August 19th, 2014

4 Work at Home Scam Emails

4 Work at Home Scam Emails

Once in a while, I like to take a glance through my spam emails and see what kind of work at home scam emails are running around. For the most part, they’re pretty obvious, but it’s nice to review what real scams look like. Let’s take a look. Asterisks indicate where I’ve removed information such as names, email addresses or URLs.

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Email #1: Mystery shopper needed

Please a mystery shopper needed in your region, you can earn up to
$150-200 per week. To learn more, contact M**** D***** at
(****************) with your full name to proceed.

Thank you,
Task Coordinator

——-

This one is a really basic mystery shopping scam. The poor grammar is one indicator, as is the lack of information. Job title and possible pay really isn’t a lot of information. Who’s the employer? They’re smart enough to start with only asking very basic information – your full name, but you can be certain it will proceed from there.

All these opportunities, of course have one major red flag in common – they’re unsolicited. Such basic work at home opportunities don’t need to send out emails – legitimate opportunities of that sort get plenty of applicants on their own – they don’t need to spam.

——–

Email #2: new job

Dear Candidate!

We offer the responsibility of the extra money earing for everyone who has USA citizenship.
If you are a student; on maternity leave; in retirement; not big salary or you just have a free time,then this work is for you!
The work takes about 1-2 hours every day, without any investment from your side, daily payment of worked bonuses,
and of course the career prospects in logistics blue chip company.

If you think of our offering – send your contact information on our e-mail address
viz. name and surname, country and place of residence, contact telephone number and e-mail address.

Our e-mail:**************

Yours faithfully, Recruitment Department

——–

As you can see poor grammar is common to these emails. Spelling may may be an issue too.

——–

Email #3: Job Offer

We have an open position in our team as a secret consumer and we are looking for qualified individuals to apply.
You can find more information about the position and what this job involves, also the registration form if you open the attachment file.

——-

This one was particularly sneaky, as it claimed to come from Career Builder. The “job information” was indeed an attachment, which I didn’t open as you should never open an attachment from an unsolicited email. That’s a great way to get a virus. The run-on sentences are another clue that this is a scam. There is nothing in this to indicate that it could possibly be legitimate.

——-

Email #4: Permanent Position – Work at your home

US based online service is searching for Postal Assistants. This opening requires no professional knowledge besides basic computer skills and capacity to handle mail and parcels.

Perfectly fit for stay at home moms, retirees and also business owners who stay in their private office during working hours.

Responsibilities:

- Sign for deliveries from major carriers at your location
- Repackage mail
- Inspect the packages
- Read and assign appropriate USPS labels
- Distribute letters and parcels to the nearest USPS branches
- Stay in contact with your support department through email, and phone
- In due course send results via website

What’s needed:

- A resident of the United States with postal address
- Must possess communication and computer skills
- Must be able to demonstrate self motivation and knowledge of mailing services
- Be able to lift up to 35 pounds
- Valid driver’s license and available vehicle

This is a full-time job with a wage of up to $2,000 after tax per month.

If you are interested in this opening, go ahead and reply directly to this e-mail better with your resume, and we will contact you as soon as possible.

——-

The repackaging scam has been going on for some time. Don’t fall for it.

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

August 4th, 2014

Persistence Pays Off

persistence pays off

One of the keys to success for any work at home mom or dad is persistence. You need it to find the right way to earn money, whether it’s a job or a business. You need it to work through all the distractions and frustrations. If you aren’t persistent, you probably aren’t going to make working at home work.

We had a fun reminder of that this past week. My kids were off with my sister and my mom. The day before they left, we had seen a pair of polydactyl (6-8 toes on the front paws) kittens at the shelter where we volunteer. The kids wanted them badly, which happens about every other week, but those times I’ve asked in the past, the landlord said no pets, unless they were outdoors only.

I decided to ask again while the kids were gone. I marshaled my arguments, especially on why we would not accept that the cats had to be outdoors only – we have a serious coyote problem here and know of at least 3 animals, probably pets, which have been killed by predators on our property. Outdoors only isn’t fair to the cats around here.

It finally paid off and the landlord agreed we could have the kittens. It was so much fun planning that kind of a surprise for the kids while they were gone. They even asked about about the kittens when we were driving home from my mom’s, and I was able to honestly say that I had checked on them at the shelter, and they were still there. Of course, they came home with me at that point, but I didn’t tell the kids that.

Sometimes working at home takes that kind of persistence. You seek out ways beyond the “no.” This kind of persistence can be overdone and annoying, of course – this was only our third attempt over the course of five years. If I had asked the landlord as often as the kids asked me, I think he would have been more annoyed than anything.

Persistence takes many forms beyond that, of course. A part of it is knowing what your goals are. It’s hard to get somewhere when you don’t know where you’re going. Don’t limit yourself strictly by dollar amounts, of course. You may need to earn a certain amount to make a living, but that’s probably not your only goal for your career. Choose goals that make it easier to be persistent.

You should also be persistent in any research you need to do for your work, whether it’s research about a potential employer or about the kind of business you’re running, or how to better market a home business.

There will be times when it’s harder to be persistent – no matter how much you love your work in general, sometimes motivation wears down. Still, you have to find your way to keep working toward your goals, even when it’s difficult. Giving up is the one sure way for something not to work.

And if anyone is wondering, the kittens are River Song and Melody Pond. Got some fair Whovians here.

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

July 30th, 2014

Are Your Passwords Strong Enough?

Are Your Passwords Strong Enough?

When you work at home, online security should be a big deal to you. Your professional life can be badly damaged if your major accounts get hacked. Too many people use really easy passwords, or worse, use them over and over on a variety of sites, leaving themselves vulnerable on many sites if just one gets hacked. Having strong passwords for important accounts is vital.

There are a couple ways to go about creating strong passwords, and they don’t have to involve a lot of complicated rules. Some websites make strong passwords more difficult than others to make, often by limiting the number of characters to a number too small to provide true security. 8 characters, even if mixed in with numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and special characters, really isn’t all that secure.

Here are some ways you can create strong passwords for most sites without making your own life too difficult.

Use a Password Manager

I use LastPass for my passwords. It’s pretty secure – you have to use your master password to get into your account. There’s a simple browser addon to install, then it fills in your login data for various sites as you use them, once you’ve saved that data into LastPass. I find it really easy, and it works well with most websites. The basic level is free, but you can go to Premium if you want the mobile app or other features.

LastPass can generate those absurdly complex passwords for you, at whatever length you require. That’s really handy when you come across a site that limits the number of characters you must use. I keep them on the long side for most sites, only cutting it down when a website insists on something shorter. Banks in particular are often ridiculous about insisting on shorter passwords, which drives me up the wall!

LastPass encrypts your data, and it only decrypts locally on your computer, which keeps it safer. You can even add multifactor authentication so that just having your password is not enough for someone to get into your LastPass account.

The big thing people fear with a password manager is that it is a single point of failure. If something goes wrong with it, you have a big problem. I feel comfortable with how LastPass handles my data, so I don’t consider it to be a big problem.

Use a Passphrase

If you don’t want to use a password manager, a passphrase that you use is a good solution. You’ll still want to vary from site to site, but that’s just a matter of coming up with rules you can use for the variations on different sites. Many people use their phrase plus a couple of special characters, plus something to do with the website the password is for.

Think of a phrase that won’t be obvious to others. Inside jokes, a favorite quote that isn’t too long to type in, a memorable event, etc. Don’t be too picky about length if you can stand typing it in and the site allows – longer passwords are far more secure in general.

Don’t Reuse Passwords

Reusing passwords is one of the biggest security mistakes you can make. It’s one thing to reuse passwords on sites that won’t impact your finances or professional reputation; it’s another thing entirely if you reuse a password where those things matter.

Hackers can get passwords more easily from minor sites with weaker security, and all too often those passwords will give them access to other accounts that really matter. The more important the information your account on a site is to you, the stronger and more unique your password needs to be.

Lie

For those times you need to reset your passwords, you may have to answer a security question. The problem is that too many security questions are things someone could look up about you if they chose to do so. There’s a reason why banks no longer rely so much on the “mother’s maiden name” question on new accounts, although older accounts may still use that. My credit card company recently had me change to a new security question because that one is so out of date.

But many of the new questions are really only a little more secure. Come up with a standard answer for them, but don’t be honest. Have a little fun with your answer. You can even use password rules on it… not like any site checks to see if the answers you give mean anything. They’re for your personal use.

Be Sure You’re On The Right Website

The most secure password in the world isn’t secure if you just give it to the wrong website. If you get an email from a website telling you to log in for some reason, type the domain name in rather than click the link in the email. Phishing emails try really hard to look official, and sometimes even a careful person will fail to notice that the URL is wrong when they hover over the link.

These are some of the ways you can protect your important accounts with strong passwords. While there’s no guarantee that even a strong password will always keep your accounts safe, it’s a great place to start. Do you have any suggestions I’ve missed?

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

July 21st, 2014

Will You Save Money On Your Cell Phone Bill By Switching To Ting?

Will You Save Money On Your Cell Phone Bill By Switching To Ting?

My husband and I are not phone people. We don’t call people a lot. We barely text. For the longest time, we only had cell phones because his parents insisted on paying for them. I finally decided that it was ridiculous at our ages to be on his parents’ plan still, so I decided to do some research and pick a company to use. After a lot of looking, we went with Ting, and I’m so glad we did.

Ting is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), which means they lease wireless and data spectrum from other providers, Sprint in this case. They also have domestic voice roaming (not data roaming) over other CDMA cell phone networks when you’re out of range with Sprint at no extra charge.

We are really pleased with Ting so far. Our first bill was about $19 (told you we’re light users), second month was about $37, and that’s with two iPhones on the account. You see, there’s a per line fee you pay for each line every month no matter your usage, and the rest of the bill just depends on how much you use your phone. The second month we went on vacation to see my dad about 1000 miles away, so there was a lot of driving, calling and using data by our standards. Still light to others, I’m sure, but just for reference, that was 171 minutes of voice and 253 megabytes of data, which were both well within Ting’s medium level for each of those services. Texting only reached the small level. First month, voice and data were within the small level and no texts at all, and so that’s what we were charged for.

You are charged at the end of your billing period just for what you used. You might be charged on the small level for voice and medium for data if you use that much data, but barely call.

What I really like for when I start getting phones for my kids as they get old enough is that you can set up alerts to control their usage. That means no shocking phone bills for you. You go into the alerts section to set their limits, and you can have the system disable them if they go past a certain level. It won’t cut off an active call, but after that, they’re done until the next billing period. This is something you really want when you’re paying based on usage rather than unlimited. You can set alerts on any phone in your account.

If you want to know if Ting might be a good choice for your cell phone provider, take a look at your current usage over a few months, then use Ting’s savings calculator to see if you would get a good deal from them. If you use your cell phone like I use mine, it’s probably an amazing deal. If you’re a heavier user than I am but still not an extremely heavy user, it may still be a good deal… at least worth trying out the calculator to see how it goes.

Ting doesn’t charge for you to use tethering or to use your phone as a portable hotspot. No extra charges for voicemail or anything like that. The only added fees are the ones they’re is legally required to charge.

You won’t get any amazing deals on a smartphone through them, but if the savings are good enough you’ll make up for that soon enough. All phones must be compatible with Sprint’s network, so if you’re with Sprint already, your phone might just come over. Any other carrier, you probably have to buy a new phone. We bought our phones through Amazon. Ting has a supported devices list on their BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) page that you should pay attention to when shopping.

Now here’s a nice deal for you if you go through my link to Ting – they’ll give you a $25 credit. I get a credit too once you’re a paying customer. There’s no contract or anything, so if someone comes up with a better deal or you don’t like them, you’re always free to go to another carrier.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

July 18th, 2014

How to Limit Kids’ Screen Time While You Work at Home

How to Limit Kids' Screen Time While You Work at Home

I have to admit, this summer has been awful for me in terms of productivity. It’s hard balancing working at home with the kids being home all day. Swim lessons take up most of the morning because they never have all the levels we need at the same time. It took time for the kids to adjust to all being home together all day. Naturally, one of the big things they think of to do is watch TV or play on the computer or iPad. Just as naturally, I try not to let them overdo it, even though it makes it easier for me to work.

This issue has become both easier and more difficult as the kids have gotten older. They’re all old enough now that they can play on their own for quite some time, but the oldest in particular likes to play online games where she can interact with friends whose parents never seem to want to let them just come over.

Giving screen time to the kids is, of course, one of the easiest ways to keep them busy and somewhat quiet while I work, but it’s not ideal. Fortunately, there are good ways to limit kids’ screen time while you work at home. Try a few and see what works for you.

Talk About Screen Time Limits And Set Rules

It’s good to get into the habit of talking about it when you’re going to make a rule change such as limiting screen time. The ages of your children will determine how much they have to say, and you can try to come to a mutually agreeable solution. You can set limits per day or week, and consider ways for kids to earn extra time if you like.

One thing you may have to discuss is how much screen time parents have. Since I work at home, I’ve had to explain why the rules don’t apply the same way to me. I work on my computer, after all. If you aren’t following the rules yourself, be sure to have a fair reason why.

One long standing rule we have is that the kids may not bring screens into their bedrooms – except on sick days when I want them to try to keep their germs to themselves. Keeping screens out of the bedrooms means no one can just sit and stare at a screen for hours without being noticed, and they won’t stay up at night watching stuff.

Send them outside

Send Them Outside

Many kids these days seem to really resist playing outside when it’s hot out. I suspect it has to do with air conditioning. Why go outside when inside is soooo comfortable?

I aim to get my kids outside during the more pleasant parts of the day – morning before it really heats up, evening as it cools off. In the heat of the day is more difficult, but a nice sprinkler and a healthy supply of Super Soakers really improves their interest.

Consider also whether your kids are old enough to go to the park on their own or with a group of friends while you work. Whether or not this is possible depends on a lot of factors, but there comes a time when it’s really good for kids to be allowed to do things without direct adult supervision. Once they can do that, you may worry, but you can get things done while they’re gone. You can go along and try working on your laptop or tablet if you like or if the kids are too young to go on their own, but if your kids are old enough to go to the park on their own, you’ll probably be more productive at home.

Classes, Camps, etc.

What do your kids want to learn about or do during their spare time? My kids take swim lessons at least part of each summer, and we look at other classes, soccer camp and so forth. There may be signups at various times, both during the school year and in summer, depending on where you live. While I don’t believe in overscheduling kids (they need down time too!), signing them up for something they really want to do is great for keeping them away from the TV or computer and can give you some work time. If the classes are short, you may be better off bringing some work along on your laptop than driving back and forth for drop off and pick up.

Have activities ready for the kids

Have Activities Ready For the Kids

I keep a variety of craft supplies ready for my kids. At the moment, the big thing for them is perler beads. They print designs off the internet for whatever they want to make, and my oldest is allowed to use the iron to press them.

Pay attention to the kinds of crafts and other activities your kids enjoy so you can keep supplies ready for them. The easier it is for the kids to access the supplies on their own, the more they’ll use them rather than watch TV, and the more they’ll let you work.

Board games are another good choice. Play as a family sometimes, but make sure your kids know how to play some games just with each other. Some games are good for a wide range of ages – mine play Sorry together sometimes, for example.

There will probably still be times when you’d rather let your kids watch TV or play on a computer or tablet. If you plan alternatives in advance, you won’t have to give in as often. As everyone gets used to relying on screens less and less for daily entertainment, it gets easier all around.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also participate in other affiliate programs.

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