her to its <a href="https://www.airbnb.com/resolution_center" target="_blank">Resolution Center</a>, where you can request money back directly from the host with a click of a button. Asking doesn't necessarily mean getting, but you can try. Diane was able to convince the host to refund the days she didn't use his apartment.</p> <h2>11. Contact Your Credit Card Provider</h2> <p>As with any unsatisfactory customer experience, you can request that your credit card provider withhold payment. One Airbnb customer, who <a href="http://www.airbnbhell.com/tag/chargeback/" target="_blank">described on AirbnbHell</a> being locked out of a rental for hours, reported successfully getting a refund through this method.</p> <p>If your credit card offers travel insurance, you could also ask for a refund via that route. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-perks-you-didnt-know-your-credit-card-had?ref=seealso" target="_blank">12 Travel Perks You Didn't Know Your Credit Card Had</a>)</p> <h2>12. If Nothing Else Works, Try the Media</h2> <p>Columns such as Christopher Elliott's The Travel Troubleshooter are able to spur companies &mdash; <a href="http://elliott.org/the-troubleshooter/cant-get-refund-airbnb-rental/" target="_blank">including Airbnb</a> &mdash; to give refunds after initially refusing. Besides, it might feel good to vent about a frustrating experience to a columnist or on TV. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-vacation-rental-alternatives-to-airbnb?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Vacation Rental Alternatives to Airbnb</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhat-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhat%20to%20Do%20About%20a%20Terrible%20Airbnb%20Stay_0.jpg&amp;description=What%20to%20Do%20About%20a%20Terrible%20Airbnb%20Stay" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/What%20to%20Do%20About%20a%20Terrible%20Airbnb%20Stay_0.jpg" alt="What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay" 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/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">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/5-cities-where-airbnb-is-way-cheaper-than-a-hotel">5 Cities Where Airbnb Is Way Cheaper Than a Hotel</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-ways-to-save-on-accommodations-online">8 Ways to Save on Accommodations 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/travel-and-money-using-your-credit-card-on-the-road">Travel and Money: Using Your Credit Card on the Road</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/25-ways-to-have-the-best-cheapest-summer-vacation">25 Ways to Have the Best, Cheapest Summer Vacation</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/does-it-make-sense-to-stay-in-a-hotel-anymore">Does It Make Sense to Stay in a Hotel Anymore?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Travel accommodations AirBnb Airbnb stay hotels travel tips vacation vacation rentals Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:30:36 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1877411 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Big Brands Making the World a Better Place http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-brands-making-the-world-a-better-place <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-big-brands-making-the-world-a-better-place" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-458560005.jpg" alt="these brands are making the world a better place" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We tend to believe that big retailers are only interested in the bottom line. But many large retail companies <em>do </em>want to make the world a better place, and they are happy to put their profits and influence to work in order to do so. The following big retailers are working to create a better world, which means you can feel great about spending your money with them.</p> <h2>1. Patagonia</h2> <p>This outdoor clothing giant has long been a supporter of grass roots environmental groups. Back in 1986, the company pledged to donate 1% of its daily global sales to<a href="http://www.patagonia.com/company-history.html" target="_blank"> environmental organizations</a>, which amounted to a donation of $7.1 million in 2015. But this year, Patagonia decided to step up its game by pledging to give away 100% of the sales it brought in on Black Friday, and shoppers responded. The company made $10 million in sales on Black Friday, and every single penny of it will be given to various environmental organizations all around the world.</p> <p>Though the Black Friday initiative is over, shoppers looking for outdoor gear can still feel good about spending their money with Patagonia, since 1% of their sales will still go to helping the environment.</p> <h2>2. Ben &amp; Jerry's Ice Cream</h2> <p>Who doesn't love ice cream, especially when it comes with a side of social, economic, and environmental values? The Ben &amp; Jerry's brand is about more than just funny ice cream names and unique flavor combinations &mdash; founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield <a href="http://www.benjerry.com/values" target="_blank">created a three-part mission</a> to guide all of their decision making.</p> <p>Their product mission drives them to make fantastic ice cream using the best ingredients while promoting business practices that respect the environment. Their economic mission asks them to manage their company for sustainable financial growth that respects the needs of all employees. That means offering their lowest-paid workers more than twice the national minimum wage. And their social mission compels the brand to operate in a way that initiates innovative ways to improve quality of life.</p> <p>And 7.5% of the company's <a href="http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/2014/philanthropy-foundation" target="_blank">pretax profit is given away</a> each year to philanthropic endeavors through Ben &amp; Jerry's Foundation. This extraordinary level of giving was set way back in 1985, and has continued since the sale of the ice cream label in 2000 to Unilever.</p> <p>All of this together means you can feel great anytime you dig into a pint of Cherry Garcia.</p> <h2>3. Starbucks</h2> <p>The coffee giant is committed to corporate social responsibility and ethical business practices. When it comes to their product, Starbucks focuses on the sustainable production of coffee. This is why everyone's favorite purveyor of pumpkin spice lattes created <a href="https://www.scsglobalservices.com/starbucks-cafe-practices" target="_blank">Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices</a>, a set of guidelines to achieve product quality, economic accountability, social responsibility, and environmental leadership in the coffee production business. In terms of their employees, Starbucks has always been a leader in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-part-time-jobs-that-offer-college-benefits" target="_blank">providing outstanding benefits</a>, including health insurance to part-time baristas, and tuition reimbursement for part- and full-time workers who wish to continue their educations.</p> <p>On top of these ethical business practices, Starbucks makes a point of giving back through investments in alternative loan programs to help small businesses. As of 2015, Starbucks has <a href="https://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/global-report" target="_blank">invested $21.3 million</a> overall in such programs.</p> <p>The company works to support many communities, including veterans and military, farming communities, youth, and underserved and marginalized groups through their diversity and inclusion initiatives. They are also committed to helping the environment through their business practices by focusing on reducing waste, conserving energy, and by working to bring all of their stores up to LEED certified building standards.</p> <p>Starbucks is truly committed to making sure your morning coffee is something you can feel good about.</p> <h2>4. Zappos</h2> <p>The online shoe (and clothing) retailer has long been known for its excellent customer service. The company believes that happy employees mean happy customers, and they focus on the well-being of all of their employees to ensure great service.</p> <p>If Zappos were simply a great employer, that would be enough of a reason to shop with them. We do need to support businesses that want to provide excellent jobs to their workers. But Zappos also takes their role in the community very seriously. Each Thanksgiving, the company <a href="http://www.zappos.com/about/tag/thanksgiving" target="_blank">feeds over 1,000 Las Vegas families</a> in its headquarters, and gives away shoes and socks to anyone needing a new pair. In addition, the e-tailer donates Zappos goods, as well as money, to a number of charitable organizations, <a href="https://www.zapposinsights.com/about/zappos/higher-purpose/operation-glass-slipper" target="_blank">including Operation Glass Slipper</a>, which provides dresses and accessories to girls who could not otherwise afford prom clothing, and <a href="http://www.zappos.com/about/zappos-project-we-vegas-roots-garden" target="_blank">Project WE</a>, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people through participation in arts in athletics.</p> <p>Ordering a new pair of kicks or some new clothes at Zappos will give you both phenomenal customer service and an opportunity to support a company that does a great deal of good.</p> <h2>5. Lowe's</h2> <p>Recently, a photo of Lowe's Home Improvement employee <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/12/08/a-disabled-air-force-veteran-needed-a-job-so-lowes-hired-him-and-his-service-dog/" target="_blank">Clay Luthy and his service dog Charlotte</a> made the rounds on social media. Luthy is a disabled vet who needs to have Charlotte with him, and because of that he found it difficult to find a job, until the home improvement retailer hired him and welcomed his service dog on the sales floor.</p> <p>For many people, this viral photo was the first indication that Lowe's had a social conscience, but it has long been committed to helping people &quot;love where they live,&quot; which includes everything from helping customers with home improvement, to helping make communities stronger, to helping protect the environment.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.toolboxforeducation.com/grants.html" target="_blank">Lowe's Toolbox for Education</a>, which was launched in 2005, has benefitted nearly 8,000 schools. The home improvement retailer has focused on bringing better products to the market, working with suppliers to remove ortho-phthalate plasticizers from residential flooring, and committing to phasing out the sale of products that contain chemicals that can harm pollinators.</p> <p>Lowe's is also committed to providing an excellent working environment to its employees, as Clay Luthy's story has highlighted. It has launched a mentoring program that <a href="http://careers.lowes.com/why-lowes/" target="_blank">pairs minority and female store managers</a> with market directors to help grow their leadership skills, and it works to build diversity within the company through its recruiting efforts.</p> <h2>Make the World Better With Your Shopping Choices</h2> <p>Big retailers can make a big impact, and these five companies use their resources to improve lives, communities, and the environment. Spending your hard-earned money with them will not only offer you great products, but also a better world.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-big-brands-making-the-world-a-better-place">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/6-brands-with-the-best-warranties">6 Brands With the Best Warranties</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-retailers-use-big-data-to-track-you">8 Ways Retailers Use Big Data to Track 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/will-your-brand-boycott-actually-make-a-difference">Will Your Brand Boycott Actually Make a Difference?</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-sneaky-store-perks-that-make-you-overspend">4 Sneaky Store Perks That Make You Overspend</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/can-you-spare-a-square-5-quick-tips-on-toilet-paper-usage">&quot;Can you spare a square?&quot; 5 quick tips on toilet paper usage.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping Ben & Jerry's brands Lowe's patagonia retailers Starbucks Zappos Mon, 02 Jan 2017 11:00:08 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1865740 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam <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-an-investment-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-479413254.jpg" alt="don&#039;t fall for these investment scams" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's nothing wrong with putting your money to work for you. Investments can be the difference between making ends meet, and making a mint. But remember your mom's advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.</p> <p>Following this warning is one of the best ways to avoid financial scams. Here's a list of some infamous investment frauds, and ways to spot red flags. Pay attention. Make your mom proud &mdash; and your wallet happy.</p> <h2>The Classic: Pyramid Scheme<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Many pyramid schemes come across as multi-level marketing opportunities. Investors pay fees to join and then make money from direct sales. Backers also get a cut of profits from folks they've recruited to the program. But pyramid organizers need this new money to pay off earlier investors, and often, the scheme collapses under its own weight. There's not enough money to make payoffs. Participants see investments and returns disappear.</p> <p>Pyramid schemes often spread through social media, websites, online ads, and group pitches. Be alert to these warning signs.</p> <ul> <li>You're told you'll make a lot of money quickly, but you won't have to put in much effort.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>You have to pay a fee to join, and your main role is getting others to sign up.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Any product that's sold has little value outside the scheme.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>You can't find evidence, such as professionally audited financial statements, of sales profits. Money comes from recruitment.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Profits come from within the program. Your earnings depend upon other participants, not on outside sales.</li> </ul> <p>Lots of money, little work: this is exactly what your mother was talking about.</p> <h2>Risky Business: Energy Scams<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Legitimate investment opportunities in oil and gas development come with no guarantees. They need lots of money and time, and proceeds are uncertain. Developers might drill and drill with little return for their efforts. Investors can lose everything they put in. And that's with authentic energy exploration. If the whole purpose is to separate you from your money, participants don't stand a chance.</p> <p>So how do you separate real energy investment deals from scams? Be on the lookout for these warning signs.</p> <ul> <li>Company offices are in one state, drilling is in another, and investors don't live in either. You can't easily visit the corporation or well site. If fraud is suspected, the geographic range creates a nightmare for law enforcement investigators.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You receive a surprise email or phone call. You don't hear a lot of facts, just tremendous pressure to commit. You're warned that if you don't immediately jump in, you'll miss out. Real energy companies don't fish around for investors.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Little risk, high returns: Is that what you've been promised? Run away, because that's not how it really works in the energy business.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Some get-rich-quick scams use current events as lures. If high gas and oil prices are currently in the news, investors might be convinced the time is right. But remember, well development is a long process.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>If the company is secretive and doesn't want you to talk to anyone about your investment opportunity, there's a good reason for that. It's a shady proposition. You should be encouraged to consult others and investigate the deal. And all your questions should get answers &mdash; in writing. If you get shut down, close your wallet.</li> </ul> <p>Energy development is a business, not a mystery. All aspects should be open and aboveboard.</p> <h2>I'm Just Like You: Affinity Sham<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Affinity fraud targets participants based on a specific characteristic, such as age, religious affiliation, or ethnicity. Schemers present themselves as members of the same group in order to create an immediate relationship. Some hustlers are so good they enlist recognized leaders of the community. Unfortunately, these respected notables wind up falling prey to the scam &mdash; and unintentionally drawing others in.</p> <p>You might feel a connection to the individual trying to get you to invest, but that's what these con artists count on. Be wary.</p> <ul> <li>Don't invest just because you have an association with the promoter &mdash; even if it's someone you trust. That person may have been duped. Do outside research. If that's discouraged, say no. Real investments hold up against scrutiny.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Avoid online opportunities that show up in chat groups, bulletin boards, or websites exclusive to your group. The Internet is a quick and easy way to target a specific audience.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Steer clear of any investment that guarantees low risk and high returns. The two just don't go together. Valid deals don't promise them.</li> </ul> <p>The bottom line here &mdash; listen to your mother. When it comes to changing your socks, eating your vegetables, and avoiding fraud, she knows best.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-tell-if-that-home-business-opportunity-is-really-a-pyramid-scheme">How to Tell if That Home Business Opportunity Is Really a Pyramid Scheme</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/10-more-scams-everyone-should-know-about">10 More Scams Everyone Should Know About</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-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away</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-sale-aftermath-beware-of-paypal-chargebacks-0">The Sale Aftermath: Beware of PayPal Chargebacks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Investment advice energy scams fraud money protection multi level marketing pyramid schemes scams Wed, 21 Dec 2016 10:31:29 +0000 Anum Yoon 1858984 at http://www.wisebread.com Is This News Story Fake? Here's How to Tell http://www.wisebread.com/is-this-news-story-fake-heres-how-to-tell <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-this-news-story-fake-heres-how-to-tell" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_reading_computer_519833420.jpg" alt="Man determining if news is real or fake" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Fake news has become an issue with <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/05/504404675/man-fires-rifle-inside-d-c-pizzeria-cites-fictitious-conspiracy-theories">real life consequences</a> in recent years. Regardless of your politics, you don't want to be the dummy who shares a conspiracy theory from NewzGuzzlers.info, do you? That's just embarrassing. Here are six ways to determine if your news source is real or fake:</p> <h2>1. Scrutinize the URL</h2> <p>You might wonder if that's just a cosmetic detail &mdash; There are so many desirable URLs that are already taken, so why not trust a website with a strange name? Well, they're not all just weird-sounding. Many are downright misleading.</p> <p>For example, look at WashingtonPost.com.co. Catch that extra &quot;.co&quot; at the end? That's just one way a fake news publisher can piggyback on the credibility of an established outlet. Many people might not see it, and are swayed enough by the clickbait that they overlook it. If the name is similar to a real source, open a new tab and look at the original.</p> <p><strong>Bias Alert!</strong> Just as well, look for biased keywords in the URL. CoolLiberals.net or ConservativeEagle.web are clearly names that suggest a hard lean to one set of ideologies. While it might not be 100% fake news, these sites usually take a kernel of real news from a credible outlet, removing important context and replacing it with baseless opinion.</p> <h2>2. Look up the Author</h2> <p>Before you continue reading an article you're suspicious of, ask this: Who wrote the article, and why? If the piece was written by &quot;staff&quot; or &quot;anonymous,&quot; those are red flags. Many fake news websites use pseudonyms, or the article might show up as written by &quot;staff&quot; because all the articles are going through one administrator on a bare-bones website. If there is an author name near the top of the page, Google them. If you can't find a website, Twitter account, Wikipedia page, or bio of them on the Internet that match the information on the article byline (a brief writer bio hosted by the website in question), they may not be a real person.</p> <p><strong>Bias Alert!</strong> If the article or video is from a real person, look at their writing history across the Internet. Do they all fit a narrative strongly for/against an idea, a person, or group of people? Do they consider themselves a &quot;truther&quot; for something? That's a sign that they care more about pushing an agenda than the facts. Google what reporters and academic experts say about the topic before you decide if they are a reputable source.</p> <h2>3. Check the Quotes</h2> <p>Quotes are key. If an article is being shared as news but does not cite any persons in quotes, that is a big red flag. If the writer has reported on a real news event with no citations, it's really an opinion article and should be taken with a grain of salt. If it's supposedly &quot;exposing&quot; a new event or making an accusation without any citations or quotes, it's definitely fake news. If you want to verify whether a statement from a public official is true or not, <a href="http://www.politifact.com/">always check PolitiFact</a>.</p> <p><strong>Bias Alert!</strong> Having quotes in a story does not make it true. Remember what we learned from <a href="http://mashable.com/2016/12/05/pizzagate-explained/">#PizzaGate</a> and Google any names mentioned in the article to see if they are real public figures. If the source is cited as &quot;anonymous&quot; or someone &quot;close&quot; to the perpetrators in question, be suspicious. That brings us to&hellip;</p> <h2>4. Google the Claim</h2> <p>If you can't believe the headline, or it feels too irresistibly good to be true, it's probably at least somewhat false. Take the keywords of the headline and Google them to see if any major news outlets have written about it. Is it on your local news at 10 p.m.? If the only other outlets making the claim are similarly other off-brand news sites like &quot;NationalTimes&quot; or &quot;Newspeople,&quot; you've got a fake headline. Google it before your friends have to debate you on Facebook. But beware: <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/autocomplete-feature-influenced-by-fake-news-stories-misleads-users-2016-12/#when-we-typed-michelle-obama-is-into-google-the-second-and-third-suggestions-were-proof-that-she-is-a-man-1" target="_blank">Don't believe Google's autocomplete</a>, as that can actually make it even harder to find the correct news and take you deeper down a rabbit hole of lies.</p> <p><strong>Bias Alert!</strong> Was this tip upsetting because you don't trust the &quot;Mainstream Media&quot; with basic fact-checking? That is actually a bias. If you only read websites that only tell you what you believe, you have set yourself up for misinformation.</p> <h2>5. Read the Comments</h2> <p>After you've tried the above methods, scroll to the bottom for the comments. Do you see a lot of people sharing links to other conspiracies? Do you see people saying &quot;This is fake!&quot; or &quot;This has been debunked?&quot; That's a good sign that you've got fake news. Again, try Googling the claim to be sure.</p> <p><strong>Bias Alert! </strong>Did the headline make you feel strongly in any way? In the comments, do you see posts with strong feelings of anger and calls for action to hurt or target someone or a group of people? That's a sign that, at the very least, the article you're reading was designed to prey on readers' emotions and biases so they may overlook factual errors or missing context.</p> <h2>6. Use These Browser Extensions</h2> <p>Finally, another great way to combat the spread of fake news is to install a browser app that will help alert you that a website you're viewing might be a fake news site. If you use Google Chrome (which I recommend), download the apps <a href="http://lifehacker.com/b-s-detector-lets-you-know-when-youre-reading-a-fake-n-1789084038">B.S Detector</a>, or <a href="http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/11/heres-a-browser-extension-that-will-flag-fake-news-sites.html">Fake News Alert</a>. These will both help you in the moment with pop-up warnings as you land on any fake news or otherwise suspicious websites.</p> <p><strong>Bias Alert!</strong> While having these bots helping you suss out poor websites is very helpful in the short-term, you shouldn't only trust pop-ups. Learn how to tell real from fake on your own. Even when reading a news outlet like The Washington Post or The New York Times, you might run into a piece that is biased, or missing information, or using a source you have reason to suspect is not credible. These fake news-identifying skills are useful throughout your media consuming life.</p> <p>What to do next? Whenever you see a Facebook friend share an onerous fake news link, <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/heres-how-to-report-fake-news-on-facebook" target="_blank">flag it as false news</a> so Facebook can drop it from its feeds. Friends don't let friends share fake news!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-this-news-story-fake-heres-how-to-tell">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/the-not-so-private-parts">The Not-So-Private Parts</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-refill-an-ink-cartridge-with-a-small-piece-of-tape">How to refill an ink cartridge with a small piece of tape</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-soda-tidy-a-room-in-three-minutes-cure-a-hangover-and-become-a-movie-extra-phew">How To Make Your Own Soda, Tidy A Room In Three Minutes, Cure A Hangover And Become A Movie Extra. Phew!</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-student-who-created-a-pr-nightmare-via-wikipedia">The Student Who Created a PR Nightmare Via Wikipedia</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/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Consumer Affairs bias conspiracies Facebook fact checking fake news fear mongering information websites Tue, 13 Dec 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1850790 at http://www.wisebread.com Will Your Brand Boycott Actually Make a Difference? http://www.wisebread.com/will-your-brand-boycott-actually-make-a-difference <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/will-your-brand-boycott-actually-make-a-difference" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_screaming_megaphone_522170143.jpg" alt="Woman learning if her brand boycott will make a difference" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Interest rates aren't the only thing on the rise after Donald Trump's election night win. Threats of product boycotts are soaring, too.</p> <p>Breitbart News, for example, is encouraging its readers to boycott Kellogg's after the cereal maker pulled advertising from the conservative site. Supporters of the incoming president also threatened a boycott of Pepsi after mistakenly believing that the company's chief executive officer said that Trump supporters should take their business elsewhere.</p> <p>Opponents of Trump have threatened their own boycott of shoemaker New Balance after its vice president of public affairs told The Wall Street Journal that the company's officials believe that &quot;things are going to move in the right direction&quot; after the businessman's election. The comment actually referred to the debate over the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, but many in the anti-Trump camp thought the shoemaker was tossing out a &quot;support Trump&quot; message.</p> <p>Will any of these boycotts work? Will enough consumers stop buying Cornflakes or Diet Pepsi to actually hurt the companies making them?</p> <p>And if you stop buying these products, will<em> you </em>make a difference?</p> <h2>The Struggle to Make an Impact</h2> <p>Consumers have vowed to boycott plenty of products. But only a small number of these boycotts actually work. Those that <em>do</em> succeed, according to a story by the Harvard Business Review, are <a href="https://hbr.org/2012/08/when-do-company-boycotts-work">highly strategic and have clear goals</a>. They want to force a company into a specific concession, such as eliminating a controversial ad campaign or removing a potentially harmful ingredient from their products. But boycotts that simply call for consumers to stop buying a certain brand forever? Those rarely have a long-term impact.</p> <h2>Boycott's Long History</h2> <p>The word boycott as a form of shunning actually came into being way back in 1880 in County Mayo, Ireland. Back then, Captain Charles Boycott &mdash; a land agent working for an absentee landlord &mdash; threatened to evict 11 tenants from the land he managed when the landowner refused to reduce these tenants' rents by a high enough percentage after a particularly poor harvest.</p> <p>The community took on an organized and effective campaign to shun Boycott, with local business owners refusing to trade with him and the postal worker even refusing to deliver his mail. That first boycott was effective. Many that have followed have not been.</p> <p>The Guardian has reported that while boycotts might make an initial dent in a company's sales, they <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/vital-signs/2015/jan/06/boycotts-shopping-protests-activists-consumers">rarely impact these firms</a> for the long haul. The Guardian pointed to the 2003 U.S. boycott of French wines. Many U.S. consumers were furious with France's refusal back then to support the war in Iraq. So they decided to stop buying products from the country, including its wines.</p> <p>The boycott caused a quick 26% drop in sales of French wine in the United States. That sounds impressive &mdash; but the sales drop was a blip. The Guardian quotes Larry Chavis, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who said that sales returned to their normal trajectory just six months after the boycott began, meaning that the long-term effects of it were nil.</p> <p>This is an example of the type of boycott that rarely works: one without a clear goal. French wine sellers had no power to change their country&rsquo;s stance on the Iraq War. The boycott, then, had little chance of forcing a change in France's policy.</p> <p>What's more effective is when boycotts ask for a specific change while at the same time attacking a company's brand through social media, traditional media appearances, and large protests. In such boycotts, the actual boycotting of a company's products might have little long-term impact on sales. But the negative public relations can hurt a brand's image enough so that the company eventually makes a change to appease protesters.</p> <h2>The Nike Example</h2> <p>The Guardian cites the boycott of shoemaker Nike in the 1990s as one of the most successful. Activists heavily criticized Nike for relying on child labor, and calls for a boycott did hurt the company's sales. But the real long-term impact came from the negative hits against the company's brand image. This has forced Nike to work hard ever since to rehabilitate its image, change its labor practices, and exert greater oversight over its shoe production.</p> <p>There are plenty of boycotts going on right now, with <a href="http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/boycotts/boycottslist.aspx">Ethical Consumer</a> currently listing more than 65 active boycotts. There are boycotts against ice cream maker Ben &amp; Jerry's because of its contractual relationship with an Israeli franchise that sells ice cream in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem; an ongoing boycott against oil giant BP for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico; and one against Chevron Texaco for allegedly dumping toxic waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon rain forest.</p> <p>Will these boycotts accomplish their goals? The odds are against them. But there are always those boycotts that do make a difference.</p> <p>Consider the recent boycott against Orlando amusement park SeaWorld. Animal welfare activists, including PETA and the Captive Animals' Protection Society, demanded that SeaWorld stop holding and displaying orca whales, saying that the captivity was harmful for these animals. In March of 2016, SeaWorld announced that it would end its orca breeding programs. The park said that it will also phase out its orca whale shows. Ethical Consumer has listed this boycott as one of the most successful.</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/will-your-brand-boycott-actually-make-a-difference">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/5-big-brands-making-the-world-a-better-place">5 Big Brands Making the World a Better Place</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/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</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/convert-your-crap-into-cash-without-a-garage-sale">Convert Your Crap Into Cash Without a Garage Sale</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-disappearance-of-real-america-my-guest-post-at-zen-habits">The disappearance of real America - my guest post at Zen Habits</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Lifestyle Shopping boycotts brands businesses consumers ethics making a difference politics protests public image Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:30:24 +0000 Dan Rafter 1850789 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_phone_park_621595942.jpg" alt="Man learning how to spot a charity scam from a mile away" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to donating to charity, people have good intentions. They want to give to a worthy cause, but unfortunately, so many individuals do very little research before opening up their checkbooks.</p> <p>While many charities are legitimate, there are several that should be avoided. They are the ones that rate low, with the majority of their funds being funneled into the pockets of CEOs or marketing efforts. For example, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is one charity that is low-rated by <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten.detail&amp;listid=8">Charity Navigator</a>, yet has one of the highest paid CEOs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprisingly-easy-ways-you-can-support-charity?Ref=seealso">Surprisingly Easy Ways You Can Support Charity</a>)</p> <p>Here's how to make sure your donation is winding up in the right hands.</p> <h2>Make Sure the Name Is Right</h2> <p>Some notable low-rated charities have made it a point to choose names similar to popular nonprofit organizations. For example, Cancer Research Institute is a highly rated charity, but Cancer Survivors' Fund and American Association for Cancer Support are both low-rated charities, according to <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/charitable-donations/best-and-worst-charities-for-your-donations/">Consumer Reports</a>. Both of the low-rated charities have important sounding names, and it can be easy to confuse them when there are so many to keep track of.</p> <h2>Avoid Callers</h2> <p>Don't give in to pesky callers asking for donations. Often telemarketers are hired by select charities to help raise funds. However, the charity does not get all of those funds. Instead, a lot of your donation will end up going to the marketers rather than your cause. Definitely do not give any personal information, such as your credit card or Social Security number to any charity. Most importantly, if anybody pressures you to give money, then it is best to walk away.</p> <h2>Know Where the Money Goes</h2> <p>The highest rated charities are very transparent about where their money goes. You should be able to see the organization's annual expense reports or the charity's Form 990. Churches and other big religious groups are not required to file 990s, so be sure to check them out at <a href="http://www.ministrywatch.com/">Ministry Watch</a>, a website that helps alert donors to fraudulent religious charities. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-giving-to-charity-is-good-for-you?ref=seealso">5 Ways Giving to Charity Is Good for You</a>)</p> <h2>Don't Donate Cash or Give Through Wire Transfers</h2> <p>Never give any charity cash or send money through wire transfers. If the charity insists on cash or a wire transfer, it should make you suspicious of the organization. But what about religious tithing? While dropping cash in your local place of worship's donation bucket doesn't mean you are donating to a scam charity, it is still wiser to write a check or donate online. This will allow you to keep track of your charitable giving for tax purposes. If you do give cash, try your best to get a receipt.</p> <h2>Be on Alert</h2> <p>During the holidays, more for-profit charities are likely to increase their marketing. Expect more calls and emails that will appeal to your emotions. Of course you want to help wounded veterans, homeless children, and abused pets but if you have never heard of the charity, then don't rush into donating. Charity scams also are more likely to pop up after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane.</p> <p>Ask a charity if they are registered, and if they claim they are, then get the registration number. Also know that most respectable charities do not ask for donations via email, unless an individual has already signed up for the mailing list.</p> <h2>Do Some Research</h2> <p>Before you donate a large sum of money to any charity, spend a few minutes researching the organization. You should be able to find the rating of charities on the <a href="https://www.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau</a>, <a href="http://www.charitynavigator.org/">Charity Navigator</a>, <a href="https://www.charitywatch.org/">Charity Watch</a>, <a href="http://www.give.org/">BBB Wise Giving Alliance</a>, and <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/">Consumer Reports</a>.</p> <p>It is best to decide at the beginning of the year what your annual charitable giving will be and which charities you want to donate to. This then puts you and your budget in the right place for donating money and helping those in need.</p> <p>Charity scammers take advantage of people's goodwill and desire to help. However, these scammers can steal more than just your money. They can steal your identity if you give out too much information. Give to causes you care about while also protecting your bank account and personal information.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">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/8-charities-you-can-trust-with-your-holiday-donations">8 Charities You Can Trust With Your Holiday Donations</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-more-scams-everyone-should-know-about">10 More Scams Everyone Should Know About</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-an-investment-scam">How to Protect Yourself From an Investment Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs charity donating fraud Giving Back scams theft things to watch out for wire transfers Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:30:07 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1849882 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Classic Impulse Buys We Need to Stop Falling For http://www.wisebread.com/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_holding_cake_37433622.jpg" alt="Woman resisting impulse buys we need to stop falling for" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An impulse buy is just how it sounds. It's a purchase that we haven't really thought through, and instead follow the direction of our &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-lizard-brain-derail-your-finances">lizard brains</a>.&quot; We don't ponder the pros and cons of the purchase, or even think about what it is we're actually buying. We simply grab it, pay for it, and enjoy it. But these little impulse buys can really add up to some serious money every month. And just by alerting yourself to the biggest offenders, you may actually think twice next time you're about to grab one, and save yourself a nice chunk of change every month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-simple-ways-to-stop-impulse-buying?ref=seealso">9 Simple Ways to Stop Impulse Buying</a>)</p> <h2>1. Magazines</h2> <p>You're standing in line at the checkout, you've loaded up the conveyor belt, and now you're playing the waiting game. That's when you notice some of the outrageous or tempting headlines on the magazines in the rack, and pick one up. Before you know it, you're sucked in, you've plopped the magazine on the conveyor, and you've just spent $5 on something you were not planning to buy. That, in itself, is bad enough. But magazines fresh off the rack are way more expensive than a magazine subscription. These days, you can pick up a subscription to most of the big magazine titles for between $5-$10 per year! Not only that, but almost everything you read in the magazine is available online, through your phone, tablet, or computer. It's a complete waste of money.</p> <h2>2. Candy</h2> <p>Oh, those pesky supermarket designers are devious. They know just how to get you dipping into your purse or wallet, and candy is a classic example. Even if you're not tempted by chocolate or sugary snacks, kids are. And the &quot;nag factor&quot; is enough to make most parents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles, cave in. You will also see special offers on candy in the checkout line, such as BOGO free, or BOGO half off. You may also see &quot;Buy 2, Get 1 Free.&quot; These offers are designed to push you from a maybe to a &quot;well heck, I don't want to miss out on that kind of a deal!&quot; And before you know it, you've added a bunch of extra calories, and expenses, onto your grocery haul.</p> <h2>3. Cold Drinks</h2> <p>Have you noticed that mini-refrigerators have been popping up at checkouts with increasing regularity? From stores like Walmart and Target, to Goodwill, Ross, and Best Buy, as you wait in line, you will be staring into ice-cold beverage heaven. For some reason, many of us are preprogrammed to just naturally grab a drink after we've been shopping, but those drinks are more expensive as singles than as part of a pack &mdash; a pack you can find just a few aisles away. Plus, you need to ask yourself, &quot;Are you really that thirsty?&quot; Many stores have drinking fountains, so grab some free water before dropping $2-$4 on a drink you probably don't need.</p> <h2>4. Lip Balm</h2> <p>Raise your hand: How many of you have more than three or four lip balms at home (and yes, I'm putting my hand up, too). It may be more common in places with a drier climate, like Colorado or Arizona, but for some reason, the lure of the fresh, hermetically sealed lip balm is as tempting as candy and soda. And at the same time, we seem to forget how many we already have at home in the junk drawer or nightstand.</p> <h2>5. Batteries</h2> <p>&quot;Batteries Not Included&quot; is a phrase that has been burned into the memory of anyone that has ever given a present to an eager child. They open it up, press the buttons, and nothing happens. That's when you realize it takes eight size &quot;C&quot; batteries and all the stores are closed. Due to that conditioning, batteries are strategically placed near checkouts in grocery stores, warehouse stores, and electronics outlets. &quot;Don't forget your batteries&quot; ticks away in your head, and you grab a pack of each variety&hellip;. just in case. They join their unopened brothers and sisters on the shelf in the garage. One day, hopefully before they run out of juice, they'll get used.</p> <h2>6. Gum or Mints</h2> <p>Another classic impulse purchase is the tin of mints or packs of gum. They're placed at eye-level, right as you're plunking down your purchases for the cashier. No one likes a whiff of bad breath, so a tin of extra strong mints and a pack of spearmint gum will do the trick. They're only a few bucks, after all. You can put them in the glove compartment, and hope you'll have a reason to use the 60 sticks of gum that are already in there.</p> <h2>7. Coffee</h2> <p>What is the deal with coffee these days? It's like you can't walk 10 feet without bumping into a store selling the latest organic, dark roasted, pumpkin-spice-flavored cup of joe. Let's be honest though. Somewhere along the line, we were all convinced that paying $6-$7 for coffee was reasonable, even though we can all make perfectly good coffee at home for a tenth of the price. The smell of coffee, and the incredible flavors that go into it, is often hard to resist. There are Starbucks stores inside grocery stores, just near the exit, and one whiff is enough to get most people diving into their pockets for a quick pick-me-up.</p> <h2>8. Fast Food</h2> <p>Just like coffee stores, fast food brands have been setting up shop in grocery stores and retail outlets around the country. For instance, you can find both Subway and McDonald's inside Walmart, and they do an incredible amount of business. Some people say that you should never do your shopping on an empty stomach, and grabbing a quick burger before hitting the aisles seems like a good idea. Or, as you leave the store, the scent of grilled beef and fresh bread breaks down your willpower in seconds. Before you know it, you're munching on a burger in the car, despite having a week's supply of food in the trunk.</p> <h2>9. Energy Shots</h2> <p>These pesky critters have been popping up around the checkouts for the last few years. It used to be just one brand (Five Hour Energy), but now there are dozens of different brands on the scene. Gas stations and supermarkets are not exactly fun places to be, and if you're in one for long enough, or you're having one of those days, a little shot of energy seems like a great idea. &quot;I'm tired&hellip;oh, energy in a bottle. I'll take one!&quot; These shots can cost $2-$3 each, and the effects they have vary from person-to-person. You may get an insane energy buzz, or barely a twitch. Either way, it's an expensive little impulse.</p> <h2>10. Protein Bars</h2> <p>Protein. Protein. Gotta have your protein. These protein-packed bars are big business, and can be found in various places, including the vitamins and supplements aisles. That is a bit bizarre, because although they do contain a big chunk of protein, they also contain a list of ingredients that would give a healthy eater nightmares: <a href="http://www.prevention.com/food/bad-energy-bar-ingredients">high-fructose corn syrup, inulin</a>, agave syrup, sugar alcohols, and fractionated palm kernel oil are just a few horrors lurking in them. But due to our increasingly hectic lifestyles, these have become a quick &quot;grab-and-go&quot; meal replacement. No time for lunch? A protein bar will do. Actually, it won't. It's an expensive mistake, and it can lead to sugar crashes and diarrhea.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-classic-impulse-buys-we-need-to-stop-falling-for">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/flashback-friday-44-sneaky-shopping-traps-to-avoid">Flashback Friday: 44 Sneaky Shopping Traps to Avoid</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/cheat-sheet-retail-markup-on-common-items">Cheat Sheet: Retail Markup on Common Items</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-scoring-the-best-price-when-buying-on-ebay">7 Secrets to Scoring the Best Price When Buying on eBay</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/5-times-coupons-trick-you-into-spending-more-money">5 Times Coupons Trick You Into Spending More Money</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-smart-ways-to-save-on-audio-books">8 Smart Ways to Save on Audio Books</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping candy gum impulse buys junk food saving money shopping shopping hacks shopping tips willpower Thu, 03 Nov 2016 09:00:10 +0000 Paul Michael 1825862 at http://www.wisebread.com