Avoiding ObamaCare scams
The health-care overhaul is almost here, said Melanie Hicken at CNN, and scammers are already trying to milk it. One of the most common cons involves people who call "offering to help you enroll in the insurance exchanges for a fee." That should set off warning bells: "In reality, the official helpers, the people trained and certified to help you understand your options and help you enroll in a plan, aren't allowed to charge you anything." Scammers who say you need a new insurance or Medicare card are really after your Social Security number or bank and credit card information. And be suspicious of so-called discount medical plans. "The FTC warns that some of these plans are scams that don't follow through on promised services."
Caveats on the housing boom
The market is rebounding, but don't rush into buying a house just yet, said David Crook at The Wall Street Journal. "Like all economic booms, this one carries the instruments of its own destruction." With existing-home sales still 27 percent below 2005 figures, this housing boom is at best "lukewarm." And while markets look healthy overall, it's worth remembering that corporate investors are doing much of the buying — and their presence "is driving price increases and sales volume." Such strategic, big-volume investors have different priorities than family homebuyers, who usually have to borrow money and face larger costs. "A market that's good for investors may not be so hot for you."
Painful money mistakes
Much financial misery begins with a few common mistakes, said Adam Levin in Credit.com. When will people learn to be careful about what they post online? Oversharing on social networking sites can help an identity thief "cobble together enough of your life to convince someone that they are you." And must you really open a joint account to prove that you trust someone? "The world is awash with stories of people whose credit scores have been crushed because the former love of their life hit a financial bump in the road, decided to exact revenge through nonpayment, or is just plain irresponsible." And you should always deliberate before clicking on any Internet link. "There are lots of bad people out there who count on your knee-jerk reaction to do whatever it takes to satisfy your curiosity or solve a problem." Resisting that urge can help you avoid phishing scams.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
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