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Better Business Bureau: New TikTok scams target minors : Augusta Free Press

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better business bureauPopular social media platforms deal with thousands of scammers that use their sites and apps to hawk fake diet pills, get-rich-quick, and multi-level marketing schemes, and even phony adult dating sites designed to part people from their money.

Now, TikTok is experiencing that same influx of scammers.

Better Business Bureau Serving Western Virginia warns consumers of scammers using TikTok targeting minors with new sophisticated schemes.

According to a recent report by cybersecurity firm Tenable, scammers have been lurking on the platform using TikTok’s advertising since its inception. But with its meteoric rise in popularity in February, a new wave of cons has plagued the social platform. And with a third of its users aged 14 and younger, it’s a perfect opportunity for scammers to exploit minors.

In its social platform infancy, scammers were already reaping the benefits of creating fake profiles to trick unsuspecting TikTok users into signing up for adult dating websites or pay for fraudulent “premium” Snapchat accounts.

Some common swindles early on TikTok were:

  • Buy Likes & Followers – Increasing likes and followers to raise the popularity of a profile.
  • Adult-dating & Impersonation – Gaming the cost-per-action networks of adult dating websites that pay for qualified leads.
  • Award Money for App Installs – Taking advantage of cost-per-install networks that offer monetary rewards to users who drive other users to install apps.

“These social scammers have matured their deceptive ploys and use TikTok’s #ForYou page as their central hub for selling fake mobile apps, quick cash offers, fake celebrity endorsements of diet pills, overpriced drop-shipped goods, bogus gift cards, college tuition assistance scams, and more,” says Julie Wheeler, President, and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia.

new study by digital safety app maker Qusodio on kids’ app usage and habits indicates children four to 14 in the United States, United Kingdom, and Spain now spend an average of 80 minutes per day using the app, putting it on par with YouTube. An April report from SensorTower, a mobile app market intelligence firm, found that TikTok has surpassed two billion downloads globally this year and one-third of the apps 100 million monthly users are under the age of 14.

“With the number of scams and social platform usage skyrocketing, parents should be aware of the likelihood of their kids being targeted by scammers,” says Wheeler. “These younger users likely don’t have disposable income and could be more susceptible to ads encouraging them to make easy money.”

Recent reports also investigated an advertising app called iMoney, which claims to pay users out for completing simple internet tasks like downloading other apps, playing games, or even spending money on an Amazon item and leaving a review. The app advertising on TikTok often disguises itself up to five different apps on the App Store in hopes to increase the exposure rate of these social schemes to young users. The app also requires users to download a certificate on to their phone or provide driver’s licenses or other ID to cash out, all of which is against Apple’s terms of service. On average, users only earn around 23 cents per task if they even ever get paid. Many users have complained about being unable to collect what little they’ve made.

Just as advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has created a niche for digital marketing, TikTok’s advertising platform has enabled advertisers to target its 800 million monthly active users — and scammers are rushing to take advantage of the platform’s scope and reach. The number of users combined that with the susceptibility rate of minors and scammers see huge potential for financial gain with new #ForYou ad schemes. TikTok, which is currently owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, has not responded to requests for their advertising standards including the target audience or what can be advertised on their social platform.

Four Types of TikTok Advertisement Scams

  1. Easy money offers.These offers claim to help users earn money by downloading applications that are either deceiving or questionable in nature, including a series of iMoney applications. These ads are problematic because they promote fake apps, lure users into potential pyramid schemes, request personally identifiable information such as driver’s licenses, and, in extreme cases, encourage users to install mobile device management (MDM) tools, which could potentially compromise their devices.
  2. “Free” offers that come with a price.These scams offer everything from free diet pills and “performance enhancers” to video games, headsets, and gift cards. They are problematic because they use fake celebrity endorsements and fake news articles to dupe users into providing credit card details in exchange for “free” goods, subjecting unsuspecting users to recurring subscription fees or other types of unreimbursed charges.
  3. Dropshipping schemes involving price gouging and questionable goods.These ad scams typically are used to promote questionable or extremely overpriced goods offered by dropshipping. While dropshipping itself isn’t necessarily a scam, these offers are problematic when they involve price gouging, counterfeit or questionable goods, or duping buyers into paying for goods they never receive.
  4. Dishonest credit repair and tuition assistance offers.These ad scams prey on those who may be in dire financial straits by promising to repair credit card history or by promoting online classes to access financial aid that they could apply for directly on their own. In many cases, these ads are merely a ruse to entice users to pay for bogus services or share their personally identifiable information.

Report A Scam

Users can report abuse, spam, or inappropriate content that doesn’t follow TikTok Community Guidelines.

 



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Nearly 1 in 3 Americans Struggle to Fill Out FAFSA, Debt.com Survey Finds

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A new Debt.com survey reveals that almost one in three Americans who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) struggle doing so. 

The biggest challenge, 44 percent said, was not knowing all the financial information FAFSA asked for. The second-biggest challenge was not having any help filling it out, 28 percent said. 

The majority of student loans are federal loans, which means filling out FAFSA is how most students can afford college. Debt.com chairman and CPA Howard Dvorkin says because FAFSA is so important, you should go into it prepared. With the FAFSA deadline on June 30, that should be sooner than later.

“FAFSA doesn’t just offer you loans, it offers you grants and other amounts you don’t have to pay back,” Dvorkin says. “If you go into it without all the information you need, you could be leaving free money on the table.” 

Some of the other findings include: 

  • 89 percent said they thought their child or themselves qualified for financial aid, but only 68 percent actually qualified.
  • Other challenges people faced while filling out FAFSA were receiving an error message (18 percent), not creating an FSA ID beforehand (7 percent) and not knowing the deadline (3 percent).
  • 34 percent said they felt the Pell grant would involve taking on more debt.

One in three people struggling to fill out FAFSA is too many, Dvorkin says. “FAFSA is too important to leave until the last minute or not use any resources for help,” he says. “Fill it out early so you can identify the issues you’re having and solve them quickly. You might end up in even more debt if you don’t.”

ABOUT: Debt.com is the consumer website where people can find help with credit card debt, student loan debt, tax debt, credit repair, bankruptcy, and more. Debt.com works with vetted and certified providers that give the best advice and solutions for consumers ‘when life happens.’

SOURCE Debt.com

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Deceiving Discount Insurance Plans, Credit Repair Scams – The Bee -The buzz in Bullhead City – Lake Havasu City – Kingman – Arizona – California

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Attorney General Ford Warns Nevadans About
Deceiving Discount Insurance Plans, Credit Repair Scams

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford, in partnership with the Nevada Division of Insurance, encouraged Nevadans to stay vigilant as scammers attempt to take advantage of struggling individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of the latest pandemic scams include the deceptive discount insurance plans and credit repair scams.

Deceptive Discount Insurance Plans:

With the American Rescue Plan Act, Nevadans have through August 15th, 2021 to enroll in or change their health plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace known as Nevada Health Link, because of the COVID-19 emergency. Nevadans shopping for a new plan should be aware that deceptive telemarketers and websites have been advertising discount medical and short-term plans falsely claiming that they are Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant.

Entities are reaching out to consumers via robocalls, telemarketing, or through misleading websites that appear legitimate and may have similar names to legitimate insurance companies.

“When shopping for insurance, stick to the Nevada Health Link website as your first stop,” said Attorney General Aaron D. Ford. “These fake websites are intentionally confusing, leaving consumers who fall for them with unpaid medical bills.” “Limited health benefit plans serve a purpose but are not meant for long term use and have gaps in coverage because they are not designed to be comprehensive health insurance, whereas ACA compliant plans are,” explained Insurance Commissioner Barbara Richardson. “Be vigilant, understand the policy you are buying, and reach out to
the Division if you have questions.”

If you receive an unsolicited call from a health insurance company, do not provide any personal information over the phone. Consumers are encouraged to research the difference between limited benefit plans, ACA compliant plans and other types of plans by visiting http://insurance101.nv.gov/. The website also lists all of the companies in Nevada that are licensed to sell plans and tips on shopping for insurance.

To verify that an individual, agency, or company is licensed with the Division of Insurance, visit the Division’s website. The State of Nevada Division of Insurance regulates Nevada’s insurance industry.

Credit Repair Companies

As Nevadans start to emerge after a difficult year, many consumers may be looking for a fresh start on their credit. Credit repair companies offer the chance to get your credit back on track, but Nevadans should be aware that some of these companies may not be entirely legitimate. “If you are unhappy with your credit, you can take steps to repair it on your own,” said Attorney General Aaron D. Ford. “If you would prefer to pay someone to set up a
repayment plan for you, be on the lookout for misleading companies that may be trying to get your personal information.”

If you want to hire a credit repair company, the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection offers the following tips for spotting a scam. Be alert if a company:
• Asks you to pay all fees up front before it does any work on your behalf. Some companies may charge a one-time fee ranging from $15-$200 to set up the account. However, no credit repair organization may charge a consumer any money before the service is fully performed;
• Instructs you to dispute information on your credit report that you know is accurate. With your legal consent, the company may challenge and clean up any inaccurate items with the three major credit bureaus or directly with the creditors. If a company tells you to say you have been the victim of identity theft when you have not, this is illegal;
• Promises to remove all negative information from your credit report. Credit repair takes time and not every negative item can be removed; and
• Doesn’t explain your legal rights when they tell you about their services. Legitimate credit repair companies should include a copy of the Consumer Credit File Rights. Additionally, you have the right to cancel any services without incurring any penalties within three business days.

Under the CARES Act, you can obtain an extension and a forbearance on some types of loans for up to 180 days. These protections are valid until June 30, 2021. Homeowners with federally backed loans may be able to apply for mortgage forbearance. Federal student loans are eligible for suspensions of payments and defaults, and interest rates are set to zero, until September 30, 2021.

If you have been victimized by any crime related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please file a complaint about your experience to the Attorney General’s Office and the National Center for Disaster (NCDF) hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or by e-mailing the NCFD at [email protected]

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Refinancing a Vehicle With a Cosigner

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The good news is that you don’t need your cosigner’s permission to refinance your car. Things can get tricky if your credit score isn’t good enough to qualify for refinancing, though. We’re covering typical refinancing requirements you may need to meet, and how refinancing impacts your cosigner.

Can My Cosigner Stop Me From Refinancing?

Refinancing a Car With a CosignerCosigners are useful for borrowers with poor credit. They can help you get into a car loan if your credit score isn’t good enough for an auto lender’s requirements. And, even better – the cosigner has no say in what you can or can’t do with your vehicle.

If you decide to refinance your vehicle or sell the car, you can do either without needing your cosigner’s permission. They have no rights to the vehicle since their name isn’t listed on the title. You don’t need to bring them to meet the refinancing lender when you apply for refinancing, either.

Refinancing is when you replace an auto loan on the same vehicle. The refinancing lender pays off the original loan, and once that’s paid off, your cosigner no longer has any obligation to the loan because it’s completed!

The only issue you may run into refinancing a car that you needed a cosigner to originally qualify for, is qualifying for refinancing by yourself.

Refinancing With Poor Credit

Borrowers typically need a cosigner when their credit score isn’t great. A cosigner lends you their good credit score to meet the loan qualifications. Just like auto financing, refinancing typically comes with requirements.

Here are some typical refinancing requirements:

  • You’ve had the auto loan for at least one year
  • You’ve stayed current on the car loan
  • The vehicle is under 10 years old with less than 100,000 miles
  • Your car has equity (vehicle’s value is higher than the loan balance)
  • Your credit score is good or has improved

Lenders may only consider you for refinancing if your credit situation has improved since the start of your auto loan. Recent, serious delinquencies can get in the way of refinancing, but if your credit score has been on the rise, the odds may be in your favor.

If you’ve been maintaining a good payment history on your car loan and keeping up with the rest of your bills, you may have a higher credit score now. Installment loans such as car loans can be great avenues for credit repair if you make all the payments on time.

Lender requirements vary, of course, but those are pretty common. If you’re feeling confident in your ability to qualify for refinancing, then check with our trusted partner for more information.

Refinancing Not an Option?

If you’ve missed a few payments on your car loan or your credit score still isn’t great, then you may struggle to qualify for refinancing. If your goal with refinancing was to remove the cosigner, selling the vehicle can accomplish this, too.

Remember that cosigners can’t stop you from selling the car (although it may be more polite to tell them if you do!). If you manage to sell the vehicle and completely pay off the lender, then you and the cosigner are both off the hook. But, if you need another car after the sale and you want to go it alone, pursuing a subprime auto loan may be for you.

Subprime car loans are for borrowers with less than perfect credit. Many borrowers with bad credit are eligible for vehicle financing without the help of a cosigner if they can meet the requirements. Finding a subprime auto loan can be tough if you don’t know where to look, but we want to help with that!

Here at Auto Credit Express, we’ve created a coast-to-coast network of special finance dealerships that are signed up with subprime lenders. Once you complete our auto loan request form, we’ll look for a dealer in your local area for free with no obligation. Get started on your path to a car loan today!

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