Sharks In The Water

If you are going to protect your money, using it wisely involves more than just cutting costs. In this day of internet thievery, gobs of it can disappear in a heartbeat. The world is full of scam artists with no morals, ready to destroy all of your wealth. Even legitimate enterprises can easily separate you from your hard earned dollars and have no qualms in doing so.

It is almost always “too good to be true” as the saying goes. Promises of quick monetary fixes are rampant on TV, the internet, in the mail, and via telemarketing hijinks. If you let the world know you are interested in one thing or another, you get bombarded by the hucksters. They are willing to hone in on what you are looking for and convince you to send dollars their way.

Job insecurity, massive debt, social security dependence, and failing personal finances are areas that make for easy targets. Quick money-making schemes are inexhaustible. Bad credit scores and loan sharking are stew for clever swindlers. The muck is deepening and getting worse by the day, hour, and minute.

Legitimate Looking Scam

I was inspired to write this article by a story I read in the news app on my iPad. It is entitled Here’s how one consumer desperate for a loan got slammed by a fake check scam. It is a very informative and eye-opening article about the world of fraudsters and their intelligent methods to cheat you.

The woman was an easy target. She had a horrible credit score, and was desperate to borrow money from anyone. All legitimate lenders were turning her down. Her inquiries on the internet were drawing attention to the dark side of the financial world. Using the name of a legitimate company, sinister thieves successfully convinced her that she was dealing with an above board enterprise.

She was even warned by local business people in her neighborhood that her contact smelled like a scam, but when you are desperate, you do desperate things, as the saying goes. She got legitimate looking checks that she deposited in her bank account. The code numbers passed the muster of her institution, got processed without raising red flags, and funds were released to her immediately. A few days later, her situation went downhill in a heartbeat. The fraudsters left her on the hook for almost $5,000!

Some Lessons I Have Learned

I have spent most of my life looking for alternative sources of income or the next big investment. Money has come and gone with little to show for many of my efforts. Multi-level wingdings, upfront business interest deposits, faulty investment planning, you name it. I did it all.

I have found that there are millions of people out there looking for easy money ventures. If they can’t make their effort payoff quickly, then the whole thing is abandoned. The next thing in line is borrowing money against the equity in their house to get what they want (but probably don’t need). When that fails, selling a personal possession comes into play.

Whatever the desire is, it usually involves lots of money and the eventual misuse of it. I don’t kick myself for trying various money-making solutions. I am happy that I just didn’t sit around and count pennies my whole life. What fun is it if you just muddle your way through the years without taking any risks.

Real estate partnerships, stock market tips, sales recruitment programs, dealership enterprises, and the next big thing all got my money. I did make money on some ventures, but others just didn’t get the right amount of attention from my feeble brain. In other words, proper upfront research was not part of the equation and my laced attitude cost me.

Information Highway

This article is not written with intent to bore you with my miserable details. I am sure that many (if not most) of you have your own tales to tell (or forget). What I do want to talk about is what can be done looking forward. You have the tools at hand to protect yourself. You just probably don’t use them wisely.

I have attracted the attention of unscrupulous website owners who feel that they have the right to sell my email address to any, and all, takers. I get inordinate amounts of requests to buy something that I did not ask for. Most of it is crap and I have learned how to quickly sort the good from the bad.

Sensational doomsday investment newsletters are prolific. My hope for one good tip almost never pans out. I find the purveyors are usually advising you to sell as soon as the plan begins to fail. You get a special secret pick as soon as you cough up money for their fantastic advice. Your enthusiasm for what they have to offer eventually gets squelched when you finally get access to their not-so-hot item. To make their advice work, lots of money will be required on your part for you to get a decent return. When the pick loses money, the advisers leave the back door open for the fast exit. I would suggest you don’t even bother listening to the boring testimonials which pollute their advertisements in cookie cutter lockstep format.

Computers, smart phones, and electronic tablets will be permanent fixture in our lives from now on. on. Going online for your desired income producing formula is just a mouse click or finger move away. At home business opportunities are abundant. They are geared to excite you to the point that you are willing to part with membership money as fast as you can grab your credit card. When you find out that you still have to qualify for a job, you going to want your money back but only find out that those types of guarantees just aren’t there.

Many websites are just full of virus laden software algorithms that trick you into giving out bank account or credit card info so they can provide you with that wonderful product you always wanted or now feel you need. Many people, myself included, sooner-or-later click on a site that takes control of your computer and locks you out. Critical personal data is then captured and sold to disrepute entities all over the world.

My Personal Insights For Protecting Your Assets

Use A Trustworthy Review Resource For Your Fact-Finding Efforts.

  • Stock Gumshoe is what I use for reviews of investment newsletter pundits.
  • I look for internet gurus who provide legitimate content on their websites along with advice on workable cost-effective programs to purchase.
  • I treat most reviews of products or places as if they are paid-for commentaries. If there are no negatives in sight, I get out of there in a hurry.
  • If the reviewer is also promoting the product or getting an affiliate commission from the same source, the review is often worthless.
  • You may have to go several pages deep into an online search for an honest review of a product. If everyone is jumping on the promotion bandwagon for the product, red flags are flying high.

Use A Sacrificial Bank Account to Pay Bills

  • Keep your online bill-paying accounts and account numbers separate from accounts where you park large amounts of funds.
  • A hacker may be in your computer looking over your shoulder as you take care of obligations. They are constantly working to override your security program software.
  • Don’t have direct deposited funds go to that sacrificial account. Banks can attach those funds to repay fraudulent withdrawals.
  • Store large amounts of cash in accounts you don’t use for anything more than to keep the bulk of your money. Allow legitimate direct deposits for Payroll, Social Security, Retirement Funds, or similar transactions only into this account.

Stay Away From Money Promos That Seek You Out Instead Of Vice Versa

  • Lottery and sweepstakes promos are prolific. In one instance, Publishers Clearing House gave me the impression that I had already won their sweepstakes by telling me about a local address the reps were going to go to before coming to my house.
  • Several different emails promised million dollar transfers to me if I had just sent in money to a fake Nigerian address to cover processing.
  • A free book or item would be in the mail if I just sent in money to cover “shipping and handling” expenses. If they make even a tiny profit on those charges, a large response will generate a sizable income for the firm.

Get Everything In Writing

  • When you get promotional or workout deals or agreements with utility providers, banks, creditors, lawyers, and such, get an email or letter verification of the conversation. Same with chat sessions. Phone call conversations are typically not recorded and unverifiable for proof.
  • Review the details before proceeding. You may find some hidden gems you don’t like or added details you did not agree to.

I once accepted a “so-called” good customer reward from Sprint (Wireless) via a phone conversation with a company rep. It was for a free LG Tablet that I qualified for as a benefit for being a reliable and long-term customer of the company. But it wasn’t free at all.

They began billing me for it. On top of that, they were charging me for WiFi data usage, even though I was accessing data from another provider in my home. After threats of legal action against them including complaints with the FTC, they backed down and allowed me to return the units with all charges being removed. As a result of that travesty and poor coverage from them in the area I now live in, I am now no longer with Sprint.

Don’t Pretend You Have The Discipline Needed For Handling Credit Card Accounts

  • It is extremely easy to purchase unnecessary items on credit cards.
  • Credit Card Debt is addictive like a run-away train.
  • The pay down on cards should exceed monthly charging amounts by a ratio of at least 1-1/2 times to one. Otherwise your debt will easily grow to the point where you will be maxed out and cut off.
  • If you regularly use credit cards to help pay for necessities, you are in trouble already.
  • The interest charge alone can run up to $20.00 or more per month on a $1,000 balance. The math on that amount is not hard to figure out.

For further reference please go to the following link for expertise on handling your credit card debt:

Check Out Offers Or Promos by Getting Real Phone Numbers That You Can Call

  • If you think you are dealing with a legitimate company, get the main contact number through your own research.
  • Call that number and see if the offer is real or not.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions that may insult the company rep.
  • You need to take the initiative to make the legitimate follow-up phone call.
  • Free seminars or promotional events are designed to get you excited about an opportunity. The tricky hard sell effort will lure you in to the web. Bring your wallet if you are desperate for what is offered.

Protecting Your Budget With A Plan

It doesn’t take much to lose money. It takes a lot of discipline to hold on to what you have. The sharks are out there daily looking for easy prey. It will be too late if you are always wishing for hindsight. The woman in the aforementioned article was desperate to start off with. After her ordeal, she now is in twice as bad shape as before. But at least she had the guts to warn others of what can happen to them.

No one has all the answers. When one threat is averted, another one crops up. Yes I would do a lot of things differently, but I would have missed out on numerous learning scenarios and opportunities in the process.

I didn’t have the necessary research tools back then. But I have them now, and I use them. You can to if you will just take the time.

Update: June 14, 2019

I recently communicated with Andy Kearns, Content Analyst at LendEdu who reviewed this “Protecting Your Money” blog and found the section “Don’t Pretend You Have The Discipline For Credit Card Accounts” (SJKey Chronicles, Brainstorming A Budget Plan) informational and relevant to the LendEdu article “How To Pay Off Credit Card Debt Fast” written by Christy Rakoczy.

The following email was sent by him to me that included the following request:

Hi Stephen, I hope this email finds you well. My name is Andy Kearns and I work on the Consumer Education team at LendEDU.
I noticed this page on your site mentions dealing with credit card debt:
We recently published a guide on our site that advises consumers currently dealing with credit card debt on ways to effectively pay it off, and I think it can be a useful addition to your page.
Here’s a link to the full post: Would you be willing to use this guide as an additional resource within your page? For reference, there is no cost for using it. ………!  I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing back soon.
Best, Andy
I have approved his request and I have included all relevant links to him, the LendEdu website page, and the author of the article. I have reviewed the article and approve the contents as a resource for my readers.
June 14, 2019

I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!


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