Tag : personal finance

Romance Scams

Submitted by Jon Freeman

Valentine’s Day may have already passed us by this year, but people can fall in love year round. When it comes to love and romance remember to guard your wallet as well as your heart – and be aware of romance scams. A romance scam is when a new love interest says they love you, but they really just love your money; and they may not really be who they say they are. The Federal Trade Commission says: “Romance scammers focus on single people, often older adults who might be more trusting. Widows and widowers, LGBT elders, and isolated single adults are common targets, but scammers look for anyone eager for a new relationship. Romance scams can happen in person, but often happen online through social media or dating websites and smartphone apps.” According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the following are warning signs of a romance scam: 1. A new love who lives far away asks you to wire them money or share your credit card number with them — even if they say they’ll pay you back. 2. Your new romantic interest asks you to sign a document that would give them control of your finances or your house. 3. Your new sweetheart asks you to open a new joint account or co-sign a loan with them. 4. Your new darling asks for access to your bank or credit card accounts. For more information on managing your money click on the link to access the GCPL Personal Finance Guide

What To Do With Gift Cards You Don’t Want

Submitted by Jon Freeman

Were you given a gift card recently that you don’t want? Perhaps you were given a gift card for your birthday or some other occasion (like over the holidays), and the gift card is to a place or company that you don’t buy stuff from regularly. In fact, you seriously doubt that you will ever end up using it. The result could be your gift card never gets used. You may have more than one unwanted gift card like this, and you are unsure what to do about it. Did you know that you can take that gift card and sell it for cash?

According to David Pogue’s book, Pogue’s Basics: Money – Essential Tips and Shortcuts, there are websites where you can sell your unwanted gift cards for cash. You will not get full value for them, but you will receive a lot more than zero – what you would get if an unwanted gift card stays in a drawer forever. Pogue says that you could get 65 to 90 percent of the card value in cash. Here are some card exchange websites Pogue mentions in his book where you could sell gift cards: cardcash.com, raise.com, cardpool.com, and giftcardgranny.com.

You could be in a very different position. You don’t have a gift card you want to sell, but you would like to buy a gift card at a discount. You can use some of the same websites mentioned previously in this article to buy discounted gift cards other folks are selling. Pogue recommends doing this when you want to buy a gift card for a restaurant or store because you can buy gift cards for less than face value. He says, “If you’re in the market for a gift card, it’s like free money.” David Pouge’s book, “Pogue’s Basics: Money – Essential Tips and Shortcuts”, can be checked out from the Gwinnett County Public Library in book or ebook form. You can access more money management resources by visiting the GCPL Personal Finance Guide.

Guide to Finances after Fifty

Submitted by Jon Freeman 

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz’s book, The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty, answers different important questions people in their fifties or older who are retiring soon or are already retired may have about their finances. There are a total of 50 questions and answers given in the book. The Q&As cover a range of topics like things to do when retirement is ten years away, what to do with your finances as you transition into retirement, maximizing what you get from social security and medicare, life in retirement, and estate planning. There is a glossary of financial terms in the back of the book as well.

There are a variety of questions the book provides answers to, and here are just a few examples:

“I’m 50 and haven’t started to save for retirement. What can I do?”
“How can I save for my kids’ college without derailing my retirement?”
“The stock market has me spooked. How should I invest as I get closer to retirement?”
“Can I keep contributing to my retirement accounts indefinitely?”
“Should I be debt free before I retire?”
“What should I do with my 401(k) when I leave my job?”
“My kids are grown. Do I still need life insurance?”
“Should I take my pension as a lump sum or monthly payments?”
“Should I buy an annuity?”
“Now that I’m retired, how should I manage my money to make it last?”
“Does a reverse mortgage make sense?”
“When should I file for Social Security benefits?”
“My husband has no interest in our finances. How can I get him involved?”
“I have a child with special needs. What can I do to make sure that she will always be taken care of?”
“I want to create an estate plan. What do I need?”

Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

Submitted by Jon Freeman

You get a card, call, or email telling you that you won! What have you won: A sweepstakes, lottery, or other prize of some kind.

But this is what probably happens next: the person on the phone tells you there is a fee or taxes you must first pay before getting the prize. The person will ask for your bank account information, or ask you to send money via a wire transfer, or ask you to purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers.

Any way you send it, you lose money instead of winning it. You don’t get a big prize. Instead, you end up losing the money you send , and you may get more requests for money, and more promises that you won big from scammers. All you have to do to get your winnings is to send more money. Lottery and sweepstakes scams are one of the most common consumer frauds, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Here is a tip from the FTC to avoid lottery and sweepstakes scams:

Keep your money – and your information – to yourself. Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you and claims to need it. And never wire money to or share gift card numbers with anyone who asks you to. Both payment methods are a sure sign of a scam.

To find more information about managing your finances feel free to take a look at the Gwinnett Library’s Personal Finance GCPL Guide.