Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 8 credit card strategies – and some surprises, too. Also in the news: The technophobe’s guide to cybersecurity, why the Apple Card could make you spend more, and why Cash App users should be on the lookout for scams.

8 Credit Card Strategies — And Some Surprises, Too
Using your cards strategically.

The Technophobe’s Guide to Cybersecurity
Protecting yourself and your data.

Why The Apple Card Could Make You Spend More
Chasing rewards and instant gratification.

Watch Out for Scams Targeting Cash App Users
Be alert.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Understanding the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Also in the news: How hungry college students can get help, Robinhood takes another shot at cash management accounts, and a new scam that asks for your bank PIN on the phone.

Hunger on Campus: How College Students Can Get Help

What Is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?
Understanding the government-run health care plans.

Robinhood Takes Another Shot at Cash Management Accounts
This time with FDIC backup.

Beware a New Scam That Asks for Your Bank PIN on the Phone
This is a particularly savvy scam.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to outsmart smartphone scammers. Also in the news: 5 military budgeting tips, states that will pay you to work there, and just how worried you should be about a possible recession.

How to Outsmart Smartphone Scammers
Protecting areas of vulnerability.

5 Military Budgeting Tips
Important considerations for active military.

Get Paid to Move to These States
Work remotely? These states want you.

Recession fears are back — should you be worried?
Don’t panic just yet.

Will you be a scam artist’s next target?

Believing that fraud can’t happen to us — because we’re too smart, logical or informed — may make us more vulnerable. Successful scam artists skillfully overcome our defenses and get us into emotional states that override logical thinking, says Kathy Stokes, AARP’s director of fraud prevention programs.

“Scammers call it getting the victim under the ether,” she says.

Various studies have tried to identify characteristics that make people more susceptible to fraud. But that can create a “blame the victim” mentality and give the rest of us a false sense of security, she says.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to reduce the chances of being taken by a scammer.

Don’t be duped by these phone and email scams

Some of us in the personal finance realm have a weird little hobby: We try to scam the scam artists.

We’re not out to steal their money — just their time. When fraudsters call to say we’re about to be arrested for tax debt, our Social Security number has been “suspended,” or a loved one is in trouble, we play along.

This gives us valuable insight into how the scams operate while wasting the time these jerks could spend victimizing more vulnerable people. In my latest for the Associated Press, how to protect yourself from these scam artists

Q&A: Don’t fall for Social Security phone scams

Dear Liz: I have just received a phone call advising me that my Social Security number “is about to be suspended” and that for help, I should call a certain number. Is this legitimate?

Answer: No. Your Social Security number can’t be locked or suspended or any of the other dire-sounding consequences these robo-callers threaten. If you did call the number, the scam artist on the other end would try to trick you into revealing personal information or convince you to wire money or buy gift cards, which they can quickly exchange (or “wash”) to erase their trails. People lost $10 million to these Social Security scams last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 ways to make your money last in retirement. Also in the news: 5 money strategies for military deployments, 9 housing and mortgage trends for the rest of 2019, and how to protect yourself from gas pump skimmers.

7 Ways to Make Your Money Last in Retirement
Strategies for the long haul.

5 Money Strategies for Military Deployments
Managing the homefront.

9 Housing and Mortgage Trends for the Rest of 2019
What’s hot in the market.

How to Protect Yourself From Gas Pump Skimmers
Be on the lookout.

Don’t let others pick your financial adviser

Gaylen Rust must have seemed trustworthy to the people who gave him money.

Rust was a longtime businessman in Layton, Utah, where he ran a coin shop started by his father in 1966. Rust also founded a charity called Legacy Music Alliance that funded arts programs in schools. An admiring 2013 profile in The Salt Lake Tribune called Rust “the state’s biggest proponent of arts education.”

Federal and state regulators, however, say Rust was running a Ponzi scheme. Civil lawsuits filed late last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission , the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Utah Division of Securities say Rust, his wife and one of his five children persuaded hundreds of friends, customers and business associates across the country to invest more than $200 million in a bogus silver trading pool.

When scam artists target groups of people who know each other or have something else in common, such as religion, it’s known as “affinity fraud.” In my latest for the Associated Press, why you shouldn’t rely solely on recommendations from friends and family when choosing a financial adviser.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to prevent gift card fraud this holiday season. Also in the news: Those “live checks” promise cash but come with a catch, renovation loans expand your home buying options, and the 2019 tax brackets.

How to Prevent Gift Card Fraud This Holiday Season
Keep an eye out for scams.

That ‘Live Check’ Promises Cash, but There’s a Catch
It could come with a whopping interest rate.

Renovation Loans Expand Your Homebuying Options
Move-in ready homes are becoming harder to find.

These Are the 2019 Tax Brackets
Small changes for 2019.

Q&A: Watch out for scams when trying to dump a timeshare

Dear Liz: How do I get out of a timeshare contract? A few years back, we signed up for one that’s associated with a major hotel chain. Promises were implied but not kept. Since then, I continually receive notices from legal groups that say all laws favor the timeshare developer and that my kids will take over my debt unless I pay the attorney thousands of dollars to get out of the contract.

Do you know of legitimate ways to sever the ties? I know I will lose my investment but would rather be out of the contract “for eternity.”

Answer: Timeshares typically include “in perpetuity” clauses meant to keep owners on the hook indefinitely for annual maintenance fees and other charges.

That doesn’t mean their heirs have to be on the hook, however. Your kids can “disclaim” — essentially, refuse to inherit — the timeshare on your death, as long as you haven’t put their names on the deed.

If you’re not happy with your timeshare, though, consider getting rid of it before your death. Check to see if the developer will take it back or if you can sell it on a site such as RedWeek or Timeshare Users Group. Don’t expect to get much, if any, money out of the deal. In fact, you may have to pay a year or two of maintenance fees in advance as a sweetener. That could be a relatively small price to get out of what otherwise might be a lifetime obligation.

It’s unfortunate that most timeshares don’t offer a simpler way out for owners. The difficulty in getting rid of timeshares opens the door for all kinds of scams and shady behavior, with companies charging thousands of dollars and often not delivering the exit they promise.