Why you should never give your social security number over the phone

Scam-call abuse is at an all-time high. In 2018 nearly one-third of all calls was a nuisance call, says Consumer Reports. And one of the most common questions from scammers? What is your social security number (SSN). Others include these common tricks that scammers use to steal your money. People who divulge personal information like their social security number often get their identity stolen and their whole life turned upside down. “Your Social Security number is the key to your financial kingdom and should be protected at all times,” says Paul T. Joseph, attorney, CPA, and founder of Joseph & Joseph Tax & Payroll. If someone gets ahold of your SSN, they have the ability to get credit cards in your name, obtain financing, and get access to your financial accounts. Unlike a credit card number, changing your social security number isn’t an easy process.

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9 Hotel Scams and Annoying Fees to Watch Out for
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After you check in, the room phone rings, allegedly from the front desk. There's a problem with your credit card, the operator says, please give me the account numbers again. To pull it off, all a criminal has to do is trick their way through a hotel switchboard and catch a patron in the room. If you get a call like this, hang up, call the operator, and ask if there's a problem. That's a good habit at home, too. Hang up and call back. If there's really a problem, don't reveal your number over the phone. Just walk back to the front desk.
"You find a pizza delivery flyer slipped under your hotel door," the FTC says. "You call to order, and they take your credit card number over the phone. But the flyer is a fake, and a scammer now has your info." I've not seen widespread incidence of this. it would be pretty brazen for ID thieves to physically walk around hotel hallways, where cameras might be used to identify them. Still, the same principal applies. Use a smartphone to double-check the phone number you see on any flyer placed in your room before you order pizza.
The single easiest way for a hacker to hijack your computer is to set up a rogue hot spot and trick you into connecting to it. "Oh, free WiFi," you think. While that's a very real problem, it's also not terribly likely in a hotel room. After all, to be close enough to pull it off, the criminal's technology would in most cases have to be inside the hotel. That's a risky proposition. On the other hand, you might be visiting a lot of strange coffee shops on the road, where rogue Wi-Fi is a more likely possibility. It's always smart to double-check the safety of the networks you connect to, however. It might be wise to stick with your smartphone's connectivity, if that's possible.
The more expensive the hotel, the more likely you will be charged a hefty Wi-Fi fee of $10-$15 per day. The new trick I've seen lately is for hotels to offer "free" Wi-Fi in the lobby but charge for access in the room. Best way to avoid that fee? Before you leave, make sure you know how to use your smartphone for broadband access.
Hotels have a love-hate relationship with websites like Priceline (PCLN) or Expedia, which help them fill rooms,but systematically put downward price pressure on their inventory. Extra fees, added at check-in, are the hotels' way around this problem. Many folks pay online, only to find there's additional charges when they arrive at the hotel. Resort fees are often the biggest culprit. As the name suggests, this fee is most prevalent in restort-y places like Las Vegas. 
Hotels like charging to clean your room now, as if that's not included in the price. The worst part of the housekeeping fee: Often, housekeepers don't get any of the money.
More hotels are embracing travelers with pets, and they're charge $10 to $100 for allowing a pet in your room. If you use a site like Expedia to sort through pet-friendly hotels, make sure you manually check the fee. Not all pet-friendly hotels are created equal.
This one bugs me. Some hotels put a safe fee on your bill, even if you never use the safe. You can ask that it be removed. Same for the newspaper fee.
Finally, gone are the days when hotels could be canceled by 6 p.m. on the night of a reservation for a full refund. Cancellation policies are all over the map now and can even vary based on how the reservation was initially made. Never book a hotel without knowing what the cost of a breakup would be. Travel always involves adventure, which involves unpredictability, which means plans change. Make sure you plan for that.
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The reason so many people even pick up these calls is that scammers manipulate the caller ID info to make it look like it’s coming from a local number, a familiar number, or even an official looking number, like the “Internal Revenue Service,” says Anthony Harris, tech and scam expert with Kiwi Searches. Harris says you should never give your social security number over the phone, especially on a call you’ve received, where you have no idea who is really on the other end of the line. In fact, the IRS will never contact you over the phone asking for your social security number. They will contact you first through the mail, says Joseph. “Typically, the first contact letter will instruct you to call an 800 number— usually 1-800-829-1040—to discuss your return. Once you’ve established a relationship with a local IRS agent, you’ll know that person by name. If you receive a call from someone who says they’re with the IRS and you have never talked with them before, just hang up the phone and block the number.” If you do have a relationship with an IRS agent and they need to verify your identity, they will still not ask for your social; they’ll ask other questions to verify your identity.

So, what if you need to give your social security number to someone that you’re 100 percent sure is trustworthy? The safest way to relay the information is to tell it to them in person. If that’s not an option, give out parts of it in a few different calls or dole it out a few digits at a time over the course of a phone conversation.

As for those annoying robocalls, if you have tried blocking numbers or have even put yourself on the “Do Not Call” list but you’re still getting calls, it might help to understand how telemarketers keep getting your number. Finally, there are phone apps like Nomorobo ($1.99/month) that can screen your calls so that only the legit ones come through. The app founder, who has testified as an expert on robocalling before the U.S. Senate, says Nomorobo’s proprietary algorithm works so well that false positives (blocking of legit calls) are under two-tenths of one percent.

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13 Things That Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Great
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13 Things That Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Great
The site lets you know when movie screenings are happening so you can score free tickets.
The yellow cleaning spray named "Awesome" from the dollar store evidently lives up to its name. The guy who recommended it said that it really should be priced higher and he's never used it without gloves.

The dollar store toilet bowl cleaner named The Works is so strong it can etch concrete.
The cellphone company is designed to save you a bunch of money on your plan if you switch away from a major carrier.

This guy loves it: I seriously only pay $45 a month for unlimited everything for my Google Nexus 4 and also get great service since I have a AT&T compatible SIM card with them. Basically my service runs off of AT&T towers just without me having to pay $100 a month. It is cheap, and in the long run saves you a lot of money.

These seem like a clever ploy by Big Detergent to force you to spend more on rebranded soap.


Well, as it turns out they actually really work out well. Almost everyone uses a little too much detergent in their wash, but these little pods actually do the trick.

When one guy's friend hit a deer and had to unload his totaled car, JunkMyCar.com offered nearly six times as much for the Camry than local junkyards:

Submitted the request online, guy came out (to him) a day or two later with a truck, looked the car over to make sure everything checked out with the specs he submitted, handed him a check, and left with the car. Check cleared with no issues.

My guess is that they can give such a higher premium because they scrap the car and sell the parts online, so they'll have a much higher turnaround. Either that or it's some really eccentric millionaire finding new ways to pass the time.
I can personally confirm that Linux is awesome.

Here's why: "You mean I can get a fully-functional operating system for free, just download it off the website, and it's faster, more secure and easier than Windows? And it has thousands of free programs with it? And they're offering more and more games that often play better on Linux than Windows? Sure , whatever...."
But it's true!
It's a neoprene jacket you put on animals to reduce anxiety. It accomplishes this by gently squeezing them all over.

Got it for my frenchie who was going through anxiety after we moved, and it totally works on the short term and on the long term.

This pet comb really works: Furminator brush, a metal comb with tapered grooves that removes undercoat and reduces shedding. It's not a surprise it works, but how well it works. The ad photo with the husky surrounded by a giant pile of fur is exactly what happens.

Another endorsement: Bought a furminator yesterday and felt like a dumbass for spending $45 on a damn cat brush. Then I had a pile of fur twice the size of my cat.

Photo: sundaykofax, Flickr.com and _Tar0_, Flickr.com

Several people swear by this blender. The issue is that it's sold through infomercials which instantly sets off everyone's B.S. alarm.
You know those ads on television for sites offering free credit reports? Don't use those websites.
Congress made the credit report companies provide people with one free credit report per year, so they did that with AnnualCreditReport.com, but then made several easily confusable clones that charged money.

Here's the explanation: Annualcreditreport.com is run by the U.S. government and is designed to comply with the law requiring credit bureaus to give you your reports for free every so often.

Freecreditreport.com and sites like it are businesses who charge you money for these same services (or require that you bundle pay services with the free service of getting your report) [...] they're preying on the people who were trying to get their free report and just went to the wrong web address.

It's 100% Congressionally-mandated legitimacy. Check it out: AnnualCreditReport.com.
We're talking about Mr. Clean Magic Eraser kind of products. It perfectly breaks down any kind of material from very fine cracks and textures.

People use these on white sneakers to wild success, and one Redditor cleaned a horrifying tub in a new apartment to the point it looked like new. One guy used a similar product, Barkeeper's Friend, to get a sharpie'd genital off of his fridge.

RainX is the stuff you spread apply to your windshield that repels rain, meaning that you don't actually have to use your windshield wipers.

Here's one Redditor's endorsement: First, it will last a lot longer than a few days if you follow the directions to a tee. If it's at all cool air temps when you apply it, turn on your defroster for a while to heat up the window. Helps a lot. When you get up to speeds that make the rain "skitter" off the windshield, stop using the wipers; this speed will vary depending on the angle of your window. [...]

Photo: Kjarrett, Flickr.com
Lastly, I've heard Aquapel makes Rain‑X appear as though a drunken monkey had smeared feces over your window in comparison. I can't personally speak to this, as I cannot afford Aquapel.  Sounds fun.

Sold by the late but legendary pitchman Billy Mays, the sodium percarbonate cleaning product is actually really, really good at cleaning anything.

Granted, you can get the same chemical off-brand at a pool supply store for a fifth of the price, but the stuff just annihilates stains.
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