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Internet Scams We Are Still Falling For

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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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Matt Duczeminski

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

Some easy ways to save money:

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  1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
  2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
  4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
  5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
  6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
  7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
  8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
  9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
  10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
  11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
  12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
  13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
      a reusable water bottle and refill it.
    • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
    • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
    • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
    • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
    • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
    • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
    • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
    • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
    • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
    • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
    • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
    • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
    • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
    • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
    • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
    • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
    • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
    • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
    • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

    Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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    Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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