The Consumer Education Advocate

How to NOT get stiffed

Top 5 Online Scams of 2013

by admin - January 20th, 2014

As if we, as web users needed another reason to guard our identities like our last stick of gum, here is a list of the top online scams of 2013.


  1. Gold“Lookout! The sky is falling! And the only thing you can do to protect yourself is to trade in your worthless dollars for our gold certificate!”. There’s nothing wrong with owning gold, silver, gems, or any other precious mineral, but if the world really was crashing down then these companies that are BEGGING YOU to take their gold would be hoarding it themselves and getting ready for the Hunger Games.
  2. Free virus removal“Just download this app and we’ll remove all the viruses we spotted on you phone”. Once again, always ask yourself ‘why is this company so eager to help me?’. It is possible that they have something other than your best interest in mind. My rule of thumb – if it doesn’t come from the app store, I don’t download it.
  3. Text Scam – A text comes in: “You just won a free Best Buy gift card! Click here to claim it!”. Man, I must be lucky because I don’t even shop at Best Buy. Sadly, many people fall for the scam, click the link, and either get their phone infected or answer dozens of personal questions in order to “claim your prize”. You can ignore their instructions to reply back with “Stop” if you wish to not receive messages. That is just a tactic they use to make sure they have a live number.
  4. Disaster Relief – If there is a Hell, I hope it has a special place for these scammers. All they do is wait for the next horrific tragedy to occur and then they flood the internet with requests for you to “Help the relief effort”. They collect MILLIONS in aid that well meaning people intended to reach the needy. Only give money to organizations you are familiar with or can go to: and look them up.
  5. Jobs – Man this one almost got me! I was hurting for some employment and I had been filling out applications for about 2 or 3 hours before I came across a website that supposedly had a lot of job listings in my field and it even promised to make the applications easier to submit through standardization (sort of how does it). Well I was filling out the registration, my mind on dinner, when I realized I had just filled in the boxes for my name, address, phone, email, mother’s maiden (“as a security question”) and I was just about to type in my SSN when my brain screamed “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT!”. I stopped, cleared all the boxes, then looked up the website. Yup – a total fraud site.


As a bonus, here is a pretty good video I found about safely buying online


Be careful out there, everybody.


How to avoid Getting Scammed when Looking for Loans Online

by admin - January 19th, 2014

online loans for bad credit

We live in an amazing time. As a species we are no longer a part of the food chain. Just think about that for a minute. Our lives typically, unless we did something horribly wrong, do not end in the stomach of something bigger than us. This, as a species, is a tremendous achievement! However, it is not a free ride. It requires us to pay a daily toll in the form of money.

You see, if we want to live in relative safety and comfort we need to continue to pay into the system we have established that supplies us with law enforcement, fire fighters, doctors, and trash collection.

You might be asking, “Why are you boring me with all this? I didn’t google you up just to read your whack-job philosophy”. Well I can’t blame you there. but the reason I spent so much time talking about this was to really illustrate why people in most cultures will spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to protect themselves from experiencing undue loss of money in the form of scams. In fact, the fear of loss can even be stronger than the desire for gain!


So, let’s assume you are like most John Q. Publics out there and you aren’t a super-duper detective but you still need some cash to get you by or to consolidate a few bills. Well I’ve got bad news; finding unsecured loans for people with bad credit, and not getting scammed in the process, can be almost impossible unless you know the danger signs and how to avoid them. Don’t worry though, I’m here to help!

Top 5 Signs of Online Loan Scams:

  1. Money – NEVER pay anyone or any agency an upfront fee for them to start looking for a loan that may suit you.
  2. Pre-Approval – Have you received an email notice of your pre-approval of something? Have you ever heard of the company? Did you ever visit their site and give them your email? If the answer is No to any of the above, then STAY AWAY!!!
  3. Eagerness – Does the person, or website, seem too eager to get you to sign on the dotted line? Remember, a legit suppliers of online loans want to REDUCE his risk by weeding out bad borrowers. So he should be putting up barriers to block you, not rolling out the red carpet.
  4. Website – When you log in to their website, do you seen an “s” in their “https”? If not then RUN. I won’t get into the technical details but just remember that “s” stands for “safe” in this case. Every legitimate online lender, and all banks for that matter, will have the “s” you’re looking for.
  5. Research – When you look this company up, as you should, are you able to find a large and OBVIOUS footprint? If you can’t then you might be dealing with a fly-by-night organization.


Your money is important. It is a representation of the time and toil you spent in order to not become a part of the food chain. And while there are tons of very reputable organizations who would be happy to work with a crafty borrower like you, there are, unfortunately, many who would be only so happy to take your money and run.



If you do suspect you have been scammed, or are looking at a scammer’s website or service, then please report that here.