Consumer Affairs http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4809/all en-US Account in Collections? Here's How to Fix It http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_thinking_000019659642.jpg" alt="Man dealing with past due account in collections" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Earlier this year, my husband received a letter stating that he had a debt in collections. We were warned that if we didn't send money soon, they'd start legal action.</p> <p>Naturally, our breathing quickened and our hearts nearly jumped out of our chests. But then I made us take deep breaths. With my background as an accountant, I knew we had options. Here's how to successfully deal with a past due account in collections.</p> <h2>Research the Creditor's Information</h2> <p>Don't stress or freak out when your receive that dreaded &quot;account in collections/payment due&quot; letter. The worst thing you can do is overreact and succumb to false information from scammers trying to get your credit information. This happens more often than you may realize.</p> <p>Before taking any action based on what the letter says, you want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">verify the information is correct</a>, and research the company contacting you. It's often hard to tell the difference between the legitimate letters and the fakes, as many will include bits of personal information and your account numbers. But don't let this sway you.</p> <p>A good place to start is with the <a href="http://www.bbb.org/bbb-locator/">Better Business Bureau</a>. Simply enter the company's name in the search box on their site. If the debt collector's name and information comes up in the BBB system, they're legit; but if it doesn't, you'll want to proceed with caution.</p> <p>Or consider investigating the legitimacy of a debt collections company by doing a quick online search. You'll often come across other people's stories or experiences with companies and can verify whether or not the information you've received is for real.</p> <p>Finally, consider checking your collections letter against an official account of any debts on your credit report. <a href="https://www.annualcreditreport.com/">AnnualCreditReport.com</a> is a website authorized by the federal government to give you access to your entire credit report, once a year, for free. By checking your report, you'll be able to verify whether the debt actually belongs to you, and if the right debt collection company's name is on the account.</p> <p>Make sure you save your credit report for later reference. If you notice errors, suspicious activity, or inaccuracies, you'll want to contact one of the three credit bureaus to get it solved.</p> <h2>Reach Out to the Credit Agency</h2> <p>If the debt agency's information is legit, and you've verified that you do indeed owe this amount, the next step is to contact the debt collection company directly. Call the number on the letter you received and start asking questions. Who did they purchase the debt from? What was the original balance? The balance on your statement is probably highly inflated because of late fees or other charges.</p> <p>They will likely push you into making a payment right then, but don't let them pressure you. Surprisingly, you have the upper hand in this situation because the debt collection agency paid pennies on the dollar for your debt. They will feel lucky to get any amount you're able to pay, so don't feel rushed.</p> <p>Ask them to send you this information in writing, so you can keep it for your records:</p> <ul> <li>The name of the original account holder,</li> <li>Your previous account number,</li> <li>The balance due now.</li> </ul> <p>Once you receive this information in the mail, you can negotiate a proper payment plan. You don't want this to go too long without being solved, but don't feel like you have to rush to make a payment. That's when you'll overpay. And remember that collections agencies will often accept less than the full amount owed, so don't necessarily agree to their first offer.</p> <h2>Report Them for Unethical or Illegal Behavior</h2> <p>As you go through this process, remember that you have all the control. Debt collection agencies tend to use less-than-stellar methods for getting consumers to make exorbitant payments towards outstanding debts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them?ref=seealso">4 Things Bill Collectors Can't Do</a>)</p> <p>If they start <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealing-with-nasty-debt-collectors">calling you nonstop</a>, verbally abusing you over the phone or with letters, or harassing family members, be sure to report them.</p> <p>If you need added protection, check out the <a href="http://www.acainternational.org/">American Collectors Agency</a>, or reach out to an attorney and a consumer-protection agency for help. You don't need to endure this process alone, and having an expert by your side will help alleviate the stress.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had to deal with a debt in collections? What other tips and tricks do you suggest?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/back-in-debt-heres-how-to-pay-it-off-for-good">Back in Debt? Here&#039;s How to Pay it Off for Good</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt">How to Erase Your Medical Debt</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/oops-i-maxed-out-my-credit-cards-now-what">Oops — I Maxed Out My Credit Cards. Now What?</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-do-a-one-day-do-it-yourself-bankruptcy">How to Do a One-Day, Do-It-Yourself Bankruptcy</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-deal-with-collection-agencies">How to Deal With Collection Agencies</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Debt Management better business bureau collections agency credit agencies owing money past due Mon, 13 Apr 2015 09:00:03 +0000 Carrie Smith 1378041 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Score More Loyalty Perks From Your Credit Card Company http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/credit_card_000019789000.jpg" alt="Woman getting better deal on her credit card by cancelling" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Savvy consumers have been negotiating lower bills with cable providers, Internet providers, and wireless carriers for quite some time. This often involves calling the company and threatening to cancel to try to get a better deal. Did you know that you can do something similar with your credit card company and often score a &quot;retention&quot; offer?</p> <p>These are offers that include the removal of annual fees, free rewards, and even a reduction in interest rate. After all, card companies have spent a lot of money and resources to get and retain your business and they definitely don't want to lose you. Here is what you need to know to make it happen.</p> <h2>1. How to Make the Phone Call</h2> <p>Start by simply calling the customer service number on the back of your card. The first person you speak with is likely not the person to negotiate with. You'll likely have to tell them you want to cancel your card before they'll step up their game and transfer you to the retentions department. In most cases, you can also streamline the process by asking the customer service person to transfer you directly to &quot;retentions.&quot;</p> <p>The retentions department will ask you why you want to cancel. At this point, just be honest. If the annual fee is too high, then tell them. If you feel your rewards or miles program is lacking, then say it. If you feel customer service is a disgrace, tell them.</p> <h2>2. Have Ammunition When Making the Call</h2> <p>Your chances of scoring a retention offer increase significantly if you present a valid reason to actually get one. Perhaps you had a terrible customer service experience, maybe the company screwed up a payment and issued you a late fee, or maybe you are actually considering closing the account anyways because you don't need the card. Whatever the reason, your chances of success rise significantly if you have ammo to fire off when making the phone call. Without ammo, they have no reason to help you out and will often just cancel your account.</p> <p>It's also worth noting that your chances of success increase if you are actually okay with canceling the card. The rep you talk to on the phone can usually detect if you are not serious about canceling and simply fishing for a retention offer. Be calm, be confident, state your case, and let them know you are willing to let this card go if they can't offer you something.</p> <h2>3. Smart Things to Ask For</h2> <h3>Annual Fee Removal</h3> <p>If your card carries an annual fee, you can ask to have it credited. This is a great place to start if you are new to this, as many cards will happily remove the annual fee if you have a grievance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-with-no-annual-fees?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fees</a>)</p> <h3>Free Reward Points or Miles</h3> <p>If your card is a reward card &mdash; either points or airline miles &mdash; this would be a smart thing to ask for. Just be reasonable in your request as it will greatly increase your chance of success. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>Interest Rate Reduction</h3> <p>If the interest rate on your card is outrageous, especially compared to similar cards, then ask for an 8%-10% permanent reduction in your rate. You could even ask for a greater reduction during set period of time, like 12 months. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-low-interest-rate-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Low Interest Rate Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>4. Let Your Silence Speak Volumes</h2> <p>When negotiating a bill or service via the telephone, ask for what you want then simply be quiet and force the company representative to either accept your offer or counter it. If the counter is not to your liking, simply say &quot;no&quot; and nothing else. Let the uncomfortable silence speak for you. It places the onus back on the rep to come up with something better or risk losing your business.</p> <h2>5. What if the Card Company Calls Your Bluff?</h2> <p>If your credit card company calls your bluff, you have two options. If you were legitimately okay with closing the card in the first place, you can simply cancel the card and pay off the remaining balance. If your call was more to feel the company out to see if a retention offer was possible, you can simply say, &quot;Before you cancel the card, I need to think about it and look at my options.&quot; Or something to that effect. Once the card is closed you won't be able to simply call them back and re-instate it.</p> <h2>6. Possible Side-Effects of Canceling a Card</h2> <p>Before you start calling all of your credit card companies and demanding a retention offer, it's important to realize the possible negative side-effects of canceling a card.</p> <h3>Credit Utilization Ratio</h3> <p>You need to consider how much available credit you will lose if you close a particular card. If the card has a relatively large credit limit and you close it, and yet continue to charge the same amount every month on other cards, your credit utilization rate will rise significantly. Be aware of this, as it could <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score">adversely affect your FICO credit score</a>.</p> <h3>Credit History</h3> <p>Another thing to look at when deciding whether to close a card is your length of credit history. If the card you're considering closing is far and away your oldest, you probably don't want to close it, as it could affect your credit score. Length of credit history accounts for 15% of your FICO credit score.</p> <p><em>Have you ever received a retention offer from your card company? If so, what did you get?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-refund-when-something-is-non-refundable">How to Get a Refund When Something Is Non-Refundable</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/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</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/banks-manipulate-your-transactions-may-charge-you-1750-overdraft-fee">Banks Can Manipulate Your Transactions, Then Charge You 1750% Overdraft Fee</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/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Credit Cards customer service lowered bills negotiating retention offers threatening to cancel Fri, 10 Apr 2015 11:00:27 +0000 Kyle James 1378020 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Foods That Are Only Labeled Organic — But Really Aren't http://www.wisebread.com/5-foods-that-are-only-labeled-organic-but-really-arent <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-foods-that-are-only-labeled-organic-but-really-arent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/organic_veggies_000024751662.jpg" alt="Woman shopping for organic produce that is not just labeled organic" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a peculiar practice that breeds corruption in the American food labeling industry: The companies that certify foods as organic are paid by the very farms they certify. And since the certifiers are in competition with one another, the conditions are ripe for what's known as <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/23/334073167/can-you-trust-that-organic-label-on-imported-food">organic fraud</a>. As Peter Laufer, author of &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0762790717/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0762790717&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AFMNTRIQIK7OC2G6">Organic: A Journalist's Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling</a>,&quot; explains, &quot;If the inspection is a little harsh, the company or the farm could say, 'Hey, there are other places I can do business with that wouldn't put me through this kind of rigor.'&quot;</p> <p>We've all got to eat. But if it's organic eats that you're looking for, you should know that a certified organic label doesn't necessarily mean the food you're getting is organic. And the type of fraud discussed by Laufer isn't the only culprit. Read on for our roundup of the most common foods that are only labeled organic &mdash; but really aren't. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-health-foods-not-worth-the-money?ref=seealso">11 Health Foods Not Worth the Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Bananas</h2> <p>Bananas that are certified organic and grown in tropical countries like Ecuador may have been sprayed with rotenone, a toxic pesticide derived from the roots of several tropical and subtropical plants. Classified as &quot;mildly hazardous&quot; by the World Health Organization, rotenone has been linked to <a href="http://civileats.com/2014/08/18/organic-vs-organic-how-much-does-certification-matter/">Parkinson's disease in farm workers</a>. The pesticide was outlawed for use on crops in the U.S. in 2007, but it is still permitted for use on organic produce abroad, and is perhaps most commonly used on bananas.</p> <h2>2. Milk</h2> <p>Organic milk certifiers are not required to test for <a href="http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/01601-0001-Te.pdf">genetically modified organisms</a>, according to a federal audit that questions whether milk marketed as organic is indeed truly organic. Without testing, the report concludes that &quot;...There cannot be reasonable assurance that certifiers are identifying and ensuring that GM material is not contaminating organic feed and forage.&quot; This is not to say that all organic milk is contaminated, but the carton in your refrigerator very well may be.</p> <h2>3. Seafood</h2> <p>If you've ever seen a package of seafood labeled as organic in your local market &mdash; beware. Currently, there is no U.S. government-approved <a href="http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/common-resources/fish/seafood/labeling/organic-seafood-fact-or-fiction/">organic seafood</a>. Organic labels sometimes appear on seafood based on criteria set by a private certification company or in accordance with standards set by foreign governments. But these alternative certification systems typically fall short of U.S. organic standards when it comes to other foods. So there's little reason to believe that seafood labeled as organic is up to par with would-be American organic seafood standards, if we had any.</p> <h2>4. Eggs</h2> <p>Hens must have access to the outdoors in order for their eggs to meet the USDA guidelines for organic egg production. But often they don't. In a recent example, one of <a href="http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2014/12/dispute_over_organic_label_pit.html">Michigan's largest egg producers</a> did not provide its birds with the freedom to roam outside, yet the farm's eggs still received the organic stamp of approval. &quot;There are hundreds of certified organic egg producers that allow their animals to have access to the outdoors,&quot; says Mark Kastel, co-director of The Cornucopia Institute. &quot;Sadly, the majority of eggs that are sold as organic are coming from facilities (that don't).&quot;</p> <h2>5. Strawberries</h2> <p>When organic strawberries are first planted, their growth is aided by the <a href="http://www.revealnews.org/article-legacy/even-organic-strawberries-are-grown-with-dangerous-pesticides/">use of fumigants</a>, a type of pesticide that has been linked to cancer and developmental problems in the farmhands who plant them. Despite these horrific side effects, farmers rely on fumigants to ward off pests and diseases that might otherwise wipe out an entire crop. But so long as these fumigant-treated strawberry plants mature on an organic farm, they can still be certified as organic.</p> <p><em>Do you buy any of these &quot;organic&quot; foods?</em></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/5-foods-that-are-only-labeled-organic-but-really-arent">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/horizon-organic-milk-is-it-all-just-lies">Horizon Organic Milk: Is it All Just Lies?</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-organic-grocery-items-that-arent-worth-it">10 Organic Grocery Items That Aren&#039;t Worth It</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/is-your-apple-dangerous-how-to-eat-fewer-pesticides-and-save-money">Is Your Apple Dangerous? How to Eat Fewer Pesticides (and Save Money)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/less-corn-planted-despite-ethanol">Less corn planted, despite ethanol</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-only-15-foods-that-are-worth-buying-organic">The Only 15 Foods That Are Worth Buying Organic</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink fraud gmos organic pesticides USDA Mon, 06 Apr 2015 15:24:22 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1368003 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Warranties That Aren't Worth It http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_000019329937.jpg" alt="Woman shopping and learning which warranties aren&#039;t worth it" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us believe that it's better to be safe than sorry.</p> <p>However, when it comes to buying warranties, you may be acting on emotion. It's time to step back and take a closer look at those extended warranties &mdash; your extra peace of mind may be coming with a hidden high cost. Here are four warranties that aren't worth it.</p> <h2>1. Warranties That Are Too Expensive</h2> <p>According to the Service Contract Industry Council, most <a href="http://www.bbb.org/phoenix/news-events/consumer-tips/2014/12/be-in-the-know-before-buying-extended-warranties/">extended warranty costs</a> are 10% to 20% of the sales price. Anything above that 20% benchmark may be too much, particularly for small ticket items. For example, a $20 extended warranty on a $55 panini press is a waste of money.</p> <p>On the other hand, buying a $150 warranty on a $2,000 computer is a more sensible purchase. Not only is that warranty just 7.5% of the total price, but it'd also cover the high cost of replacing parts.</p> <h2>2. Warranties Shorter Than Those From Your Credit Card</h2> <p>There is no need to pay twice for coverage that you may already have. As long as you complete the entire purchase on a single credit card, most major credit card companies will extend the original manufacturer's warranty up to one additional year.</p> <p>Review the fine print on your credit card's extended warranty for other applicable limits, such as the maximum purchase price and maximum dollar value of claims within the same year. As long as you're aware of applicable exclusions and requirements, having a credit card with an excellent extended warranty can be a lifesaver. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-advantage-of-free-extended-warranty-from-your-credit-card-issuer?ref=seealso">How to Take Advantage of the Free Extended Warranty From Your Credit Card Issuer</a>)</p> <h2>3. Warranties for Products With Low Repair Rates</h2> <p>Some people claim that things aren't built to last anymore. However, surveys from Consumer Reports seem to indicate that it may all just be in our heads. The <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm">repair rates</a> for several items are going down.</p> <ul> <li>Laptops had a repair rate of 36% in 2010, and 24% in 2013.</li> <li>LCD TVs had a repair rate of 15% in 2010, and 7% in 2013.</li> <li>Dishwashers already had a <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/warranties.asp">low repair rate</a> of 13% back in 2004.</li> </ul> <p>Consumer Reports found that appliances usually don't break during the extended warranty period. Even when breakdowns occur, the median cost of a repair ($152) isn't that much more than the median price of a warranty ($136).</p> <p>A great alternative to extended warranties for products with low repair rates is to put the money you would have spent on the warranty in a savings account, instead. By &quot;self-insuring,&quot; you're keeping the money and gaining interest on your rainy day fund.</p> <h2>4. Unsolicited Car Warranties</h2> <p>There are warranties that aren't worth the money, and then there are warranty scams.</p> <p>For several decades, the FCC has been warning consumers about <a href="http://www.fcc.gov/guides/auto-warranty-scams">auto warranty scams</a>. Malicious companies prey on consumers whose auto warranties are about to expire &mdash; or in some cases, they may not even be close to expiration. Back in 2008, the Better Business Bureau received more than <a href="http://www.bbb.org/central-illinois/migration/other-news/2009/02/bbb-warns-deceptive-auto-warranty-solicitations-plague-consumers-nationwide/">140,000 consumer calls</a> to confirm the legitimacy of companies claiming to sell auto warranties.</p> <p>For example, in the year that the basic warranty of my 2012 Volkswagen Passat was set to expire, I started receiving unsolicited mail with warnings in big, bold letters; &quot;Final Notice: Expiring Auto Warranty.&quot; After ignoring a couple of these mailers, additional ones started pouring in with labels such as &quot;<a href="http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/28440855-e863-431f-9e60-c46e13226298/Warranty-mailer.aspx">2nd Attempt</a>,&quot; &quot;Time Sensitive,&quot; or &quot;<a href="http://www.ncdoj.gov/getdoc/9c4deb4f-8f10-4206-bd5b-2ab75bf70bcc/Warranty-Mailer-2.aspx">Vehicle Alert Notice</a>.&quot; Then, the calls started coming in every single week. It was all from unscrupulous car warranty salespeople.</p> <p>Don't cave in to the pressure and protect yourself against potential car warranty fraud:</p> <ul> <li>Don't provide any personal or financial information over the phone to unsolicited telemarketers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Resist high-pressure pitches from salespeople or mailers that urge you to act now. Those &quot;final deadlines&quot; extend for several months over and over.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>These car warranties rarely pay claims. The BBB reports that <a href="http://stlouis.bbb.org/storage/142/documents/vehicleservicecontractstudy2011.pdf">93% of vehicle service claims</a> are denied under these warranties.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Never agree to any contract without having a physical copy of the contract and an appropriate timeframe to review the fine print.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A major red flag is the requirement of a down payment to view a contract. Don't agree to pay over the phone.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Search online for the name of the company offering the auto warranty (such as <a href="http://www.ncdoj.com/getdoc/221259f6-b0a2-40aa-801c-f76835f31be2/AG-Cooper-gives-auto-warranty-sellers-the-boot.aspx">U.S. Fidelis</a>), since some of those companies are often in trouble with the law. Or, check the company with your <a href="http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/">state and local consumer agencies</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>File a complaint with the FCC by visiting <a href="http://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov">consumercomplaints.fcc.gov</a>, calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322), or writing to Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Place your phone number on the <a href="http://www.donotcall.gov">National Do Not Call Registry</a>.</li> </ul> <p><em>What are some warranties that you wished you never paid for?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim">The Gift Card Scam of 2011: Don’t Be a Victim</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-something-breaks-should-you-repair-or-replace">When Something Breaks, Should You Repair or Replace?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping appliances Cars electronics repairs scams warranties Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:00:11 +0000 Damian Davila 1360904 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Dangers of Mobile Banking — And How to Avoid Them http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_phone_000039409614_0.jpg" alt="Woman using her phone to manage mobile banking" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Managing your money has never been so easy. With the rise of mobile banking, paying your bills and checking your balance can be as simple as posting a photo to your Instagram feed. But there's a price to pay for the convenience of depositing checks from anywhere in the world with a simple click of your mobile camera. That price is the increased risk that your private data and access to your accounts could fall into the wrong hands.</p> <p>Banking fraud expert Julie Conroy warns, &quot;as additional people flock to the mobile channel and transactions multiply, the bad guys are paying attention and <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-dangers-of-mobile-banking">deploying more attacks</a> against it.&quot;</p> <p>The best way to protect yourself, of course, is to know the risks. Read on for our guide to the dangers of mobile banking and foolproof tips on how to avoid them.</p> <h2>1. Wireless Networks Are Hacker-Friendly</h2> <p>Unlike websites, mobile apps don't <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0014-tips-using-public-wi-fi-networks#Mobile">properly encrypt information</a>, which means it's not a good idea to access your bank account via mobile app when you're on a public or otherwise unsecured Wi-Fi network. As computer science expert Ron Vetter explains, &quot;mobile banking apps are connected to wireless networks, and these networks are inherently insecure as they broadcast their messages into the open air.&quot;</p> <p>If you plan to use a mobile app to conduct a sensitive transaction, you're better off using a secure wireless network or your phone's data network. This will help reduce the risk of your private information being intercepted by a hacker or some other third party.</p> <h2>2. Poor Reception Means Poor Security</h2> <p>Even if you're diligent in accessing your mobile banking app on your phone's data network rather than a wireless network, the security of your financial information could still be at risk if your 4G or 3G data drops into a lower service range. Poor reception invites the chance that the data contained in your banking transaction could misfire and be intercepted by an unauthorized third party.</p> <h2>3. There's More at Stake If You Lose Your Phone</h2> <p>Studies show that nearly 40% of smartphone owners don't <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/consumers-and-mobile-financial-services-report-201403.pdf">password protect</a> their devices. If any of those folks were to lose their phone, anyone could pick it up, log into their banking app, and access their money. Even if you do password protect your phone, you could still be putting yourself at risk by auto-saving your password. For optimal security, select &quot;no&quot; when any of your apps ask to remember your username and password. You can further help protect yourself from fraudsters who gain access to your phone by installing a remote-wiping application that allows you to <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2352755,00.asp">erase your phone's data</a> even when the device isn't physically in your possession.</p> <h2>4. You May Not Be Able to Access Newly Deposited Funds Right Away</h2> <p>Although you can deposit funds into your account instantly via a mobile banking app, there may be a longer lag than normal until you can access those funds.</p> <p>&quot;In many cases, [banks] will protect themselves against fraud by increasing the delay in the availability of funds, as compared to if you'd just deposit that check in an ATM or branch,&quot; Conroy says.</p> <h2>5. Fraudulent Apps May Deceive You</h2> <p>Mobile apps can cost you &mdash; even the free ones. <a href="http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/mobile-security/317083-mobile-threat-monday-malicious-banking-apps-and-crafty-copycats">Fraudulent apps</a> posing as your official banking institution are lurking throughout the app store, and if you unknowingly start using one, the app creators can access &mdash; and abuse &mdash; your private information. Download your app directly from your bank's website to avoid this scam. And if you use Android, set your security settings to abort installations from sources other than Google Play.</p> <p><em>Has your mobile banking security ever been compromised? How did you recover?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer">10 Tips to Save You from an ATM Skimmer</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/book-review-complicit-how-greed-and-collusion-made-the-credit-crisis-unstoppable">Book Review: Complicit - How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable</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-direct-deposit-safe-for-the-garnished">Making direct deposit safe for the garnished</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/my-bank-stole-my-grocery-money">My Bank Stole My Grocery Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Consumer Affairs data mobile apps mobile safety networks security wi-fi Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:00:08 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1359338 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Terrible Loans You Should Avoid http://www.wisebread.com/10-terrible-loans-you-should-avoid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-terrible-loans-you-should-avoid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_talking_000024983086.jpg" alt="Young couple discussing loan with loan officer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've all been taught that most types of debt are bad news. But some loans are such egregiously awful financial instruments, we think they deserve special mention.</p> <p>Below are 10 of the worst loan options available. You'll find they feature many things in common, such as exorbitant interest rates or various enticements to make you spend and borrow more. These loans so bad, you should only consider them as an absolute last resort.</p> <h2>1. The Payday Loan</h2> <p>Payday lenders present themselves as a friendly, helpful, and practical solution to running out of money before the end of the month. You've seen the claims on storefronts, and you've probably heard the commercials by now: &quot;Money as soon as tomorrow!&quot;</p> <p>What payday lenders really are, according to Senator Elizabeth Warren, are &quot;a credit product that can impose substantial costs on imperfectly informed and imperfectly rational borrowers.&quot;</p> <p>Warren decried payday lenders or cash advance companies in a paper &quot;<a href="http://lsr.nellco.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1141&amp;context=nyu_lewp&amp;sei-redir=1&amp;referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fq%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Flsr.nellco.org%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1141%2526context%253Dnyu_lewp%26sa%3DD%26sntz%3D1%26usg%3DAFQjCNGKypw5UITd0x6HnsUYd0cEWenSOA#search=%22http%3A%2F%2Flsr.nellco.org%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1141%26context%3Dnyu_lewp%22">Making Credit Safer</a>,&quot; which noted that a typical $30 fee on a $200 loan amounted to a nearly 400% annual interest rate. These companies make 90% of their profit on customers who roll their loans over, paying again and again for the money they've borrowed.</p> <p>The Consumer Federation of America is so concerned about the long-term debt cycle which frequently traps borrowers, that they set up a web site to warn potential consumers of the <a href="http://www.paydayloaninfo.org/">risks of payday loans</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/confessions-of-a-former-payday-loan-junkie?ref=seealso">Confessions of a Former Payday Loan Junkie</a>)</p> <h2>2. The Car Title Loan</h2> <p>Car title loans are a notoriously awful option. The deal is, you borrow money at a high interest rate (typically 300%), and the loan is usually due in full in 30 days. As security, you sign over the title to a paid-for vehicle. That's a very bad idea, says the Consumer Federation of America.</p> <p>&quot;Car title lending <a href="http://www.consumerfed.org/elements/www.consumerfed.org/file/CFA_Fringe_Loan_Product_Harm_Research%281%29.pdf">risks repossession</a> of major family asset,&quot; the organization warned in a paper that cited the forfeiture of thousands of vehicles in various states through these loans. The loan amount is generally a fraction of the car's market value.</p> <h2>3. The Tax Preparer Loan</h2> <p>Because of a regulatory crackdown, the big tax services have quit offering classic refund anticipation loans, where they would give you the money the IRS owes you weeks ahead of time in exchange for a hefty cut. But some of those same companies are now offering personal lines of credit with double-digit interest rates and a swarm of fees. Steer clear.</p> <h2>4. The Credit Card Cash Advance</h2> <p>Credit card cash advances seem appealing because you already have a relationship with your credit card, so there's no paperwork to fill out; they're instant, and there are no embarrassing face-to-face conversations involved. You've probably even gotten those &quot;convenience checks&quot; along with your credit card bill, or seen the logo of your credit card network on an automated teller machine.</p> <p>Those perks come at a steep price: high fees and interest. The average fee is $10-$20, and the interest rate you'll pay ranges from 1% to 7% <em>above</em> your credit card rate. The only time you should even consider taking a cash advance is if your car breaks down out of town and the mechanic won't take a credit card.</p> <p>&quot;It ought to be a last resort,&quot; David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Credit Card Counseling Agencies, told CreditCards.com.</p> <h2>5. The Casino Loan</h2> <p>Many casinos offer interest-free, fee-free lines of credit that can only be used to gamble. The only reason you should ever take advantage of such an offer is if you have the cash in your checking account and you prefer not to carry it.</p> <p>&quot;Never borrow money while gambling. Chances are good that you'll lose it, making a bad situation even worse,&quot; advises part of the &quot;<a href="http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-manage-your-money-at-a-gambling-casino.html">Casino Gambling for Dummies</a>&quot; Cheat Sheet.</p> <p>Like other lenders, casinos generally have the ability to put a lien on your home if you don't pay, setting the stage for a bad day at the tables to spin into a very bad year &mdash; or even a terrible decade.</p> <h2>6. The Installment Loan</h2> <p>Similar to the payday loan, the installment loan gives the borrower a small amount of money &mdash; often $1,000 &mdash; on short notice at a high interest rate. But unlike payday loans, which are often due in full in just a few weeks, installment loans can be stretched over six months or a year. These loans have skirted some of the scrutiny regulators put on payday lenders, but have landed consumers in much the same trouble. Take Naya Burks of St. Louis, who ended up having $5,300 taken from her paychecks after she defaulted on a <a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/when-lenders-sue-quick-cash-can-turn-into-a-lifetime-of-debt?utm_source=et&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=dailynewsletter">$1,000 installment loan</a> from AmeriCash. Those payments did nothing to chip away at the loan balance, which instead grew week by week because of the 240% interest rate, eventually ballooning into a $40,000 debt.</p> <h2>7. The Private Student Loan</h2> <p>Student loans may be a fact of life for many scholars nowadays, but think hard before turning to a private lender instead of federal programs.</p> <p>&quot;While federal student loans offer options to avoid default through several loan modification and alternative repayment programs, lenders and servicers of private student loans generally do not,&quot; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned in its annual <a href="http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201410_cfpb_report_annual-report-of-the-student-loan-ombudsman.pdf">student loan report</a>. Private student lenders may also prevent you from selectively paying off higher-rate loans first, complained the blog <a href="http://moneyning.com/debt/why-you-should-never-take-out-a-private-student-loan/">Money Ning</a>.</p> <h2>8. The Pawnshop Loan</h2> <p>If you live in a big city, you've probably passed pawn shops, which take jewelry, cameras, and other personal property as loan collateral, and keep the goods if the loan isn't paid in time. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs warns that in addition to charging high interest rates, these shops often charge service and storage fees, driving the true interest rate sky-high. Many people end up paying more than the market value of their property to the pawnbroker, but can't pay all they owe and end up losing the property, anyway.</p> <h2>9. The Overdraft Loan</h2> <p>Your bank may have encouraged you to opt in to &quot;overdraft protection,&quot; a program that allows you to write a check or withdraw funds from an ATM even if you have no money in your checking account. Tim Chen, CEO of NerdWallet, says you should never do this.</p> <p>When your bank provides this &quot;protection,&quot; it charges you a fee &mdash; about $35 &mdash; for that transaction and every other transaction on your account until the balance is above $0. In the end, you could end up <a href="http://blog.lendingclub.com/in-a-pinch-is-it-better-to-overdraft-or-get-a-payday-loan/">paying even higher rates</a> for that overdraft loan than you would borrowing from a payday lender, Chen warns.</p> <h2>10. The Lotto Winner Loan</h2> <p>Most of us will never be in the position to be victimized by this kind of loan, but if you ever win the lottery, watch out. The public radio program This American Life explained that these lenders go after people who have <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/329/nice-work-if-you-can-get-it">won jackpots</a> to be paid out gradually over the years. They buy the winnings for an upfront payment, often pressuring the winners to sign off on a sum that is just a fraction of their winnings. Fortunately, now that most states offer a lump sum option, these lenders are no longer prevalent.</p> <p><em>Have you ever used one of the loan products mentioned above? Why or why not?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-terrible-loans-you-should-avoid">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-is-that-loan-too-big-for-your-wallet">Stop! Is That Loan Too Big For Your Wallet?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-loan-options-for-those-with-good-credit">5 Loan Options for Those With Good Credit</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/new-income-based-federal-student-loans-repayment-plan-can-you-benefit">New Income Based Federal Student Loans Repayment Plan - Can You Benefit?</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/could-you-determine-someones-creditworthiness-by-his-or-her-looks">Could you determine someone&#039;s creditworthiness by his or her looks?</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/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 5 Quick Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception. Updated.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs borrowing money high interest lending loans Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:00:03 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1350987 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Annoying Things Bill Collectors Can't Do -- And How to Stop Them http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lady_phone_bill_000020951752.jpg" alt="Lady on the phone with bill collector" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are some scary and crazy debt collectors stories out there. For example:</p> <ul> <li>A California debt collector threatened a woman by claiming that they'd <a href="http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Foul-Mouth-Debt-Collectors--107059238.html">dig up her daughter</a> if she didn't pay her debt to a funeral home.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A man received several racially-charged and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/man-wins-15m-vulgar-debt-collection-calls/story?id=10795674">profane voicemail messages</a> from a Pennsylvania-based collections agency.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>A Texas-based debt collector used scare tactics, such as threatening to <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/06/pf/debt-collection/">take away children</a>.</li> </ul> <p>You don't have to tolerate abusive behavior from unscrupulous debt collectors. Here is how to stop four annoying things that bill collectors absolutely <em>can't</em> do.</p> <h2>1. Report Late Payments to Credit Bureaus Within 30 Days</h2> <p>Missing a payment deadline is something that can happen to even the most meticulous person. When this happens, some bill collectors may start calling to scare you into believing that if you don't make the payment right away, they'll notify the credit reporting bureaus.</p> <p>You've worked hard to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-secured-credit-cards">build up your credit score</a>, so the mere thought of being reported for a late payment may send shivers down your spine. There's no need to panic. As long as you make your missed required minimum payment before the 30th day after your due date, you'll prevent any creditor from reporting delinquency to any of the credit bureaus.</p> <p>While you may still be liable for a late payment fee (ranging from $25 to $35) and may be charged a penalty APR (as high as 29.99%), you can't be reported to a credit bureau before you're a full 30 days past due.</p> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>If a bill collector threatens to report you to a credit bureau for anything earlier than a 30-day late payment, tell them that is a violation of federal law. The collector would be knowingly providing incorrect information. If you receive a late payment fee and penalty APR, and are in good terms with your credit card company, call its customer service line to check if they can remove both penalties.</p> <h2>2. No Harassing Phone Calls</h2> <p>While it may be funny to look up crazy calls from debt collectors on YouTube, it's definitely not fun to receive them. Debt collectors don't want you to know that you have the legal right to not answer their calls.</p> <p>Under the <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text">Fair Debt Collection Practices Act</a>, debt collectors can't:</p> <ul> <li>Call you between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. in your local time.</li> <li>Contact you at unusual or inconvenient places.</li> <li>Try to circumvent your lawyer, if one is representing you regarding the debt.</li> <li>Attempt to reach you at your place of employment if no incoming calls are allowed.</li> </ul> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>Request in writing that they not call you, and keep a copy for your records. When you mail the letter, ask for a return receipt. If the collectors keep on calling you, you have ammunition to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commision. The more FTC complaints a collection agency has, the more likely that the FTC will sue the agency or, in case of egregious violations, shut it down. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealing-with-nasty-debt-collectors?ref=seealso">Dealing With Nasty Debt Collectors</a>)</p> <h2>3. No &quot;Taking It All&quot;</h2> <p>Bill collectors will say anything to get your attention. The reality is much different.</p> <ul> <li>The <a href="http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/garnish.htm#Penalites">Consumer Credit Protection Act</a> limits the amount that can be garnished from your paycheck to the lesser of 25% of disposable earnings or the amount by which disposable earnings are greater than 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>In cases of economic hardship, creditors may not be allowed to garnish the full 25% of your disposable earning. Certain state wage garnishment laws may impose additional limits.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Your state's collection laws and exemptions may provide additional protections. For example, my home state of Hawaii has a <a href="http://www.govcollect.org/files/Hawaii_Debt_Collection.pdf">collection exemption</a> of $2,575 on vehicles and up to $30,000 on real property.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>The <a href="http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-erisa.htm">Employee Retirement Income Security Act</a> protects qualified retirement accounts, such as 401(k), deferred compensation, and profit sharing plans from most bill collectors.</li> </ul> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>Know your rights and find out the relevant collections laws and exemptions for your state. In cases of abusive threats from debt collectors, file a complaint against them with the FTC.</p> <h2>4. No &quot;Doomsday&quot; Dates</h2> <p>Another common scare tactic from collection agencies is to anchor to a final deadline that would trigger lots of additional fees and legal problems if not met. Debt collectors know that the clock is working against them, so that's why they want to cash in as early as possible.</p> <ul> <li>Collection agents get commissions based on how big your first down payment is.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bill collectors buy debts at discounted prices, yet want to maximize their profit margins.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Debts can become too old for a collector to sue. Depending on your state's <a href="https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0117-time-barred-debts">statute of limitations</a> for credit card debt, a creditor may be out of luck as early as three years.</li> </ul> <h3>How to Stop It</h3> <p>Always negotiate. You're not required to make a big down payment or forced to accept monthly repayment plan. When dealing with any debt collector, almost everything is negotiable, including payment schedules and deadlines.</p> <p>Bill collectors are great at playing hardball, but they know that it's in their best interest to negotiate a repayment plan that you can realistically stick to. Don't be caught off guard by malicious collection agents and keep them in check.</p> <p><em>What is your craziest story about bill collectors? Please share in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-deal-with-collection-agencies">How to Deal With Collection Agencies</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/surprising-things-that-can-kill-your-credit">Surprising Things That Can Kill Your Credit</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-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</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/account-in-collections-heres-how-to-fix-it">Account in Collections? Here&#039;s How to Fix It</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-erase-your-medical-debt">How to Erase Your Medical Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Debt Management bill collectors Collection Agencies credit score harassment Thu, 19 Mar 2015 13:00:12 +0000 Damian Davila 1347503 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Keep Your Credit Cards Safe During the Holidays http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-your-credit-cards-safe-during-the-holidays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-keep-your-credit-cards-safe-during-the-holidays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy-holiday-online-shoppe.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The hack at Target that stole credit and debit card information from 40 million Americans happened just a year ago. If you want to avoid having your information stolen by hackers or garden variety thieves while shopping online, there are some smart steps you can take. Following are FOX Business Network&rsquo;s Gerri Willis&rsquo; five steps for keeping your cards safe from the bad guys:</p> <h2>1. Use the Official App</h2> <p>If you use mobile apps to shop, make sure you download the app from the retailer's official site. Adam Levin, Identity Theft 911 chairman and founder, suggests making sure your mobile device -- phone or iPad -- has the latest anti-virus software. Watch for free apps that contain malware. If you are shopping on websites, only make purchases on websites with an SSL encryption. This is an added layer of protection. You can identify sites with this protection by looking for the &quot;s&quot; in https:// in the website's URL. A Better Business Bureau accreditation is a positive. Read user reviews.</p> <h2>2. Verify Emails</h2> <p>If you receive promotions or discounts via emails, make sure to verify the email is legitimate. Illegitimate emails may be filled with misspellings and bad grammar, though the thieves are getting more and more sophisticated every day. You're better off getting your coupons directly from retailers.</p> <h2>3. Don't Use Debit Cards Shopping Online</h2> <p>If you take precautions, credit cards are fine, but debit cards have fewer protections. Think about it. If a hacker or thief gets your debit card password, they can get directly into your bank account. Disputing charges on credit cards is far easier than disputing debit card claims. Watch out for gift cards. If you buy them from a virtual marketplace, you may get more than you bargained for, like a virus that infects your computer.</p> <h2>4.&nbsp;Use Secure WiFi When You are Shopping</h2> <p>Doing your holiday shopping from a coffee shop or local cafe can be a disaster. Remember you and another 50 million Americans are doing their shopping online, the thieves know that, and are targeting you wherever you are.</p> <h2>5. Don't Overshare on Social Media</h2> <p>Hackers are looking for potential victims. If your profile is too high on social media, hackers may pretend to be Facebook friends or send you a special offer or discount, claiming to be a retailer. Don't fall for it.</p> <div align="center"> <p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/embed.js?id=3884620671001&w=466&h=263"></script><noscript>Watch the latest video at <a href="http://video.foxbusiness.com">video.foxbusiness.com</a></noscript></p> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>Gerri Willis joined Fox Business Network (FBN) in March of 2010. She is the host of <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/willis-report/videos">The Willis Report</a> (weekdays 5-6PM/ET), a primetime program that covers the leading financial and political stories of the day and their impact on consumers.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gerri-willis">Gerri Willis</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-your-credit-cards-safe-during-the-holidays">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 5 Quick Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception. Updated.</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</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-student-who-created-a-pr-nightmare-via-wikipedia">The Student Who Created a PR Nightmare Via Wikipedia</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:25:11 +0000 Gerri Willis 1270664 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Get Screwed: 3 Surprising Times When You Need a Lawyer http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-screwed-3-surprising-times-when-you-need-a-lawyer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-get-screwed-3-surprising-times-when-you-need-a-lawyer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lawyer-client-talking-78634526-small.jpg" alt="lawyer client talking" title="lawyer client talking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Lawyers get a bad rap.</p> <p>From films such as <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/630592970X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=630592970X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=DZTWKTVHAVSBDN6C">My Cousin Vinny</a> to TV shows such as <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002DYJ520/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002DYJ520&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=DPXNFEDK7ZLKAM52">Ally McBeal</a>, you get the idea that lawyers don't know half the time what they're doing. This is why it seems that taking legal matters in your own hands or using an online legal service is just as good as hiring a lawyer. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-occasions-when-you-should-definitely-hire-a-financial-advisor?ref=seealso">7 Occasions When You Should Definitely Hire a Financial Advisor</a>)</p> <p>However, there are times that the opportunity cost is too high to tackle the job yourself. And some of them &mdash; like the three listed below &mdash; might surprise you.</p> <h2>1. Executing an Estate or Administer a Will</h2> <p>Let's imagine that your Uncle Joe passes away and Aunty Jude calls to ask if you could serve as executor of your uncle's estate or administrator of his will. If Uncle Joe meant a lot to you and you feel that is your duty to accept either task, it is a good idea to call a lawyer.</p> <p>Executing an estate requires a lot of steps and forms. The three primary responsibilities of a person appointed to administer an estate are:</p> <ul> <li>To collect and inventory the assets of the estate of the deceased;</li> <li>To pay applicable debts, taxes, and liabilities of the estate; and</li> <li>To distribute the remaining estate to the persons entitled to receive them.</li> </ul> <p>If you have neither the time nor the expertise to do a thorough job, you may miss necessary state estate tax returns or notices (e.g. Notice of Proposed Action). Even worse, you become liable for any potential mismanagement of your uncle's estate. But that's not all. The estate's beneficiaries are most likely your relatives as well. So, you would get sued by your own relatives if you were to perform any wrongdoing, even if unintentional. Do you really need that drama in your life?</p> <p>A lawyer would guide through the entire process and point out any potential pitfalls. For example, depending on the applicable estate laws, you may not be entitled to serve as an administrator for your uncle's will. A lawyer would check the statutes of descent and distribution to determine the next of kin entitled to serve as administrators.</p> <p>However, probate attorney's fees are not cheap. The <a href="http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/why-avoid-probate-29861.html">total fee for a &quot;routine&quot; estate</a> with a gross value of $400,000 is about $20,000. You have three options for billing: hourly (<a href="http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/probate-lawyers-fees-billing.html">ranging from $150 to $200 per hour</a>), flat fee, or percentage of estate (only in certain states, such as California and Florida). Most legal professionals recommend to avoid percentage fees and to get the fee agreement in writing.</p> <h2>2. Forming a Corporation</h2> <p>Given that there are <a href="http://www.census.gov/econ/susb/">close to 3 million corporations in America</a>, you would think that forming a corporation is a pretty straightforward process. However, forming a corporation is more complicated than setting up an LLC or business partnership. This is another time to pick up the phone and call a lawyer.</p> <p>While many of the necessary forms are available online, such as the ones for the <a href="http://corp.delaware.gov/newentit09.shtml">State of Delaware</a>, you may not have the necessary skills to consider the tax and legal ramifications of how you form the corporation. There are important requirements, such as filing annual reports, filing bylaws, and requesting permission to operate outside the state of incorporation, that only a corporate attorney would know about. After all, you want your corporation to make headlines, but not for making a major legal blunder.</p> <p>The <a href="http://blog.lawkick.com/how-much-does-a-lawyer-charge-to-start-a-company/">rates of corporate lawyers to form a corporation fluctuate</a> a lot. They can start as low as $300 and go all the way up to $5,000. Hiring an ultimate pro can run you over $1,000 per hour. Of course, these estimates don't include fees, such as the IRS fee for tax exempt nonprofit corporations.</p> <p>It's important to shop around and get several quotes to make an informed decision. However, don't rely solely on price. Make sure that the lawyer specializes in corporate law, ask her for recommendations, and check her background with your state and local bar associations. By investing the time in finding the right corporate lawyer, you have completed the necessary legwork when the need rises again for one.</p> <h2>3. Filing a Patent</h2> <p>There are plenty of websites claiming that you can file a patent for just a couple hundred dollars and in under one hour.</p> <p>But if you truly have a billion dollar idea, you shouldn't risk it going it on your own. When you have the golden goose, the patent trolls will try their best to take a bite out of it. For example, Apple faced <a href="http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/apple-top-target-of-patent-trolls-faced-92-lawsuits-in-three-years/">92 patent lawsuits over a three year period</a>, and Google has faced <a href="https://www.patentfreedom.com/about-npes/pursued/">over 140 patent lawsuits since 2009</a>.</p> <p>Several inventors recommend that you <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/204918">seek advice from a registered patent attorney or agent</a> when filing your provisional patent application. A professional provides expert advice on what language to use to:</p> <ul> <li>Meet the requirements of <a href="http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/35/112">35 U.S. Code 112</a> for inventions and their connections;</li> <li>Avoid unnecessary restrictions to your provisional patent;</li> <li>Provide counsel on additional registration systems (e.g. trademark); and</li> <li>Achieve the right balance between broad and specific descriptions.</li> </ul> <p>The total cost for a provisional patent application for a mechanical or electrical device is about <a href="http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2011/01/28/the-cost-of-obtaining-patent/id=14668/">$2,500 or less</a>. The portion for the cost of attorney time is at least $2,000 and the remaining is for filing fees and applicable expenses, such as drawings. If your product development is successful and you're ready to file a nonprovisional patent application, be ready to spend <a href="http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee010114.htm">over $10,000 in legal cost and fees</a>.</p> <p>Better safe, than pillaged by a patent troll!</p> <p><em>What are other times when you need a lawyer? Please share in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-screwed-3-surprising-times-when-you-need-a-lawyer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-safe-is-craigslist">How Safe Is Craigslist?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</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/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You 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/five-calls-you-can-make-now-to-save-hundreds-to-thousands-of-dollars">Five calls you can make now to save hundreds to thousands of dollars</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs corporation lawyer lawyer fees patent will Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:00:08 +0000 Damian Davila 1250739 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Ways You Put Your Life at Risk Every Day http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-put-your-life-at-risk-every-day <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-you-put-your-life-at-risk-every-day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-drinking-cola-151810423-small.jpg" alt="woman drinking cola" title="woman drinking cola" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you watch cable news, you'd think that we were all at risk of dying from Ebola, falling airliners, or terrorist attacks. But the reality is that the greatest risks to our health stem from activities we take part in nearly every day.</p> <p>Statistically, we are far more likely to get hurt or die doing relatively mundane activities than jumping from planes or getting eaten by sharks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-most-dangerous-things-hiding-in-your-home-right-now?ref=seealso">The 5 Most Dangerous Things Hiding in Your Home Right Now</a>)</p> <p>Just in time for Halloween, we give you nine common things we do (or don't do enough of) that are a risk to our health. Just prepared for a little scare&hellip;</p> <h2>1. Getting in a Car</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx">National Highway Traffic Safety Administration</a> reported 30,800 fatal crashes involving motor vehicles in 2012 in the United States. That's nearly 15 fatalities for every 100,000 licensed drivers. (And of course, this rate rises among people who were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.) Despite major advancements in automotive safety, accidents make up about a quarter of all accidental deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These numbers provide ample support for walking and taking public transit if at all possible. Generally speaking, the less you drive, the safer you'll be.</p> <h2>2. Drinking Sugary Beverages</h2> <p>Research from Harvard University <a href="http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/">has linked the sugar content in beverages</a> to more than 25,000 obesity-related deaths in the United States and 180,000 worldwide. A can of soda can have more than 30 milligrams of sugar, or 20% more than the World Health Organization's recommended daily intake for an <em>entire day</em>. This much sugar puts you at risk for conditions like diabetes and heart problems. You can avoid sugar in your drinks by grabbing diet versions, or switching to other drinks <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/252999-benefits-of-green-tea-honey/">like green tea sweetened with honey</a>. And what's so bad about plain old water?</p> <h2>3. Eating a Lot of Meat</h2> <p>Meat has its benefits, in the form of proteins and many vitamins. But there is evidence that too much red meat will put you at risk for various health problems, including heart disease. Researchers at <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/13/just-how-unhealthy-is-that-steak-the-deadly-dangers-of-eating-red-meat/">Harvard reported that a single extra serving of meat</a> each day increased mortality by 13%. And that number jumped to 20% among subjects who ate processed meats like hot dogs or bacon.</p> <p>You don't necessarily have to become a vegetarian to reduce your health risk, but it's possible to get protein from other sources, including fish, chicken, nuts, and whole grains.</p> <h2>4. Sitting!!</h2> <p>There's mounting evidence that sitting for long stretches of time is hazardous to your health. It's a major problem for anyone who works in an office setting, in particular. Numerous studies report that prolonged sitting can contribute to a wide range of maladies including heart disease, bad back, muscle degeneration and circulation problems. One report that looked at studies between 1989 and 2013 <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0080000">concluded that sitting for more than 10 hours a day</a> contributed to a 34% increase in mortality rate compared to people who sat for one hour a day. But there's a lot you can do to counteract this. Cut down on your TV watching, or watch while at the treadmill at the gym. If you work in an office, get a standing desk (or even a treadmill desk.) Bottom line: just get moving! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-standing-desks?ref=seealso">The 5 Best Standing Desks</a>)</p> <h2>5. Not Sleeping Enough</h2> <p>The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep, but gets barely more than six, according to multiple studies. The <a href="http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch.html">National Institutes of Health reports </a>that an ongoing sleep deficiency contributes to kidney problems, heart disease and stroke, and increases your risk of obesity and diabetes. Not to mention, a lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to accidents; driver fatigue contributes to about 100,000 car accidents and 1,500 deaths each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.</p> <p>In short, it's time to catch up on your sleep. Doctors advise going to bed at the same time every night and keeping away from food, television and electronic devices near bedtime. Regular exercise also helps.</p> <h2>6. Not Getting Enough Sex</h2> <p>Simply put, having an orgasm is good for you, especially if you are a man. An article in the former British Medical Journal studied more than 900 men between 45 and 59, and found that those men who had &quot;high orgasmic frequency&quot; had a 50% lower mortality rate than those who had fewer orgasms.</p> <p>There's also some evidence that sex will improve your mood and <a href="http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0815/p757.html">reduce your risk of prostate cancer</a>.</p> <p>So, go and have more sex. (Safe sex, with someone you love, of course.) Your life depends on it.</p> <h2>7. Going Out in the Sun</h2> <p>When you actually take time to read about the impact of ultraviolet rays from the sun, you suddenly feel like it's better to just stay inside forever. UV rays will damage your skin, and too many sunburns will place you at risk for several types of skin cancer, including the deadly melanoma. The American Cancer Society reported that there will be an estimated 76,100 cases of melanoma in 2014, with 9,710 deaths.</p> <p>Of course, there are ways to prevent sun damage. Avoiding tanning beds at all cost is advisable. And when you do go out in the sun, avoid going out in the middle of the day and apply a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 30.</p> <h2>8. Entering Your House</h2> <p>To be clear, it's not so much the entering as what can happen to you once you go inside. Specifically, heavy things have the potential to fall on you and hurt you.</p> <p>The Consumer Product Safety Commission <a href="http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/171154/InstabilityorTipoverReport2014Stamped.pdf">reported that between 2011 and 2013</a>, an annual average of 38,000 people went to emergency rooms after a tipover of a television, furniture, or an appliance. More than half of these incidents involved children, and the vast majority of the 430 deaths were among kids aged 10 and under. But adults still got hurt more than 16,000 times. In 2015, the CPSC will implement a $400,000 campaign to educate people about the potential for television and furniture tip-overs.</p> <h2>9. Accumulating Debt</h2> <p>Debt is not just bad for your financial wellbeing, it may also be bad for your health. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine reported that <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2013/08/high-debt-could-be-hazardous-to-your-health.html">young people with higher loads of debt</a> reported higher blood pressure and poorer mental health. A Gallup Poll in 2014 reported that 34% of young people with <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/174317/student-debt-linked-worse-health-less-wealth.aspx">no debt said they were thriving physically</a>, compared to 24% among those with more than $50,000 in debt.</p> <p>Avoid debt, if you can. If you have debt, pay it off as soon as possible.</p> <p><em>Any risks I've overlooked? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-put-your-life-at-risk-every-day">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-more-supposedly-healthy-things-that-are-actually-hurting-you">9 More Supposedly Healthy Things That Are Actually Hurting You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-children-hurt-in-crocs-related-accidents">More children hurt in Crocs-related accidents.</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/are-you-giving-burglars-the-key-to-your-home">Are you giving burglars the key to your home?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Health risk safety Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:04 +0000 Tim Lemke 1240477 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-tv-shopping-177435130-small.jpg" alt="couple tv shopping" title="couple tv shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Retail therapy is no myth. Psychologists have found that there's a real science behind the burst of joy we feel when we <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mar.20404/abstract">treat ourselves with a big, exciting purchase</a> &mdash; no matter how impractical it may be.</p> <p>Unfortunately, buyer's remorse also exists. Once the newness wears off, our prized purchase sometimes <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201201/why-regret-makes-buying-experiences-better-buying-stuff">becomes just another thing</a> in the pile of stuff that occupies so much of the space in our lives. We begin to compare it to other things like it that we don't have. A faster sports car. A bigger jacuzzi. The latest cell phone upgrade. And just like that our big buy loses its luster.</p> <p>Some items are prone to invoke buyer's remorse. Typically these items are just downright absurd, yet we've convinced ourselves that they're an important, practical, or smart purchase anyway. Thanks to the mistakes of thousands of consumers before us, we've been able to identify a few of them for you. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-your-financial-kryptonite-and-how-to-conquer-it?ref=seealso">What Is Your Financial Kryptonite and How to Conquer It</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our list of the top seven purchases that are sure to leave you wallowing in your own tears of regret.</p> <h2>1. 3D TVs</h2> <p>The majority of <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/majority-3d-tv-owners-regret-their-purchase-1431326">3D television owners regret their purchase</a>. It's not that the technology isn't cool. The leading complaint is that there just isn't enough 3D content to make ownership of one of these futuristic devices worthwhile.</p> <p>More than half the 50 movie titles offered in 3D in 2011 were kids' flicks, while <a href="http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/3d-tv-autopsy-did-it-finally-die-or-was-it-never-alive-to-begin-with/#!beO9si">most blockbuster movie titles opted out</a> of the 3D format altogether. When you're coughing up between $2,000 and $12,000 for the TV plus another couple hundred bucks a pop for the glasses, that's sort of a deal breaker.</p> <p>That leads us to another popular complaint: It can be a major annoyance to wear the glasses that make the third dimension pop. Sort of like wearing your sun shades in the house.</p> <h2>2. Whirlpool Tub</h2> <p>It's a vision of romance: Flower petals, candle light, a bottle of wine &mdash; and then you turn the thing on. Who wants to canoodle with that grumbling sound? Yeah, it's a vision alright.</p> <p>Jacuzzi-style whirlpool tubs can be a real mood killer. Not only are they noisy, they're time consuming to fill with water and prone to completely draining the hot water tank. Plus they're expensive to operate, not to mention expensive to buy and install.</p> <p>Bottom line: Most people don't use them enough to outweigh the negatives.</p> <h2>3. A College Education (No, Really&hellip;.)</h2> <p>Okay, so most people would say a college degree is a smart investment &mdash; but it can certainly be regrettable. A third of millennials say they would have been <a href="https://www.wellsfargo.com/press/2013/20130522_MorethanhalfofMillennials">better off working than going to college</a>, according to a Wells Fargo study. The reason? They're drowning in debt.</p> <p>More than half the 1,414 college grads surveyed by Wells Fargo said they afforded their education by taking out hefty student loans that have become the crux of their financial distress. Many said they think they'd have been better off with a less expensive, public education than a much more costly degree from a top-tier school.</p> <p>If given $10,000, more than half of those surveyed said the first thing they would use the money for is to pay off student loans or credit card debt.</p> <h2>4. A Timeshare</h2> <p>The cost of owning a timeshare extends well beyond the mortgage. Annual maintenance fees, property taxes, and special assessments are piled on top &mdash; and they can be quite expensive.</p> <p>Another major gripe among timeshare owners is that it's not always easy to schedule their allotted time at the unit. In fact, it can be downright maddening. Some timeshare contracts have so <a href="http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/top-ten-reasons-think-twice-before-buying-timeshare.html">severely misstated the ease in scheduling</a> that several states have passed laws to punish these misrepresentations.</p> <p>Timeshares are also difficult to unload. Few people are interested in purchasing a timeshare in the aftermarket, meaning you're very likely to lose money even if you do find a buyer.</p> <h2>5. A Car They Didn't Research</h2> <p>Nearly a third of all <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2280243/Millions-regret-buying-latest-car-Third-admit-purchasing-faulty-vehicle-say-didnt-research.html">motorists regret their most recent car purchase</a>, a consumer watchdog report found. Among the top triggers of dissatisfaction: The car is faulty, it costs more to run than they anticipated, or they simply didn't do enough research.</p> <p>A car is one of the most expensive purchases many of us will ever make. So before pulling the trigger on a flashy sport convertible or a clunker with the little engine that could, experts say it's important to weigh all your options and do your homework.</p> <p>Here are a couple good online resources to get you started: <a href="http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/first-time-new-car-buyer-guide.html">Edmund's Guide for First-Time New Car Buyers</a> and <a href="http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/repair/how-to-buy-a-used-car-without-getting-burned?click=pp">Popular Mechanic's How to Buy a Used Car Without Getting Burned</a>.</p> <h2>6. High-End Designer Bags, Clothes, and Shoes</h2> <p>Speaking of cars, a Gucci handbag can cost more than the down payment on your vehicle. Ditto that for many designer scarves, furs, and dresses. What you're really paying for is an air of luxury and exclusivity.</p> <p>Many of the clothes and accessories we find to be swoon-worthy at the store, high-end and otherwise, end up spending nearly their entire existence in storage. That's because the average person wears only about <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324240804578415002232186418">20% of the clothes in their closet</a>, according to retail specialists.</p> <p>Among the top reasons our garments go unworn? The items no longer seem as unique or important as when first purchased, or we realize it was an impulse buy rather than a smart, practical purchase.</p> <h2>7. A $5,000 Watch</h2> <p>So you got a big promotion at work. Why not reward yourself with a Rolex? You earned it. Plus, what's more practical than a classic timepiece?</p> <p>Ted Jenkins, who co-operates a financial advisory firm focused on generations X and Y, speaks from experience when he says: &quot;Don't do it!&quot;</p> <p>&quot;<a href="http://www.yoursmartmoneymoves.com/2014/07/08/a-5000-watch-doesnt-make-you-look-cool/">The dumbest purchase I ever made was spending $5,000 on a watch</a>,&quot; Jenkins wrote on his financial literacy blog. &quot;I wore two watches over the course of a year, one that cost $5,000 and one that cost $79. The $5,000 watch was a Panerai and the $79 was a Diesel&hellip; During that year, my compliment ratio was four to one in favor of the $79 Diesel watch. I never really cared that much about brand names and it taught me that nobody else really does as well. Now I don't even wear a watch because my phone can tell time.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you ever made a big dumb purchase? Please share your experience in comments!</em></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/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">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-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford 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/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</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/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</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/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead">14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Lifestyle Shopping big purchases buying expensive luxuries shopping Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1165663 at http://www.wisebread.com Convert Your Crap Into Cash Without a Garage Sale http://www.wisebread.com/convert-your-crap-into-cash-without-a-garage-sale <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/convert-your-crap-into-cash-without-a-garage-sale" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl-clothes-176758449-small.jpg" alt="girl clothes" title="girl clothes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="151" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all have extra stuff lying around that we'd love to pawn off for cash &mdash; in theory. But let's face it. Organizing a garage sale can be sort of like planning a dinner party without the payoff of good friends, good conversation, and a couple of refreshing gin and tonics. All that sorting and polishing and sticker-tagging and sign-making &mdash; not to mention the time you'll spend trying to shoo the neighbor who wants to take home your kid's $500 barely used air hockey table for 20 bucks &mdash; and you might not even earn enough to cover your expenses for that bottle of upholstery cleaner. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/have-your-best-garage-sale-ever-by-following-these-9-retail-secrets?ref=seealso">Have Your Best Yard Sale Ever</a>)</p> <p>Fortunately, it's true what they say: One man's trash is another man's treasure. The trick to making this maxim work for you is finding the right platform that will put your well-cared-for Coach purse before the eyes of fashionistas who deeply value the absence of scratch marks on the leather strap.</p> <p>The Internet is a brilliant resource for reaching your best-bet buyers. So is your flesh-and-blood network of family and friends. Here's our guide to getting the biggest bang for your leftovers and unwanteds using the basics of target marketing. It's all about finding your niche.</p> <h2>1. Clothing</h2> <p>The founder of <a href="http://www.threadflip.com/">ThreadFlip</a> launched the up-and-coming online marketplace for second-hand garments and accessories two years ago after taking a peek at his wife's cluttered closet. What struck him was that most of the overflow was comprised of perfectly fashionable, cared-for pieces that she never even wears. When he asked his wife and other women why they hold on to clothing they know they'll never put on, they gave him the same answer: &quot;<a href="http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/site-to-be-seen-threadflip-com/?_php=true&amp;_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">It's too hard to do anything else with them</a>.</p> <p>Sites like eBay and Etsy work great, too, but ThreadFlip offers the added benefit of a niche audience. This is fashionistas selling to other fashionistas, so you're bound to rake in more cash for those peach-colored stilettos than if you were to try and hawk them on a generalized resale site. (Another excellent option for pre-owned luxury clothing and accessories is <a href="http://www.portero.com/">Portero</a>).</p> <p>When you sell on ThreadFlip, the site helps you lure in buyers by marketing your items with high resolution photos. (If you're clumsy with a camera, you can fork over a higher percentage of your earnings and the company will handle the photography for you.) Once you hook a buyer, an empty box arrives at your doorstep. Simply fill it with the items you've sold and call for a pickup. ThreadFlip will ship the box directly to the buyer, and for this the site takes a 20% cut of the sale.</p> <h2>2. Furniture</h2> <p>It's not easy &mdash; nor cheap nor in any way desirable &mdash; to sell a couch by mail. Sites that facilitate resale transactions with buyers right in your local community are your best bet for larger items, like furniture, swing sets, and pinball machines, that are too cumbersome for the postal service.</p> <p>While Craigslist is well-known, <a href="https://krrb.com/">Krrb</a> (pronounced &quot;curb&quot;) is a newer hyperlocal classifieds platform that's on the rise in popularity. The 75,000-member online consignment boutique caters to the bargain hunter with sophisticated taste. High-end furniture pieces go for anywhere <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/25/bargain-furniture-websites_n_5503904.html?ir=HuffPost+Home">between $800 and $10,000</a> depending on condition and style. Recent listings include a Victorian aquarium, 19th century furnishings, and a vintage mahogany sideboard. There's also <a href="https://krrb.com/posts/76154-2-wild-goat-taxidermy?rf=everywhere">a pair of taxidermy goats</a> that's going for $1,500.</p> <p>In most cases, the buyers on sites like Craigslist and Krrb are willing to come to you. And it's on them to hire a truck to transport the antique bed and night stands. All you have to do is hold out your hand. Ahh, how good it feels to have a fistful of cold, hard cash.</p> <h2>3. Electronics</h2> <p>Here's the good news: Amazon will buy your old electronics in exchange for money to spend on Amazon. And considering the breadth and depth of the Amazon marketplace, credit for this online shopping site is nearly as good as cash.</p> <p>It works like this: Check the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Electronics-Trade-In/b/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=2226766011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WVMW4DSEZF3VHV4Y">trade-in page</a> to see if your old cell phone or video game console is eligible for the gift-card program. (Books are also applicable.) Then package up your gadgets and send them off to Amazon. The company will even pay for the shipping. Once the company receives the items, your Amazon account will be credited in about two business days.</p> <p>Amazon doesn't have a monopoly on the electronics trade-in industry, although its service in this department is streamlined and immensely easy. Still, there are other options to explore. <a href="http://www.nextworth.com/">Nextworth</a> and <a href="http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=606138&amp;u=255320&amp;m=45652&amp;urllink=&amp;afftrack=">Gazelle</a> offer similar trade-in programs with an added benefit: They'll actually send you a check for your outdated iPad. On the downside, Nextworth can often take upwards of 10 days to reimburse you while Gazelle tends to lowball its offering price.</p> <h2>4. Valuables That Aren't Selling Online</h2> <p>There are certain items you won't want to part with unless you're getting what they're worth. Diamond earrings. The teak end-table. Those leather boots you bought on your honeymoon in Italy. You know they are high-value items, even if the bid amounts on your eBay auction suggest otherwise.</p> <p>Chances are that at least some of your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors share in your taste and would love to go on a shopping spree at your house. So why not let them? Simply price the items you want to sell and invite a group of people over to browse.</p> <p>Or, take a hint from the minimalist, world-traveling duo Warren and Betsy Talbot and host a <a href="http://www.marriedwithluggage.com/how-to-host-a-reverse-birthday-party/">Reverse Birthday Party</a>. The next time your birthday comes around, examine the stuff in your house and stick price tags on all those beautiful, loved items that you could only bear to part with for a fair price. Then invite over the friends and family members you know will appreciate just as you do that antique farmhouse spinning wheel or the cutesy Christmas china set and let 'em loose. In lieu of gifts, your guests will be doing you a favor by spending that gift money &mdash; and then some, if all goes to plan &mdash; on all that exquisite stuff you need to part with in order to declutter your life.</p> <p>Take whatever's left over to a brick-and-mortar consignment shop.</p> <p><em>How have you turned your old stuff into cash without bothering with a yard sale? Please share your secrets in comments!</em></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/convert-your-crap-into-cash-without-a-garage-sale">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-12"> <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-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</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/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-dumbest-big-purchases-people-make">The 7 Dumbest Big Purchases People Make</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-get-rid-of-your-junk">How to Get Rid of Your Junk</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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Lifestyle Shopping consignment declutter garage sale selling used yard sale Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1160270 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Be Fooled by 2014's Most Common New Scams http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-2014s-most-common-new-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-be-fooled-by-2014s-most-common-new-scams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/scam-184760721-small.jpg" alt="phone scam" title="phone scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Scams will never go away. From medieval England to modern day America, people will always try to find ways to get money the easy way. These scammers are still relying on methods that have worked for centuries, but there are updated scams that you should always be on the lookout for. So, acquaint yourself with these current scams and cons (some will be new, while others will sound very familiar). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for?ref=seealso">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a>)</p> <h2>Vishing (AKA, The &quot;No Hang Up&quot; Scam)</h2> <p>Leading the charge in 2014 is a dastardly scam that is relatively new, but very effective if you don't have your guard up. The scammer will call pretending to be someone from the police department, or your bank, or credit card issuer. They will inform you that your card has been compromised in some way, and advise you to call the bank in question. This preys on the belief that you should always call your bank or financial institution, and not the other way around. The clever part about this scam is that the original caller stays on the line with you, in a three-way conversation, and hears everything you tell your bank. The best way to avoid this is to simply hang up the phone and start a new call. If you have been compromised, you will soon find out. If you haven't, you'll know someone was trying to con you.</p> <h2>The &quot;One Ring&quot; Cell Phone Scam</h2> <p>This is a very simple scam, and those are usually the most effective. The crooks simply <a href="http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/24909781/consumer-alert-one-ring-cell-phone-call-scam">call your number once and hang up</a>. You will check your cell phone to see that you have a missed call, and curiosity may just get the better of you. But when you call, the number will be from an area code that is not from the US (although it looks like it). Instead, it will be to a place like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, or Grenada. It may even be to an adult sex line. Before you realize what's going on, you've been charged $19.95 to connect, and $9 per minute. A piece of software like <a href="http://www.truecaller.com/">Truecaller</a> can help you, but if in doubt don't ever call a dubious number back. They'll call you again if they really need to get hold of you.</p> <h2>Sticky ATM Keypads</h2> <p>Once again, ATMs are being targeted by thieves. In the past, <a href="http://blog.credit.com/2013/05/credit-card-skimming-scams-arent-going-anywhere/?utm_source=Yahoo&amp;utm_medium=content&amp;utm_content=IB_5&amp;utm_campaign=sneakiest_scams">skimming</a> devices were successful. Then crooks would place small blockages in the card slot that would make it appear that your card had been swallowed by the machine. Now, we have <a href="http://www.atmsecurity.com/index.php?searchword=stuck+key&amp;ordering=newest&amp;searchphrase=exact&amp;limit=100&amp;option=com_search">sticky keypads</a>, and they really are sticky. The scammers apply an adhesive to buttons like ENTER, CANCEL or CLEAR. When you press one of these buttons, the keypad sticks, and you are unable to complete the transaction. When you pop inside the bank to report the problem, the thief lying in wait simply unsticks the key with a screwdriver and completes your transaction for you. If you can, always use an ATM inside a trusted bank or building. They are much more difficult to tamper with, and you have staff at hand to help out.</p> <h2>Catfish Catphish</h2> <p>By now, you have probably heard the term &quot;catfish.&quot; It describes someone who is online claiming to be looking for love, but using a fake identity and photos. Now, this has turned into &quot;catphishing,&quot; and these people are not really looking for love at all&hellip; they want money. The catphishers will use legitimate dating sites to start the conversation, but will quickly want to talk or chat outside of the dating site &mdash; because they don't want to be tracked through it. After leading you on with photos and compliments, they will suddenly find themselves in a desperate situation that needs money to fix, and quickly. Never, ever fall for these online dating scams. If they refuse to talk over Skype or meet, be very wary.</p> <h2>The &quot;Ads On Your Car&quot; Scam</h2> <p>There are legitimate businesses out there that will pay you to put advertising on your car. There are also scammers looking to make a quick buck from unsuspecting people looking to make a little extra money.</p> <p>The scam starts with an advert placed on a local website, perhaps Craigslist, offering you up to <a href="http://www.bbb.org/blog/2012/05/putting-ads-on-your-car-scam-says-carol/">$600 per week to put adverts</a> for name brands (Coca-Cola, Heineken, etc) on your car. That should be your first clue; legitimate companies don't pay anywhere near that amount. Then, when you apply for more information, you are sent an upfront payment for even more than the amount they owe you. The idea being you cash the check, keep part of the money, and send the rest to a &quot;designer&quot; working on the project. Of course, this is just a variation on the common &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/419_scams">advance fee</a>&quot; scam. Don't fall for it, and do your research.</p> <h2>The Free Vacation Scam</h2> <p>With people still on tight budgets, vacations are turning into staycations, and the idea of escaping to a sunny foreign destination seems like a pipe dream. Then, these free vacations come along &mdash; &quot;Congratulations, you've won a four-day vacation in Jamaica!&quot; This usually comes in the form of a letter or piece of junk mail, but many people fall for it.</p> <p>Sadly, there's little chance of ever escaping to a relaxing vacation.</p> <p>First, you'll be asked to join a travel club. This can cost $300. Then when you go to book the holiday, you will be greeted with tons of black out dates, regulations, and additional fees. Before you know it, you've spent a small fortune on a &quot;free&quot; vacation, and if you do manage to escape, it will be to a very sub-par vacation that cost a lot less than all the fees you paid.</p> <h2>Penny Auctions</h2> <p>It's tricky to use the word scam with this one, as it is legal. But that doesn't make it something anyone should be participating in. Penny auctions seem like a way to get a high-cost item at an insanely low price &mdash; Apple laptops for $60, HDTVs for $100. But, the actual chance of getting one of these items for that price is very slim indeed. For a start, although the price of the item may only be $60, people may have spent 10 times that amount bidding on it. That's because it can cost 60 cents to place a bid for one cent. You may well place 100 bids, or $60, and get absolutely nothing for your money. Here's a <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/upgrade-your-life/hidden-dangers-penny-auctions-163331290.html">statement from a Yahoo! writer</a> who tried a penny auction site:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">I bought $60 in bids and got in on an iPad auction. I bid occasionally, trying to time it when the counter neared zero, but I quickly blew 40 bucks in bids. Someone always jumped in at the last second, usually someone using the automated bid setting. So I signed up for automated bids myself, and I was amazed. My $20-worth of remaining bids flew out in 24 seconds. And I didn't win. My 60 bucks was goners! In fact, I watched the most aggressive bidder make 30 bids a minute for 2 more hours until the auction ended. 3600 bids, at a minimum 55 cents a bid. That's $1980 for a device that costs retail $499, and that guy didn't even win!</p> <p>Bottom line: If you want to do an auction, use <a href="http://www.ebay.com/">eBay.com</a>, or another legitimate auction site. The penny auctions are designed to prey on your desire to get an amazing deal. Don't fall for it.</p> <p><em>Have you seen any of these scams or others in the wild? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-be-fooled-by-2014s-most-common-new-scams">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">4 Warranties That Aren&#039;t Worth It</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/obamacare-fraud-alert-con-artists-prey-on-worried-health-insurance-consumers">Obamacare Fraud Alert: Con Artists Prey on Worried Health Insurance Consumers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs 419 scams catphishing modern scams phone scams scams Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 1153222 at http://www.wisebread.com Too Good to Be True? How Trader Joe's Sells Affordable Goods http://www.wisebread.com/too-good-to-be-true-how-trader-joes-sells-affordable-goods <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/too-good-to-be-true-how-trader-joes-sells-affordable-goods" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/grocery-shopping-86541102-small_0.jpg" alt="grocery shopping" title="grocery shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are many die-hard fans of Trader Joe's who will assure you that it's the best grocery store ever. And that's not just hearsay. In fact, the quirky grocery chain recently came in first in a national survey that polled people on their <a href="http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/news/article.asp?docKey=600-201405302048KRTRIB__BUSNEWS_52487_18728-1&amp;params=timestamp%7C%7C05/30/2014%208:48%20PM%20ET%7C%7Cheadline%7C%7CTrader%20Joe%27s%20captures%20top%20spot%20in%20national%20survey%20of%20shoppers%20[Dayton%20Daily%20News%2C%20Ohio%20%3A%3A%20]%7C%7CdocSource%7C%7CMcClatchy-Tribune%7C%7Cprovider%7C%7CACQUIREMEDIA%7C%7Cbridgesymbol%7C%7CUS;KR&amp;ticker=KR">favorite supermarket</a>.</p> <p>RELATED: <a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Conventional-vs-Organic-Grocery-Prices-18342929">Organic vs. Conventional: Price Breakdown of 10 Common Groceries</a></p> <p>The great value for quality goods is what keeps customers coming back for more. But all of us have wondered from time to time how in the world Trader Joe's manages to pull that off. Although I don't ever want to ruin a good thing, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to do some digging. Here are a couple of possible reasons:</p> <h2>1. Smaller Spaces</h2> <p>&quot;Most TJ's locations have less square footage than the average mainstream grocery store, so I'm sure they save on their overhead costs that way,&quot; says Nathan Rodgers of review site <a href="http://www.whatsgoodattraderjoes.com/">What's Good at Trader Joe's</a>. &quot;And it appears they pass some of those savings on to their shoppers.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Smaller Headcount</h2> <p>To keep costs down, the chain generally has a <a href="http://www.workforce.com/articles/fostering-a-loyal-workforce-at-trader-joe-s">lower headcount in its stores</a> than its competitors, although there are exceptions. You won't find some of the traditional supermarket positions, like a butcher and a baker, at Trader Joe's, which also helps with costs. This means that customers can only buy pre-cut meats and pre-made baked goods, but that doesn't seem to deter consumers.</p> <h2>3. Less Selection</h2> <p>Trader Joe's has a smaller selection of goods, and most of its products are offered under the store-brand label, which differentiates it from other grocery chains. Fortune estimates that the <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/companies/inside_trader_joes_full_version.fortune/index.htm">typical grocery store has 50,000 items</a>, while Trader Joe's has 4,000 &mdash; 80 percent of which are store-brand goods. Its small store sizes also don't allow for a bigger selection of goods.</p> <p>This can be a negative or positive, depending on how you see the situation, because there are definitely people who do enjoy the smaller selection. Rodgers says, &quot;Honestly, I have a hard enough time making decisions as it is. A smaller selection actually helps narrow down the choices. Plus, they're constantly shuffling things around and introducing new products. The thing that bothers me most is that they discontinue really great products occasionally.&quot;</p> <p>By limiting its selection, Trader Joe's will buy larger quantities from suppliers. And it will restock at a faster rate because of the quicker turnaround &mdash; it is able to sell more of one type of product when there aren't too many choices. These two factors will drive down the costs. Although there isn't a lot of variety, customers are OK with that because they trust that the quality will be good, according to Fortune.</p> <h2>4. Not Everything Is Certified Organic</h2> <p>Some products have the label &quot;made with organic ingredients,&quot; which Mark Kastel, co-founder of organic food industry watchdog group <a href="http://www.cornucopia.org/">The Cornucopia Institute</a>, says may mean only 70 percent of the ingredients in the product are organic. For example, the label may say the pizza was made with organic wheat and vegetables, but the cheese and meat might not be organic, which means you're getting a really &quot;cheapened product.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;When you are going to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or any store you have to be a conscious consumer because a lot of what is most profitable to them is not organic even though they really like to tout that they are organic,&quot; says Kastel. His advice is to take a careful look at the labels to make sure the whole product is certified organic.</p> <h2>5. Private About the Suppliers</h2> <p>Trader Joe's is notoriously private about its suppliers. This is also a trademark trait of its parent company, German supermarket conglomerate Aldi. &quot;Their hallmark is what we call private label or store brand. So you don't really know who is manufacturing it and where it's from or maybe the story behind the food,&quot; says Kastel. This enables Trader Joe's to use a competitive bidding system with suppliers and go with the lowest bid. Customers won't know when the manufacturer of the product changes.</p> <p>The anonymity also benefits the suppliers as they don't want customers to know that they are making a lower-cost version for the Trader Joe's label. Last year, The Huffington Post did <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/12/who-makes-trader-joes-food_n_2664899.html">a taste test</a> comparing Trader Joe's products they speculated were produced by big brands to the actual products sold under the big-brand names. The testers found that although there was a big price difference, there were no obvious differences in taste.</p> <p>However, the secrecy can brew dissatisfaction among some consumers. Vani Hari, investigative food journalist and founder of <a href="http://foodbabe.com/">FoodBabe.com</a>, says, &quot;If you shop at Trader Joe's and buy their Trader Joe's branded products, you'll never know which companies are producing your food. You could be supporting a company with shady or unethical business practices. Other major supermarket chains like Target and Kroger are also creating their own private label products that also create similar concerns with consumers. With the increased emphasis on the 'voting with your dollars' mentality and ingredient labels, consumers want to know where their food comes from.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Efficient Distribution and Supplier System</h2> <p>The company also cuts out the middleman and buys a lot of its food directly from the suppliers, which translates to lower expenses and more savings for customers. Suppliers send their food to Trader Joe's distribution centers, where it then gets sent out to the stores. Traditional supermarkets usually buy their food through a distributor, which adds on more cost.</p> <h2>7. Food Is Sourced All Over the Globe</h2> <p>Food Babe's Hari says, &quot;Trader Joe's is able to keep their produce and goods inexpensive because they source their goods from all over the globe &mdash; especially from underdeveloped countries where prices are cheaper.&quot; The danger in this strategy is the organic food industry in foreign countries may not be well regulated.</p> <p>Back in 2008, to deal with the growing concern over organic food from China, Trader Joe's announced that it planned to phase out any <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tj12feb12-story.html">single-ingredient food item</a> from China. This is a big deal given that not a lot of supermarkets follow suit. Whole Foods did not do the same and said it was in a &quot;different position&quot; and it didn't make sense to stop the progress it has &quot;made with sourcing select high-quality products.&quot; However, although Trader Joe's phased out the single-ingredient items, it's not clear which multiple-ingredient products use organic ingredients from China and which other countries it is sourcing its single-ingredient products from.</p> <h2>8. Less Money Spent on Marketing</h2> <p>The company is known for not spending as much money on marketing and advertising as its competitors. In fact, it doesn't even have an official Facebook or Twitter page.</p> <p>Chances are, you probably heard about the grocery chain through word of mouth. The chain has such a devoted following that customers become the brand's best &quot;advertisers,&quot; promoting the stores in various ways &mdash; from uploading images of their favorite Trader Joe's snacks on Facebook to convincing friends to shop there. The bonus in this strategy is that the advertising costs won't be tacked on to Trader Joe's goods.</p> <h2>So What Does This Mean for Those Who Want Organic Food?</h2> <p>It means we have to be careful as consumers and read labels. We can also do our homework and learn how to shop smart. You can start with organizations like <a href="http://www.cornucopia.org/">The Cornucopia Institute</a>, which has several helpful reports such as one that ranks<a href="http://www.cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html"> the quality of dairy of several suppliers and grocers</a>. Kastel recommends people shop at their local food co-op, which he says is the &quot;gold standard of organic retailing.&quot;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Trader Joe&#039;s fans love the store, and with good reason. But how do they manage to keep all of those great products so cheap? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a style="border:none;" href="http://www.savvysugar.com"><img style="height:95px; width:300px" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u921/POPSUGARrgb.jpg" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/"><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Save-Money-Whole-Foods-11376657">Insider Info: 18 Tips to Saving Big Bucks in Whole Foods</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/What-Buy-Whole-Foods-34126215">10 Things You Should Buy at Whole Foods (and 7 to Avoid)</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Making-Groceries-Last-Tips-16971878">12 Tricks to Make Groceries Last Longer and Save Cash</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/popsugar-smart-living">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/too-good-to-be-true-how-trader-joes-sells-affordable-goods">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-14"> <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-ethics-of-hoarding">The ethics of hoarding</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-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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</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-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The Best 5 Credit Cards for Groceries</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-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink Shopping Wed, 18 Jun 2014 09:00:05 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 1142513 at http://www.wisebread.com Are You Being Had? Learn From 5 Crazy Ponzi Schemes http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-being-had-learn-from-5-crazy-ponzi-schemes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-being-had-learn-from-5-crazy-ponzi-schemes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/scam-78773706-small.jpg" alt="scam" title="scam" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether you call them &quot;Ponzi schemes&quot; or &quot;pyramid schemes,&quot; one thing you definitely don't want to call investment scams is &quot;something I fell for.&quot;</p> <p>So take a look at a few of history's biggest and boldest schemes &mdash; each illustrates something to keep in mind when weighing your own investment opportunities. And each is a good reminder: scams like these are very real, and a wise investor must be very vigilant.</p> <h2>1. Chinese Ant Antics</h2> <p>Businessman <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/death-penalty-for-chinese-ant-farm-scammer/">Wang Fengyou's pyramid scheme</a> was nothing if not creative: he convinced investors (generally individual farm workers) to buy ants &mdash; yes, ants &mdash; from his company, feed them a special diet for three months, and then sell them back to his company for a profit. The insect livestock, it was said, would then be turned into pharmaceuticals.</p> <p>Amazingly, people bought it, and within a decade Wang's company had a billion dollar annual turnover, until 2007 it is, when the company collapsed after investors started demanding returns on their investment. Even more amazingly, though, is the fact that over <em>1 million</em> people invested. The takeaway here? The amount of investors in your same boat doesn't mean said ship will stay afloat &mdash; don't let the illusion of safety in numbers influence bad investment decisions.</p> <h2>2. 'N Scheme</h2> <p>Lou Pearlman was the larger than life producer behind 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys in the 90s. In 2006, he added another huge production to his resume: a $300 million ponzi scheme in which he persuaded banks and individuals to invest in &quot;Trans Continental Airlines,&quot; a purely fictitious company. Though Pearlman plead guilty and is currently serving a 25-year sentence, his investors are only <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2013/07/19/the-broke-and-the-beautiful-lou-pearlman-edition/">just now starting to recoup their losses</a>, and will likely only be paid out four cents on the dollar.</p> <p>Interestingly, Pearlman had been suspected of operating a pump and dump scheme decades earlier, so perhaps the takeaway here is that even though everyone is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, allegations of foul play (even unproven ones) should make you think twice about investing with someone.</p> <h2>3. The Pyramid Pastor</h2> <p>In September of 2003, longtime Scientology minister <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB101718484270953360">Reed Slatkin</a> pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering after the FBI launched an investigation uncovering $240 million he had swindled out of investors. Much of the money went to the Church itself, which eventually agreed to repay millions of ill-gotten funds. Slatkin sold himself as a financial whiz, and while of course there's nothing to say that a minister can't also be an excellent investor, the case may give you pause before investing with someone who's head isn't 100% focused on getting big return on investment.</p> <h2>4. The Minnesota Money Man</h2> <p>Talk about &quot;Minnesota nice&quot;: <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/06/us-petters-ponzi-idUSBRE9B50Q620131206">Tom Petters</a>, a St. Cloud man with deep roots in the state, raised nearly $4 billion, making the third largest Ponzi perpetrator in US history. He's currently serving 50 years in Leavenworth, but that doesn't necessarily put money back in the pocket of his victims, many of whom were senior citizens. The elderly are often seen as potentially easier prey, meaning you should:</p> <ol> <li>Be weary of investments aimed at them.</li> <li>Make sure to help your parents be equally weary!</li> </ol> <h2>5. Madoff Madness</h2> <p>You know the name, you know the scheme. But what you may not know is that former NASDAQ chairmen Bernie Madoff generally took investments from (and thus defrauded) people and organizations making very sizeable (multiple million) contributions. Meaning that being financially elite &mdash; unlike the Chinese ant-farmers or elderly folks taken for a ride in Minneapolis &mdash; is no insurance against being had. It just means you have more to lose.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joe-epstein">Joe Epstein</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-being-had-learn-from-5-crazy-ponzi-schemes">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-15"> <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/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</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/five-quick-and-simple-scams-that-could-happen-to-you-today">Five quick and simple scams that could happen to you 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-tips-to-save-you-from-an-atm-skimmer">10 Tips to Save You from an ATM Skimmer</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-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs madoff ponzi pyramid scam scheme Fri, 13 Jun 2014 21:00:26 +0000 Joe Epstein 1141812 at http://www.wisebread.com