spam and scams

xLock by Stuart Miles

photo by by stuart miles

This is going to be a little bit of a rant, I’m afraid.

Do you get numerous phone calls a day from unknown callers? It used to be easy to avoid spammy phone calls if you had caller ID – don’t answer any calls from area codes you don’t recognize. I don’t know anyone in Chicago or Indianapolis, so I don’t answer those calls. I do know people in Las Vegas, New York and San Diego, and I’d hate to play phone tag if one of them called. But they didn’t.

Instead, it’s a robocall allegedly from google ads or a credit card offer or some other scam.

You can’t even trust calls that look like they originate near you. Phone scammers spoof the number they’re calling from to make it look like another number.

I’m familiar with the “You’ve won a free vacation” calls, the phishing scams that claim to be from “Windows Rescue Center”, the bogus IRS calls and the fake charity solicitations. Last week, however, brought a new scam: I got a phone message from a robocaller allegedly about pending litigation, saying I needed to get a lawyer and call back.

Because I’m naturally skeptical, I brushed it off. I got the same message, from the same number, around the same time, each of the next three days. It got annoying, so I did what you’re NOT supposed to do – I called back to tell them to leave me alone. The person I talked to tried to frighten me by saying that I need to pay some ridiculous debt or get a lawyer. I told him I’ll get a lawyer since I don’t owe any money. I also told him I was reporting the call to the FTC.

If you really owe money to a company, they don’t hire a debt collector to threaten you with a lawsuit; they send you a letter. If you don’t respond, they send you registered mail. Don’t give financial information to unsolicited callers.

By the way, robocalls are illegal, and the FTC has pursued many companies but they can’t get every one.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:

  • DO NOT give personal information to unsolicited callers, even if they threaten legal action.
  • If your phone rings once and then stops, don’t call back if you don’t recognize the number. If you do, you may be connected to an international hotline that can charge a fee, along with per-minute fees if they can keep you on the phone.
  • Add your number to the federal Do Not Call registry. If you continue to get calls, file a complaint with the FTC.
  • Hang up on bogus calls. The FTC recommends that you not press buttons to be taken off their list or to talk to a live person.

I don’t understand how phones became weapons to deceive innocent people. Seniors often are targeted because they don’t realize that the callers aren’t who they say they are. Don’t become like this poor woman in Arizona, who lost thousands of dollars in a phone scam.

Because it’s so easy to pull off these scams, thieves use email to pull people in, too. You’ve probably heard of the Nigerian scheme, where someone pledges to send you a lot of money after you first send money to them. There’s also the vacation mishap scheme, where you get an email from someone you know who says they’re in trouble overseas and need money quickly.

Every day for the last few weeks I’ve received email from someone who allegedly sent me thousands of dollars through Paypal. I could retire with all the money I’ve got in my account! Except there’s nothing there. Don’t click on the provided links. If someone really had deposited money in your account, you would be able to see it by logging in to Paypal.

Spam

my junk email with a message from “Zaya”

Safely using the internet and your phone seem to get harder each day. You have to be vigilant. You wouldn’t open your front door to someone you don’t know; use the same caution with the phone and email.

Thanks for putting up with my indignation. Please protect yourself.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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renovation and revitalization

xArchitect by suphakit73I’m in the process of redesigning my website. Like many renovation projects, it’s exciting, time consuming and involves a lot of decision making.

Since summer is typically slow for the organizing business, this seemed like a good time to make some updates. I’ll be taking a taking a break from blogging while the new site is under development.

Until then, here’s hoping you make time for fun, as well as productivity, this summer.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by MarcieTM
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product review – consumer action handbook

xconsumeraction

photo courtesy usa.gov

The GSA produces a free consumer handbook to help you make educated decisions when you shop.

It offers questions for you to ask when you’re considering buying products and services. It also addresses avoiding identity theft, filing a consumer complaint, and managing someone else’s finances. There are tips for detecting and reporting telephone and email scams, too.

The handbook is available in English or Spanish, and you can download it or ask that it be mailed to you.

Be an educated consumer – understand value before you buy, learn how to safeguard your financial information and avoid fraud.

Have you used the Consumer Action Handbook to find information? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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find financial freedom

xFlag5Do you dread seeing bills or bank statements in the mail?

Do you know how much you spend each month?

Do you have enough money saved for retirement?

July 1st is National Financial Freedom Day. If you panic at the thought of balancing your checkbook or worry about saving for long-term goals, take some time this week to consider your financial situation. Instead of living in fear, do some research. Look at your spending habits and see if you can cut something. Read an article about saving or investing:

  • Michelle Singletary is a finance writer with a syndicated column who gives practical advice and offers solutions to readers. Many of her columns focus on being more intentional about what you do with your money.
  • AARP magazine has a lot to say about finances, including this article by financial advisor Allan Roth on fighting financial clutter.
  • GOBankingRates offers articles about saving and investing. Two of my recent favorites are how to save money this summer and reasons people aren’t saving for retirement.

Earlier this week I wrote about making small changes. As Independence Day approaches, what are some small steps you can take to achieve financial freedom? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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quote: take charge of change

Change by Naypong

photo by Naypong

If you aren’t happy with the way your home or office looks and functions, you can make a change. If you want to make changes to your habits, you can. If you don’t feel challenged at work, you can change that. If you want to change someone else, forget about it.

The first week of July is Take Charge of Change Week. The start of summer is a good time to consider making a change. It’s not a New Year’s resolution; it’s accomplishing something for yourself because you deserve it.

 

Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be – John Wooden

 

Try making a small change and see how it feels. What have you got to lose? If it doesn’t work out, you can try something else. Once you’re comfortable with the new habit/activity/routine, you can introduce another small change. Don’t wait until January to make promises to yourself. You deserve better.

What can you do differently that will make the summer more appealing, more productive or more peaceful? Leave a comment, below.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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product review – glass pantry jars

xglass jars

photo by anchor hocking

The kitchen remodel continues slowly, and I’ve returned to the pantry. I haven’t given up on new shelving, but in the meantime, I can make the existing shelves more functional.

When I buy dry goods, they need better storage than the floppy plastic bags they come home in. I have used a variety of glass jars in my pantry over the past 30 years. My all-time favorite is clear glass, with plastic screw-on lids, that come in three sizes and stack nicely. Unfortunately, they’ve been discontinued, and since some of the original dozen didn’t survive a cross-country move, I’ve been hunting for suitable substitutes ever since.

During my quest, I’ve learned that square jars make better use of space than round ones, jars that claim to be stackable sometimes aren’t, and some metal lids turn rusty if you don’t dry them immediately after washing.

I’ve finally found a square stacking jar that I can commit to. It comes in different sizes, and you can buy them individually or as a set. As I wrote in April, small purchases can improve both comfort and function, so I’ve decided to replace the mashup of jars that don’t work together and commit to one style that does. Not a life-changing decision, but it serves the space better and creates a sense of calm that I appreciate when I open the pantry doors.

I like the heavy glass, the airtight lid, the fact that they stack reliably, come in different sizes, and you can see what’s inside. The only drawback, for me, is the lid with rubber gasket. Unlike a jar with a screw-on lid, you cannot grab these by the top or you’ll pull the lid off, so you need to be aware how you handle them. Also, coffee grounds and small food bits tend to get stuck in the gasket and you can’t shake them back into the jar. Other than that small irritation, they work well for me.

Do you use containers in your pantry? What qualities are important to you for food storage? Leave a comment, below.

This is not a sponsored post; I was not compensated by the manufacturer for the products mentioned. This post does contain affiliate links, which may result in my receiving a small fee when you make a purchase through the link. This disclosure is being made in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie
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reader question – organized packing for sleepaway camp

Luggage by phasinphoto

photo by phasinphoto

The kids are going to camp! You get a break from all their activities, they get to try new things, and it becomes an annual adventure. Getting them ready for that adventure can be expensive, time consuming and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. A reader asked for tips to pack kids for sleepaway camp.

I recommend starting the process a few weeks before they leave, to give yourself enough time to see what you have, shop for what you need and label everything. This also allows you to buy things when you see them on sale.

If your backpacks or duffel bags haven’t been opened since last year, you may need to clean them or air them out. Choose a staging area – the child’s room, guest room, family room – for gathering everything you’ll need to pack. Print the camp’s packing list and put it on a clipboard, beside the luggage. You can use the packing list as a shopping list for items you don’t have. Keep it on the clipboard so it doesn’t get lost.

This is a good time to have your kids try on their summer clothes and see what fits. You can highlight items on the packing list that you need to buy. As you place things in the luggage, check them off the list.

You’re not packing at this point, since you don’t have everything you need; you’re just gathering. If you buy new clothing, wash it and label it right away. Don’t wait until the night before you have to meet the bus! You don’t need to buy name labels; fine point permanent markers  are easy to use and wash well. If your kids are old enough to write, they can help label their own clothes. Put into the luggage any clothes that aren’t going to be worn before camp starts.

As you get closer to the departure date, make sure you have everything checked off on the packing list. Put liquids in plastic bags to minimize spills, and take advantage of every open space – roll socks and put them inside shoes, for example. The night before your camper leaves, put in any last-minute items and place the luggage near your door.

Remember that your kids are not going to put the same effort into packing for the trip home. After all your hard work, don’t expect your well-packed bags to return that way; most parents are happy just to have the correct things come back.

To give yourself a head start for next summer, empty the luggage, wipe it off if it’s muddy, and decide where to store it. After you’ve washed everything, I suggest returning the laundry bag and toiletries kit to the luggage, along with anything like sheets and towels that are used only for camp. Make sure they’re dry and put them in giant zipper bags to keep them clean.

It’s been a long time since my mom sewed labels into my clothes and my dad pulled my huge footlocker out of the attic every year, marking the beginning of summer for me. I still get that same feeling of anticipation when it’s time to get ready for camp. Do you have any packing tips to add? Leave a reply, below.

This is not a sponsored post; I was not compensated by the manufacturer for the products mentioned. This post does contain affiliate links, which may result in my receiving a small fee when you make a purchase through the link. This disclosure is being made in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Marcie Lovett, Organized by Marcie™
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