When two people with opposite money views marry, it’s the ultimate in “He said, she said.”
He wants to save every penny so they can afford their dream house within the next five years, and she would rather live it up today while pushing off their dream a little longer.
She wants to budget every dollar to track everything they buy, and he thinks they can trust themselves to keep within their spending limit without accounting for every single purchase.
He thinks golf clubs with a four-digit price tag are a reasonable want, and she thinks they’re a ridiculous luxury reserved for the very wealthy.
And on and on it goes.
For Talaat and Tai McNeely, a pair of high school sweethearts ready to take their relationship further, the money differences were more than just an occasional spat — they were an obstruction standing between the couple and marriage.
As the McNeelys share on their blog, hisandhermoney.com, here’s a sampling of some of the financial issues they were dealing with before they married:
Do we let our credit scores dictate if we are compatible for marriage?
How will our previous money habits play a role in our marriage?
Do we merge our finances?
How can we work together to become better at life and win with money?
Am I a loser because I have now made my debt problems my future spouse’s problems?
Can I change, or is my past really who I am?
Should I have a secret account just in case our money situation gets worse?
How will we purchase a home? Do we put it in both of our names and risk not having a low interest rate due to the lower credit score?
Do I have to take full responsibility for our finances simply because I’m better at it?
Will we have to rely on two incomes to run our home?
What will our lives look like five years from now?
Despite one partner being debt-free and the other carrying $30,000 in debt, the McNeelys decided to get married. They knew the financial road ahead could be bumpy, but they were prepared to weather the storms together for the sake of their relationship.
Today, after years of struggling to chart their own joint money path, the McNeelys are completely debt-free, have paid off their mortgage and run a 6-figure business online. They have learned enormous life lessons on their journey toward financial wellness, and they generously share these lessons on their blog, podcasts, videos and through their private community of couples seeking financial guidance.
The couple is passionate about helping others overcome their financial differences and build a better relationship and a better future together. Check out hisandhermoney.com to learn their secrets.
Your Turn: How do you and your partner deal with money differences? Tell us about it in the comments.
Readers interested in learning the psychology behind life’s financial choices and how to better manage their money.
What’s inside this book?
Engaging short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaching readers how to better understand the logic behind personal money management
Complex financial concepts broken into easy-to-understand narrative
Lessons you’ll learn from this book:
Why managing money successfully isn’t about what you know; it’s about how you behave
How to reframe your perspective for making better money decisions
How an individual’s personal history, ego, pride and unique view of the world influences their financial reality
Why financial knowledge does not guarantee better financial choices
How to build and strengthen tools for improving the way you handle money
What people are saying about this book:
“Morgan Housel is that rare writer who can translate complex concepts into gripping, easy-to-digest narrative. The Psychology of Money is a fast-paced, engaging read that will leave you with both the knowledge to understand why we make bad financial decisions and the tools to make better ones.”— Annie Duke
“The Psychology of Money is an essential read for anyone who wants to make wiser decisions or live a richer life.”— Daniel H. Pink
“Housel’s observations often hit the daily double: they say things that haven’t been said before, and they make sense.”— Howard Marks
Your Turn: What do you think about Housel’s theory ofmoney decisions being unrelated to knowledge? Share your opinion in the comments.
Q: I love the convenience of payment apps, like Cash App and Venmo, but I’ve heard there’s been an increase in scams being pulled off within these apps. How can I continue to use my payment apps without compromising my safety?
A: Payment apps offer users the ability to effortlessly send payments to friends, making it easy to split the tab at a shared meal, buy a present for a mutual friend and quickly pay back a small loan. Unfortunately, though, scammers are using these apps to cheat people out of their money.
Here’s all you need to know about payment app scams and how to protect yourself from being the next victim.
How the scam plays out
There are several variations of the mobile payment app scam, most of which involve the scammer hijacking the victim’s linked checking account or credit card and using it to pay for their own purchases. Now, though, with the COVID-19 pandemic changing people’s attitudes toward money, there is another, more nefarious scam being played out through mobile payment apps.
In this trending scam, a payment app user is invited to participate in a contest on Twitter or another social media platform. The host of the contest is giving away a bundle of cash to one lucky winner as a way of helping them through the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.
After entering the contest, the victim receives a message informing them that they’ve won the giveaway — but they need to pay a small fee to verify their account and, later, receive their cash prize. Thrilled to be the winner and suspecting nothing unusual, the victim will gladly pay the fee and wait for their big payday. Unfortunately, though, the money never lands in their account, and they won’t see the funds they used to pay the “fee” ever again.
In the above scenario, the contest the victim entered may actually be authentic, but the follow-up post they’ve received is the work of a scammer.
Sometimes, the victim has not entered any contests but receives a message appearing to be sent directly from the payment app informing them they’ve been randomly chosen to win a cash prize — with a small processing fee attached.
Other times, scammers take the ruse one step further. After asking the victim to send the fee via mobile payment app, the scammer hacks the victim’s linked account or credit card and uses it to make their own expensive purchases.
Scammers use keywords like #coronavirus and #emergencyfunds to make their social media posts appear authentic; their efforts often pay off.
“My goal is to help those in need,” one scammer in Florida wrote. “Your deposit allows us to immediately send you your payment.”
The scam can be pulled off through any payment app, but is especially popular with Cash App users who are familiar with the app’s “Cash App Fridays.” To the unsuspecting victim, the new freebies seem like an extension of the app’s existing giveaways.
Likewise, the scam can be executed through several social media platforms, but is most commonly found on Twitter. The social media giant is a popular host for contests of this sort, and another cash giveaway hardly stands out. The “Retweet” culture on Twitter also makes it easy for scammers to pick up on a legitimate contest and choose a participant to target.
“This behavior is absolutely against our rules and outlined as such here,” Twitter spokesperson Lauren Alexander wrote in an email. “Users who see such scams should go to the ‘Suspicious and Spam’ category to report the scam.”
Luckily, you don’t need to give up on the convenience of mobile payment apps just yet. Protect yourself from this scam by learning about the medium used to pull it off and how to recognize the scam’s red flags.
Here’s what you need to know about Cash App and other mobile payment apps:
Cash App will never ask customers to send it money as a “processing fee” or for “verification.”
Cash App will not ask users to share their PIN or sign-in code outside the app.
Cash App currently has only two official Twitter accounts, @cashapp and @cashsupport, both of which have blue, verified check marks. If you receive a tweet from another account appearing to be from the app, it is likely bogus.
If a post or tweet looks suspicious, don’t take any chances; ignore it and move on.
If you believe you have fallen victim to a mobile payment app scam, contact the app’s support through the app or website. If the scam is reported early enough, they may be able to reverse the transaction. You can also report the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov and let your friends know about the circulating scam so they don’t fall victim to it themselves.
Mobile payment apps make transferring money easy, but they also make it easy for scammers to con victims out of their money. Stay alert and practice caution to keep your money safe.
Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a payment app scam? Tell us about it in the comments.
Things are falling into place, and after months of researching your options, polishing your resume and sitting through awkward interviews, you think you may have found your dream job.
You’ve already gone for a follow-up interview and the position is as good as yours. The only obstacle to cross before joining the ranks of the officially employed is salary negotiation.
If you’ve done your homework well, you’ll know the job you’re considering pays in the ballpark of your financial needs; however, the exact salary package you’ll be starting with depends on how the negotiations play out.
Here’s where things can get sticky. You may have your salary requirements and wish list in mind, but the company representative in charge of hiring has a lot more experience in negotiating salary than you do. It’s also easy to feel intimidated when you’re new to the workforce and desperate to find a good job.
You may not have the upper hand here, but you can still come out ahead.
Here are some tips to help you negotiate like a pro:
Choose the right time to negotiate
Only bring up your salary requirements when you have an actual offer in hand. Don’t jump the gun and assume you’re being offered the job because you’ve had a follow-up interview and you’re getting positive vibes from the company. Talking salary before you’ve officially been offered the position can jeopardize your chances of landing the job.
Do your homework
Before you walk into that room, make sure you know the average going rate for the position in question. You can find this information through a quick online search of sites like Payscale.com, Glassdoor.com and Salary.com, or by asking friends who are work in similar positions.
Once you have this number, hold it up against your own income requirements and ask for a starting salary that is slightly above your needs. You don’t want to walk away with less than you deserve, but you don’t want to overreach and come off sounding too greedy, either.
Research the company
Another crucial preparatory step for opening up the salary negotiations is to find out all you can about the company and its top challenges. Talk about ways you can help solve the company’s most pressing problems and you’ll prove you will be an employee worth hiring—at almost any price.
Understand the offer
If the company representative gives you a salary quote that is less than you expected, ask how they’ve reached this number. It’s possible that some of your skills and/or work experience were not considered when the offer was made. For example, you may have already mastered the entry-level skills for this kind of work during an internship for a similar position. This puts you at an advantage, as you won’t need to waste the company’s time and resources on basic training. Consequently, you deserve to start at a higher salary point. A simple question like this can save lots of aggravation on both sides of the desk.
Consider the full scope of the offer
When considering a position, don’t forget that job offers are about more than just salary. Look at the entire package, including all benefits, time off, retirement account contributions, etc. Sometimes, a job may have so many advantageous things attached it’s worth accepting a lower starting salary than you anticipated, as long as your paycheck will still cover your budget.
Similarly, if this job is one that offers tremendous room for growth and the ability to acquire a specific skill-set plus valuable experience, it may be worthwhile to accept it as a stepping stone for a more lucrative position in the future.
Role-play in advance
When negotiating salary, it’s important to find that sweet spot between insecurity and arrogance. It can be super-helpful to practice negotiating in advance by role-playing with a friend.
Remember not to sell yourself short. You’ve worked hard to acquire the skills and experience you have today, and you deserve to earn your true worth. Best of luck with your new job!
Your Turn: Have you successfully negotiated your starting salary at a new job? Share your best tips with us in the comments.
Selling a home is a move people generally plan years in advance, and 2020 was no different. For many homeowners, the hot real estate market of spring and summer of 2020 was going to be the season they put their homes up for sale. And then came the coronavirus — and the world turned upside down. With people struggling just to get by financially, and health and safety paramount, selling a home seemed like a dream from another lifetime. Records of home sales in the U.S. from the beginning of the outbreak reflect these feelings, with a sharp decline of 21% in total homes sold in March, and another decrease of 17.8% in April, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) .
Now, though, the U.S. real estate market is looking very different. As the economy limps toward a recovery, many buyers are searching for a new place to call home and the housing market is thriving. In fact, national home sales climbed a record 20.7 percent in June compared with home sales from a year ago, global pandemic notwithstanding
One crucial factor driving the surge in home sales is the declining mortgage rates. In the beginning of March, mortgage rates plunged to a record low of 3.13 percent. Since then, the market has seen several smaller increases and decreases. On Aug. 6, history was made when the national average mortgage rate hit 2.88%, the lowest rate on record of all time.
Despite the flourishing housing market, many homeowners who’ve planned to sell their homes this year are still reluctant to take that leap. And it’s no wonder, with restrictions still in place and so much uncertainty still surrounding the economy.
If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, you still can. Here’s all you need to know about selling your house during the COVID-19 crisis.
Are you really ready to sell?
Before putting your home on the market, it’s important to consider all the variables involved in this step, and be sure it’s a financially responsible move. With the pandemic causing a slowdown of the economy and a likely recession, life circumstances you may have relied on, such as a steady job and salary, may not be dependable anymore. Before calling a real estate agent, it’s a good idea to review all the relevant numbers to be sure that selling your home now is in your best interest.
Stage your home to sell
Anyone selling their home knows they need to showcase it in the best possible light, and never has this been truer than now. With restrictions still in place in many states and lots of people stuck home in quarantine, many buyers will be doing their touring virtually. For sellers, this means that staging and photographing a home well is more important than ever.
Consider hiring a professional home-staging and photography service to truly present your home in the best way possible. If your furniture is shabby or your home is too cluttered to be attractively displayed, you can also invest in virtual staging software or hire a team of professional virtual stagers to help you update the furniture and clean out the clutter with just a few clicks. Either option can cost you upward of $75 an image, but the NAR report from 2019 shows that on average, sellers see about a 5% return on this investment.
Here are some general tips to follow when staging and photographing your home, as shared by Buddy Mountcastle, a real estate photographer based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.:
Clean up the outside. Curb appeal is the first selling point for any home. Make sure there are no weeds, overgrown grass or kids’ toys ruining the first impression of your home.
Let the sunshine in. Aim to shoot mid-day. Scrub your windows clean, open the curtains and let the natural sunshine brighten up every room.
Undo the lived-in look. Remove all personal effects from your home before going camera-crazy. This includes stray shoes, family photos, piles of magazines, small kitchen appliances and more.
Shoot from the right spot. When capturing a room on camera, try to get as much of the space in the frame. Aim to include three walls, which can mean shooting from the corner or doorway. It’s also important to shoot straight and from chest height so as not to distort the room.
To make it easier for buyers to view your home, you can post a virtual tour on your online listing, and offer the option of scheduling a live tour with an agent through FaceTime or Zoom.
Play it safe
If you will be allowing potential buyers into your home, don’t forget to play it safe. Set up a box of disposable masks, shoe covers and sanitizing wipes at the door for all visitors who will be tramping through your home. If you will be hosting an open house, it’s best to allow a limited number of people inside at a time to make social distancing possible.
Price it right
Fewer homeowners are putting their houses up for sale this year, but the pool of buyers is also smaller than usual. This means you won’t be able to jack up the price of your home for way more than it’s worth. Work with an agent to look at comparable home sales in the area and to determine a fair asking price. Also, as always, list a selling price a bit higher than your actual desired price to allow for negotiations.
Closing during COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic will likely affect every aspect of selling your home, up until the closing. With many workers in the home-selling industry, from professional home inspectors, to mortgage lenders, to movers working with a smaller team now, be prepared for various steps of the home-selling process to be delayed. It’s best to be patient and to anticipate that things may take longer than usual. This is especially true with lenders, as low mortgage rates are triggering a spike in refinance applications across the country and lenders are busier than ever.
COVID-19 has wrecked all sorts of plans, but selling your home does not have to be one of them. With some adjustments and altered expectations, you can successfully sell your home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Your Turn: Have you sold your home during COVID-19? Share your tips with us in the comments.
Elevator pitches take humble-bragging to a new level. At its core, the concept of an elevator pitch is to squeeze all you can about your talents, strengths and work experience into the time it takes for an elevator to travel from one floor to the next.
Your last few months in college are a great time for polishing your elevator pitch until it is perfect. You can use it to answer common interview questions as you job hunt, or just have it handy if you happen to run into a potential new employer, anytime, anywhere. Working on your elevator pitch will also help you clarify your work goals as you prepare to transition to a new stage of life.
To make this task easier, we’ve broken down the process of creating a killer elevator pitch into seven simple steps. While reading through each section, jot down a few sentences that cover the details of that category. Don’t worry about the writing or syntax here; we’ll get to that.
Step 1: Introduce yourself
Launch your pitch with a super-short intro about your background. Include your name, your major and your unique interests. You can also throw in a one-liner about any special research projects or volunteer work you’ve participated in during college.
Step 2: Talk about your work experience
Now that listeners know who you are, start listing any work experience you already have in your field. Include paid work as well as internships.
Step 3: Sell yourself
Now, you’re going to step in with your professional strengths and areas of expertise. It’s OK to boast a bit here, as long as you don’t cross the line into arrogance. Just speak matter-of-factly and tell the absolute truth. For example, if you’re a law major looking for a paid internship in a large law firm and you know you have a way with words, you can talk about the way you’ve always been chosen as the spokesperson in college work, or how you dominated the debate team thanks to your fantastic oratory skills.
Step 4: Talk about what you can bring to the team
What are your work goals? What kind of value can you bring to the company? Take a minute to put this into words.
Step 5: Wrap it up
Close your pitch with an eye toward the future by talking about how you can’t wait to hear back from your listener, or how you look forward to working for them or in their company.
Step 6: Put it all together
Now that you’ve got the content for an elevator pitch written down, it’s time to bring it together in a short, hard-hitting pitch.
First, go through each section to pull out the most important parts. Leave out anything that is not absolutely essential. Next, start the actual writing by putting it all together in one paragraph. Remember: Time is limited here, so keep it short and sweet. Elevator pitches are best when delivered in 30 seconds or less, which gives you approximately 75 words to work with. Once you’ve got it all in one place, read through your pitch again and again, weeding out anything that sounds awkward or isn’t crucial to your pitch. When you’ve got it down to 75 words or less, you’re ready to move on.
Step 7: Practice, practice, practice
A perfectly written pitch is worthless if the delivery is lacking. You want to come off sounding super-confident and capable to any potential employer you meet. Practice delivering your pitch in front of the mirror and with friends until you know it by heart. It’s also a good idea to record yourself speaking so you can hear how you sound and make any necessary changes to the word flow.
Keep at it until you can deliver the elevator pitch in your sleep.
Now that you’ve mastered the art of the elevator pitch, you’re ready to get out there and blow those employers away with your talent and skills. Go get ‘em!
Your Turn: We’d love to hear your elevator pitch! Share it with us in the comments.
myHomework (iOS, Android) It’s not easy to keep up with assignments, projects and scheduled tests from so many different classes. Help your child stay on top of their work this year with the myHomework app. With color-coded classes to keep things organized and automatic reminders before looming due dates, the app is super-easy to use. The free version of the app includes assignment tracking, due date reminders, syncing between classes and homework widgets, while the paid version, at just $4.99 a year, offers an ad-free upgrade with file attachment support, enhanced app widgets, external calendar access, a homework import feature and more.
LaLa Lunchbox (iOS) This adorable app makes meal planning fun again! No more arguments and frustrations about what to prepare for lunch; with your child on board, it’s easy as pie. Let your child set up a profile with a selected monster avatar, and choose a virtual meal from the LaLa Lunchbox’s food library by dropping their chosen foods into the monster’s mouth. The app will tell the parents what to buy in the grocery store so they can prepare the lunch their kid wants. Parents can also customize the food options for specific diets, and all the choices are preselected by a dietician. Meal planning, done!
Cozi Family Organizer (iOS, Android) Between school schedules, meet-the-teacher nights, after-school activities and more, parents have lots to keep track of at the start of a new school year. The free Cozi app helps keep the entire family organized with a synced family schedule and color-coded calendar that streamlines across multiple devices. Save grocery lists and recipes on the app, and keep a running to-do list on Cozi to keep on top of all your errands and chores. You can even manage a family journal on the app for the ultimate in sharing!
Bear Focus Timer (iOS, Android) If you’ve got a little one at home who has trouble focusing on their tasks, the Bear Focus Timer (BFT) app might be just what you need. The no-frills Pomodoro-style timer is created to help the smallest of minds stay focused on their homework, chores or other activities with the help of simple schedules and white noise. You won’t find a lot of bells and whistles on this $1.99 app, but the timer allows the user to customize focus times and break times for the ultimate in productivity.
Back-to-school season can be frenzied as the family adjusts to a new routine and schedule. Let these apps help you keep calm and organized so the entire family can ace the start of the new school year.
Your Turn: What’s your favorite back-to-school app? Tell us all about it in the comments!
Q: I’d love to improve my credit score, but I can’t get ahead of my monthly payments.
I also find that my spending gets out of control when I’m paying with plastic. How do I use my credit cards responsibly?
A: Using your credit cards responsibly is a great way to boost your credit score and your financial wellness. Unfortunately, though, credit card issuers make it challenging to stay ahead of monthly payments and easy to fall into debt with credit card purchases. No worries, though; Advantage One Credit Union is here to help!
Here’s all you need to know about responsible credit card usage.
Refresh your credit card knowledge Understanding the way a credit card works can help the cardholder use it responsibly.
A credit card is a revolving line of credit allowing the cardholder to make charges at any time, up to a specific limit. Each time the cardholder swipes their card, the credit card issuer is lending them the money so they can make the purchase. Unlike a loan, though, the credit card account has no fixed term. Instead, the cardholder will need to make payments toward the balance each month until the balance is paid off in full. At the end of each billing cycle, the cardholder can choose to make just the minimum required payment, pay off the balance in full or make a payment of any size that falls between these two amounts.
Credit cards tend to have high interest rates relative to other kinds of loans. The most recent data shows the average industry rate on new credit cards is 13.15% APR (annual percentage rate) and the average credit union rate on new credit cards is 11.54% APR.
Pay bills in full, on time The best way to keep a score high is to pay credit card bills in full each month — and on time. This has multiple benefits:
Build credit — Using credit responsibly builds up your credit history, which makes it easier and more affordable to secure a loan in the future.
Skip the interest — Paying credit card bills in full and on time each month lets the cardholder avoid the card’s interest charges completely.
Stay out of debt — Paying bills in full each month helps prevent the consumer from falling into the cycle of endless minimum payments, high interest accruals and a whirlpool of debt.
Avoid late fees — Late fees and other penalties for missed payments can get expensive quickly. Avoid them by paying bills on time each month.
Enjoy rewards — Healthy credit card habits are often generously rewarded through the credit card issuer with airline miles, reward points and other fun benefits.
Tip: Using a credit card primarily for purchases you can already afford makes it easier to pay off the entire bill each month.
Brush up on billing
There are several important terms to be familiar with for staying on top of credit card billing.
A credit card billing cycle is the period of time between subsequent credit card billings. It can vary from 20 to 45 days, depending on the credit card issuer. Within that timeframe, purchases, credits and any fees or finance charges will be added to and subtracted from the cardholder’s account.
When the billing cycle ends, the cardholder will be billed for the remaining balance, which will be reflected in their credit card statement. The current dates and span of a credit card’s billing cycle should be clearly visible on the bill.
Tip: It’s important to know when your billing cycle opens and closes each month to help you keep on top of your monthly payments.
Credit card bills will also show a payment due date, which tends to be approximately 20 days after the end of a billing cycle. The timeframe between when the billing cycle ends and its payment due date is known as the grace period. When the grace period is over and the payment due date passes, the payment is overdue and will be subject to penalties and interest charges.
Tip: To ensure a payment is never overdue, it’s best to schedule a time for making your credit card payments each month, ideally during the grace period and before the payment due date. This way, you’ll avoid interest charges and penalties and keep your score high. Allow a minimum of one week for the payment to process.
Spend smartly Credit cards can easily turn into spending traps if the cardholder is not careful. Following these dos and don’ts of credit card spending can help you stick to your budget even when paying with plastic.
Do: When making a purchase, treat your credit card like cash.
Remember that credit card transactions are mini loans.
Pay for purchases within your regular budget.
Decrease your reliance on credit cards by building an emergency fund.
Don’t: Use your credit card as if it provides you with access to extra income.
Use credit to justify extravagant purchases.
Neglect to put money into savings because you have access to a credit card.
Using credit cards responsibly can help you build and maintain an excellent credit score, which will make it easier to secure affordable long-term loans in the future.
Your Turn: How do you use your credit cards responsibly while keeping your score high? Share your best tips with us in the comments.
As the coronavirus continues spreading across the country in waves and peaks, every state is making bold moves toward reopening under a strange new set of circumstances dubbed the “New Normal.” Face coverings are de rigueur. Floor markings have been slapped down exactly 6 feet apart near checkout counters in retail stores. Shoppers are weary, cautious and careful. And, as the country moves forward and adapts to the new realities, scammers aren’t far behind.
Watch out for these trending scams as the country reopens:
Even as retailers work toward reopening, shorter hours and percentage-capacity rules mean many consumers are still shopping remotely. Retailers are also busier than ever now as they comply with new rules and work to meet customers’ changing demands. This leads to an increase in online retail scams, like account takeovers, in which scammers hack a company’s database and break into a customer’s account. Using the customer’s remembered payment information, the scammer goes on to place large orders to their own address — all on the client’s dime.
Account takeovers are most commonly pulled off on dormant accounts. The scammer assumes these account holders won’t notice this activity, but you can outsmart them by checking your retail accounts for sudden orders or deleting the remembered information from accounts you rarely use.
Business owners can spot these scams by looking out for sudden large orders from customers who haven’t purchased anything in months, or even years.
“Help Wanted” signs and ads are a welcome sight for the more than 40 million workers who have filed for unemployment since the pandemic hit American shores.
Unfortunately, though, the flood of unemployed people looking for work has led to a rise in job scams. The FBI is warning against a surge in scams where cyber-criminals pose as employers by spoofing websites and posting bogus job openings on online job boards. They may even go as far as conducting interviews with applicants. The scammers ask for personal information, and sometimes demand payment, before the “application” can be processed. Of course, there is no job waiting for the applicant, their information is now in danger of being abused and they’ll never see that money again.
In a variation of this scam, “employees” are given work to do remotely, and then paid with an inflated paycheck. They’re told they had been overpaid and instructed to cash the check and reimburse the employer for the surplus funds via money order or prepaid debit card. The check will appear to clear, but in a few days, it will bounce and the victim will never be able to reclaim the lost funds.
Beware of outrageous job claims that promise big money for little work; they’re likely bogus. As always, never share sensitive information online with an unverified source. Don’t accept a job that overpays and asks you to refund the extra money; it’s likely a scam. Finally, before agreeing to an interview, research an alleged employer and company on the BBB website.
The Contact Tracer Scam
Many states have hired armies of contact tracers to track the movements of individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The FTC is warning of a new ruse in which scammers impersonate a contact tracer and reach out to people via phone call or text message. They’ll ask for the victim’s personal information, including their Social Security number, claiming they need this information for their work as a contact tracer. Of course, they’ll use this information to pull off identity theft or hack the victim’s accounts. The scammer will sometimes ask the victim to click on an embedded link, which will grant them access to the victim’s phone.
Contact tracers will always identify themselves and the department where they work. If a contact tracer reaches out to you, you can easily determine their authenticity by researching this information. The tracer will also have a basic understanding of COVID-19 and how it spreads. Most importantly, they have no need for your Social Security number nor will they ask you to share it.
As the country moves into a new period of healing and recovery, scammers are doing all they can to continue disrupting daily life. Stay aware and stay safe!
Have you been targeted by a reopening scam? Tell us about it in the comments.
As you work on perfecting your resume and portfolio for the best shot at landing that post-college dream job, think about who you’ll list as your job references.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, nearly 70 percent of employers have changed their mind about a possible job candidate because of the input shared by a reference. Make sure you choose yours well and follow these tips for ensuring they give you a glowing report.
You can list any of the following people as a job reference:
Extracurricular activity advisers
Here are four steps to ensure the best recommendation possible:
Step 1: Ask for permission
Don’t list a college professor, former employer or anyone else as a job reference before asking their permission. Your reference may prefer not to be listed. It’s also respectful to ask their permission before including their name on an application.
Step 2: Collect important details about the reference
While asking for permission to list a reference, verify their contact information and details. You’ll need the full name of each reference you list, as well as their official title, phone number, email and mailing address.
Step 3: Prepare your references
It’s best to share your employment goals and the particulars of your job search with your references. Tell them about the specific skills you hope to use in your future job, important projects you’ve worked on in the past and anything else that might be helpful for them to know. Provide each reference with a copy of your resume to make it easier for them to remember your personal details.
Step 4: Keep your references updated during your job search
Let your references know when you’ve just applied for a job so they’re prepared for a phone call or email from your potential employer. They will be more likely to give you a positive reference when they know to expect an inquiry about you. It’s also respectful for you to share with them when you’ve landed a job and to thank them for their assistance in the process.
Your Turn: What tips can you share about job references?