Category Archives: Financial

Before You Buy Cheap Gold


For years, investors have invested in precious metals to diversify their portfolios; however, lately, more and more ordinary Americans have begun buying silver and bullion. Numerous companies have positioned themselves to take advantage of this demand. Unfortunately, not all are reputable. Before you buy cheap gold, learn what our financial expert has to say.

Why Are People Buying?

Precious metals have been in high demand for a long time; however, until recently, only major investors had much interest. According to financial expert Nathaniel Hutchinson, this changed shortly after the election of President Barack Obama.

“Right after Obama became president, several right wing personalities started taking advantage of worried conservatives,” he said. “Using fear-based strategies, they began warning people that the economy would soon collapse, leading to a devaluing of American currency. To insure against this potential calamity, they told ordinary, everyday investors to buy cheap gold.”

The Goldline Scam

A recent scam involving one popular precious metals dealer shed light on the problems associated with many sellers. Ultimately, the company settled with the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office, admitting that it misled its clients and agreeing to refund about $4.5 million to past customers.

Goldline employees were alleged to have misled customers by encouraging them to buy collector’s coins instead of bullion coins,” Hutchinson said. “Because the collector’s coins cost more than what they were worth, the transaction ultimately ended up being a bad for the investor.”

Should You Buy Cheap Gold?

According to Hutchinson, although there are some unscrupulous dealers out there, you can still find good deals if you know where to look.

“I tell anyone, before you agree to any deal, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s tips on how to buy gold,” he said. “Likewise, you need to think about why you are buying precious metals in the first place. If it’s because you are trying to insure against some potential economic collapse; you may want to rethink what you’re doing. In the end, investing in metals isn’t likely to make you as much money as investing in a public corporation, which has the ability to generate income.”

Not All Bid and Buy Penny Auction Sites Legitimate


In its continuing series focused on consumer-related tips and warnings, has taken a look at numerous online shopping platforms. Ultimately, we’ve found that not all bid and buy penny auction sites offer users a fair chance to acquire discount merchandise.

According to our in-house technology expert, Sarah McDaniels, while some sites have taken steps to raise their reputations in the eyes of consumers; others continue a business-as-usual approach that has drawn warnings from some reputable organizations.

“When they first came out, penny auctions were almost synonymous with the word scam,” McDaniels said. “In response to numerous complaints, both the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau issued reports warning consumers that many of these sites use deceitful techniques to rip their customers off. Now some of these bid and buy sites are taking steps to prove they don’t scam their users; however, many haven’t followed suit.”

McDaniels says the FTC has warned that many penny auctions use shills or automated bots to make fake bids that drive up prices and prolong auctions. This inevitably increases bidder failure, which ultimately pads company profits. That said, some companies are attempting to separate themselves from their competitors by proving they don’t use these types of strategies.

Recently, QuiBids paid Grant Thornton, a very reputable accounting firm, to conduct a neutral, third-party audit of the bid and buy website’s business model. In the end, Grant Thornton found that QuiBids did not use automated bots to cheat its customers; and the BBB chose to upgrade the company’s rating in response. Unfortunately, according to McDaniels, few penny auctions have followed QuiBid’s lead.

“Right now, consumers really don’t have any way of knowing which sites use shills and which do not,” she said. “There are some sites that attempt to uncover this sort of unscrupulous activity by comparing total human visitors by the total actual bids to see if there is a notable discrepancy. That said, if consumers really want to be sure they aren’t getting cheated, they can either avoid these types of sites altogether or review the BBB’s ratings system to see if the particular company has conducted any sort of audit.”

Home Refinance Possible despite Lukewarm Real Estate Report


According to the S&P/Case Shiller composite index, average home prices ascended for the second consecutive month, a potential sign that the housing market might be inching toward a recovery.

Unfortunately, sales remain stagnant in most parts of the country for a variety of reasons, including tough lending standards and buyer reticence. What’s more, although the S&P’s index indicates that home values are on the rise; they still remain far lower than what they were before the real estate crisis. They also remain much lower than what many economists had hoped, and most experts aren’t expecting a significant improvement anytime soon.

Hope for Refi Applicants

Low mortgage rates have made home refinance ideal for numerous homeowners; however, many have had trouble taking advantage due to lost equity associated with falling property values. That said, it’s important to remember that the S&P/Case Shiller composite index only takes an average based on 20 major metropolitan areas. If you live in a city that is experiencing job growth and economic improvement, your home may be worth more than you think.

If you currently have a 30-year mortgage, you can save a bundle of cash by switching to a 15-year plan. Low current interest rates can also help you lower your monthly payments if you are currently struggling with a 15-year loan. By switching to a 30-year plan, you can free up cash to help pay for school loans or credit card debt.

Unfortunately, to get approval, you must have enough home equity to satisfy lenders. If you live in a depressed housing market that has seen its share of foreclosures; this probably won’t be the case.

Still, it may make sense to contact lenders to find out if you do qualify. Getting a new mortgage makes sense in today’s real estate market, whether you are struggling financially or enjoying economic prosperity. After all, low mortgage rates mean cheaper home loans for those who have what it takes to get a lender’s stamp of approval.

OrangeBidz Scam or Unfair Penny Auction Reviews?


Bidding fee auction websites have taken the Internet by a storm, with many getting rich at the expense of unwitting consumers. On the other hand, some sites have earned partial endorsements from the Better Business Bureau, a reputable consumer advocate that assigns ratings to companies based on customer complaint volume. One penny auction named Orange Bidz has received numerous online complaints. If you’re worried about a potential OrangeBidz scam, you should know the following.

High Risk, High Reward

According to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau, most people tend to lose money when they participate at penny auctions. That said, many consumers enjoy risking their money at these sites, because they view it as a form of high risk, high reward entertainment. If you get a rush competing for discount electronics and store gift cards, bidding fees auctions might be for you; on the other hand, if you are looking to score consistent discounts, you’ll be better off shopping at site that offer deals from local vendors, such as Groupon or LivingSocial.

Is OrangeBidz a Scam?

The FTC and BBB warn that many penny auction websites use automated bots or “shills” to make fake bids on behalf of the websites, themselves. Intended to cheat consumers, this deceptive strategy can drive up prices and prolong auctions. There are numerous negative OrangeBidz reviews accusing the company of using such tactics. While it’s not known whether these accusations are true; Orange Bidz does not use any sort of third-party monitoring system to ensure that each bid is made by users and not company employees or computer bots.

On the other hand, the BBB recently gave QuiBids an A- rating after it contracted with Grant Thornton to audit the company’s business practices, ensuring that no bots were used to cheat its users.

What Consumers Should Know

There is no direct evidence that uses shills to cheat its customers; however, if you are worried about a potential Orange Bidz scam, there are other places to spend your money. Currently Orange Bidz is not rated by the BBB. On the other hand, many penny auction websites are. Before spending your hard-earned money, you’d be well-advised to check the BBB’s ratings to see if a particular bidding fee auction website has received a disturbing amount of complaints.

Mortgage Refinance in Today’s Real Estate Market


Freddie Mac’s most recent survey reports that mortgage rates continue to remain at record lows, allowing qualified buyers the perfect chance to snag affordable loans on very nice properties throughout the country.

Unfortunately, many prospective borrowers are still getting denied, thanks to strict lending standards that turn a cold shoulder toward all but the least risky of applicants. That said, low mortgage rates have proved incredibly valuable to existing homeowners who are interested in getting new mortgages that will either lower their monthly payments or allow them to pay off their home at a faster pace.

Big Upside for Some

Mortgage refinance is a lifesaver for many homeowners, who can’t afford the large monthly payments that come with 15-year plans. Thanks to low current rates, switching over to a 30-year plan can mean much smaller monthly mortgage bills.

This strategy has also been a wise choice for financially stable homeowners, who are focused on eliminating their mortgages faster while avoiding costly interest fees. By switching from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year plan, they are able to side-step interest charges and buy their homes for less. This is especially helpful for seniors who don’t want to be saddled with a home loan after they retire. It’s also a nice option for people who have experienced financial growth in the years since they initially purchased their home, when they existed on a much tighter budget.

Some Unable to Qualify

To qualify for mortgage refinance, homeowners usually need at least some property equity. Unfortunately, a new report from Zillow suggests that up to one-third of all homeowners remain underwater, thanks to declining home values.

That said, if you are in a good position to refinance your mortgage, experts agree now is the time to do it. Just be sure to consider any expenses you might incur, such as closing costs and fees, which can detract from whatever savings you may enjoy.

Online Shopping: Finding Deals and Bargains, Avoiding Scams


Online shopping has continued to increase, despite lingering economic trouble that has left many consumers pinching pennies elsewhere. These days, ordinary Internet retailers are seeing less activity, while discount and coupon websites have seen a big surge in business. Unfortunately, the increased desire for deals and bargains has left many buyers vulnerable to scams. Before you punch in your credit card information, understand the risks associated with many so-called discount websites.

Scammy Websites

Although certain websites do offer some very legitimate deals and bargains, many are set up to take advantage of consumer ignorance. According to Sarah McDaniels, an online technology expert, consumers should watch out for two specific types of online shopping platforms.

“Generally, consumers should be wary of any auction site that requires you to pay for the right to make bids, as well as any website offering wholesale merchandise from overseas,” she said. “Right now, penny auction websites are aggressively marketing themselves on the radio, television and Internet. This type of salient promotion makes them seem reputable to unknowing consumers; however, some major consumer advocates have warned that many of these sites tend to cost people a lot of money.”

McDaniels says consumers also tend to have problems when they shop at websites offering wholesale merchandise from overseas.

“Websites, such as AliExpress and DHGate, offer consumers discounted merchandise made in China,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are all sorts of online complaints associated with these companies, with most focusing on bait-and-switch scams, shipping delays and damaged goods.”

What Consumers Should Know

According to McDaniels, bargain hunters should take the time to research specific vendors before they enter their credit card information.

“Online shopping sites aren’t regulated nearly as well as brick-and-mortar stores,” she said. “Before you buy anything from a particular website, take the time to do a Google search. If you find a lot of complaints, pay attention. Likewise, check the Better Business Bureau to see if they’ve rated the site you’re interested in. If it has received a rating of B+ or better, you can probably be sure the deals are legitimate. If the rating is lower, or there is no rating at all, you may want to spend your money elsewhere.”