An advertisement for a long term rental on TripAdvisor turns out to be a scam.

I lost $1,721 in the “TripAdvisor” long term rental scam!

TripAdvisor is not in the business of long term rentals, so if you come across one on the site, it’s surely a scam. But first-time apartment hunter, Haley Cline was unaware of this fact.

When a friendly “TripAdvisor-approved owner” emailed her about a spectacularly discounted year-long rental, no alarm bells went off. The scam only came into focus after Cline sent her initial $1,721 deposit via Bitcoin to the online predator.

A thief stealing from an unsuspecting internet user

This is how a Craigslist thief easily stole his Target gift card

Tony Tucker has a sad tale to tell. A Craigslist thief stole his Target gift card. Now he’s empty-handed, and he wants to know if we can convince Target to return the lost $284. 

Tucker’s story is a reminder that there are multiple ways that thieves can steal gift cards, and these scammers are often one step ahead of the average consumer in their methods.

However, in this case, it seems that Tucker did something so ill-advised that the outcome was almost certainly guaranteed.

Elderly couple sitting in a field, must you join Medicare at age 65?

Reader question: Am I required to join Medicare when I turn 65?

There’s a lot of confusion about whether you are required to join Medicare when you turn 65.  Unfortunately, depending on who you ask, the answer you get may be wrong.

Recently, my wife and I had lunch with some long-time friends. He’s retired and enrolled in Medicare. She will soon turn 65 but does not plan to retire for at least another two years. The health insurance coverage she has through her work is fine.

She told us that she had attended a retirement planning session offered at her workplace, where the presenter said you must enroll in Medicare at age 65. She wanted to know if that was true. I told her that if the presenter actually said that, then she received some bad information.

Then just last week, an acquaintance asked me that same question.

So the purpose of this article is to give you the real answer, which is:  “It depends.”

A shopper making retail returns, warning about The Retail Equation

How does The Retail Equation protect merchants from shoppers who love to make returns?

When Mahitha Saldana headed to CVS to make some returns, he wasn’t expecting any problems. So it came as a shock when the cashier firmly refused to accept the items. When he asked for an explanation, she referred him to something called The Retail Equation.

Like Mahitha, you may have never heard of The Retail Equation. But if you frequently make retail returns, your name and information about your shopping patterns may already be stored in this nationwide database.

Consumer alert, gas station card skimmers warning, don't use debit card at gas station.

How did a gas station skimmer drain my prepaid debit card balance?

Danger could be lurking at the pumps of your local gas station in the form of a tiny card skimmer. These small, almost invisible devices quickly retrieve and store all of your card’s information as you make your payment. Then the “owner” of this illegal apparatus uses that data to extract whatever funds he can from your account. 

Sylvia Powers wishes someone had warned her about gas station skimmers before she swiped her prepaid American Express Bluebird debit card at the pumps. Unfortunately, her education on the topic came in the most unpleasant way – after a skimming device drained all her money from her Bluebird card. But she assumed that American Express would protect her against this fraud.

She assumed wrong.

It's open enrollment season, and now is the time to shop for a better Medicare plan.

Here’s why you should shop around for the best Medicare plan right now

Ben Franklin famously said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” How about saving nearly $1,000? That’s how much my wife’s sister-in-law saved just by comparing Medicare prescription drug plans. 

If this were an advertising scam, the headline might say, “Click here to find out how she earned $1,000 in less than an hour.”

But this isn’t some kind of advertising sales come-on. There is a real way to save money on your annual Medicare costs that most people overlook: shopping around for the best plan. 

Facts about Medicare Advantage plans, compare Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare.

Why would Medicare Advantage cancel a patient’s surgery at the last minute?

Bob Miller of Columbus, OH, needed cataract surgery on both eyes. He had the surgery on the first eye, but the evening before he was to have the second eye done, he got a phone call from his ophthalmologist. Miller’s Medicare Advantage plan had just informed the doctor that it was not authorizing the second surgery and she told him that she had to cancel the procedure.

“I was dumbfounded,” Miller told me. “It wasn’t like this would be a surprise to them. I have two eyes.”