May 16, 2021

Do car dealerships still use high pressure tactics?

Just about everyone has a story about pressure tactics and broken promises after shopping at a car dealership.

Just what did you expect?

Dealerships spend thousands of dollars on training systems to teach their salespeople how to influence buyers from the very first moment that you make contact with them on the lot.

Some years ago, Edmunds, a web site that gives car-buying advice to consumers, had one of their employees, Chandler Phillips, go “undercover” and get a job at a couple of California car dealerships.

His description of the pressure techniques taught to car salespeople illustrated how, with a little sleight of hand and even outright deception, dealerships sweeten the deal in their favour — often costing you hundreds of dollars or more.

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April 27, 2021

Can you trust those online reviews?

When searching online for a new gadget to buy, consumers pay close attention to the number of stars awarded by other seemingly satisfied customers.

But new research confirms what some of us already suspect: those ratings can be swayed by a small group of busy users.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Vassilis Kostakos says that rating systems that tap into the "wisdom of the crowd" often paint a distorted picture of a product

Kostakos studied voting patterns on sites like Amazon and the Internet Movie Database.  In each case, the professor found that a small number of users regularly accounted for the bulk of the sites' published ratings.

And these results often reflect more than just unbridled enthusiasm. 

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March 11, 2022

New scam targets Madoff victims

As if the poor folks ruined by convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff don’t have enough problems, a new phishing scam is hoping they’ll bite one more time.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is alerting investors about a phony web site that falsely claims to have recovered $1.3 billion in funds hidden by Madoff in Malaysia.

The site claims to be home to the non-existent "International Security Investor Protection Corporation" and bears a convincing likeness to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation's (the entity formed by the U.S. Congress to assist customers of insolvent brokerage firms) own web site, mimicking its look, feel, and content.  

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February 19, 2022

Are you a good candidate for a scam?

After pleading guilty to running a pyramid scheme that duped at least 150 of his close friends and relatives, disgraced financial advisor Earl Jones was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Given the opportunity, would you have fallen for his scheme? How do otherwise intelligent people get duped this way?

Knowing a bit about investments, being impulsive, being impressed by authority and living on your own are just a few of the characteristics that help make people susceptible to ponzi schemes and other money-related scams.

Investment fraud victims are also more likely to be male, married, more educated, and have higher levels of income than non-victims, according to the NASD Investor Education Foundation.

Sound like anybody you know?

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...