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Social Security Imposter Scam Calls

Did you receive a robocall claiming to Represent Social Security?

The Social Security Scam is on the rise! I decided to write about this today since I myself received one of the robocalls.

What was the robocall message? This is the robocall I received:

Keep in mind there are variations of the scam. The robocall pre-recorded message stated; 
"This is the Social Security Administration. We're calling because we noticed suspicious activity pertaining to your social security number. Press 1 to speak to a representative."
No reply from me on those types of calls! I simply hung up!

If the message is a robocall canned spiel, you know it's a scam - lol.
Scam Call Recipient

Why we know it's a scam:
  1. Some state laws prohibit robocalls, including where I reside, so obviously Social Security would not attempt to use robocall. The method was the first indication it was a fraudulent call.
  2. The phone number from the caller ID is not a match to the Social Security Administration. The number on my caller ID was from area code 760.
  3. Area code 760 matches the area code the FTC has indicated that others have reported receiving the calls from. Keep in mind that doesn't mean the call actually originated from that area.
  4. The goal of the money con artist is to trick people into revealing their Social Security number provides money con artist's the ideal tool to commit identity theft!
Another version of the SSA scam is more detailed than the call I received. The FTC has reported the following about the Social Security Scam:
Canned Spiel
Money Con Artist
"SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time."
For more information, head on over the the FTC to learn more about the money con artists Social Security scam. The FTC also has an actual recording to learn from!

Note: Only days after publishing this article the FCC is now allowing phone companies to block robocalls by use of analytics - before they reach our phones! A good change in a positive direction.

Free Credit Score Reports FCRA

Free credit score reports are available once every 12 months from the credit bureaus.

Those are available due to the "Fair Credit Reporting Act". In the past, consumers paid to have access to their credit reports, but thankfully the FCRA changed that!

For the USA, the three credit bureau agencies are: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, but you don't contact those agencies directly to get your reports.

There is one website to request your free reports from, which is listed on the FTC's website, and I'll provide that link at the end of this article.

Should you order a free report once a year, or not?

If you're interested in adding an extra element of protection against identity theft, then yes! You should consider requesting your free report you are entitled to, once every 12 months. Note: it's not based on a calendar year, but once every 12 months.

By requesting your free report, you may determine if someone else has attempted to use your identity. If you don't request your free reports, and if you don't have any other warning signs of identity theft occurring, then you wouldn't know!

Like other precautions, it's no guarantee that it will provide you a full safety net against identity theft, but it can certainly help to stop that activity sooner, rather than later! In the case of your personal or business credit, ignorance is NOT bliss!

Will it count as points against you to pull your own report?

There is a common misconception that if you had the report pulled that it will affect your credit negatively, but that's not exactly true.

What occurs is what's known as a 'soft pull' on your credit score. In other words, no need to worry about how requesting your own reports will affect you.

Employers may also require a 'soft pull' on your credit, if the career position requires they do so. That may involve positions for careers in financial services, insurance, banking, and other industries.

In contrast, if you were applying for a loan or home mortgage, than that would result in a 'hard pull' against your credit.

The positives of requesting your report outweigh the negatives - IF...

Yes, there is an 'if' to the equation! Simply put: It's good to consider requesting your free reports every 12 months - IF you have done so through the correct agency!

Be cautious as there are fraudulent websites that are set up to trick people into requesting their free credit report! Why would they do that? For your information to commit identity theft!

Don't be fooled by websites that profess to be a provider of your credit reports! Now there is an exception to the rule: If, for example you're online paying a credit card bill, Visa, Mastercard, American Express may provide you with a link to the proper site to have your report pulled. It should be the same site that the FTC provides.

What to expect when you request your free credit reports:

They will request information from you that only you would have knowledge of to answer correctly, unless someone has already stolen your identity and compromised your information. These are some of the questions they may ask you online.
  • What other names you may have used. (Example -Maiden name)
  • Addresses of places that you have lived.
  • Name of your spouse, or other person you held joint credit with.
  • Your dogs name - lol. Just kidding
There are a variety of potential questions they will ask, as that can vary for each individual. The common denominator though is they will need to verify your social security number, so be prepared for that question.

My suggestion is to bookmark the FTC's page for your reference. That way if there was ever a change with who they have approved to provide credit reports, you will access the correct website link directly through the FTC's site. 
Free Credit Report

Play it safe!

If you wish, head on over to the FTC for the information on how to access your free credit reports. From there they have a link to the proper website. Plus, they have a short informative video.

For additional information, stay right here and read to your heart's content! Right here on Money Illusions you can also learn some tips against identity theft!

Where to Find Amazon Work from Home Jobs

Rumor has it that Amazon is hiring work from home job opportunities!

Given the fact that their entire business runs on massive technology, I would imagine that's probably the case, more often than not. Remote, telecommuting, work from home tech jobs, are often a job sector offered from many large corporations. That's all good, so what's the problem?

The problem is WHERE some job seekers are looking to find work from home remote opportunities with Amazon!

Rumors are going ablaze through online communities and .com's posing as recruiting sites for Amazon, but they're not affiliated with Amazon! Legitimate recruiting sites are also a target for false job opportunities, so your radar must be keen!

You may often find what appears to be a great job on a career job listing website. But, did you look on the employers actual website? You will quickly determine which jobs posted in career sites are legit, or not!

Con artists, scam artists, and imposter websites can surely fool anyone! This is where the caution comes to learn from!

When a person is excited and in need of finding a legitimate work from home remote job, it's easy to fall for the fraudulent advertisements. Using search engines to look will quickly bring up lots of results, which do not belong to Amazon!

Where do you find Amazon's offers of work from home employment?

The legitimate career opportunities with Amazon are advertised from their own site! Like Amazon, other large corporations also have their own career and employment sections for job seekers.

Amazon's Remote Telecommuting Jobs
Since I chose to write this article today, I popped on over to where you can find Amazon's legitimate remote jobs. Note: From Amazon's .com you're able to find their career search site, which is a .jobs site.

As of today, there were only 39 openings (near my area), and all of which only pertained to those who have high-tech backgrounds. If that's you, then you may be in luck!

You can also search Amazon's remote virtual work from home openings.

Remember, most large corporations will generally have a link directly on their site to their career center. You often will find it at the bottom of their website footer, or you may have to click through on a site map.

Don't allow yourself to be fooled by imposters!

Many sites have popped up attempting to represent Amazon to offer career opportunities, and/or affiliate marketing opportunities, but again these are not where you would find Amazon job opportunities, either working within their locations or remotely.

A first clue is the fact that some imposters may use the actual legitimate company name as an attempt to confuse people.

As you look at these sites, do you see what's potentially wrong?
This list is not all inclusive! There are more posing as recruiters!

amazoncareers .co
Scam Inspector
amazonprofits .org
earnwithamazon .com
amazonrecruiter .org
  1. Amazon is a .com
  2. Amazon is not a .co (Columbia uses .co)
  3. Amazon is not a .org (non-profit organization)
  4. Amazon doesn't need a site name sounding like they're desperate to teach people how to 'earn with amazon'!
Keep in mind several of those may not be advertising actual employment with Amazon, but rather the potential of being an Amazon affiliate. However, do your own searches as well to first determine if a site is a place you want to visit.

One last point regarding the two .org examples to learn from:
A website using the word 'profits' on a .org seems to be an oxymoron!
A .org website using any large retailer name such as Amazon is another oxymoron!

If those challenges are not enough as it is, there's yet another Amazon hiring scam to be aware of. The BBB Better Business Bureau is reporting there are scam artists contacting people offering work with Amazon. They are actually marketing an enrollment kit, which they charge $200.00. Once they receive the $200.00 they vanish.

In Summary - Two Tips to Remember:
  1. Keep a look-out and don't be too anxious to find the right opportunity, as that can cause one to overlook the truth.
  2. Large corporations will have a page on their site you can begin your job search from.
When in doubt about a job opportunity that you may have found on the internet, if it's for a large corporation look for it directly from their site! If it isn't there, then either an opening was filled, or it was a work from home scam job opening that never existed to begin with!

200 Best Work from Home Jobs for 2019

Wow! 200 work from home jobs for 2019!

Yes, the possibilities are out there!

What are they, and how can you find them?

If I were to attempt to cover a list that long I would be researching and gathering all of that data to the end of 2019! Then it would be too late to post that article! That wouldn't help you!

The best I can do this year is to point you in the right direction to the screaming content already out there!

As always, do your homework with due-diligence in order to determine the best opportunity for you!

#1. 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs in 2019:
If there are at least 100 top companies offering remote jobs, then that means there are 100+ job opportunities from that resource alone! Be sure to check out FlexJobs for those opportunities. As they have in the past, they provide a terrific source for work from home remote telecommuting jobs!

#2. 75 Legitimate Work from Home Jobs for 2019!
Probably the most comprehensive list as far as details and types of positions. From Admin Jobs, Writing Content Opportunities, Educational Teaching Positions, Graphic Design, Audio Video Opportunities, and many more - the list goes on! You must check out "I've Tried That" with their long detailed list!

That's 175 opportunities, so where is the other 25 to total 200 of the best work from home jobs for 2019? I'll do better than that! Because, here's another resource offering 50:

#3. 50 Legit Companies that Hire Home Workers in 2019:
For freelance news and homeworking opportunities, check out HomeWorking Club's exhaustive list of possibilities to locate your work from home position.

There you go! The list of 200 225 Work from Home Jobs for 2019!
200+ Work From Home Jobs!

I increased the list to 225, even though my article was going to share only 200. I chose to do that, assuming there may be some over-lapping companies, or opportunities - essentially providing you a bonus of 25 more possibilities to check into!

Again, always do your own homework as you pursue the right opportunity.

Be sure the offer is asking you to jump through the normal hoops.

That's one way you can determine if a position is legitimate vs a scam.

Kids Earn Cash Money - Is it a Scam?

Some refer to it as, 'Kids Earn Cash' or as, 'Kids Earn Money'. What I found is this site: 'Kids Earn Cash'. The online search results brought up their site snippet which states:
"Kids Earn Cash lets you turn your social media profiles into money. Start earning thousands a month by promoting on social media."
Kids Earn Cash Snippet Ad

What is "Kids Earn Cash"or"Kids Earn Money"? Is it a scam?

To claim that anyone (adult, teen, or kid) can: 'Start earning thousands a month by promoting on social media.' immediately brings questions of concern.

Is it just me, or does it seem to be an exaggerated claim?

Yes, one can make money from Social Media, but the fact they claim 'thousands a month' - from the get-go? They used the word, "Start" which implies you could earn those thousands relatively quickly.

Unfortunately a 'kid' or teen would be the most vulnerable to jumping into action with that offer!
Kids Earn Cash - a Scam?

My first pick of investigation was to head to the BBB (Better Business Bureau), and already there are many complaints posted.

However, complaints are not posted under the name 'Kids Earn Cash'. What comes up from the BBB is: "Kids Earn Money LLC" with over 30 complaints - already!

The domain for that complaint is posted on the BBB as "kidsearnmoney".co, and it would take more research to determine the connection.

The complaints listed had a common denominator: When the members attempted to collect on their earnings, there were problems with being able to do so.

Going further into research you would find many sites reporting the names "KidsEarnCash" and "KidsEarnMoney" as the same business.

When I found the site "kidsearncash" .com my attempt to click through resulted in a 'redirect' so I backed out as my browser stalled at the redirect notification. Therefore, I chose to not visit the website.

Do your research before you jump in! And as always: If it seems to be too good to be true it probably is!

Protect your kids and teens by educating them so they too can learn how to identify scams!

You may wish to watch this video about "KidsEarnCash" .com:

Work From Home Training Program Scam vs Legitimate Offer

Looking for work from home jobs with a training program?

Before you accept an offer, determine if it's a scam, or legitimate!

Comparing the traits of both:

Work From Home Jobs with a Legitimate Training Program:

  • Experience and/or special skills will most likely be required.
  • A specific level of education/degree will be required.
  • The offer clearly specifies the job requirements and expectations.
  • An interview is required.
  • No payment is required for their training program or manual.
  • They will pay for your time during training.

Work From Home Training Program Scams:

  • No experience or special skills required.
  • No interview is required.
  • The entire process is too easy and offered to anyone.
  • Payment is required for the work from home program or manual.
  • You may, or may not receive an actual training manual.
If you do receive a training manual or so-called program from a scam offer, what is the manual that you might receive?

There are different versions of the scam. If you do actually receive a training manual in return for payment, it may be that they figure it will reduce their chance of being reported.

The manual or training information may be nothing more than instructions for how you can advertise and sell the same work from home manual or program, which is selling - nothing of value!

As you search for a legitimate work from home aka, 'remote' or  'telecommuting' position, play it safe!

Never send money for training materials to someone claiming to be a prospective employer.

A legitimate employer will not require you to pay for training materials or manual.

The work from home training program scam is one you can easily avoid!

One final point:

There are legitimate e-books offering tips with how to search and find legitimate work from home opportunities. This article isn't about legitimate guides.

Those e-books may be offered free, or they may be an e-book requiring purchase.

Take the time to learn the differences with offers so you can move forward into a positive direction.

Head on over to the FTC to learn more about work from home training program scams.

10 Ways to Spend $1 Million Dollars on a Private Island

"What would you do on a private island with $1 million dollars to spend?"

How to spend money on a private island?
I'm laughing over that hypothetical question posted in a forum. For fun, it's deserving of answers so please post your comments. What would you do? 😎

But first the mysterious unknown variables, of which I'm going to consider two:
  • Is the island totally private as in a deserted island, and you're the poor rich soul that became stranded?
  • Is it a private island that you bought, and now you can spend $1 million to improve it?
I'm going to assume it's deserted! Therefore, the question, 'What would you do on a private island with $1 million dollars to spend?' becomes far more problematic to answer - for obvious reasons.  

10 Ways to Spend $1 Million Dollars on a Private Deserted Island:

1. Bury it in the sand and forget where you put it. Poof - it's all spent.

2. Use tree sap to glue each of the bills together to make a paper banner. Wait for it... there's a plane! Quick! Now wave the banner with hope they will land to take the bait in return for your rescue! 😓

3. Use the bills like wallpaper inside your newly constructed grass hut.

4. Save them for a rainy day - to patch the hut roof so you'll stay dry.

5. Use them for bargaining a deal with the pirates when they stop by.

6. Build bonfires with the bills - IF you can get a spark!

7. Pay and bribe the Monkey's to pick Coconuts so you won't starve. 🙊

8. Weave them together to make paper baskets for food gathering. 

9. Heap them high inside the hut so you can 'sleep on it' as in - figuring out how to get off the island!

10. Finally, they might become toilet paper bills! Ugh!

Say what? Another variable?

I just figured out the $1 million dollars may not be paper bills, but instead a bad check!

Money Tree

Are you the proud owner of a money tree? Wouldn't we all like to be! While growing up I remember the money tree my grandmother had. Fascinated by the fact that she had some sort of money tree, with excitement, I had to go see! I have no idea what I really expected, but it wasn't anything like I thought it would be! The reality ended in disappointment - lol. 😞.

A Real Money Tree!
The money tree looked like this:

Say what? That's a money tree? How could that possibly be? It looked more like silver dollar coins, but I had thought it would look more like... dollar bills???

That was my first experience with the realization that, 'Money doesn't grow on trees!' 🙃

The money tree I envisioned probably would have looked more like this:
The money tree kids see in their mind.
But, again, money doesn't grow on trees!
I had to get over it and grow up - like a tree!

A note in closing: The Money Tree is different from the Chinese Money Plant.

Spam Email Asking for Money - One Solution

1 Easy Way to Stop Emails Asking for Money!

Spam phishing email looking for your ID and Money?

In a perfect digital world there wouldn't be spam email, but we won't see that happening anytime soon. For now, our best strategy is to reduce the amount of spam we might receive, which also eliminates some of the chances of losing money to their tricks in our email.
Phishing Spam Email

How can we reduce fraudulent email offers asking us for money?

You've most likely heard many of the typical answers, one of which may be, "Be careful with what you sign up for!" In the digital world it's known as 'subscribe' to.

For legitimate sites and offers, it's all good. We fill out forms and select a button and boom, it's done - we've given out our sacred email address. But what about other things you have subscribed to?

But... Did you check if you were signed up to receive emails that you didn't subscribe to?

Now that's a tricky question! If you didn't subscribe for something how would you know, or what would you research to find out? I know what you're probably thinking by now, "There's a whole lot of questions, but what about the answers!"

Well, it's complicated, and I wanted to keep this short so I will give you one EASY TO DO SOLUTION to potentially reduce spam emails asking for money. And, this will also make your browsing safer!

One solution to reduce or eliminate spam email in your box:

Since using this one solution myself, I've had some days with zero spam emails! From my opinion - that's amazing results from exercising this one solution! So read on if you want to eliminate your spam...

This one solution pertains to anyone who has a Google account, so it's an easy solution for many people! And the answer is.... wait for it - lol.

If you have a Google account you have access to Google Groups, which offers forums for those who wish to use that service.

However, the default settings may leave you vulnerable to be signed up for groups you do not wish to be subscribed to!

And, some groups are set up by spammers for the sole purpose to send you emails, and/or potentially hijack your browsing!

Here's the fix: Check your Google Groups settings to determine your group subscriptions!

You may be surprised what you have been subscribed to, without your knowledge - if you never changed the default settings! Reduce your potential for spam with these easy steps - images included for an easy tutorial!
  1. Go to 'Google Groups'. The page looks like this at the top left:
    Avoid Spam from Google Groups
  2. Select 'My groups' to see what you are subscribed to.
  3. Are you subscribed to a group you didn't sign up for?
  4. Unsubscribe to groups you didn't subscribe to!
  5. Proceed to step 6 to make sure it doesn't happen again!
How to change your Google Group 'Settings for all groups':
  1. Look at the top right side for the icon - as shown in the image below.
  2. Select 'My global settings' from the menu.

Change Global Settings in Google Groups
"My global settings" opens a page of options, shown in the next image. Uncheck the default settings boxes where it says, "Add/Invite settings". Then select 'Save' at the top of the page.
The Solution to Avoid Receiving Spam Phishing Email.

Again, be sure you opt out of (uncheck) the two boxes that 'allow group managers' to directly add and invite you to their groups! That's how you may have been subscribed to a group you don't want to be in, which can = spam in your email box!

Unfortunately, the Google default setting automatically allowed group managers (spammers) to subscribe you! The default setting can result in spam email and potentially browser hijacks.

If at any time, you know of a legitimate group manager who wishes to add you, you can always go back and manually make the change to allow the addition or invitation to come through. Thereafter you would then want to go back and uncheck the boxes again.

You may also wish to go back to the menu and select, "All topic email subscriptions", and make sure you're not subscribed for emails you do not wish to receive! And, if you have a Yahoo email, you may wish to check the default settings for Yahoo Groups.

You just learned one way you may have been subscribed to something you don't want to be involved with, which may have resulted in spam emails, and some of which were asking for money!

If this was of help to you, let me know with your comment and share this with a friend. If you still need more insight, check out more ways to reduce the spam emails from the MoneyCrashers!

Fake Check Scam - Fake Check in the Mail

1 Easy Tip to Avoid Receiving a Bad Check

The era of the fake check scam is not past and gone, as it still claims victims. My own recent experience prompted me to share my story of the promise of a (fake) check in the mail.
Avoid Fake Checks.

Knowing what they were up to I by all means was not going to take them up on the offer, but instead was excited to share the news with you - lol - as it gave me a new article topic for Money Illusions.

Fake check in the mail scam works like this...

With the need to downsize some items I listed an item for sale on a popular site for selling stuff. The next day I received a text message from a potential buyer.

Their question was fairly normal communication that one would anticipate from a prospect to a seller;
"Do you still have the item available?"
Assuming it may be a legit customer I responded with a simple reply: "Yes, I still have it available."

I didn't hear back from them until the next day when they responded with another text:
"Okay! I don't have any issue with the price you are asking! Just send me your address so I can mail the check to have you hold the item for me!"
It was obvious that it was a scam, and especially since I wasn't offering shipping but local pick-up only, this was a major red flag!

Why would a scammer mail a (fake) check?

The fake check scammer might not even care if you were to actually send the merchandise to them - or not

Remember from my experience that the person quickly stated they 'don't have an issue with the price.' - because it isn't the merchandise they were interested in, so they had no need to negotiate the asking price!

What they're hoping for is that their victim will cash the fake check and send a check back to them.

Why would a seller send a check to them? Because the check would be written for more than the actual asking price of the merchandise!

A seller would possibly think it was in error and send the overage back to the buyer. Or, the buyer might include instructions that may go like this:
"I only had this money order, which is $200.00 more than what you were asking, so kindly return the extra to me."
Unfortunately, for the seller the fake check won't clear the bank, and they will be out any money they sent the buyer scammer.

When you list items for sale online - be aware of the 'fake check in the mail scam'!

Use your common sense, and don't get excited about a buyer wanting to send you a (fake) check in the mail!

It's funny money when you take it to the bank, but it's no laughing matter for the victim!