Imagine this: One day a friend tells you about a great new job he has just started and would love for you to join, too. It’s part-time, you can set your own hours and in just a few short weeks you can be making big money. Sign me up, right? Here’s the catch: You won’t make the profits you were promised, and without doing any research, you could have absolutely no idea what you signed up for.
Scams are popping up all over campus lately, specifically designed to fool the average college student into investing money in a company that will fail to deliver its big promises. Some disguise themselves as cool new jobs, while others trick you into thinking you are getting a lot more bang for your buck than you actually will. Nobody wants to be that person who fell for a dumb scam while the guys on the other side are laughing. Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of a few of the biggest scams and rip-offs we’ve seen on campus recently, so you won’t be that person. You’re too smart for that.
One of the biggest and most disconcerting scams on campus as of late is the “get rich quick” scheme or the pyramid scheme. You may have already heard of pyramid schemes before; think Bernie Madoff, the guy who was sentenced to some serious jail time for creating a company based on an illegal Ponzi scheme. These schemes generally hide behind names like multi-level marketing, referral marketing or network marketing.
Pyramid schemes operate by creating a network or “pyramid” of investors. Each person who invests in the company makes a set amount of money for each person they recruit, each person that person recruits, and so on. This marketing scheme is extremely lucrative for those located at the top of the pyramid, but causes a loss of investment to those at the bottom, despite the fact that those at the bottom will ultimately be doing all of the work. These schemes are illegal and inevitably collapse.
Spotting a pyramid scheme is actually pretty easy once you know what to look for. Companies that use pyramid schemes will promise big money in a short amount of time, and you might sense that they try a little too hard to get you to join in on this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” As a general rule of thumb, just remember: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s also important to use caution when booking a vacation. Whether you’re organizing a summer getaway with your friends or already planning spring break 2014, according to the National Association of Attorneys General, travel scams cost consumers $12 billion annually, and many of those victims are college students. To ensure that your vacation isn’t a scam, make sure you research the booking agency, be wary of heavily discounted trips, and run if an agency requires payment in only cash, check or money order.
Exercise caution when booking an all-inclusive vacation package, which in reality, might not feature all the great perks advertised. For example, those exclusive concert tickets might only be for the first hundred people who show up, and the free meals might be more along the lines of vouchers to Wendy’s rather than gourmet dinners.
Identity and Credit Theft:
Even though you may think you, as a broke college student, are immune to identity theft or credit card fraud — you’re just getting by on dollar beers after all — you are still very susceptible to fraud and theft.
Theft commonly occurs at bars where people keep open credit card tabs. All it takes is someone overhearing your name and they can claim drinks courtesy of you until you close your tab later that night. Carrying a limited amount of cash when you go downtown will completely prevent this problem, while also avoiding the inevitable “I spent THAT much money downtown?!”panic.
Avoiding scams and rip-offs isn’t always unavoidable, especially when you’re a busy college student on a budget; however, not getting conned boils down to common sense. Use your best judgment, and if it sounds too good to be true, then seriously, it probably is.
1. Always shred credit card offers before you discard them and be conscious of where you put sensitive personal documents and numbers.
2. Be mindful when ordering anything over the Internet.
3. Never share your important passwords with friends or roommates. And always make sure your passwords are complex with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
4. Remember to regularly check your credit or debit card statements. Careful monitoring can help detect identity theft before it gets out of hand.
By: Alyson Russo
Bedding – Mattress Toppers
Sleep is just about the most important thing to college students. More than a sheet and pillow, adding bedding accessories can make the difference between a normal secondhand mattress and ultimate sleeping pleasure. Memory foam mattress toppers can get pricey, but they are well worth the price for the experience of a restful nights sleep.
While at college, whether minutes or hours from home, you are fully independent and responsible for yourself. Parents aren’t there to force you to eat healthy, nurse you back to health when you catch a cold, or worse, care for an accidental baby due to your poor decisions. Condoms are definitely not something to skimp on nor are they something to put back at CVS when the total is a little more than expected. Buying generic condoms may leave you with a much more expensive bill nine months later. Spend the extra few bucks; it’s worth the expense.
Everyone uses toilet paper. Some like it soft, some like it strong, some like it fluffy and others like it durable. There are options to fit everyone’s wants. However, the cheap option is not one many people prefer. First, it usually runs out quickly because it takes more paper to get the job done. Then, you end up spending more money because you have to buy new rolls every other day. Going all out on the top-notch toilet paper makes you feel good and saves you a trip to the store.
Whether going out to dinner with friends, walking to the store to pick up a few groceries or bar hopping up and down Five Points, getting a safe ride home after dark is a necessity. Living on a campus surrounded by a capital city presents certain dangers. Being in college means leading a low budget lifestyle and while no one wants to spend their spare singles on a cab, it’s for the best.
Most people grew up with parents who did the family’s laundry. In college however, we learn to do it ourselves. Laundry detergent may seem like a great product to try and save on because it all looks the same, but in reality, a good quality detergent will help your wardrobe look, and smell its best. Top dollar detergents keep clothing in their best condition, prolonging its durability.
Whether living in a dorm, apartment, or house, garbage piles up, making it one of the most dreaded chores. Cheap garbage bags are definitely something to stay away from for many reasons. To start, the smell will escape from the top of the bag that cannot close because of ties that were broken while trying to seal it. This disgusting aroma may also sneak out of potential holes that are likely to form due to the cheap quality. If garbage begins sneaking out through these holes, a mess will result, requiring more cleaning to be done. Because of holes, a mess and a stench that causes you to cringe, it’s in your best interest to spend the money on trash bags that are guaranteed to work.
The semester’s almost over! We all know what that means: Christmas presents, a break from schoolwork, home-cooked meals, and unlimited sleeping hours. But the one thing standing between us is the most stressful part of the year: exams. Between going to class all day and studying all night, how do we stay stress-free without resorting to desperate measures? Well, here are a few stress relievers that will keep you calm, cool and collected without breaking the bank.
How you feel can directly relate to what you eat. Some foods will keep you feeling energized and awake while others will just make you want to take a nap. Leafy greens, hot tea, and fruits like strawberries or blueberries have been proven to help retain memory and improve learning capacity. All of these foods help retain memory and improve learning capacity. Now, I know nobody wants to eat healthy, especially cramming in the middle of the night. It’s actually been shown that milk chocolate improves visual and verbal memory. So go ahead, grab the discount cosmic brownies and candy bars.
Why not use resources that you’ve already paid for? The Thomson Student Health Center, along with other places on campus, make it easy for you to stay calm and keep at ease. When was the last time you got a massage? Most spas charge around $35 for a massage but why venture far from home when you can stay on campus and get a better deal? On the 3rd floor of Thomson Student Health center, massage therapy is available to students for $20. Although it’s not free, it’s definitely worth the money. Massage therapy produces endorphins, which will keep you energized and relaxed. Several studies suggest that the obesity problem in the United States is linked to the decreasing amount of hours that people are sleeping.
Feeling mentally and physically exhausted? Head over to Yoga Masala for the “hot yoga” class. Yes, you read that right. Basically, they leave the room around 95 degrees for the duration of the class which not only protects your muscles, but releases endorphins, helping to reverse the negative effects of stress. Yoga Masala is on Bluff Road, down the street from Williams Brice, and introductory classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 PM and Wednesdays at 5:30 PM. Once you master those, there’s a whole list of classes to choose from every day of the week. It’s only $5/class for students and a great way to stay calm and collected (not necessarily cool…). Now guys, I know yoga might not be your thing, but you’re in a room with a bunch of girls doing “hot yoga.” Enough said.
Between work, homework, studying and sleeping, how many of you guys have time to play video games? (Those of you who procrastinate doing your homework till the morning before don’t count!) A study done by students at ECU shows that playing video games from time to time can reduce psychological tension. Now don’t go out and buy every new game you see, just try and beat the ones you already have.
Instead of heading to Starbucks every morning, why don’t you make your own Chai tea for half the price AND half the calories? Studies have shown that Chai tea can lower stress, relieve tension, and foster a clear mind. All you need is 2 tea bags, water, a stick of cinnamon, a piece of ginger, milk to taste, brown sugar, and some black peppercorns. Add everything except for the milk, tea and sugar to a pot and let it boil. Let it steep for about 10 minutes off the burner, then put it back on the burner, add in the tea and let it steep again for another 5 minutes. Just add sugar and milk, voilà - custom Chai tea for free.