For teens and young adults, Destinations Credit Union offers “On Your Way” – a social network for those interested in learning how to manage their money. There are interesting blog posts, contests and videos to help this group better cope with new financial responsibilities.
The Better Business Bureau is reporting a new breed of cyber-crime that turns innocent people into accessories in the distribution of stolen merchandise. The scam starts like a lot of others, with a job offer from an anonymous company. The work sounds ideal. It’s work-from-home, set your own hours, and work as much or as little as you like. Best of all, it’s easy. You receive shipments at your house, then repack them and ship them to another address.
If you sign up, you’ll receive packages containing products and instructions about shipping them to other addresses, sometimes overseas. Your employer will want you to cover shipping, but promises to reimburse you for costs on top of your salary. At the end of the month, you get a check from your employer.
The first bad news comes when you attempt to cash that paycheck and it turns out to be fake. All the work you’ve done, plus the shipping costs you paid out of pocket, are gone. It’d be bad enough if it ended there.
Worse yet, you might end up facing criminal charges. At the very least, you’ll be an accessory to the theft of the goods you handled. If you helped to redistribute those goods, you handled stolen property. Even if you didn’t know the goods are stolen, if you didn’t ask questions where a reasonable person would have, you’re guilty.
To make matters worse, if you shipped those items internationally, you likely had to lie on customs documents. That’s a federal offense. The scammers just tricked you into taking all of the legal risk while they keep the money.
Similar scams are common in money laundering. A scammer will contact you or leave a post on a job board asking for financial service assistance. They’ll send a check and ask you to deposit it, then wire them back some of the money. You can keep a portion of it as your payment. The check was written against stolen funds and the issuing institution refuses to pay it. You’re out whatever you wired the scammer and could face charges as an accessory to fraud.
These scams are an unfortunate part of the job search process. They prey on the uncertainty and desperation that characterizes long-term unemployment. The widely anonymous nature of the Internet provides a perfect cover for schemers. If you want to keep yourself safe, follow these tips:
1.) Be proactive in your job search
Working with an agency will also help you weed out the scams. You’ll have someone you know and trust to sort the real opportunities from the bogus ones. They’ll help put your resume in places where it needs to be instead of in the wrong hands.
2.) Check the links
Many of these scams work by “spoofing” a legitimate job posting. You’ll see an email saying that X company has reviewed your resume and thinks you would be a good fit for this position. The email will contain a link to something designed to look like a legitimate job posting on a big job board like Monster or Indeed.
Checking to see where links are really going is a hassle, but a quick mouse-over the link will show you the URL. If you don’t recognize the domain (the first part after the http:// and before the .com or .org), don’t click the link. Report the email as the scam attempt it is.
3.) Watch for keywords
“Repackaging” or “reboxing” are common keywords in these scams. For money-laundering, scammers often refer to the work they are proposing as “payment processing” or “wire transfer assistance.” It’s worth taking a moment to think about what you’d be doing. No legitimate business would need a personal checking account to move money around. If they’re a business that can pay for your services, they have a checking account. Similarly, they have an address and postal services.
If an employer is seeking your personal information before they’ve hired you, they’re not a potential employer. They’re crooks trying to steal your identity. It’s as simple as that.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare, made a lot of changes to the tax system. This last year, people saw the healthcare side of the bill, including the healthcare exchange marketplace, pricing rules and simplified plans. This year, the funding side of the act goes into effect.
2.) Deal with new forms
There’s a very short list of things that really haven’t changed in the past 50 years: apple pie, your fourth-grade teacher’s fashion sense and paper checks. Despite the advances that have been made in financial technology, paper checks are really about the same instruments they always have been. In a digital world, they’re increasingly expensive, cumbersome and insecure.
While larger companies have been using an all-electronic system for paying their employees for years, many smaller employers already have or are moving to direct deposit of your net pay as well. Direct deposit transmits your paycheck from your employer’s business account directly into your checking, savings or pre-paid account(s). You still get a pay stub or an electronic equivalent from your employer that lists the amount of the transfer along with any deductions, like taxes, health care or retirement.
What you won’t have to do is hold on to that check until you can find time to get to a branch. Payroll deposits clear instantaneously, which means the money is generally available in your account the same day.
Direct deposit really is the way of the future. Many large employers and some benefit providers require it, and it’s easy to see why. Let’s look at three reasons why direct deposit is right for you.
Think like a criminal for a second. A paycheck is the largest check most people see on a regular basis. This makes it a tempting target for theft. Think about how your employer would react to someone picking up your paycheck for you. Someone could pretend to be a spouse, babysitter or friend doing you a “favor.”
Believe it or not, the process of payroll is incredibly complicated for companies. Many of them hire outside firms at great expense to ensure they’re accurately paying their employees in compliance with various state and federal regulations. One of the costs involved in payroll production is the printing of checks. Paper checks must be printed, signed and recorded, all of which requires labor.
These savings may seem insignificant, but they add up quickly. Your employer spending less money on payroll means more money to pay you. Whether those cost savings result in a lower-priced product, more investment in the business or higher wages, you benefit. When your employer comes out ahead, so do you.
Obviously, direct deposit saves you an errand every pay period. The stress of fighting rush-hour traffic to make it to a branch office before closing time on payday is considerable. There’s also no need to worry if you got your paycheck deposited in time for same-day processing. Say goodbye to account guessing games.
Beyond the obvious conveniences, direct deposit opens up a slew of other possibilities. You can more easily automate your savings by depositing a portion of each payroll into a savings account and the rest into your checking. You can pay bills more easily online since you get confirmation your funds are available. You may also be able to secure lower fees or a higher interest rate on your checking account!
Paperless payroll saves trees, it saves time and it saves frustration. It does all of this while being safer, faster, and more secure. If you’re unsure about your direct deposit options, stop by or call Destinations Credit Union. Our helpful representatives can get you the information you need to set up direct deposit and can even help you organize your deposits to meet your financial goals.
Call, click, or stop by Destinations Credit Union today! If you are getting a tax refund, make sure you designate Destinations Credit Union to receive your refund via electronic deposit!