Avoid those tempting easy-money schemes
When money gets tight, we get emotional. And those emotions can sometimes cloud our judgment. In fact: research suggests that financial stress impairs our ability to make rational decisions.3 So when we’re faced with higher prices at every turn, we start to look for ways out.
And that’s where easy money scams start to look good.
People who perpetuate easy-money offers understand this. And that’s why they highlight how “fast” and “simple” their money-making solution is. The most important thing to do? Step back.
Top easy-money scams to avoid
The ultimate easy-money scam. All you need to do is rate a store! Here’s the problem: fraudsters rely on urgency to scam you out of your own money. Here’s how it works: you apply for a job or post your resume online. An email or envelope comes your way with an offer for a position as a secret shopper. A check is included. And you’re instructed to cash the check as soon as possible, keep a sum for yourself, and use the rest to shop at designated stores. Your final task? Test the local Western Union and wire the remaining money back. Complete the enclosed satisfaction form. Easy money, right? Wrong. The fraudsters urge you to cash the check and do your secret shopping right away because they know the check is bad. But it won’t bounce before you’ve already done your “job” and wired them money.
Think about this: anyone who offers to hire you without an interview should immediately make you suspicious.
The latest scans to avoid
Get the scoop on the latest scams to avoid from MHV's VP of Asset Protection. Read the Article
If someone asks you to deposit cash into your account, then transfer it to them digitally, don’t. Even if they entice you with a sweet 10% cut. Or if they beg you saying they work for cash only and are going to get hit with taxes if they deposit the funds. Think about the fact that these funds may have been obtained illegally, and now they’re being deposited into your account! Do you really want your name and account information connected to that? Why would someone you don’t know offer to deposit funds into your account. Sure, that 10% sounds good when you are struggling with bills, but it simply is not worth breaking the law.
Work from home scams
There’s no doubt that legitimate work-from-home opportunities exist, especially in this post-pandemic world. But unfortunately, that also makes it easier for illegitimate ones to hide. And with how easy it is to build a website, it can be hard to differentiate the real from the fake. Head to review sites to search for feedback on any opportunities before you dive in. A big red flag? If the company requires you to send them money – or share your account information – so they can purchase office equipment for you. If the alleged company sends a check and asks YOU to purchase a laptop and then ship it to them to have software installed you’ll most likely never see the laptop again. Or if they ask you to send money to someone who will then ship you a laptop and other office supplies, you’ll never see that money or hear from them again.
Organize your debt
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With their “work anytime” taglines, multi-level marketing companies (MLMs) appeal to busy people struggling to make ends meet. But the FTC warns that the income claims often made by these companies are far from the truth.4 In fact, people who join MLMs often end up losing money because they’re pressured to buy their company’s products. So while it may sound like a golden opportunity, things that are too good to be true often are just that…too good to be true.
Debt relief programs
It’s not necessarily a money-making scheme, but these programs rely on people’s feelings of financial helplessness to make money. Debt relief programs promise to work with creditors to pay your bills off…for a fee. The problem is that creditors don’t have to work with debt relief companies. So now you’re out the money to pay for the program and still have to pay your bills. Sometimes there is a reduced payment, but not enough to offset the fee. And sometimes, according to Experian, the portion that is forgiven can be considered taxable income.5 Instead of turning to debt relief programs to help save money, work directly with your lenders or creditors. Many have hardship programs available.
"I feel overwhelmed by my bills."
Is debt consolidation better than a debt relief program? Find out in this 9-minuted video. Watch the Video
Not every side-hustle is bad. And there are some great money-making opportunities that fit into an already busy schedule. It’s hard to give up your free time, but if inflation is making you panic about your finances, setting up additional income could help relieve some stress.
Dog walking or pet sitting
Offering dog walking or pet sitting services to friends, family, and neighbors is one way to boost your income – and it doesn’t require much investment on your part.
While some of these are scams, there are legitimate companies that offer payment for reviewing websites or taking surveys. Do your research before signing up. And keep in mind: you shouldn’t have to pay to join and can work as needed.
If you have extra time, pick up freelance work to help bring in additional income. If you already work, check with your Human Resources representative to make sure there are no non-compete clauses or other policies that may limit freelance work.