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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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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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