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Internet Scams We Are Still Falling For

Internet Scams We Are Still Falling For

In the old days, snake oil scams were incredibly prevalent–and successful. Anyone with charm and a way with words could waltz into a small town and swindle the entire population by promising eternal youth, extreme happiness, or riches beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

You would think that with all the information available on the Internet nowadays these scams would be impossible to pull off. Unfortunately, thousands of people still fall for similar “too good to be true” schemes every day. Scammers prey on innocent people who put their trust in anyone seeming to be offering assistance all the time. As you browse the World Wide Web, be on the lookout for:

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Disaster relief scams

This is perhaps the most despicable method people use to swindle others out of their hard-earned cash. Whenever a natural disaster or terrorist attack occurs, the vast majority of the population is more than willing to open their hearts and their wallets to help those in need–and scammers know this. When Hurricane Katrina hit the United States, hundreds of people saw their fellow countryman’s suffering as an opportunity to profit. At a time in which people are most vulnerable, some scumbags only see dollar signs.

Collector’s items scams

Most people who collect specific items as a hobby do so with no ulterior motive in mind. Those who have amassed a collection of baseball cards or supposedly rare silver dollars throughout their lives aren’t looking to profit; for the most part, they want to share their collection with their children and pass down something that represents them. Of course, it would be nice if they were able to sell some of their collection if absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, when the time comes to cash in on their investment, many collectors are heartbroken to discover that their memorabilia is virtually worthless. And, of course, by the time they figure this out, the person who sold them the useless junk is long gone, and the poor collector is left with nothing.

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Auction scams

You’ve probably seen commercials for auction sites that offer iPads and Xbox consoles for a fraction of the retail price and wondered how they do it. Hopefully you stopped at this stage, realizing that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. But if you didn’t stop yourself and opened a $50 bid on a new $1,000 Macbook, you likely immediately regretted your decision. These sites often charge a monthly subscription fee to use their services–whether you use them or not. Not only that, but some of them also take the money you bid on an item regardless of whether or not you actually won the auction. Now you see how they can afford to “give away” these expensive items for a tenth of the price, right?

Free trial scams

I like to live by the old saying, “If it’s free, it’s for me!” I think a lot of people do. But you have to use discretion while living by this motto, especially when browsing the Internet. A lot of sites offer free trials for their services or products for one month, but they require your credit card information “just for verification.” What they really use your information for is to charge your card the minute your free trial period runs out and the paid monthly subscription kicks in. And–you guessed it–these subscriptions aren’t cheap. And they aren’t refundable, either. These companies bank on people forgetting to cancel their subscription within the first month. Then they count on you being too busy to deal with the hassle of complaining, so you chalk up the $49.99 fee as a loss and move on with your life. While it might not seem like making fifty bucks from a once-off customer might not seem like a lot, think about it. If only 1% of the population of America falls for the scam, the “company” will make about $150 million for doing absolutely nothing!

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Work from home scams

When you see the phrase “work from home,” you most likely imagine lounging on your couch with your iPad in your hand, the TV on in the background, and a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine) next to you while you breeze through your day. While working from home is certainly possible (ahem), it’s not like you won’t be working. But that’s exactly what many “work from home” scams promise–the ability to click around on your computer for an hour a day and spend the rest of your afternoon watching soap opera reruns while the dividends roll in. They’ll promise to give you “the secret” to making residual cash with minimal effort–but only if you pay an upfront, non-refundable fee. Of course, the “secret” usually involves some type of Ponzi scheme that requires you to either admit you’ve been swindled, or become a swindler yourself. Take it from me, there are much better ways to make a living working from home.

Featured photo credit: A Fool and His Money / David Goehring via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on June 20, 2019

50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

Most people want a few more dollars in their wallets. But between an employer and family, the time most of us can devote to a second job is severely limited. Running a small side business can provide a few more options: you don’t have to show up at a set time and you can use skills you already have. Not all will be perfect for everyone, of course, and I’m sure that you’ll have a few ideas of your own after reading this list. If you’d like to share any other business ideas, please add them in the comments.

  1. Selling collectibles — From antique books to teddy bears, there are plenty of opportunities to buy and sell collectibles. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the collectible of your choice but if you choose something that you’ve been collecting for a while, you’ve got a head start.
  2. Locating apartments — It can take time to sort through apartment listings, but you can make some money by finding the perfect apartment for a renter.
  3. Baby proofing — New parents often prefer to bring in an expert to make sure their home is safe for a new baby.
  4. Calligraphic writing — If you’ve got elegant handwriting, you can pick up gigs writing or addressing wedding invitations, holiday cards and more.
  5. Selling coupons — Search on eBay for coupons right now and you’ll see thousands of listings for coupons. It’s just a matter of clipping and listing what you find in your Sunday newspaper.
  6. Pet training — A surprising number of people don’t know where to start in training a pet. Even teaching Rover simple commands like ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ can bring in a few dollars.
  7. Running errands — A wide variety of people want to outsource their errands, from those folks who aren’t able to leave their homes easily to those who have a busy schedule.
  8. Researching family trees — Amateur genealogists often call in experts, especially to handle research that has to be done in person in a far off place. If you’re willing to go to a local church and copy a few records, you can handle many family tree research requests.
  9. Supplying firewood — The prerequisite for selling firewood is having a source of wood; if you’ve got some land where you can cut down a few trees, you’ve got a head start.
  10. Hauling — As more people trade in their SUVs for compact cars, hauling is becoming more important: people have to rent a truck or hire a hauler for even small loads.
  11. Image consulting — Image consultants provide a wide variety of services, ranging from offering advice on appearance to teaching etiquette.
  12. Menu planning — For many people, the trip up in eating home-cooked or healthy meals is knowing what to prepare. Meal planners set a schedule to solve certain dietary problems.
  13. Microfarming — Cultivating food and flowers on small plots of land allows you to sell produce easily.
  14. Offering notary public services — Notary publics can witness and authenticate documents: a service needed for all sorts of official documents.
  15. Teaching music — If you’re skilled with a musical instrument, you can earn money by offering lessons.
  16. Mystery shopping — Mystery shoppers check the conditions and service at a store and report back to the store’s higher-ups.
  17. Offering research services — Just by reading up on a topic and compiling a report on it can earn you money.
  18. Personal shopping — Personal shoppers typically select gifts, apparel and other products for clients, helping them save time.
  19. Pet breeding — Purebred pets can be quite value, especially if you can verify their pedigree.
  20. Removing snow — During the winter months, shoveling walks can still be a reliable way to earn money. You might be asked to take care of the driveway too.
  21. Utility auditing — As people become environmentally-concious, they want to know just how efficient their homes are. With some simple testing, you can tell them.
  22. Offering web hosting services — Providing server space can be lucrative, particularly if you can provide tech support to your clients.
  23. Cutting lawns — An old standby, cutting lawns and other landscaping services can provide a second income in the summer.
  24. Auctioning items on eBay — Want to get rid of all your old stuff? Stick it up on eBay and auction it off.
  25. Babysitting — Child care of all kinds, from babysitting to nannying, can offer constant opportunities.
  26. Freelance writing — If you’ve got the skills to write clearly, you can sell your pen for everything from blogs to advertising copy.
  27. Selling blog and website themes — Do a little designing on the side? Customers that don’t want to pay full price for a website will often pay for a template or theme.
  28. Offering computer help — Particularly with people new to computers, you can earn money by providing in-home computer help.
  29. Designing websites — It may require a little skilled effort, but designing websites remains a reliable source of income.
  30. Selling stock photography — For shutterbugs, an easy way to put a photography collection to work is to post it to a stock photography site.
  31. Freelance designing — Check with local businesses: you can provide brochures, business cards and other design work and get paid a good fee.
  32. Tutoring — Math and languages reamin the easiest subjects to find tutoring gigs for, but there is demand for other fields as well.
  33. Housesitting / petsitting — Stopping in to check on a house or pet can earn you some money, and maybe even a place to stay.
  34. Building niche websites — If you can put together a site on a very specific topic, you can put targeted ads on it and make money quickly.
  35. Translating — The variety of translating work available is huge: written word, on the spot and more is easy to find even on a part-time basis.
  36. Creating custom crafts — No matter what kind of crafts you make, there’s likely a market for it. Etsy remains one of the easiest places to sell crafts.
  37. Setting up a wi-fi hotspot — With a little bit of equipment, you can set up a wi-fi hotspot and charge your neighbors for the access they’ve been ‘borrowing.’
  38. Selling an e-book — You can write an e-book about almost anything and put it up for sale online.
  39. Affiliate marketing — If you’re willing to market other companies’ products, you can earn a cut of the sales.
  40. Renting out your spare room — From looking for a long-term roommate to listing your guest room on couch surfing sites, that spare room can make you money.
  41. Offering handy man services — Handling small household tasks can provide you with plenty of work, although you’ll probably be expected to have your own tools.
  42. Teaching an online class — Share your expertise through a website, an online seminar or variety of other methods.
  43. Building furniture — For those with the skill to create handmade furniture, selling their creations is often just a matter of advertising.
  44. Providing personal chef services — Personal chefs prepare meals ahead of time for customers, leaving their customers with a full freezer and no mess.
  45. Event planning — From planning corporate events to bar mitzvahs, an event planning business can require plenty of work and offer plenty of pay.
  46. Installing home safety products — Particularly as Baby Boomers age, people able to install handrails and other home safety products are in demand.
  47. Altering / tailoring — If your sewing skills are up to par, altering garments is coming back as people try to stretch more wear out of their clothing.
  48. Offering in-home beauty services — Hair cuts, makeup and other beauty services that can be performed at home have a growing demand.
  49. Business coaching — Helping others to establish and develop their businesses can provide many opportunities to earn money.
  50. Writing resumes — Writing resumes can provide a reliable income, especially if you can put a polish on a client’s credentials.

There are plenty of offers that claim to provide you with the opportunity to make thousands of dollars a week. Unfortunately, none of these businesses will provide that sort of income, but they aren’t scams either. They were chosen because they all require a minimum investment to get started — some require nothing more than a flyer advertising your business. Even better, if you do enjoy any of these businesses, there is a potential with most of them to continue to expand — perhaps even to the point of going full time.

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Featured photo credit: Omar Prestwich via unsplash.com

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