Imagine this: One day a friend tells you about a great new job he has just started and would love for you to join, too. It’s part-time, you can set your own hours and in just a few short weeks you can be making big money. Sign me up, right? Here’s the catch: You won’t make the profits you were promised, and without doing any research, you could have absolutely no idea what you signed up for.
Scams are popping up all over campus lately, specifically designed to fool the average college student into investing money in a company that will fail to deliver its big promises. Some disguise themselves as cool new jobs, while others trick you into thinking you are getting a lot more bang for your buck than you actually will. Nobody wants to be that person who fell for a dumb scam while the guys on the other side are laughing. Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of a few of the biggest scams and rip-offs we’ve seen on campus recently, so you won’t be that person. You’re too smart for that.
One of the biggest and most disconcerting scams on campus as of late is the “get rich quick” scheme or the pyramid scheme. You may have already heard of pyramid schemes before; think Bernie Madoff, the guy who was sentenced to some serious jail time for creating a company based on an illegal Ponzi scheme. These schemes generally hide behind names like multi-level marketing, referral marketing or network marketing.
Pyramid schemes operate by creating a network or “pyramid” of investors. Each person who invests in the company makes a set amount of money for each person they recruit, each person that person recruits, and so on. This marketing scheme is extremely lucrative for those located at the top of the pyramid, but causes a loss of investment to those at the bottom, despite the fact that those at the bottom will ultimately be doing all of the work. These schemes are illegal and inevitably collapse.
Spotting a pyramid scheme is actually pretty easy once you know what to look for. Companies that use pyramid schemes will promise big money in a short amount of time, and you might sense that they try a little too hard to get you to join in on this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” As a general rule of thumb, just remember: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s also important to use caution when booking a vacation. Whether you’re organizing a summer getaway with your friends or already planning spring break 2014, according to the National Association of Attorneys General, travel scams cost consumers $12 billion annually, and many of those victims are college students. To ensure that your vacation isn’t a scam, make sure you research the booking agency, be wary of heavily discounted trips, and run if an agency requires payment in only cash, check or money order.
Exercise caution when booking an all-inclusive vacation package, which in reality, might not feature all the great perks advertised. For example, those exclusive concert tickets might only be for the first hundred people who show up, and the free meals might be more along the lines of vouchers to Wendy’s rather than gourmet dinners.
Identity and Credit Theft:
Even though you may think you, as a broke college student, are immune to identity theft or credit card fraud — you’re just getting by on dollar beers after all — you are still very susceptible to fraud and theft.
Theft commonly occurs at bars where people keep open credit card tabs. All it takes is someone overhearing your name and they can claim drinks courtesy of you until you close your tab later that night. Carrying a limited amount of cash when you go downtown will completely prevent this problem, while also avoiding the inevitable “I spent THAT much money downtown?!”panic.
Avoiding scams and rip-offs isn’t always unavoidable, especially when you’re a busy college student on a budget; however, not getting conned boils down to common sense. Use your best judgment, and if it sounds too good to be true, then seriously, it probably is.
1. Always shred credit card offers before you discard them and be conscious of where you put sensitive personal documents and numbers.
2. Be mindful when ordering anything over the Internet.
3. Never share your important passwords with friends or roommates. And always make sure your passwords are complex with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
4. Remember to regularly check your credit or debit card statements. Careful monitoring can help detect identity theft before it gets out of hand.
Appsfire - Trying to keep up with new apps can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there's an app for that! Appsfire is updated on a daily basis to give you information about featured products, apps that have dropped in price and, if you connect via Facebook, apps your friends have downloaded. Android users can also choose to get results from Google's Play Store or Amazon's own app store. (Android/iOS: Free)
If you want to play catch-up from the past year or so, here are some suggestions for the best items you may have missed.
- 4-Hour Work Week: Get ideas and techniques from Princeton graduate, Tim Ferriss, on ways to enjoy a millionaire lifestyle. Ferriss tells the story of how he became a record holding tango dancer, a cage fighter, business owner, and much more, all while asserting that your ideal lifestyle can be achieved by working only four hours a week.
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: There were a slew of deaths last year including actor Michael Clarke Duncan, author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, and music legend Whitney Houston. Each was artistic in their own way, and, to get a sense of what it’s like to evolve as an artist, it may be time to take a closer look at this read. James Joyce’s classical story on religious rebellion, sexual frustration and struggles for independence features an overarching theme of the potential dichotomy between loyalty to society and loyalty to oneself. Sound familiar?
- Gun Fight: In light of last year’s tragedies and the increasing number of gun related deaths, American gun control laws are worth another round of consideration. That being said, this film is a bit biased due to the people portrayed on both sides — cautious intellectuals versus lowbrow gun lovers, but the bigger discussion concerning tighter gun control should still be explored.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild: A story showcasing the development of a nine-year-old girl, Hushpuppy, as she struggles to connect with her father and the culture behind a group of people willfully separated from society. Leading lady, Quvenzhané Wallis, puts on an excellent performance and is currently the youngest actress nominated for an Academy Award.
Rap – If you liked Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” then try…
“R.A.P Music” | Killer Mike – Producer El-P creates an interesting mix of new and old school style beats, as Killer Mike delivers energetic verses over each track. If you want something different from radio hits, give this album a try. Notable tracks: “Go!”, “Don’t Die” and “Willie Burke Sherwood.”
Rock – If you liked Torche’s “Harmonicraft” then try…
“Yellow and Green” | Baroness – This is a fun double disc undertaking that offers a nice mix of high energy and melodic tracks to dig into. The tonal progression from one track to another is very well done, which keeps things interesting, though the second disc is a little more stagnant than the first. Notable tracks: “Twinkler”, “Sea Lungs” and “MTNS. (The Crown & Anchor).”
Tons of new electronics are released every year, and 2012 had its own fair share of high quality products and useless commodities. For starters, Microsoft released the eighth version of Windows late last year, but should you upgrade? Good question! No, you probably shouldn’t. Windows 7 is very well established at this point and, aside from a portable, “metro” inspired interface, Windows 8 ($69.99) doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table. Instead, I would suggest taking that money and spending it on the Soundfreaq Sound Kick ($99.99), a portable Bluetooth speaker that pairs with smartphones and tablets to make your Pandora or Spotify playlists more enjoyable. The device sports a fairly sleek design, offering touch sensitive buttons and an embedded auxiliary and USB port. For the price, this speaker is hard to beat, as even at higher volumes, sound stays nice and robust.