Category: Finance (Page 1 of 3)

Finding the Best Prices on Video Games

Back as the pandemic began, I blogged about CheapShark, a great site for finding your best prices on video games. But since then, other similar sites have been launched. If you’re a frequent gamer, there are a lot of ways for you to save money on your hobby/habit!

GGDeals is the first I should mention, because it may match what CheapShark does. And GGDeals covers a different range of game vendors, so you may want to review both in turn to find your best deals.

PsPrices is more for console game players. Here you can find game pricing tools for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft game systems, as well as the Epic Store and Apple App Store.

DekuDeals is for Nintendo Switch games only. But you may find it more pleasant to find your deals here than by combing through the Nintendo Store.

And there are plenty more niche sites that will help you save money on hard-to-find games or bundle purchases, as well as review pricing history for the games you want. Some runner-up mentions are:

GOG

Fanatical

IsThereAnyDEAL

DLCompare

FreeAirPump.com

This website helps you find places that don’t charge to use their automobile air pump. FreeAirPump.com gives you a map of locations near you (or a specific address or zip code) where you can fill your tires for free.

This site is powered by user-submitted info. If you know of a store offering free use of an air pump, and it isn’t shown on the FreeAirPump map, make sure to send it in!

Disposal of Metal Credit Cards

I hope it goes without saying that when your credit card expires, or when you close the cc account, you need to properly dispose of the credit card. You cannot let that card fall into the wrong hands. And most of the time, it’s easy! Simply throw the defunct plastic card into a shredder and you’re done. Or cut it up carefully with scissors and recycle it.

But some banks are fashioning their credit cards out of metal. You’ll know if you have a metal credit card, as it feels noticeably heavier, and you won’t be able to fold it in half or cut it with regular blades. And if you throw a metal card into an average household shredder, the shredder will be ruined.

So please know: to get rid of a metal payment card, contact the issuing bank. Ask your bank for a Disposal Envelope, so that you can mail the card back to them. they will destroy the card for you, at no cost.

Alternatively, you can break out the tin snips, but returning the card using the USPS is the safest method, I think!

The Hybrid Paypal Scam

I’ve seen plenty of Paypal-related scams, but this one is the slickest I’ve encountered to date. Pay attention and don’t be fooled if this shows up on your doorstep:

The Scam Arrives

You’ll see this scam arrive either in your inbox as an email, or in your Paypal account as a transaction under Activity.

Email example
from the real Paypal website!

Are you a believer yet? I wouldn’t blame you, because this is not your typical fake-email. This is an authentic Paypal email, and it takes you to the true Paypal website to view a real Paypal invoice! Nothing has been spoofed or faked here. The Paypal invoice can even be downloaded as a PDF from their website. The only lie is what’s shown in the Seller’s Notes field.

What is truly afoot here is that someone’s Paypal account has been stolen and is being used to send payment requests. Paypal calls them “invoices”, and that terminology only serves to make the scam look even more important.

The Two-Fold Danger

You’re at risk from two different directions with this scam. Make sure you don’t get taken by either of these:

  1. The cybercriminal is trying to trick you into paying the bill with a quick click.
  2. The crook wants you to object to the bill and call the phone number listed in the Seller Notes.

For anyone moving too quickly and not thinking enough, #1 quickly puts $500 in the thieves’ pocket. The money will be transferred into gift cards or other untraceable ratholes, and the victim will have a hard time clawing that money back.

#2 leads to a typical remote support scam. If you call the number, you’ll talk to a scammer who will seek to remotely access your computer, steal your money and possibly bork your PC.

In short: do NOT pay this bill, and do NOT call the listed phone number.

What To Do With This Hybrid Scam

First, be very careful as you deal with this. Make sure to avoid any “Pay Invoice” button. It’s safe to view the invoice and other screens in your Paypal account, but you must not accidentally pay the scammer.

Next, much like with an accidental payment scam, you can simply ignore the invoice. Nothing bad will happen if you simply do nothing with this Paypal item. It will sit there inert, until some day when Paypal catches up and removes it.

Alternatively, you can cancel the invoice. Sign into your account at Paypal.com, click on Activity, and select the scam invoice. Right below the blue Pay button, you may safely click on “Cancel Invoice”.

Click Cancel, do not Pay!

Lastly, you may reach out to Paypal support, if you want them to know about the scam attempt. Once you’re logged in at Paypal.com, scroll to the bottom of the site and look for the Contact link. Click it and make use of the Call Us or Message Us options to reach out to them.

The Facebook Internet Tracking Settlement

If you’ve received an email or news about the Facebook Internet Tracking Settlement, please know that it is legitimate & true.

You may trust in the following and take part in the proceedings, to get your piece of the settlement:

The Lawsuit

Facebook is accused of collecting user data through outside websites, and selling it to advertisers. They allegedly did this through those Facebook Like buttons that used to appear all over the web. In doing so, Facebook may have violated privacy laws and unjustly profited from all of us.

Facebook is admitting no guilt in the matter, but they are settling. In order to put this matter to bed, they are agreeing to a $90 Million settlement. It’s somewhat of a speeding ticket to a company worth $538 Billion, but so it goes…

How to Participate

You can get your share of that settlement, as long as you qualify. Consider yourself qualified if you:

  • Had a Facebook account between 4/22/2010 and 9/26/2011
  • Visited non-Facebook websites that displayed the Facebook Like button.

Don’t remember if that was the case? Those Like buttons were everywhere back then, so it is very likely you encountered them, while reading the news or checking out personal blogs or shopping online.

Here’s the website to sign up, just scroll down to the SUBMIT A CLAIM section and use the Submit Online link to get started.

Final Commentary

I notice that the Online Claim page may not load in the presence of an ad-blocker. I guess they are tracking who visits that page! If you can’t get it to load, try disabling your ad-blocker. Or, you can right-click the link and open the page in Incognito/InPrivate mode. That should bypass any adblocker woes.

And after all of that reading & signing up & waiting… you might get a dollar or two. Sorry, but the lawyers are going to take a big bite out of that $90M before it trickles down to us. There are 240 million Facebook users in the USA. It all comes down to how many people hear about this and sign up, I suppose.

Zelle and Its Use in Scams

If you’ve been paying attention, you might be familiar with how gift cards are used in scams. Money loaded onto gift cards is hard to trace and even harder to get back after a cybercriminal has obtained the card info. So, now that you know that gift cards are a red flag for scams, please also consider Zelle requests as similar red flags.

What Is Zelle?

Zelle is a payment network and service that is free for all to use. It works with virtually any US bank account, allowing you to instantly send money to someone else. If your bank offers Zelle services, then you can use it to send money to a friend or family, simply by using their phone number or email address. It’s fast and easy!

The Devil’s in the Details

Zelle is intended for lightning-fast money-transmission, but because the dollars move so fast, it is side-stepping a lot of the security checks present in other financial transactions. Once you Zelle some cash to someone, it is gone from your account, in mere minutes! This is great if you’re paying back your friend for lunch, or sending a cash gift to mom for Mother’s Day. It’s really lousy if it happens while a scammer has you in his/her thrall.

This is why scammers try to convince their victims to use Zelle. If their story is good enough to trick you into Zelling them some money, it’s instantly theirs. And if you initiated the transaction, there is little chance of you getting it back.

Zelle May Be Getting Safer

Zelle was created by all the big banks we know in this country. So it has been a bit surprising that they wouldn’t help much, after crime occurs over their Zelle network. Consumer advocates state that Zelle has no fraud protections in place for its transactions. But in some rare cases, some banks are starting to replace funds lost in Zelle-based schemes. And some other banks are starting to limit how much money they allow to pass through Zelle, or putting a small wait-time on when new Zelle accounts can be used.

Treat It Like Cash

Still, the burden of responsibility lay on you. Zelle is similar to Venmo and Cash App, in that it seeks to be a cash-replacement. That means you should think of it and treat it as you would a fistful of dollars.

You can dispute a credit card transaction. You can put a stop-payment on a check. But you can’t get those dollar bills back after you’ve handed them off. Be aware, and only use Zelle with known, trusted people!

If someone is calling you and pressuring you to satisfy a bill or make a payment with Zelle, reframe the situation in your mind: This character is essentially asking me for cash right now. Is this how a legitimate company is supposed to act? The answer is usually NO, and you should shut that scam down!

Finding the Best Gas Prices

Here are various ways to use technology to find your best price on gasoline:

Dedicated Gas Search Tools

GasBuddy may be the best-known fuel-savings company, and boy howdy have they added lots of options and gimmicks to their site. You can skip all the hoopla, and just use their search tool or app, if you like.

Gas Guru is another search tool, only available as an app. The Yellow Pages is behind this tool and you can download the Android app here and the iOS app here.

GetUpside is a modified search app, that also grants you gas rebates (money back!) at select stations. So if you’re willing to go where GetUpside recommends to fill up, you can get some cash credited back to you.

GPS & Mapping Services

Mapquest is surprisingly convenient for eyeballing gas prices. Use it to view any map, and use the Gas button in the upper-left corner. Gas stations and gas prices will jump up off the page!

The Waze app (Android, iOS) is very quick to use to see local gas prices. Tap the Where To? field, and then tap Gas Stations. You now have a list of all the gas prices local to you.

Other Websites

Autoblog offers a no-nonsense gas price search tool.

Geico Insurance has a handy and uncluttered page for searching out gas prices.


If you have any other amazing ways to suss out the best fuel prices, please leave a comment or shoot me an email with your suggestions, thank you!

Quickbooks Desktop Tool Hub

If your Quickbooks desktop software develops a problem, chances are this free download can help. Quickbooks has created the Tool Hub program to automagically fix common glitches in their software.

For example, if you cannot make a PDF invoice, or if your networked computer stopped sharing the company file: the Desktop Tool hub can fix it! To learn more, check out their Help Article about it and use the download link under Step 1 to install it on your computer.

Note: This is just for their desktop software. If you’re using Quickbooks Online, the Tool Hub does not apply. You should take any problems with Quickbooks Online to their support team, by clicking Help in the upper-right corner of the QB Online website.

Contactless Payments

You’ve probably seen people paying with their phones or watches, instead of using cards or cash. This type of payment is called a “contactless payment”. But despite the boring name, this is a great convenience and security upgrade that I think more people should try.

The Basics

To make a contactless payment, you generally need a smartphone that features NFC. (Smartwatches and tablets may also allow for this!) On your phone, you’ll need to choose and install your contactless payment app. You have 3 choices:

Once you’ve chosen and installed your app, you’ll need to add at least one of your payment card’s info. Many cards are accepted into these apps, but there are some exceptions. If you find your credit card isn’t compatible with contactless payment apps, you can use a different card or talk to the card issuer for other options.

With a card accepted into your Pay app, you are ready to use it at any stores offering contactless payments. Keep an eye out for the universal symbol on storefront doors, windows and payment terminals to know where contactless payments are accepted.

The Security Benefit

I understand that some folks dismiss contactless payments as just a convenience item. “I don’t mind taking a card out of my pocket to pay!” is a common remark. But these Contactless Payments apps protect your account information in a significant way.

When you enroll a payment card into one of these Pay apps, your account number is not stored on your phone. The app builds a secure relationship with your bank, and every time you wave your phone at a reader to make a payment, a unique account number is created for that purchase only. That one-time number makes the transaction go through, and then can never be used again.

The benefit to this is that your true card number is never out in the wild. Criminals have all kinds of tactics for learning your card information, so they can place fraudulent charges. Contactless payment apps defeat a lot of them:

  • If you use Android Pay at a compromised gas pump, the hidden credit card skimmer captures a useless number from you.
  • Let’s say you use Apple Pay at the grocery store, and their servers are hacked the following week. The criminals may get other people’s credit card information, but not yours.
  • If you’re on public Wi-Fi and need to buy something over the internet, using Google Pay or Apple Pay (through your computer) would prevent your true card number from being seen in transmission.

It is true that bank cards in your wallet could still be skimmed and stolen, wirelessly. To help prevent that, I can recommend you also use a RFID-blocking wallet. You can find them as low as $20 on Amazon!

Some Cautions

If you use Contactless Payments, you’ll have to have a screen-lock on your phone. Because otherwise, someone could steal your phone and start buying things with it! As you set up a contactless payment app, it will check and tell you if your phone’s security needs to be improved.

Contactless Payments are not universally accepted (yet). Some stores may not accept them, because it requires newer card-reading equipment, or because it would increase their card-processing fees. But over time, this technology should become more and more widely adopted. Just keep an eye out for the payment symbols:

Microsoft Money

Many years ago, Microsoft Money was a common software program used for personal finances. Then Microsoft discontinued that software, and Quicken & Quickbooks became the mainstays of personal financial software. But to this day, I still encounter Microsoft Money loyalists.

If you’ve stuck with Microsoft Money all this time, then you need to know: Microsoft Money is still available. For free! When Microsoft stopped selling MS Money in 2010, they also released it as a zero-cost, no-activation download. They renamed it Money Plus Sunset Deluxe, and it continued to work with everyone’s old Money files. Best of all, it installs and works just fine on Windows 10!

However, I’ve just noticed that Microsoft removed all of their MPSD downloads. And when I search the internets, many of the other download-websites out there are bundling Microsoft Money with malware. Yikes!

If you’re looking to load Microsoft Money Sunset, I don’t want you running afoul of viruses! So I’ll host a clean copy of this software in my cloud storage, in case you ever need to use it. Feel free to use the link below to get a clean & safe installer for Microsoft Money:

Microsoft Money Sunset Deluxe

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