Beware the Top 5 most popular scams Last Year

Scammers have been notorious for taking advantage of current events and news. Unfortunately, the pandemic has been followed by a troubled economy, supply chain issues, and now a feared recession. This environment has allowed fraudsters to prey on people’s emotions and find victims more easily.

So, what were the most popular scams around the area in 2022?

At the number one position for the third year in a row is the menacing problem of online purchase scams. The pandemic is a huge factor in the escalation of these scams to the top, where it has remained, as shopping on websites is still a convenient and common way to purchase.

Phishing scams continued to be the number two scam reported locally for the second year in a row. These scams not only flood consumers’ e-mail inboxes, they also are a dangerous weapon that Cyber Criminals use to infiltrate businesses.

At number three is counterfeit products, which moved up from the number four position last year. Many fake websites are popping up, especially on social media, and consumers report paying for items they never receive, or cheap knock-off merchandise is delivered.

Employment scams remain high on the list at number four. Experts are predicting, with remote working and more layoffs in the news, this scam could be even more significant in 2023.

A new entry to this year’s top 10 list landing at number five is advance fee loan scams. The scam has been on the list in the past and is most likely returning due to inflation and a tough economy. More people are looking for loans and find solicitations in their email, text, and pop-up ads with enticing offers, which often lead to scams.

It should be noted that there is catch-all category called “other,” which contains a garden variety of scams. Many hot topics in this category include a wide range of issues, from romance and pet/puppy scams to airline issues, concert tickets, legal services, maintenance issues, and social media marketplace issues.

Source: http://www.msn.com Photo credit: cyberintro.net

HEADS UP: PayPal hacker attack exposes customer names and social security numbers.

© Kurt Knutsson

Last Thursday, PayPal began notifying nearly 35,000 of its customers that their accounts were breached between Dec. 6 and 8. During the two days, PayPal claims that no money was stolen from anyone.

The hackers were still able to obtain personal and private information, including full names, dates of birth, physical addresses, social security numbers and tax identification numbers. PayPal halted the intrusion within two days, reset the passwords for affected users and said no unauthorized transactions were attempted.

PayPal’s internal investigation revealed that the hackers used a method known as credit stuffing to breach the accounts of these victims. Credential stuffing is when hackers use existing credentials already floating around the dark web to hack into private accounts. They use bots with lists of usernames and passwords acquired in previous data breaches and try the credentials at multiple online services with the hope that customers have not recently changed their passwords. This is where those who use the same passwords across multiple different accounts could run into a big problem. 

If you were one of the victims of this PayPal attack, then PayPal should have already reset your password. When you go to make a new password, make sure it is a strong password with capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. The company is also offering victims two years of free identity monitoring from Equifax.

There are steps you can take to ensure that something like this never happens to you.

  • Create strong passwords and don’t use the same ones for multiple accounts: you can find out more about creating strong passwords and great password managers 
  • Use 2-factor authentication: take advantage of 2-factor authentication for any services you use that offer it. This is one extra step that will keep a hacker out of your private information even if they get their hands on your login credentials.

Copyright 2023 CyberGuy.com.

What Makes Someone Boring to Other People and How to Stop it

Forget about delusions of grandeur — turns out many of us could be suffering from delusions of being interesting.

A new paper, “Boring People: Stereotype Characteristics, Interpersonal Attributions, and Social Reactions,” set about identifying what makes a person boring, and the results are pretty harsh.

Led by the University of Essex’s Wijnand Van Tilburg​​, researchers asked more than 500 people to rank the most boring characteristics, hobbies and jobs in other people. Here are some of the top results of those surveys. (Prepare to be offended.) 

theawesomedaily.com

Boring personality traits:

No sense of humor

Bad conversationalist

Being inactive

Self-centered

Actively disliking things 

Boring occupations:

Accounting

Banking and finance

Librarian

Manual labor

Sales

Boring hobbies:

Watching TV

Collecting

Crafts

Gaming

Playing golf

What’s so bad about being boring?

While no one wants to see people stifling yawns whenever they start to speak, the study suggests that being boring can have a bigger negative impact on our lives than we think. Study subjects admitted to regarding boring people as a burden that they would rather avoid than suffer through in social and business settings. “Our research shows that people who possess stereotypically boring features are perceived as both less interpersonally warm and less competent, and they elicit social avoidance by others,” write the researchers.

How to not be boring

Does this mean you are doomed if you are an accountant who isn’t good at small talk and likes to knit on the weekends? Of course not. Psychology Today suggests these methods to keep yourself off the dull list:

1. Don’t complain to other people.

Friends are interested to know if something serious is happening in your life, but no one wants to hear you go on and on about a delayed flight.

2. Don’t talk about yourself — ask people questions about their lives.

And don’t just ask one question, follow up to get deeper. This isn’t being nosey, it is being interested.

3. Don’t be afraid to change the topic of conversation, even if it seems random.

People tend to perceive this as rude, but it is a surefire way to keep a conversation crackling.

4. Be present when someone is talking (i.e. don’t grunt while checking your phone).

Body language is just as important as what you say to show that you are engaged.

5. Told a story that got a good laugh? Remember and retell it at your next gathering. 

Like a standup comedian, have a couple of reliable stories to fall back on. (Note: only do this if you’re not hanging out with the same people!)

Now, go forth and be the riveting friend and colleague you’re almost certain you are.

By Dan Bova for Entrepreneur.com©

Source: Scientists Have Determined What Makes You Boring to Other People (chron.com)

Also, check out tutoringyou.org “Conversation Starters” for easy small-talk ideas.

‘Knolling’ Is ‘Kondoing’ for Maximalists

In short, “knolling” is an organizational method that involves arranging groups of tools and other everyday like objects into parallel lines or 90 degree angles. The result is a workspace that looks clean and symmetrical, where the items you use regularly are clearly displayed, instead of tidied away. Your stuff is not only accessible, but also aesthetically pleasing.

Photo: nadianb (Shutterstock)

You may have also seen Instagram posts featuring knolling—similar to the image above—where its more commonly referred to as “flat-lay photography.”

The name “knolling” is a reference to Knoll, Inc.: An American furniture company founded in 1938 that has manufactured chairs, tables, desks, and storage pieces from iconic designers and architects, including Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll, Marcel Breuer, and Frank Gehry.

The organizational method dates back to 1987, when sculptor Andrew Kromelow and artist Tom Sachs were both working in Gehry’s studio. Kromelow coined the term, and Sachs popularized it.

How to use knolling to organize your space

In 2010, Sachs created a video for his employees titled “10 Bullets,” which he described as “the studio manual.” One of the 10 bullets is “Always Be Knolling,” in which he breaks down the organizational method into four steps:

  1. Scan your environment for materials, tools, books, music, etc., which are not in use.
  2. Put away everything not in use. If you aren’t sure, leave it out.
  3. Group all like objects.
  4. Align or square all objects to either the surface they rest on or the studio itself.

Source:

‘Knolling’ Is ‘Kondoing’ for Maximalists (lifehacker.com)

Don’t Believe These Myths About Gas Stoves

Gas stoves are the latest innocuous item to turn into a culture war symbol, due to rumors that they might, at some point in the future, be banned. But are gas stoves really that bad for us? Are government agents going to come and take them away? And if the health concerns are real, are we doomed?

© Photo: PandaStudio (Shutterstock)

The government is not coming to take your gas stove

If you’ve been paying attention to the political controversy, you may have noticed some political figures yelling about how they are prepared to physically defend their gas ranges from government intervention.

There aren’t even any regulations pending

This whole firestorm was ignited when a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said in an interview that the CPSC is planning to open a public comment period soon about how and whether to regulate indoor air pollution from gas stoves. This regulation might include include things like warning labels on the stoves or requirements for ventilation when they are installed, but the member also remarked that “products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

The head of the CPSC clarified that there’s no ban in the works, and that the agency is “exploring new ways to address health risks” including voluntary industry standards.

The link between gas stoves and health concerns is real

So are gas stoves bad for us? Probably! Studies have linked childhood asthma to growing up with a gas stove. The cause-and-effect hasn’t been fully teased out, though. For one thing, kids who breathe the indoor air pollution from gas stoves are often exposed to a lot of outdoor air pollution as well.

But we do know that gas stoves release nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulates—all of which are considered indoor air pollution. Cooking on electric and other ranges can also emit particulates, hinting that ventilation for all types of cooking is probably a good idea. But we know that gas stoves create more of these types of air pollution than electric ranges.

All in all, there is good reason to be concerned about the health effects of gas stoves. It’s not a rip-your-stove-out emergency, but if you happen to be shopping for a new stove, you might want to consider electric or induction ranges.

There are ways to mitigate the health concerns

One thing that’s gotten lost in the recent controversy is that gas stoves aren’t a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. If you have a gas stove and are concerned about the health effects, there are things you can do to mitigate the risk.

The biggest one is ventilation. Some stoves are installed with a range hood above them, which sucks air from the vicinity of the stovetop, and blows it…somewhere. This is where it’s worth finding out what kind you have. Some exhaust the air to the outside, while others just blow it back into your face—hopefully after passing it through a filter.

Venting your range hood outside is great if you can swing it—definitely something to consider if you’re renovating your kitchen. In the meantime, consider opening windows or using fans in the room for extra ventilation when you’re cooking. (Some older houses have a fan built into the wall for this purpose.) If you don’t use your range hood because it’s loud and annoying, a quieter range hood could be a good investment.

Another way to address the particulate matter in the kitchen is with a HEPA filtered air purifier. This will pull particulates out of the air, and they tend to run quietly and be unobtrusive.

Source: https://lifehacker.com/

Are You a T-Mobile Customer? You Have 3 Days Left to Claim a Refund

If you are or were a T-Mobile customer, you could qualify for part of a $350 million settlement, but the deadline to file a claim is right around the corner.

T-Mobile agreed to the massive payout in 2022 in order to resolve allegations its negligence led to a massive data breach that exposed millions of people’s personal information. 

© Provided by CNET

The company failed to protect sensitive consumer data, according to plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit. 

“Instead, T-Mobile suffered one of the largest and most consequential data breaches in US history, compromising the sensitive personal information of over 75 million consumers,” their complaint reads.

Here’s what you need to know about the T-Mobile settlement, including how to find out if you qualify for payment, how much money you could get and the deadline to file a claim.

T-Mobile has identified 76 million past and present customers in the US whose information was potentially compromised in the data breach, though the final number may be even higher.

If the $350 million settlement is approved at a final hearing on Jan 20, it will be the second-largest data breach payout in US history, following Equifax’s $700 million settlement in 2019.

Most class members were notified of the proposed settlement by mail, but you can confirm your status by emailing the settlement administrator or calling 833-512-2314.

How much money could I get from T-Mobile?

Current and former T-Mobile customers are eligible for a $25 cash payment, according to the settlement website. California residents are entitled to $100.

You can be reimbursed up to $25,000 if you had to spend time or money to recover from fraud or identity theft relating to the breach, though you must submit extensive documentation supporting your claim.

T-Mobile is also offering two free years of McAfee’s ID Theft Protection Service to anyone who believes they may have been a victim of the hack and has agreed to invest $150 million in improving its data security. 

How do I file a claim, and what is the deadline?

You can submit a claim via the settlement website or also mail a completed claim form to: 

T-Mobile Data Breach Settlement

c/o Kroll Settlement Administration LLC

P.O. Box 225391

New York, NY 10150-5391

Claims must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PT on Jan. 23, 2023, or be postmarked by that date.

Source: http://www.msn.com/en-us

For more settlements, find out if you qualify for Avis’ $45 million deal over hidden fees or AT&T’s $60 million data-throttling payout.

Hunter Biden ‘quarantined’ at Delaware house where classified docs found

President Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who is facing wide-ranging probes into his business dealings, once noted that he and other family members “quarantined” at his father’s home, where classified documents were recently found.

© REUTERS/Jim Bourg

In addition to the revelation that Hunter Biden quarantined at the home during the 2020 presidential election, additional evidence has surfaced showing he has spent time at the home on numerous other occasions.

Hunter Biden was notably seen traveling with his father from the White House to Delaware on Dec. 16, just four days prior to the search of the residence that yielded the classified documents. According to the White House, the president’s attorneys searched the Wilmington home and found the documents on Dec. 20.

The Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday that it had obtained photos placing Hunter Biden at the Delaware home on July 30, 2017, shortly after his father departed the White House with documents from his tenure. The pictures showed Hunter Biden driving in his father’s 1967 Corvette Stingray, which the president told reporters was parked next to where the classified documents had been found last month. 

The White House first revealed last week that a series of classified documents, including some marked “top-secret,” dating back to Biden’s time as vice president had been discovered at the Penn Biden Center. Later in the week, the White House acknowledged a second batch of classified documents was found in the garage of the president’s Wilmington residence. 

Then, on Saturday, Sauber disclosed that yet another batch of five documents were discovered at the home despite earlier assurances from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that the search had been completed.

Republicans, meanwhile, have zeroed in on whether Hunter Biden had access to the classified information – which included intelligence regarding Ukraine, Iran and the U.K. – in the aftermath of the discovery of the documents in the president’s home. Hunter Biden is currently under federal investigation and faces congressional inquiries regarding his business dealings.

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed career prosecutor Robert Hur to serve as a special counsel to investigate the president’s handling of classified documents.

Source: http://www.msn.com

Tax brackets and rates for 2023

The information in the following charts comes directly from the IRS. The income brackets (dollar amounts) represent taxable income — meaning your income after tax deductions and credits — rather than your total income.

fpsss.com

To determine your tax rate for 2023, find your tax-filing status (words in bold) and select the most applicable income bracket listed under your tax-filing status. To the right of that bracket is your tax rate.

Married couples filing joint tax returns

  • Up to $22,000 (was $20,550 for 2022) — 10%
  • More than $22,000 (was $20,550) — 12%
  • More than $89,450 (was $83,550) — 22%
  • More than $190,750 (was $178,150) — 24%
  • More than $364,200 (was $340,100) — 32%
  • More than $462,500 (was $431,900) — 35%
  • More than $693,750 (was $647,850) — 37%

Singles

  • Up to $11,000 (was $10,275 for 2022) — 10%
  • More than $11,000 (was $10,275) — 12%
  • More than $44,725 (was $41,775) — 22%
  • More than $95,375 (was $89,075) — 24%
  • More than $182,100 (was $170,050) — 32%
  • More than $231,250 (was $215,950) — 35%
  • More than $578,125 (was $539,900) — 37%

Let’s say, for example, that your taxable income is $50,000 in 2023 and your tax-filing status is single. You would fall into the “more than $44,725” tax bracket and your tax rate would thus be 22%.

If your household’s taxable income is $50,000 in 2023 and your filing status is married filing jointly, you would fall into the “more than $22,000” bracket and your rate would be 12%.

To view all brackets, click the link below:

How to Change Your Tax Withholdings — and When to Do It (moneytalksnews.com)

Where Are Young, Wealthy Investors Putting Their Money Now?

Investing in stocks has traditionally been seen as a key part of building long-term wealth, but that may no longer be the case. A recent Bank of America Private Bank study of high-net-worth individuals found that the majority (75%) of investors between the ages of 21 and 42 do not think it’s possible to achieve above-average returns solely with traditional stocks and bonds.

© Alex Tihonovs / Shutterstock.com

The Bank of America survey found that 80% of young investors are now looking to alternative investments, such as private equity, commodities, real estate and other tangible assets. These assets are best utilized by younger investors who have a longer time horizon, that is a 10- to 12-year commitment to build wealth, versus those who want to cash in in the short term.

Investing in alternative assets rather than traditional stocks and bonds can be beneficial to the long-term investor because it enables them to get exposure to a much broader range of markets and securities than they would be able to get through traditional investments.

Unfortunately, some of the assets favored by the wealthy may not be accessible to the everyday investor.

Depending upon the structure of the actual vehicle, the investor may need to qualify in order to purchase the hedge fund or private equity fund, and the qualification could be based on a number of factors, but most commonly it’s net worth and/or income.

One consideration when you’re talking about real assets, like farmland, timber, commercial real estate or ranches, what we often see with high-net-worth clients is that they’re owning a property directly. Because of the cost of these properties, these are often reserved for clients that have much larger net worths. If you have $3 million and a farm is going to cost you $2 million, generally, for diversification reasons, you don’t want to tie up two-thirds of your net worth in just one solution.

However, there are still ways to utilize the strategies the wealthy are using to diversify your own portfolio.

There are publicly traded REITs that clients can invest in. You maybe don’t get the exact same benefit you would if you owned real estate directly, but it does give you a way to at least get some exposure to real estate.

In the case of hedge funds, there are what we call non-traditional mutual funds that are publicly traded mutual funds that employ strategies that are a little bit more like a hedge fund than a simple an equities strategy. Again, you don’t get the same benefits that you would with a hedge fund, but it is a way for investors that don’t qualify to be able to achieve some of the benefits.

Source: https://www.gobankingrates.com/

Note: Investing in any stock, bond, fund, commodity or real estate is risky. You can lose everything that you invested and more. Be careful before investing in anything.

15 Ways to Respond to Bad News

If you hear something sad or disturbing that you weren’t expecting, don’t just say the first thing that comes to your mind. 

Take a deep breath and count to five. Then, think about what is most important to you at that moment. Is it making the person in front of you feel better? Is it expressing disappointment? Is it remaining professional? 

Whatever it is, choose the words that will help you achieve that goal. Here are a few helpful suggestions for how to respond to different kinds of bad news.  

https://loveenglish.org/respond-to-bad-news/

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