Anyone who’s ever dealt with debt knows it’s among the worst experiences life can offer. Money plays a central role in our lives. When we’re in the red, the countless decisions we make each day filter through a hopeless lens.
What’s worse, when we’re stuck in debt with no action plan or light at the end of the tunnel, our emotions can quickly get the best of us. They can even lead us to fall for financial scams we would have otherwise avoided.
Dealing with debt is emotionally exhausting, but it gets better when we focus on seeing things clearly. Steer clear of scams when plagued by debt-related turmoil with these steps.
Know Common Scams and Tactics
Scammers make a lot of money preying on people’s emotions. How much exactly? No one can know for sure, but for context, the massive India call center scam, in which victims were accused of tax evasion or fraud and ordered to pay a specific amount to resolve the matter, stole more than $300 million from at least 15,000 people. While that’s merely one example, scammers use common tactics to gain control of their victims. They often appeal to emotions like excitement or anger, and they especially target older people.
These strategies can be effective in any case, but particularly so when the victim has debt, and the offer is a way to get out of it. While legitimate companies such as Freedom Debt Relief offer services like debt settlement, scammers will often pose as debt-assistance companies, guaranteeing outcomes and selling debtors on services without trying to learn about someone’s situation. As such, the FTC warns against any company that promises to absolve your debt, or tries to charge you a service fee before they’ve resolved your debt for a lower amount (and you’ve agreed to pay it).
Read Industry Sites, Monitor Social Media Regularly, Know Your Vulnerabilities
Muddled emotions or not, ignorance is a separate offense. By staying abreast of new and trending financial scams, you won’t have to rely on your instincts to sniff out a shady interaction.
Heimdal Security routinely updates a great blog resource of top online scams. The FTC maintains a scam alert section as well. You can also get creative and bookmark other countries’ scam resources — here’s Australia’s scam watch, for example.
While you’re at it, you may as well set up Twitter alerts with various hashtags relating to financial scams and personal cybersecurity. Finally, you can take online tests that gauge your overall susceptibility to being scammed.
Gain Clarity Through Support Groups
A key reason why people have trouble dealing with their emotions and thinking clearly when in debt is because many go through the experience alone. Others may have already encountered strife in personal relationships or severely damaged them over debt-related rifts. Support groups like Debtors Anonymous give people an outlet to share experiences and learn from one another.
If more people sought support, and from people not in their family or close group of friends, there’d be a lot more calm and motivated debtors focusing on action plans. Instead, the anger, fear, grief, confusion, anxiety, depression and more builds. We as humans can only handle so much internally. Everybody has their breaking point, and while we’re on the path to self-destruction, we’re vulnerable to fall for a scam and get even further behind.
There isn’t one way to safeguard against financial scams, especially when emotions are compromised by debt. But having lingering balances clouding your reality doesn’t have to make you ignorant or vulnerable to trickery and deception if you don’t let it. Seek support from those in similar situations, understand how scammers operate and always keep pace with the latest types of scams and best-practice preventions.
The post How to Escape Financial Scams When Debt Takes Emotions Hostage appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.
AI Industries: 8 Industries Being Completely Disrupted Right Now
Artificial intelligence could well usher in the next industrial revolution. Here are 8 AI industries being completely disrupted by this emerging technology.
Do you know about all of the latest AI developments?
Wondering what AI holds for the future of business?
Technology is advancing quickly and one of the biggest things at the forefront of this is artificial intelligence (AI). There are many industries that poised to be disrupted and shaken up as this type of technology continues to grow and be used in new ways.
Below we’ll give you an overview of some of the top AI industries that you can expect big changes from in the coming months and years.
Among the different industries that will be disrupted through AI is the healthcare industry. AI has the potential to improve the healthcare field on many levels and promises to have multiple applications that can change the game for those working in the industry
One way that AI is affecting healthcare is through helping medical professionals care for patients and provide better service for their needs. When there is a lot of medical data to sift through to learn about a patient, AI can help.
AI can aid in the collection of individual patient data and can help sort through the information to assist professionals with diagnoses, speeding up the process and making it easier for everyone involved.
There are also other AI applications being developed as well that can help with the formation of drugs, predictive care, and the management and scheduling of patients.
Agriculture is another industry that will experience the full effects of AI in the coming months and years.
Industries such as agriculture are at some of most risk of labor shortages and problems. While many people are afraid that AI will take jobs, the truth is that it in many cases it will simply aid workers in doing their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
In agriculture, AI can also help make up for the lack of workforce that the industry is experiencing. Automated technology that is fueled by the use AI will likely impact agriculture quite a bit and help to pick up the slack where there may be a lack of adequate labor force available.
Call centers are also expected to change greatly due to the use of AI. Many types of calls, both outgoing calls and incoming customer support calls, will be able to be handled by AI as time goes on.
With machine learning, a call center will be able to learn about common customer questions and AI will be able to develop the best answers to these questions. AI telephone chatbots will be able to communicate with customers over the phone and be able to skillfully handle conversations with customers about their needs or concerns.
With their ability to collect a large range of customer data and to interact effectively with customers, many call centers may start to rely on AI chatbots alone.
The energy industry is also changing fast as a result of AI.
When it comes to gas and oil industries, for example, AI provides a lot of options for building more functionality and efficiency. For example, AI can help improve scheduling for tankers leaving port and can help determine different variables such as transport weights and arrival times. This can help with the decision making process when it comes to planning.
With drilling, AI can examine variables such as seismic vibrations and thermal gradients to improve the process and increase efficiency.
There are many more possible applications in the energy industry as well, and AI will probably affect things quite a bit in the years to come.
Manufacturing will also go through plenty of changes over the years as a direct result of AI technology. AI can help in numerous ways when it comes to both the manufacturing process as well as the planning of future developments and manufacturing schedules.
Manufacturing processes that require a heightened amount of knowledge will be able to use AI technology to optimize and automate tasks. Manufacturing pharmaceuticals, for example, could benefit from AI in order to accurately develop and manufacture complex formulas.
No matter what is being manufactured, however, chances are that AI can improve the process greatly and improve efficiency in all levels of the industry.
Education is another industry that will be shaken up through the adoption of AI technology. There are a variety of educational applications possible for schools that will be able to improve student success and make teaching more efficient and effective.
AI could function as a teaching assistant, and instead of replacing a teacher’s job, can simply help students with problems and with learning new information, either at home or in the classroom.
No matter what is being manufactured, however, chances are that AI can improve the process greatly. It can improve efficiency in all areas of the industry.
AI can also be a great help in retail stores. AI can help a retail store to build better customer experiences by learning about them and by offering more personalized experiences.
Online retailers have already been following the chatbot trend and these AI tools are helping to answer customer questions, to analyze behavior patterns, and to suggest additional purchases.
In addition to e-commerce, AI could also help at a physical retail store as well. Used in conjunction with a store’s rewards program, AI can give more information to workers about a specific customer, helping them to suggest more relevant products to customers at checkout.
Another industry that will likely change a lot as a result of AI technology is the travel industry.
Like with other industries, customer service chatbots and increased personalization will become more and more popular. Chatbots can help hotels, resorts, airlines, and other businesses in the travel industry to provide customers with better service and to help them find exactly what they’re looking for.
AI can also help to provide better data analysis and processing for the travel industry. For example, AI could help monitor overall travel trends to decide how to price packages or products.
Finally, AI can also help with preventive maintenance tasks and to reduce travel fraud. You can find out more about some of these applications if you want to learn more about how the travel industry may change in the future.
Preparing For the Future of AI Industries
The AI industries listed above are only a few of the industries that you can expect to grow in the coming years. Chances are that AI will continue to become an even bigger part of our lives as time goes by.
Want to learn more about AI and the future of technology? Read more about the top IT trends your business shouldn’t ignore.
The post 8 Industries Being Completely Disrupted by AI Right Now appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.
Finding a good real estate lawyer is one of the most important aspects of buying and selling a property. A real estate lawyer represents your personal interests in the deal and will keep your priorities in mind. Neil Sullivan, a respected real estate lawyer and Managing Partner of Sullivan McMullan, shares his criteria for choosing the best real estate lawyer and gives several examples of when a real estate lawyer is needed.
Don’t wait until the last minute to choose a real estate attorney. It is important to start searching for a real estate attorney at the same time you begin looking for a new home. This will give you plenty of time to conduct a careful search using all of the information available to you.
First, check with your friends and business associates. Find out whom they have used as a real estate attorney and ask for their honest opinion. Real estate attorneys should be professional, knowledgeable, and easy to work with. They should also be focused on helping you close the deal. Be sure that you find a real estate lawyer who is experienced in buying and selling properties. It helps if they have a cordial working relationship with area realtors.
If you can’t find a real estate lawyer in your area, you can use a lawyer who works in multiple disciplines, often referred to as a “general practitioner”. You may find, however, that a general practitioner may not be as service-oriented as a dedicated real estate lawyer.
If you don’t have any referrals, a good place to start is the local bar association or law society. They should have updated lists of lawyers by specialty. You can then choose from a large pool of possible lawyers. If you go through the association, you can also be certain that your chosen attorney is fully licensed.
Your state bar should also be able to tell you whether lawyers have studied for specialties like real estate law. Not all states have certifications for specialty lawyers.
Another valuable resource for finding a real estate lawyer according to Neil Sullivan is the use of online reviews. Keep in mind that dissatisfied clients may give a lawyer bad reviews if they didn’t like the results of their case. Reading multiple reviews across different sites should give you another balanced perspective on hiring your lawyer.
Most attorneys will be happy to set up free consultation appointments so that you can get a sense whether they are skilled and easy to work with. It is wise to consult more than one attorney and compare their qualifications.
If you have not worked with a lawyer before, you might be surprised at the billing system in place. You should find out whether the lawyer charges by the hour or whether they charge a flat fee for their services. Find out whether they will require you to pay a retainer fee.
As you choose a real estate lawyer, find out how much experience they have. A young lawyer who is just starting out may be most familiar with the newest changes to the law, but an experienced lawyer may be your best bet. Choosing someone with a long track record in the specialty means that he or she will have seen situations similar to yours in the past. He or she will be able to deal with unexpected events in a timely and professional fashion.
Neil Sullivan has offered these tips for choosing a real estate lawyer. Real estate lawyers are incredibly valuable in the process of buying and selling any type of property. When your prospective lawyer has answered all of your questions to the best of their ability, contract them to work on your house purchase or sale. Rely on their expertise to get you through the possibly difficult situations that may occur when you are buying or selling a home. Above all, you should be sure that your attorney has your interests firmly in mind.
The post Neil Sullivan on How to Find a Trustworthy Real-Estate Lawyer appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.
As a business owner, staying safe in the office and enhancing your employee’s security in the workplace may be one of the most important things you have to handle. We all have the right to know that we work in a safe and secure workplace and that the chances to fall victims to various incidents in the workplace are slim to none. For this reason, you have to pay extra attention to your on-premise security as well as what cybersecurity measures you take to protect your employees and yourself, at the same time, from identity theft or sensitive data or document leaks. For more information, keep reading the following paragraphs.
Smartphones, laptops and tablets have to be secured with a strong password, regardless of how inconvenient a similar policy may seem in the beginning. Remember that nothing is more inconvenient than a major data breach, so implement and reinforce as frequently as possible a strong password policy. There are many online tools and tips that will help you create that killer, impossible-to-break password as well as some great tips to keep it as it is now: safe.
Just a quick Facebook check or a quick game of Candy Crush Saga hurt nobody, right? Well, right, unless you perform those tasks straight from your work smartphone or laptop. Every time you use your smart devices for similar purposes you potentially let others have an easy entry point to your personal data and company network. Better avoid using work smartphone for similar purposes and try to make your employees understand the risks of using their work smart devices for similar activities as well.
A hard drive full of documents and sensitive data is a goldmine for identity thieves. So, each time when you update those computers in your office, you should make sure that all files and documents are overwritten. This is also a piece of valid advice when it comes to your copier since plenty of sensitive information might remain imprinted on its memory. Otherwise, you may be unwillingly opening the door to a major security breach. Discuss with a cybersecurity expert and follow their advice when it comes to properly ditch those hard drives and erasing information.
Social media and email are on their own a major security concern in many companies’ case. Make sure that all your employees and yourself as well fully understand what type of business-related information is ok to disseminate online. Once it is posted, taking it back is impossible. Your email policy should reinforce appropriate content and nothing work or business-related should ever be posted online by yourself or your employees unless it has a specific business purpose. Random pictures from inside your office building should be entirely avoided. A great sample of social media policy can be found here. It can be easily adapted to a variety of businesses and it will help you keep your business safe online.
Luckily, there are plenty of security companies in London, private ones, that can offer your company a higher security and safety standard. And fortunately for you, by collaborating with a similar company, you will have the opportunity to enjoy complete on-premise security management services. In the long run, this may be the best investment that you will ever make for your company, regardless of the industry and sector in which you activate. Besides, you will be able to enjoy the reputable services of a similar team whenever your company organizes various events and galas. Search for those experts with plenty of experience, teams that put immense emphasis on discretion and professionalism.
This may be another investment that you want to consider making if you want to increase the on-premise security levels. These additions will help you boost the security levels on your entrance doors. Even the most determined and persevering intruders will be kept outside by these elements and in may (MANY) security professionals’ opinion, these are necessary investments for on-premise security.
Installing an alarm system is sometimes overlooked by business owners, but nonetheless a highly necessary one. these systems are complex for sure and they can be impressive in case of intruders threaten your businesses’ premises on varying levels. These systems detect, decide and act based on various inputs. For instance, when the motion sensors detect motion in a room, they decide if it presents a threat or not and acts on it. A security team will be most likely to help you understand better what is happening when your motion sensors detect something in the building. When you have an alarm system installed, collaborating with a reputable security team is mandatory. Security matters are not particularly a do-it-yourself kind of job so a professional team will obviously help you preserve higher security levels when it comes to your office.
Security cameras have the amazing purpose of deterrence. They also serve as great investigation tools, but people are less likely to engage in illegal or fraudulent activities when they know that they are watched. Plus, various crimes and accidents are easier to review and the circumstances that led to those are easier to assess in these surveillance systems’ presence. You need to carefully decide where to place those cameras for full advantages and once again, a collaboration with a professional security team will come into your assistance best.
These tips and tricks will help you maintain proper security levels in the workplace from multiple points of view. These pieces of advice are easy-to-following and implement, especially if you enjoy the assistance of a team with plenty of experience in security matters. Make sure that you pay increased attention to your business’ cybersecurity matters as well.
The post Easy-to-Follow Rules to Make your Office More Secure appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.
As long as people do their shopping online, then e-commerce sites will continue to thrive. Anyone with a brick-and-mortar store can tap into the benefits of selling merchandise to thousands (if not millions). What determines a successful e-commerce site is the attention they put into the website’s construction.
Just like setting up a physical shop, your e-commerce site must act as a digital manifestation of your business plan. First, determine the product you want to sell. Next, create a realistic budget to help you get that product to the masses. Above all, make sure there are enough promotional outlets to access it. Listed below are a few tips on how to begin setting-up your e-commerce business.
Before you get started, you need a product that will sell. In case you haven’t decided yet, consider a field you have experience in. Screen-printing, for example, is a profitable venture for anyone with experience in graphic design.
Whatever you plan on selling, you’ll need a supplier for materials. If you make your own product, then you’ll be relying on whatever supplies you can get you hands on. Some might go the easier route of selling wholesale products, but that means abiding by the company you’re dealing from.
Creating an e-commerce website is easier than ever. Most sellers will operate out of established marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. The bolder route would be to build your own online store. For this, you’ll need the right hosting platform.
Most hosting platforms come with pre-set site templates and inventory building tools. Try experimenting with Wix, Shopify, and BigCommerce during any of their free 15-day trials. Moreover, each platform provides necessary features like social media integration, abandoned cart recovery, and an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification to give your customers a flexible, secure experience.
Once you’ve settled on a product, you can move onto the hard task of price setting. This is where the finance portion of your business plan comes in. Tally up the costs of materials, taxes, payment processing fees, and other expenses. Figure out how much you want to add to pay yourself and your workforce (if any).
Since all purchases will be mail-order, shipping is another vital expense you’ll need to plan for. E-commerce sites typically offer a flat shipping rate, but that could drive up prices. One way to alleviate your customers’ shipping anxieties is by offering free shipping. You could raise the product’s price a bit to cover the cost.
Depending on your mindset, promotions can be the fun side of business ownership. Another way putting it is finding what your buyers want from your brand.
The abandoned cart recovery feature can help you pinpoint customers who are on the fence. Offer them an exclusive deal to motivate them into checking out. Reward coupons for half off if customers follow your business Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. Use a separate e-mail account to send out digital newsletters with monthly discounts.
The Mastercard SpendingPulse for the 2018 holiday season has revealed US retail sales grew 5.1% from the first of November through Christmas Eve.
This resulted in revenue of $850 billion, which according to Mastercard is the strongest growth in the last six years.
Growth was not limited to large enterprises and national retailers. Small businesses were also the beneficiaries of this windfall as they also experienced a 5.3% growth this holiday shopping season.
Mastercard is attributing this growth to high consumer confidence and retailers who are increasingly more aware when it comes to what digital and brick and mortar customers are looking for.
In the press release Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated pointed out these factors.
Sadove said, “From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail. By combining the right inventory with the right mix of online versus in-store, many retailers were able to give consumers what they wanted via the right shopping channels.”
Mastercard pointed out there were some weather challenges during the 2018 holiday shopping season. However, the company says overall it was a winning season for retailers, with some segments not faring so well.
The largest growth for this holiday shopping season came from spending on home improvement, up by 9.0%. Along with the home improvement sector, the home furniture and furnishings category grew by 2.3%.
The growth from apparel was next at 7.9% compared to 2017, which was the best growth rate since 2010. Mastercard said the growth in apparel was in part driven from the momentum the industry experienced during the back-to-school season and continued until Christmas.
A segment which generally does well during this time of year, electronics and appliances were down 0.7%. This is despite the fact many retailers were offering specials during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the shopping season.
Not surprisingly department stores didn’t fare well, going down by 1.3% from 2017. Mastercard revealed this follows two years with growth below 2 percent.
This is an industry which has been experiencing declining numbers and store closures for several years. But the report says department stores are doing much better with their online sales, which has increased by 10.2%.
The Mastercard SpendingPulse takes a look at the revenue across all payment types to provides insights into overall retail spending trends.
This is based on the total sales activity in the Mastercard payments network along with survey-based estimates and other payment forms, such as cash and check.
Metrics for the report are tracked by month, year, region and segment such as apparel, grocery, and online.
The data comes from national retail sales in select markets around the world including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
This article, "Retailers Saw a 5.1% Sales Growth in the US This Past Holiday Season, Report Says" was first published on Small Business Trends
Any parent should be concerned about how their teenage children are using social media. We have heard countless stories about the hazards of this online platform on the younger generation. With the ubiquitous presence of social media, parents have their work cut out for them and they need to consider so many things. It is so easy for young people to get fully immersed in the online realm and get lost in it. Social media has become a strong online force and it isn’t leaving. Many teenagers already use social media platforms constantly each day and this should be the cause for concern. It is important to start thinking critically about the habits of children.
1.It is addictive: There are reasons why social media is addictive for children and it is often associated with rewards, such as comments, shares and likes. Getting things that they want could trigger the release of dopamine and it is a substance that controls the feeling of pleasure. The same thing happens to addict gamblers each time they get small wins. Teenagers are also addicted to the repeated interactions with their friends and it is often about online social participation. Teenagers want to do what their friends are doing and it’s nothing new. The thing is teenagers can pick up some cheap mobile phone deals at Metrofone so they sometime convince their parents they need a phone and it becomes easier to accept social media.
2.It promises fame and fortune: Social media is a new path to the celebrity status. We have seen how social media celebs in YouTube and Instagram gain millions of dollars each year. They have the knowledge, talent and skill to gain responses from people. As people become more successful, they will get sponsorships, ads revenue and endorsement deals. This has inspired many teens and they want to simulate the same financial success. However, the social media environment has become quite crowded and many people want to stand out with their content. In some cases, people start doing things that are morally questionable to gain more views and likes. This can be a good or bad thing for teens, depending on what path they choose.
3.It defines teens: Teens are growing up mentally in a digital way and even children are able to make their own personal statements. They choose unique profile picture and create posts that have direct relationships to their characters. Teens seek to forge an identity and social media is a perfect platform to achieve that. Social media is highly accessible and it offers flexible tools that teens can easily use. Eventually, teens wrap themselves up strongly in their online identity and their social media accounts become an essential part in their personal representation.
4.It tends to devalue women: The use of social media tends to devalue women. Many women in social media are appreciated for their gorgeous and sexy looks. This situation significantly affects girls and many of them have desire in getting many likes and comments by showing off their physical appeal. They could become annoyed when a picture doesn’t attract enough responses from friends and strangers. This may also desensitize men and they may also start to devalue women, by focusing only on a limited number of factors. Many girls are feeling the social pressure to comply with such requests, especially if they have the desire to attract plenty of online attention.
5.It shapes brain development: The use of social media represents repetitive sensory activities, related to the way we process information. There have been many studies about the effects of television and video games on children, but parents should also know that social media can affect brain development as well. Today, the screen time among teens is at an all-time high. It should be known that our activities and habits will create new pathways, strengthen certain existing pathways and weaken others. It means that the use of social media could have lasting and permanent changes on our brain.
6.It causes depression: Social media isn’t only about exciting and fun interactions with friends. Social media can be a relaxing escape, but for many teens it is a necessary part of their daily lives. Among many people, it has been shown that lower rates of happiness are often associated with the time we spend online. Social media may vastly affect our satisfaction and wellness. Social media doesn’t invent cyber bullying, but it allows for much more intensified cruelty of online harassment. The spread of gossip and false news are accelerated and it is far easier to insult people. Many teens eventually find that social media is a den of insults and verbal aggressions. Teens may easily engage in negative exchanges by using inappropriate words. There are many cases of two-way aggressions, but we also often find abusive, one-sided verbal attacks. Regardless of semantics, cruelty is still cruelty. Bullies may not directly use dirty words, but they can still abuse victims in different ways. For many teens, social media is already a critical part of their lives and experiencing constant attack will be certainly depressing. In more extreme cases, we have seen incidences of teenage suicides due to intense cyber-bullying.
7.It boosts sense of business: Teens don’t always get negative effects from social media. Teens see how social media is being used by freelancers, small businesses and corporate to enhance growth and gain profits. They see how people advertise in social media and gain sales. Eventually, teenagers have an idea on how to leverage their social media presence to drive sales and get revenue.