The 10 Things Every Millennial Needs To Know Before Buying A First Home

Millenials are getting ready to buy their dream homes. Image Via: Wettling Architects

Millenials are getting ready to buy their dream homes.

Right now, millennials might have a reputation of crazy twenty-somethings not quite ready to settle down. But, a recent report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that “the number of households in their 30s should increase by 2.7 million over the next decade.” Ready or not, the millennial boom is coming.

Whether you count yourself in that demographic or are just a first time home buyer. There are some topics in the buying process that are essential to know before taking the plunge.

We’ve compiled a list of the ten most important things that everyone new to the housing market needs to know. Look them over and keep them in mind as you start your housing search. You only buy your first home once, so let us help you make it count. These tips will help you find a home that’s the right fit for you.

1. Hire a Professional Realtor

Let’s all admit it. Real estate agents often get a bad rap as swindlers. It’s because of that stigma – and the thought of saving a few dollars – that keeps many people from using them. However, listening to the hype may cost you more in the long run.

Your first time in the real estate market can get confusing. There’s lots of legal negotiation and large sums of money are often involved. There is no reason to add on the stress of having to navigate through the transaction alone, especially since if you decide to go it alone. Hire a professional to assist you.

A qualified professional can help you sort through the industry terms that make up the majority of contracts and inspection reports. They do the leg work of setting up showings and act as your advocate during the transaction so that you’re free to focus on preparing for your move. In the middle of all that craziness, you’ll appreciate the extra assistance. A real estate agent will help you find rooms that you can picture yourself living in.

2. Look Realistically At Your Budget

Your budget is the first thing that you need to look at when getting ready to buy a home. After all, it determines which properties you see and you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you miss out on the perfect house because you’re not sure how much you can spend. Or, worse yet, find yourself falling in love with a dream home you can’t afford.

Budgeting is the way to make sure that you only look at houses that you can feasibly and comfortably. Doing so will help you save time and help you get into your new property much faster.

Sit down and budget your income versus expenses. Try to settle on two amounts: One figure that shows the amount you’d be comfortable spending monthly and another that shows your absolute maximum. You can use a budget calculator to help, if necessary. Try to figure out exactly how much space you can afford.

Try to figure out exactly how much space you can afford. Image Via: Allen+Killcoyne Architects

3. Prioritize Your Wish List

We all have a wish list for our for our future dream homes. Whether it’s a gourmet kitchen or fabulous outdoor pool setup, odds are you know what you want and exactly how it should look. We’re happy to tell you that can take some your wish list with you when looking at properties, just not all of it.

When it comes to looking at real estate and especially when you are looking at starter homes, prioritization is key. You may not get every item on your list, but if you narrow it down to the features you absolutely need, you’ll likely end up happy with the result.

So make two lists. One with items that are absolutely necessary like the number of – bedrooms and bathrooms in a home – and another for nonessential items that would make you happy to have in a home. Focus on finding properties that check off all of the items on your first list and think of items on the second list as added benefits. Decide which features – like layout – are necessary in a home.

Decide which features - like layout - are necessary in a home. Image Via: Flow Home Staging & Design

4. Focus on Location

As for what should top your wish list, location is absolutely key. If you think about it, it is the one feature of your new home that absolutely will not change. Since you’re unable to alter it in any way, take the time to make sure that it will suit your needs for many years to come.

Before putting an offer in on a property, do your homework. Map out how long it will take you to get to work or school. Check the proximity to all essential spots like grocery stores and pharmacies. Make sure you’re happy with the amount of nightlife in the area.

It may be a good idea to have a few target areas in mind before meeting with your real estate agent. That way, he or she will be able to target your home search to properties that fit your needs. Make sure you’re home’s location is one of your favorite features.

Make sure you're home's location is one of your favorite features. I'mage Via: Chioco Design

5. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Once you’re finally get to start the showing process, it’s exciting and overwhelming. You’ll be seeing a lot of houses rather quickly. Sometimes it can be hard to separate one property from the other and to pick out the features you like the most.

In an effort to keep everything straight, many first time buyers have a tendency to identify properties by focusing on the small details – a wallpapered dining room or some vinyl flooring in the kitchen. But, continually focusing on the small details can hurt in the long run, if you decide not to move forward on a house because of them.

Instead, every once in a while, try to force yourself to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Is the house structurally sound? Does it require any monumental repairs? As long as those things are okay, small details like wallpaper can be fixed later down the road. Don’t let small details like a lack of upgrades turn you off a house with the perfect footprint.

Don't let small details like a lack of upgrades turn you off a house with the perfect footprint. Image Via: A+B KASHA Designs

6. Go In With Your Best Offer

Real estate is one of the few areas where sale price is still up for negotiation. Unfortunately, this means that many people, especially those like first-time home buyers who may be working on a lower budget, go in to the buying process with the mindset that they can try and score a deal on their new property.

However, by doing so you may actually be setting yourself up for disappointment. If their is another offer on the table, submitting an offer that is far below the sale price will almost certainly put you out of the running. Even if there is no other competition for the property, a super low offer may insult the sellers and they could decide to reject it as a result.

When you’re thinking of what price you’d like to put forward, ask yourself how you would feel if you received the same. If you would turn your nose up at an identical offering, consider going in a little higher.  This particular piece of advice comes with one caveat. If you absolutely love the property, go in with your best foot forward. However, if you feel lukewarm about the house, feel free to try and score a deal. When making an offer, put your best foot forward.

7. Gather All Your Inspection Information

It’s true. Home inspections are optional. Some people choose to skip them to avoid paying the upfront costs. However, especially when it’s your first time buying a home, we do not recommend skipping them. In fact, we suggest you gather as much inspection information as possible.

This is because inspections can often reveal hidden issues like expensive repairs. Plus, since buyers are still able to walk away from the transaction during their inspection timeframe, if you find that the repairs are too much to handle, you will be able to move on to another home that better suits your needs.

However, if you opt out of your inspections, you are essentially agreeing to take the home in its current condition, whatever that may be. If you happen to find a major issue later down the road, it will be your responsibility. Whenever possible, get the information upfront. Remember to collect documentation from all your inspections.

8. Keep A Level Head When Negotiating

Once you’re under contract and headed to the settlement table, every decision becomes a negotiation – who will shoulder the cost of repairs, what items will get left behind, even when settlement will be. The best thing that you can do in these situations is to work at keeping a level head.

It can be easy to get over invested in getting your way, particularly when making a decision that you are truly passionate about. But, remember that successful negotiations work on a system of give-and-take.

Stand your ground when you believe that you have a cause and try to do so in a polite and respectful manner. However, don’t underestimate the power of striking a compromise or ever conceding on issues that aren’t so important to you. You never know when that act of good will may be returned by the sellers. Prioritize during contract negotiations.

9. Don’t Tackle Every Improvement At Once

This is the biggest mistake that many new homeowners make. While it’s sounds like a great idea to get all of the annoying construction out of the way at one time, taking on too many improvements at one time is a sure way to become overwhelmed with your new home before you’ve even truly had a chance to unpack.

Instead, only focus on the repairs that are absolutely necessary to make your home livable. Then, live in the space for a few months before taking on any cosmetic fixes. Living in your home may open your eyes to better repair scenarios than you had originally envisioned.

Then, when it’s time to tackle those upgrades, take on one project at a time. Remember, presumably you’ll be living for at least the next few years, so you have time to make your mark. Update the rooms in your home one at a time instead of all at once.

Update the rooms in your home one at a time instead of all at once. Image Via: Jason Arnold Interiors

10. Aim For Resale Value

Let’s be honest for a second: It’s very unlikely that your first home will end up being the home you live in until you become old and gray. In a few years, you may need to relocate for a job or your family may grow.

That’s why when buying your first home you should focus on resale value. While it’s obviously important to find a home that you love, you should also focus on finding one that will appeal to others, if you need to sell it in the future.

As for what counts as resale value, think about things that appeal to the younger generation – first-time homebuyers. Things like proximity to shops and restaurants, curb appeal, and neutral upgrades tend to have mass appeal. Focus on making improvements that will add resale value to the property.

Focus on making improvements that will add resale value to the property. Image Via: Axis Mundi

Buying your first home is exciting, nerve-racking, and downright terrifying all in one. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we are here for you every step of the way. We’ve compiled a list of all the thing’s that millennals – and those who love them need to know before entering the housing market. Keep them in mind as you search for your first home and beyond. After all, you never outgrow good advice.

Millennials, what questions do you have about the housing market? What are you looking for in a home? Let us know in the comments below.

7 Ways to Lift Your Mood (Without Leaving Home!)

COVID-19 has created changes and challenges for us all this season, and has likely affected your mood and daily functions alike. Fortunately, despite the many adjustments we’ve all made so far, there are still things you can do to help yourself, your friends and family, and those who live in your own community.

If you haven’t yet, try some of these at-home tips to lift the spirits of yourself and your friends, family, and neighbors:

  1. Redecorate a room in your home. While redecorating might feel like a low priority, it’s actually a beneficial project to take on right now. The rooms in our homes influence how we feel every day. Clutter makes us anxious, colors impact how we feel, and certain items or arrangements may even bring old memories – good and bad – to mind. That’s why now is the time to consider redecorating a room or two that don’t inspire your best mood, and to do something with the space that will lift your spirits.
  2. Decorate for your favorite season or holiday. While spring decorations are beautiful, there’s nothing wrong with bringing out items that represent your favorite non-seasonal holidays right now. For example, Christmas decorations in windows will light up your home and look beautiful to anyone passing by. Things like this will help you think about things you enjoy. And who knows – you might even be able to persuade your neighbors to join you in the fun and have a decorating contest!
  3. Get yourself outside. Staying indoors all day long is linked to anxiety and insomnia – two things that will not do you any favors right now. Even if you’re under a stay-at-home order, you are allowed outside for exercise specifically because it’s necessary. Whether you choose to lounge on your porch, work in your garden, or go for a stroll, getting outside will help your body and mind alike. Just be sure to respect social distancing guidelines out there!
  4. Schedule virtual fun with family and friends. While our normal hangouts look a little different right now, they don’t all have to be canceled outright. Game nights can be coordinated online. Happy hours can be enjoyed via digital videos and chatrooms. And movie nights can be coordinated and synchronized over long distance. So go ahead and make those plans – you’ll feel great after spending time with your loved ones!
  5. Offer to help elderly neighbors. Although necessary, social isolation can be lonely, as well as make it difficult or unsafe to get groceries and other necessities. Senior citizens in particular are likely to struggle with these two factors. Keep this in mind and do your part to help community members who may need extra connection or assistance. A phone call or run to the store could be the highlight of someone’s day.
  6. Share heart-warming social media content. We’re spending a lot of time on our phones and computers right now, so we may as well find fun things to share! Funny memes and images, adorable pet videos and rescue stories, good news, and similar things will brighten the day of your friends, family, and community members.
  7. Make a schedule and stick to it. Finally, do yourself a favor and set a schedule and routine. While allowing time to rest and recharge is important, you won’t be happy with yourself if you miss deadlines or overlook things that are important to you personally. Setting a regular routine and strict schedule will help motivate you to make regular progress on the things you need to do. Plus, not only does a routine help you make regular progress on your To Do list – it also offers health benefits and will help you feel your best!

These tips and actions can go a long way in helping you maintain connection and engage with activities and work this season, while also adhering to health and safety guidelines. You can also do even more to support your neighbors by using these additional tips from our team.

We hope these ideas make a difference in your home, and wish you health and happiness in the coming weeks!

DIY Projects to Tackle While You Stay At Home

If you’re spending more time at home waiting out the current COVID-19 outbreak, you’ve probably spotted a few spots areas around that house that could use some TLC. If so, now may be the perfect time to take on a home improvement project! Not only will this give you something engaging to do, but your home improvement efforts could lead to a higher home value down the road.

Some projects, of course, are bigger than others. If you’re looking for things to do in a short amount of time, these six weekend projects may be just what you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for even more DIY projects to do at home, you may want to try your hand at these next:

Create a Mudroom

Mudrooms add “middle ground” between a home and the outside world. Often, they are used to store wet shoes and clothes, as well as any other gear used while outside. Don’t let the name fool you, however – mudrooms don’t have to take up an entire room! Any entry spaces or a nooks in the garage can be made into a mudroom.

The simplest ones may just have a bench and coat hooks, although you can easily expand on your setup based on your personal needs. If you spend lots of time outside, this DIY project is definitely worth your time. Don’t hesitate to search for mudroom ideas online for inspiration!

Invest in Smart Home Technology

Voice-controlled home automation devices can make a home easier to navigate and control, whether or not you’re actually inside. Keyless locks, voice- and remote-controlled lights, high-tech vacuum cleaners, and even upgraded smart TVs are all examples of modern technology you might consider installing in your home to streamline your day. You might also think about investing in voice service devices via Amazon or household management apps, which are simple to set up and use.

Do Some Landscaping

Working in your yard is an easy way to get outside while also staying at home this season. Even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs and you’re just starting to create a garden, there are things you can do to upgrade your yard!

A great option right now is adding outdoor lounge furniture with string bulbs overhead. If you’re able to include one, a fire pit may be the perfect finishing touch. With these simple additions, you can revamp your yard and create a new space to enjoy this season safely.

Update Kitchen Cabinet Knobs

Kitchen cabinets are one of the most important factors in the functionality and appearance of a kitchen. While fully refacing kitchen cabinets can turn into a major project, you can always opt for a simpler update! Stylish knobs and pulls are an easy way to dress up your kitchen. For older cabinets that are looking particularly worn, you may also opt to repaint your cabinets.

Make A DIY Mirror Frame

Framing an unadorned mirror is an easy DIY home decor project that will help to update the look of a room. While ordering a frame online is an option, so is taking on the task yourself! Simply using glue and with slim molding strips – which you can purchase ready to use – can help you complete your DIY frame. Don’t forget to consider whether or not you want the finish on of the frame to be show the wooden grain or hide it with opaque colored – silver or gold are always classic finishes to consider.

These projects are all examples of DIY home improvement options that, while basic, can make a big difference in the appearance and value of your house. Whatever project you work on, however, don’t forget to consider your skill level and abilities. Always do simple things first, and always take the time to consider potential complications that could arise from starting a project now versus later!

If you want information specifically about things you can do now to get ready to sell your home later, reach out to me online! By contacting me now, we can start having important conversations that will help you sell your house later.

6 Projects You Can Tackle During a Weekend at Home

Households across the world are currently staying at home to protect their communities and loved ones. With so much time being spent at home, it’s natural to begin picking up home improvement projects. Still, maybe you shouldn’t pick too large of a project. The last thing you want to do is turn your home into a construction zone!

With that in mind, we recommend choosing “weekend projects” – things that can be done in a reasonable amount of time and will still give you great results. So roll up your sleeves and start with these basic home improvement options:

Organize Your House

This project is a classic for a reason! De-cluttering and organizing your home is worth your time for many reasons. Not only does it add value to your home, but it helps you feel more relaxed and at-ease – something we could all use more of.

While de-cluttering and organizing an entire household in a weekend is a bit much, choosing one or two rooms to work on at a time is very manageable. Don’t forget to work on clearing out and reorganizing the closets, cupboards, and drawers in these rooms as well!

Paint Your Household Essentials

Painting a room, your kitchen cabinets, or other household staples is a simple home improvement task that you can do any time. Old wooden cabinets can be given a fresh look with a fresh coat of paint, ideally with a neutral hue. Meanwhile, a new color can inspire a new tone and mood in different rooms of your home. Even simply going over the trim in a room can brighten up your house!

Not only will paint be pleasing to your own eyes, but it can also help you prepare to sell your house if selling is something you’re planning in the near future. Just remember that while it is possible to paint a room in a weekend, preparation and planning are essential. That means taking the time to do things like tape around windows.

Add Crown Molding to a Room

Feeling cramped in your home? You may want to try this simple trick to make your space look bigger. Crown molding – the white line of trim at the top of a wall – naturally draws our eyes upward. This simple adjustment in direction can make a room appear airier and more spacious! In addition to possibly helping you combat cabin fever, this aesthetic is often very appealing in homes being listed for sale.

You might not be able to install molding throughout your entire home over a single weekend, but you can certainly tackle the project on a room-by-room basis. Consider starting in your kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom for the best looks and results!

Upgrade and Overhaul Your Yard

Yard work is a wonderful way to get outside safely, as well as to boost the curb appeal of your property. Your upgrades can be as simple as adding paths made of pavers to your front yard or sprucing up your flowerbeds with colorful blooms. Adding new coats of paint to your front door or garage door are also great ways to keep yourself busy via basic home repairs.

Don’t forget to show your backyard some love as well! Even if some maintenance has to be put on hold until contractors can be brought in, such tasks as gardening and clearing backyard clutter can still be completed in a short period of time.

Add Some Beauty to Your Bathroom

Bathrooms tend to get lots of attention when we’re preparing to sell a home. But since we spend a lot of time in our bathrooms, it’s always worth making sure they’re clean and beautiful! If you’re able to make them, small upgrades in lighting fixtures, cabinets, and tile are all projects worth tackling. You can also simply replace all your outlet and switch covers with new ones. Simple, but beautiful!

Out With The Old, In With The New

Does something in your home hail back to the style of decades gone by? If so, now might be the time to remove it! From wallpaper to popcorn ceilings, removing outdated design elements is a great way to modernize and reinvent your space. Alternatively, if you don’t feel ready to remove something entirely on your own, you can start planning what you’ll need to get that work completed at a future date.

On the other hand, even if nothing in your house is overly dated, you may want to consider swapping out some of the décor for something more seasonal. You can freshen up a bedroom with new bedding, a bathroom with new towels and accessories, and a common area with new lamps and lamp shades. They’re very simple swaps, but they’re also effective upgrades!

Know Your Limits and Use the Right Tools

There are lots of simple things you can do around your home to brighten your space and improve your property value. Whatever project you work on, however, recognizing your skill level is the key to being a successful weekend warrior. Always do simple things first, and always take the time to consider potential complications that could arise from starting a project now versus later.

Additionally, before starting any projects, it’s worth doing an inventory of your tools! While a number of improvement projects don’t require tools, you don’t want to find yourself in need of one as you progress to different tasks. So make sure that you have essentials before getting your hands dirty. Essentials include at least one:

  • hammer
  • tape measure
  • X-ACTO knife
  • utility knife
  • adjustable crescent wrench
  • joint and standard screwdrivers, both regular and Phillips

Looking for more information about DIY projects? Click here to see a roundup of resources from our own blog about various spring projects you can do around your home! Or, if you want information specifically about things you can do now to get ready to sell your home later, reach out to an agent online – they’ll be able to start having important conversations now that will help you sell your house later!

How to Identify a Text Scam

scam text messages

With any new form of communication comes the potential for scammers. Spam texts and text scams can be an unwelcome privacy intrusion and, if you fall for them, they could potentially create havoc in your life. SMS scams generally have the same goal: stealing your money by getting your personal information people across the globe now have instant connection at their fingertips. Plus, they’re always evolving. The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker program added 47,567 separate text scams to its scam tracking program in 2019. Here’s how to identify a spam text to protect yourself, your friends and your family.

4 ways to identify scam text messages

Smishing, phishing that occurs over SMS, is often easy to spot when you know what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to weed out spam and text scams from your message inbox, these are the common warning signs that can tip you off. 

1. Abnormally long numbers

If a text message is legitimate, it’s usually from a number 10 digits or less. Marketing messages are either sent from a six digit short code or a 10-digit commercial long code. If you get a text from a number that is 11 digits long, you can probably assume you’re getting a text scam. Receiving a spam text from a long number doesn’t happen often, but if it does, be extra cautious before choosing to respond. In fact, this is probably a text you just don’t want to reply to.

2. Family crisis texts

Receiving news of a family crisis is alarming. If you were to receive a text from a random number asking for help, you might be inclined to send money to an unverified destination in case it would help a loved one. Family crisis text scams use this psychology to trick recipients into thinking a family member is in danger—and that they need to send money to correct the situation. 

When money is involved, err on the side of caution and proceed with skepticism. It’s likely you’re receiving an SMS scam.

If you’re unsure of the validity of a text, reach out to family members to ask whether they’ve received the same message. Additionally, if the text mentions someone by name, try reaching out to that person directly before responding to the original text. 

If a family member truly is in trouble, contact the proper authorities instead of sending money.

3. Text refund 

Another common text scam comes in the form of a text refund. Basically, you’ll receive a message saying that you’ve been overcharged for a service—many text scams use the guise of a phone service provider. The text will then offer to refund you, if you provide your direct deposit information. 

Sounds great, right? Nope! If you send your banking details over, whoever is scamming you will have access to your routing and account number and be able to steal from you. Never send banking information through unsecured means.

4. Random prizes

Scammers have come up with a myriad of creative ways to get your personal information. One of these ways is offering up random prizes, including cash and material goods. The catch? You’ll need to give your bank details, or other personal information, in order to claim the “prize.” 

While text-to-win contests are a legitimate form of text marketing, be wary of receiving news that you’ve won a contest you didn’t even enter. Despite the thrill of receiving an offer that sounds too good to be true, restrain yourself. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. If you can’t tell whether the offer is legitimate, call the company the contest is supposedly through and ask for verification. 

10 Common text scams to watch out for

There seem to be new text scams every day, but there are a few smishing techniques that are more popular than others. Here’s a 2019 list of common text scams and spam text messages examples to be wary of. 

1. Wells Fargo text scam

Wells Fargo has four official short codes, so if you get a text claiming to be from the bank but not from one of their official short codes. Don’t respond, it’s a phishing text. Wells Fargo’s verified short codes are: 93557, 93733, 93729 and 54687. 

Also, be aware that Wells Fargo will only ask to verify your identity if you’ve initiated some sort of action such as signing into online banking. If you haven’t done anything related to your banking that would prompt and identity check, it’s probably a text scam message. 

You can report a text scam message to Wells Fargo by copying and pasting the text message into an email (don’t attach screenshots) and sending it to [email protected]. If you’ve accidentally responded to the text message scam, call Wells Fargo at 1-866-867-5568.

2. Uber code text scam

Many people have reported receiving mysterious and unsolicited text messages with Uber confirmation codes despite not having recently signed up for the service. These occur when someone tries to create an Uber account with your text message. Phone numbers must be verified via text message, which is when the confirmation text is sent out. 

Since the text message is going to you, and not the scammer, it is impossible for the scammer to confirm the account and use your number. To end these text messages, reply STOP. 

3. Craigslist text scam

There’s more than one Craigslist text scam going around out there. The online classified website is a popular ground for scammers looking for easy targets. Scammers on Craigslist are typically phishing. 

What often happens is that scammers will send a text message saying you have notifications about a Craigslist post. Watch out for the domain. A common scam domain is cl-review.org, but there could be other domains that, like this one, look somewhat similar to an actual Craigslist domain but aren’t. Don’t click on any links that don’t take you directly to Craigslist and definitely don’t input any information on a site that isn’t directly owned by Craigslist. 

4. Bank of America text scam

Similar to the Wells Fargo text scam, with the Bank of America text scam the spammers will be sending you an illegitimate text message trying to get you to hand over personal banking information. Don’t respond to any text messages that ask for personal information. You can report Bank of America spam text messages by emailing [email protected]. Include the number the spam text came from as well as what it said.

5. FedEx text scam

A popular text scam in 2019 is for the scammers to imitate a brand like FedEx, telling you they need additional information or money in order to deliver a package to you. FedEx does not require money transfer to third party or escrow service before they’ll deliver a package, so if that’s what the text message indicates then it’s definitely a FedEx text scam. While shipping services like FedEx can send legitimate automated SMS shipping updates, they’ll never ask for money or personal details before they deliver.

Sometimes, the scammers will threaten immediate action, such as suspension of your account, if you do not comply with their demands. These spam text messages will usually include a link to a site that is not owned by FedEx. Don’t click on these links or reply to these text messages. You can report them to FedEx by emailing [email protected]

6. Paypal text scam

Paypal is common territory for scammers looking to phish personal information over SMS message. The scammers will often tell you that your account is in danger of being deleted unless you take certain actions. Or, they might ask you to provide the tracking number of an item before you’ve received payment into your account. Remember, don’t provide any sensitive information like this unless you’re directly on a secure version of the Paypal website. Paypal won’t ask you for information like your credit card number, bank account number or driver’s license number over text message. You can report spam directly to Paypal at [email protected]

7. Western Union text scam

There are several types of Western Union SMS scams to be aware of. One of the most popular ones is a charity scam where the scammer will ask for money to be sent to help victims of an emergency. Keep in mind that legitimate charities don’t accept donations through Western Union.

The other common Western Union text scam is a smishing scam where the scammers will be trying to get personal identification information from you to proceed with identity theft. Don’t provide any personal identification through text message and be wary of any links that redirect to web pages that look somewhat “off.” 

Oh yeah, and if you get a text message offering you “free money” or a prize from Western Union if you’ll just enter some personal information — that one’s a scam too. That’s probably one of the most obvious spam text messages examples, but many people do legitimately fall for it each year, causing untold personal heartache.

8. Walmart text scam

One of the most common Walmart spam text messages examples is where the scammer will send a spam text claiming that you’ve won a free Walmart gift card. They’ll ask you to go to a link and enter your personal information to claim your prize. 

If you don’t remember entering the contest, it’s probably a scam. Definitely don’t enter any personal information on websites like these. If you think the offer might be legitimate, try to find contact information for the company who is running the contest. If you can’t find any information, then it’s definitely a scam. 

Another common Walmart text scam is one where scammers invite you to take a survey about your experience at Walmart. You have to follow a link to a survey and input personal information in order to do so. Do not enter personal or account information on a site like this. 

Lastly, if you receive a text message with an online order confirmation about an order that you did not place through Walmart.com, this could be another text scam. Watch out for scammers who claim they just need some additional personal information or payment to deliver your order. A real order confirmation should provide all the details about the order in the body of the message without requiring you to click any links. 

9. Someone complimented you text scam

The “someone complimented you” text scam went viral in 2018 with many people claiming it was linked to sex trafficking. The good news on this one is that it’s actually not a scam, per se. It was a marketing attempt by an app company to get people to download their app. Unfortunately, it does appear that they texted many phone numbers without prior consent, which is not compliant with federal laws. They did end up cancelling text invites because it was coming across as too spammy.

I think I sent my information to a scammer. Now what?

If you received a message that you now recognize as part of a scam, you still have options. If you’ve given your information, consider the following tactics to regain financial security and peace of mind. 

  • If you’ve given card information, cancel those cards with your bank. This makes the information you’ve given out unusable to scammers. If you’ve given out personal banking information such as your account numbers, contact your bank immediately to begin the appropriate spam protocol.
  • Report the fraud to your phone service provider, as they may have had other customers with the same experience. Informing your cell carrier will allow them to take action if they see their clients experiencing similar spam texts, or texts from the same number. 
  • Update your passwords! It never hurts to reset your online banking passwords, or any stored passwords you use online for that matter.  Doing so will make the process of hacking your account more difficult. You should have a unique password for every account and not one standard password you use across the internet. 
  • Take action and block the number sending you spam text. 

How to report spam text messages

If you’ve received a spam text message that claims to be from a certain company or brand, you should contact the customer service or dedicated abuse email or phone number at that company to report the spam. 

In addition to that, many carriers allow you to report spam text messages by forward the message to 7726 — this spells out SPAM on most phones. Verify with your carrier that this feature is supported with them. 

If you are the victim of fraud, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. You can also report fraud to the FTC.

How to stop spam text messages

If you’ve been on the receiving end of text spam before it’s only natural to wonder how to block spam text messages. There are a couple of different strategies when it comes to how to stop text spam. Here’s what you can do.

  • Do not respond. If the message is clearly from a scammer, don’t reply to them at all. This just confirms that your number is active. 
  • Reply STOP. If you’re dealing with a company, and not a scammer, you might take a different approach. If the spam text messages are from a legitimate company that isn’t doing anything wrong, per se, but they’re just annoying you with too many offers or SMS messages, just reply STOP to opt out. This should get you off of their text message list.
  • Block numbers. Yes, spammers and scammers can and do create new spams with different short codes. However, blocking numbers you know are definitely linked to a scammer can buy you some reprieve in the short term.
  • Report. If you’re wondering how to stop spam text messages once and for all, one of the best ways to stamp them out is to report scammers or spammers to the appropriate authorities. Also, report the scam to your carrier. They can use the information to figure out how to stop spam text messages at the source.

If you’re looking to avoid future text spam and scams, try installing an app like Truecaller or RoboKiller. These apps work to filter out spam texts, not to mention unwanted calls from telemarketers. 

Why am I getting spam text messages in the first place?

The mystery of how and why your number got into the hands of a scammer in the first place can be fascinating to many people. In all likelihood you’re getting a spam text message because your number was accessed by a person or company who you did not give consent to contact you. In the United States, any entity that sends text messages must be able to demonstrate that you agreed to receiving text messages from them — otherwise it’s considered illegal contact. 

Spring Maintenance!

Strategies to cope with Corona-virus anxiety

As the Corona virus continues its global spread and the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases continues to increase, anxiety related to the outbreak is on the rise too.

The following suggestions, based on psychological science, can help you deal with corona virus anxiety.

1. Practice tolerating uncertainty

Intolerance of uncertainty, which has been increasing in the US, makes people vulnerable to anxiety. A study during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic showed that people who had a harder time accepting the uncertainty of the situation were more likely to experience elevated anxiety.

The solution is to learn to gradually face uncertainty in daily life by easing back on certainty-seeking behaviors.

Start small: Don’t text your friend immediately the next time you need an answer to a question. Go on a hike without checking the weather beforehand. As you build your tolerance-of-uncertainty muscle, you can work to reduce the number of times a day you consult the internet for updates on the outbreak.

Limit your daily digital intake.

2. Tackle the anxiety paradox

Anxiety rises proportionally to how much one tries to get rid of it. Or as Carl Jung put it, “What you resist persists.”

Struggling against anxiety can take many forms. People might try to distract themselves by drinking, eating or watching Netflix more than usual. They might repeatedly seek reassurance from friends, family or health experts. Or they might obsessively check news streams, hoping to calm their fears. Although these behaviors can help momentarily, they can make anxiety worse in the long run. Avoiding the experience of anxiety almost always backfires.

Instead, allow your anxious thoughts, feelings and physical sensations to wash over you, accepting anxiety as an integral part of human experience. When waves of corona virus anxiety show up, notice and describe the experience to yourself or others without judgment. Resist the urge to escape or calm your fears by obsessively reading virus updates. Paradoxically, facing anxiety in the moment will lead to less anxiety over time.

3. Transcend existential anxiety

Health threats trigger the fear that underlies all fears: fear of death. When faced with reminders of one’s own mortality, people might become consumed with health anxiety and hyper focused on any signs of illness.

Try connecting to your life’s purpose and sources of meaning, be it spirituality, relationships, or pursuit of a cause. Embark on something important that you’ve been putting off for years and take responsibility for how you live your life. Focusing on or discovering the “why” of life can go a long way in helping you deal with unavoidable anxiety.

You are stronger than you think you are.

4. Don’t underestimate human resiliency

Many people fear how they will manage if the virus shows up in town, at work or at school. They worry how they would cope with a quarantine, a daycare closure or a lost paycheck. Human minds are good at predicting the worst.

But research shows that people tend to overestimate how badly they’ll be affected by negative events and underestimate how well they’ll cope with and adjust to difficult situations.

Be mindful that you are more resilient than you think. It can help attenuate your anxiety.

5. Don’t get sucked into overestimating the threat

Corona virus can be dangerous, with an estimated 1.4% to 2.3% death rate. So everyone should be serious about taking all the reasonable precautions against infection.

But people also should realize that humans tend to exaggerate the danger of unfamiliar threats compared to ones they already know, like seasonal flu or car accidents. Constant incendiary media coverage contributes to the sense of danger, which leads to heightened fear and further escalation of perceived danger.

To reduce anxiety, I recommend limiting your exposure to corona virus news to no more than 30 minutes per day. And remember that we become more anxious when faced with situations that have no clear precedent. Anxiety, in turn, makes everything seem more dire.

6. Strengthen self-care

During these anxiety-provoking times, it’s important to remember the tried-and-true anxiety prevention and reduction strategies. Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature and employ relaxation techniques when stressed.

Prioritizing these behaviors during the corona virus crisis can go a long way toward increasing your psychological well being and bolstering your immune system.

7. Seek professional help if you need it

People who are vulnerable to anxiety and related disorders might find the corona virus epidemic particularly overwhelming. Consequently, they might experience anxiety symptoms that interfere with work, maintaining close relationships, socializing or taking care of themselves and others.

If this applies to you, please get professional help from your doctor or a mental health professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy and certain medications can successfully treat anxiety problems.

Although you might feel helpless during this stressful time, following these strategies can help keep anxiety from becoming a problem in its own right and enable you to make it through the epidemic more effectively.