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TikTok ads have pushed scams about apps, diet pills, other products, report says




TikTok has more than 689 million monthly active users worldwide. 

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

Scammers are purchasing ads on TikTok, the popular short-video app, to promote fake mobile apps, diet pills and other bogus products and services, according to a report released by cybersecurity company Tenable on Thursday.

The findings highlight the challenges facing TikTok as companies such as Microsoft, Walmart and Oracle consider purchasing a stake in the app, which could be banned in the US this month if its Chinese parent company ByteDance doesn’t sell its US operations. The Trump administration recently issued two executive orders targeting TikTok, citing concerns that the app could be used by the Chinese government to spy on US government employees. TikTok has filed a lawsuit challenging the administration’s upcoming ban and says it wouldn’t send US user data to the Chinese government even if it were asked to do so. 

“TikTok truly is the Wild West of social media,” wrote Tenable research engineer Satnam Narang in the nearly 50-page report on TikTok scams. “The platform raises myriad concerns for a prospective US owner.” 

TikTok said it removed the ads identified in the report after Tenable shared their findings. 

“TikTok has strict policies to protect users from fake, fraudulent, or misleading content, including ads. Advertiser accounts and ad content are held to these policies and must follow our Community Guidelines, Advertising Guidelines, and Terms of Service,” a spokeswoman for TikTok said in a statement. The spokeswoman didn’t say how many people viewed these ads, but she said the company has “measures in place to detect and remove fraudulent ads.”

Narang outlined several different types of TikTok scams that appeared in ads that were featured on the front page of the app, which is called “For You.” The page features videos based on a user’s interests and activity on the app. 

In one ad, scammers claim users can earn “$433 Per Day Playing Games.” When users click on this ad, they’re redirected to the Apple App Store where they are asked to download an app that’s really masquerading as another app. For example, an app called Super Expense is an app called iMoney, the report stated. Other apps used to conceal iMoney include DaysTaker, CanEnrich, OlMoneing and Minemalist part-time. To earn money, users are asked to download apps and leave them open for three minutes or complete other tasks such as leaving positive reviews for Amazon products. Some users have complained they haven’t received any money for completing the tasks. Users were also asked to provide personal information such as a photo of their driver’s license on the iMoney app. 

“We speculate that when users perform one of these tasks, they are lining the pockets of the iMoney developers, who are using what’s called an offerwall to promote various apps and are paid an undisclosed sum of money in exchange for getting users to install these apps,” according to the report.

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In other TikTok ads, scammers used fake news articles that falsely claimed to be from CNN and Fox News to make it seem as if celebrities are promoting certain diet pills. Users are asked to provide their address and payment information to receive a “free” bottle of diet pills. Once they hand over this information, they’re enrolled in a trial program that costs $90 if they don’t cancel within 14 days. Scammers also earn money every time a user takes an action resulting from their marketing.

Scammers have also used TikTok ads to dupe people into buying knock-off or overpriced goods or signing up for questionable credit repair and tuition assistance services, according to the report. In some cases, users complained online that they received the incorrect item after ordering a product they saw featured in a TikTok ad.

This isn’t the first time Tenable has spotted scams on TikTok. Last year, the same researcher found scams on the short-form video app that involved directing users to adult dating sites, impersonating popular users and boosting likes and followers. A TikTok spokeswoman at the time said they pulled down the accounts referenced in the report.

“TikTok users would do well to be skeptical of many of the advertisements on the platform, because at the end of the day, they’re not always what they appear to be,” Narang wrote in the latest report. Scammers have also used other social networks including Facebook and its photo service Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to trick users.

As of July, TikTok has more than 689 million monthly active users worldwide.

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If you need a co-signer, you’re not ready | Business



My fiancée and I want to make an offer on a house. She has a lot of late payments and a bad credit record, though, but she is working hard to manage her money better and get out of debt. I don’t make enough money to get a home loan by myself, and I have some debt to pay off, too. In order to help us out, my aunt and uncle said they are willing to co-sign a mortgage loan for us. What do you think of that idea?

Here’s a simple, solid piece of advice for anyone looking to make a purchase of any kind. If you need a co-signer, you’re not ready to make that purchase—period. I’m not trying to beat you up or anything, but it’s way too soon for you two to be thinking about buying a home. I mean, for starters you’re just engaged right now.

When a lender requires a co-signer, it basically means they don’t believe you’ll pay back the money. And besides, you two don’t need a house now or right after you get married. The two of you should get married, and live in a decent, inexpensive apartment for a while. During that time, you both need to work hard on paying off all your debt. After that, save up an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Then, start setting aside cash for a down payment on a modest home.

When it comes time to buy a home, I recommend a 15-year, fixed rate loan with a down payment of at least 10%. Twenty% is better, because it will help you avoid having to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance). Make sure the monthly payments on the loan are no more than 25% of your combined take home pay. Keeping the payments at 25% or below will make it easier to address other important financial issues, like saving and investing.

Your aunt and uncle are obviously generous people, Evan, but they’re a little misguided in their offer. At this point, helping you two buy a house — something you obviously can’t afford —would be a huge burden instead of a blessing.

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 11 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations and digital outlets. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 11 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations and digital outlets. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at


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Dave says: If you need a cosigner, you're not ready – Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal



Dave says: If you need a cosigner, you’re not ready  Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

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How to improve your credit score in 2021: Easy and effective tips



If you’ve ever wondered “What is my credit score?” it’s probably time to find out. Having a good credit score can make life a lot more affordable. If you’re about to buy a house or car, for example, the higher your credit score is, the lower your interest rate (and therefore, monthly cost) will probably be.

Your number may also be the deciding factor for whether or not you can get a loan and ultimately determine if you are even able to buy something you want or need.

So, yes, the goal is to have the highest possible credit score you can, but increasing the number doesn’t just happen overnight. There are important steps to take if you want to increase your score, and the sooner you start working on it, the better.

“If you’re trying to increase (your credit score) substantially to accomplish a goal, you’re really going to have to have as much lead time as possible,” said Thomas Nitzsche, director of media and brand at Money Management International, a nonprofit financial counseling and education provider that advises people on how to legally and ethically improve their credit score on their own.

If you have fair credit and you’re trying to improve the number for a house purchase, for instance, you’ll want to start working on it at least a year in advance, he explained to TMRW.

But even though that sounds like a long time away, you can (and should!) start doing things right now to bump that number up. Below, see seven things you should do — and not do — to help improve your credit score:

1. Review your credit report

Review your credit report and look for errors that might be hurting your score. Morsa Images / Getty Images

The first thing you’ll want to do is pull up a copy of your current report so you know where you stand. You can get free reports from all three agencies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — at Nitzsche said it’s important to take a moment and understand the financial snapshot of where you are today and where you want to be.

You’ll also want to take some time and look for any errors on your report, which could negatively impact your score. “If your name is misspelled, that’s not going to hurt your score,” he explained. “But if you see a late payment or missed payment (that’s in error), or maybe you have an account that should be reporting but isn’t, then that’s a problem and that will impact your score.”

If there is an error, you should dispute it and try to provide as much proof as you can.

One other thing: You can also ask a creditor to remove an issue if it’s been corrected (i.e., if you paid off a collection debt). Nitzsche said it doesn’t hurt to ask and the worst thing they could say is no.

2. Have good financial habits

“The biggest part of your credit score is payment history, so the most critical thing is never missing a due date,” Nitzsche said. Set up a monthly autopay or add all due dates to your calendar so you never miss a bill.

You can also achieve a higher score when you mix different types of accounts on your credit report. It may seem counterintuitive to get extra points for having debt in the form of student loans, mortgages and auto loans, but as long as you’re paying them off responsibly, it shows that you’re reliable.

3. Aim to use 30% or less of your credit at any given time

Know your credit limit and aim to only use 30% or less of it for a better credit score.Tim Robberts / Getty Images

Know your credit card limit, and try not to use any more than 30% of that number each month, otherwise your score could lose points for too much credit utilization.

Another thing you can do is ask your bank to increase your limit. “That will give you more flexibility to spend more,” Nitzsche said. You could also pay it off twice a month to keep the balance low. But he does warn that you never know when the balance is going to be reported to the bureau. It can happen at any point during the month, so it might be the day after you make the payment or the day before. “You don’t necessarily want to use the card and pay it the next day because that doesn’t give the bureau the chance to know that you’re using it,” he said.

4. Avoid requests for new credit

If you’re looking to increase your score around the time you want to buy a house or car, you won’t want to open up a new line of credit, like a retail card, credit card or loan. That’s because “hard” credit inquiries like those can lower your score, and sometimes it comes down to a few points over whether you’re approved or what your rate will be, Nitzsche said.

“Soft” credit inquiries, like when an employer checks your credit or when you pull your own report, won’t affect your score.

5. Keep all accounts open, even ones you don’t use anymore

Even if you don’t use that credit card from college, it’s a good idea to just keep it open because closing it could hurt your score. Nitzsche explained that you’ll be dinged some points for each account that is closed. If you want or need to mentally break up with a card, just cut it up instead.

6. Build your credit if needed

If you haven’t established credit yet, you might not even exist … in the credit report space, that is! “If someone has never fallen in delinquency on any subscriptions or utilities or never had collections on anything and they have not utilized credit cards or loans in the past seven to 10 years, they may not have a credit profile at all,” Nitzsche said. “That presents a challenge when you want to buy a home.”

If this sounds familiar, you may have to get a secured credit card where you put down a deposit, he advised. “You still have to make payments and use it responsibly. Not all banks offer them but you can usually check with your local bank or credit union.”

7. Reach out for help

If you want personal guidance on boosting your credit score, make an appointment with a credit counselor.kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

There are many apps and credit-monitoring services that can help you stay on top of your credit score. You could also reach out to a professional credit counselor who can help you navigate your specific situation. (Here’s a good resource about finding a reputable service.)

One last thing: Nitzsche warned that everyone should beware of credit repair scams that claim to be able to increase credit scores for an advance fee to get accurate negative information removed (even temporarily) from credit reports.


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