Plus: How student loan scammers are stealing billions
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HerMoney Podcast Episode 343:
How to Protect Yourself From Online Harassment
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This Week in Your Wallet:
When a Sale Is Not Always a Bargain

The unseasonably warm weather — it was 77 yesterday in Philly! — may have helped us get one more weekend out of our shorts and tees, but the holiday decorations now appearing on store shelves don’t lie: 2022 is almost at an end. And as we look ahead to 2023, there’s a lot to be hopeful about, but a lot to be cautious about, too. Like?

Student loan scams on the rise — scammers are taking advantage of the buzz around debt forgiveness, and this year alone have cheated millions of Americans out of a total of at least $5 billion, reports Emma Whitford for Forbes. In one variation, criminals are posing as government officials who call with details about what you have to do to reduce or wipe out what you owe.  And once they get a few personal details, they’ve got you.  

The scammers are playing a numbers game, according to RoboKiller, a call and text blocking app tracking Federal Trade Commission data on financial losses. So far in 2022, some 700 million student loan-related robocalls per month have been counted. And when the Biden administration announced plans to forgive up to $20k in student loan debt per borrower, the number of fraudulent loan scam texts jumped from 3 million to 9 million per month.

So, how can you best avoid student loan scams? First, go with your gut. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Next, pay attention to where emails and texts originate. The U.S. government says it’s using only three email addresses to contact borrowers. They are:,, and So add those to your safe senders list, and ignore all else. You can also make it tougher for criminals by reporting scam attempts to the FTC at

Some 401(k) Plans Now Offer Cryptocurrency

Fidelity Investments — the nation’s largest 401(k) plan provider with some $3.3 trillion in the 24,500 plans it administers — added Bitcoin to its investment menus this fall, The Wall Street Journal’s Anne Tergesen reports. “Fidelity’s offering lets employees put up to 20% of their 401(k) contributions into Bitcoin, but employers can impose lower caps, among other guardrails,” she writes. Fees charged range from 0.75% to 0.9% of the Bitcoin balance.

Fidelity isn’t alone.  About two months ago, Tergesen notes, ForUsAll Inc., a San Francisco-based 401(k) provider that caters to smaller companies (and has $1.4 billion in retirement-plan assets), says 50 of its 550 clients began allowing workers to invest some of their retirement savings in cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin and Ether. The offerings are being launched during a bear market that has seen major selloffs in cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin hit a high above $66,000 in November 2021, but has since fallen to a low near $20,000. Citing a lack of demand and need for more regulatory guidance, other large 401(k) administrators, including Vanguard and T. Rowe Price told the WSJ they have no plans to add cryptocurrency to their 401(k) investment offerings at this time.

Rising Rates? Time to Reevaluate Your Financial Priorities

It’s six and counting. The Federal Reserve increased short-term interest rates again last week — and the dominoes are already falling. Or, should we say rising. Higher rates (some of which were already baked in) are going to make it that much more expensive to secure a home or car loan or pay off a debt on your credit card. With more rate hikes expected in the coming moneys, The WSJ’s Julia Carpenter reached out to financial advisors for tips on reordering your financial priorities in a higher-rate ecosystem.

First up: Paying down any high-interest debt you may have. And chances are, you may have more than you did a year ago. As inflation has taken hold, Americans have been pulling out their plastic to cover expenses, sending credit card debt back to pre-Covid levels. And each successive rate hike is pretty much instantly reflected in the interest rates on your card. The flip side is the faster you pay off that debt, the less it will cost you in interest and fees.

Second, pause your house hunt. That’s the advice Moody’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi doled out in this weekend’s New York Times. Higher mortgage rates add hundreds of dollars to monthly payments, making homeownership unaffordable to many buyers. Prices will fall, but it will take a while. Another smart move is to double down on your savings, and take advantage of (slowly) rising interest rates, which mean you can now see more of a yield on high yield savings accounts (HYSAs) than we have in quite some time. Bankrate keeps a running list of the best rates. Money sitting in savings at your average bank is paying 0.16%. The money sitting in high yield savings accounts is earning 20 times as much — 3%, or more.

Some Amazon ‘Sale’ Prices Could Be Misleading

Who among us hasn’t gotten caught up in the rush of a good sample sale, or the lure of a deep discount with an expiration date attached? That’s why it pays to be skeptical, especially when it comes to the money you’re willing to part with while shopping online. Chloe Taylor reports in Fortune on a study warning Amazon shoppers that some of the discounts we’re seeing could actually be price hikes, disguised as competitive deals.

A team of researchers who analyzed the prices of 15,000 products listed on Amazon between 2016 and 2017, found this strategy was ‘a prevalent phenomenon’ on the site. “They said sellers often framed short-term price increases as discounts by posting an elevated list price alongside a phony discount claim, allowing them to actually hike the cost of the product under the guise of offering a big savings. In many cases, they said, list prices—which help consumers compare the supposed regular price of the product with the promotional price—were introduced with a price increase before being removed days later alongside a price drop.”

As we head into the holiday season, it’s a good idea to compare prices from a variety of retailers before making a purchase. There are plenty of price-tracking websites and apps to choose from, such as Slickdeals, Honey and Brad’s Deals, that can send subscribers email alerts when a product they want goes on sale. Some price trackers also come with automatic coupons or rebate features. And remember, when something is 50 percent off, it’s still 50 percent on.

Have a great week and please, please vote,


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