Scam Alert: Calls, Emails, or Texts About Government Stimulus Checks Are Bogus

Stimulus check scams are circulating.
Stimulus check scams are circulating.
anyaberkut/iStock via Getty Images

The federal government is currently in the process of distributing stimulus checks to taxpayers as part of a $2 trillion effort to bolster the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While no action or effort is needed on the part of citizens, some people might receive calls, emails, or texts prompting them to offer additional information.

Naturally, it’s a scam. According to Business Insider, the Treasury Department is cautioning taxpayers that any entity purporting to be affiliated with the government and asking for their personal data for the purposes of issuing the stimulus check is fraudulent.

On their website, the department states that any solicitation for information or offer to hasten delivery of the check in exchange for a fee is not coming from the government, which usually communicates via the United States Postal Service. Instead, it would be an attempt to steal your private banking, credit card, or other information.

It’s also possible some scammers are mailing out bogus stimulus checks in an effort to prompt recipients to call and offer private information. Since the checks will take weeks to arrive, you should eye such correspondence with suspicion.

Many stimulus checks will be remitted via direct deposit if the IRS has that information on file from a resident’s 2018 or 2019 tax returns. If not, the Treasury will soon have a method to enter that information online. More details are expected in the coming days.

For the moment, the one beneficial online resource regarding stimulus checks is an online calculator that can help determine the amount you can expect to receive. No private information is required.

[h/t Business Insider]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Living Near a Trader Joe's Can Increase the Value of Your Home—Here's Why

Trader Joe's can signal that local real estate values are high.
Trader Joe's can signal that local real estate values are high.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As real estate experts will tell you, the location of a residential property carries a lot of weight when it comes to its value. Proximity to schools, parks, and other homes selling for their market value are all positives. Apparently, so is having a Trader Joe’s nearby.

According to Reader’s Digest, the popular grocery chain—which is owned by discount grocery giant ALDI—can have an effect on property values. The data was compiled by ATTOM Data Solutions and looked at home sales from 2014 to 2019 across nearly 2000 zip codes. Homes that were near Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or ALDI were examined. Overall, homes that were situated close to a Trader Joe’s sold for an average of $608,305, more than those near a Whole Foods and almost three times as much as a home near an ALDI. The average return on investment (ROI) for a home near Trader Joe’s was 51 percent, or 14 percent more than the national average of 37 percent. The Joe’s-adjacent homes also held an average 37 percent equity, compared to 25 percent nationally.

You can view the complete infographic here:

Grocery store chains can be used to measure real estate values. ATTOM Data Solutions

For real estate investors, ALDI actually edged out other grocery chains, with homes near one of their locations seeing a 62 percent average gross flipping ROI and a 42 percent return on appreciation over five years.

Homebuyers may question whether the presence of a supermarket can influence home values, or whether it’s simply a matter of Trader Joe’s choosing locations in affluent neighborhoods with rising property values and deeming them a good prospect for the chain’s expansion. Either way, the store appears to be a signpost that you stand a good chance of profiting from your property.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]