Why Playing Hard to Get Online Can Save You Some Heartache (And Money)

Just when you thought dating couldn’t be any more annoying.

Online dating scammers have taken nearly $1 billion from unsuspecting lonely hearts in the last three years, and they’re coming for more, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Reports to the FBI about online-dating scams have tripled in the last five years.

You can probably delete that half-true comment about guacamole now.

I know what you’re thinking; online dating is expensive enough, and now we have to worry about being scammed?

Don’t move to a convent just yet. There are ways to spot a romance scam and even get your money back if it happens to you.

How to Spot Online-Dating Scams

You’re first red flag is if they can’t meet you in person.

If someone says they’re abroad and can’t meet, you should tread carefully. If they continually make excuses about why they can’t meet, it’s best to move on.

Scammers will use excuses like memberships that are about to end to get your phone number or email address so they can communicate free from scam monitors. While even the best dating sites can miss scammers, they still have systems in place to block suspicious behavior, so don’t be fooled.

That’s how one woman lost over $50,000 in an online-dating scam. The 2.5-month relationship included over 10,000 text messages, 400 phone calls and zero first dates.

Do a Google image search for their profile pictures to see if they’ve been used anywhere else. Scammers will post well-groomed pictures with nice things in nice places. It makes you think they’re wealthy, so when they ask you for money, you trust they’ll pay you back.

If their speech reads like a bad Google translate, then it probably is a bad Google translate. And a sudden emergency is always a telltale sign of a scammer. Even if they don’t ask for money, scammers have guilted victims into giving to not-so-worthy causes.

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed

First, don’t be embarrassed.

In 2017, there were 28,000 complaints filed to the Federal Trade Commission regarding online-dating scams.

If you’ve given your banking information to anyone you believe may be a scammer, call your credit card company or bank and file a fraud victim statement with the three credit bureaus.

If you received any attachments from the scammer, update your computer’s anti-malware software and do a virus scan.

Money-transferring services are making every effort to protect victims of fraud. The BBB recommends reporting scams from as far back as 2004 to the FTC.

If you sent money through Western Union, you don’t even need the receipt. Just the date, amount and where it was sent will suffice. You may not get all your money back, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Jen Smith is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder and gives money saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

32 pruebas gráficas de que a los españoles nos deberían PROHIBIR en Wallapop

La cuenta de Twitter @Wikiwallapop tiene las capturas más locas de Wallapop.

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This Twisted IRS Scam Puts Cash in Your Bank… but Costs You Big Later

Just imagine logging in to your bank account and discovering Uncle Sam has generously deposited a few thousand dollars. It’s a tax refund you weren’t even expecting!

In the words of the great Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!”

According to an article at CBS Money Watch, the IRS is warning people that tax refund scams are on the rise this year. Just the good news we needed, right?

How These Tax Scams Work

Thanks to a few tax preparation locations that were hacked, the bad guys have thousands of people’s personal information. They use this information to file fraudulent tax forms that bring back nice tax refunds.

That refund, however, goes to the person whose name and address is on the form. That means if a fraudulent claim is made in your name, the money will come to you via direct deposit or check.

Yay! No, not really.

Once you get your monetary surprise, the bad guys will give you a call claiming to be the IRS or a debt collection agency retrieving the money for the IRS. Or you may get a recorded message accusing you of tax fraud and threatening arrest if you don’t call a phone number to clear it all up.

The IRS is not calling anyone, but guess what: It does want that money back. If you get a surprise check or direct deposit from the IRS, you need to return that money. If it’s a direct deposit, talk to your bank, and it can send it directly back to the IRS. You may also want to close that account since it’s obviously been compromised.

If you receive a check, write “VOID” across it and send it back as soon as you can with a completed Form 14039, which is the identity theft affidavit. If you already cashed or deposited that check, send a personal or cashier’s check for the amount to the IRS.

If you have more questions on what to do if your identity is compromised, the IRS has a Guide to Identity Theft available.

As painful as it may be to get surprise funds and then immediately return them, it would be far worse to try to keep the money. Ill-gotten gains will only do bad things.

One easy step to avoid getting scammed is to file your taxes early. If your legit taxes are filed, it makes successful false filing far less likely. Once you have the W-2s, 1099s and other forms you need to file, get organized and get those taxes done. It could save you a lot of headaches.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Panda Express is Starting the Year of the Dog With a Treasure

The Chinese New Year is this Friday, and fast-food chain Panda Express will celebrate the start of the Year of the Dog with a spicy freebie.

On Friday, Feb. 16, every Panda Express in the U.S. will hand out red envelopes. Each envelope will contain a coupon good for a free 8 Treasure Chicken Breast entree on a future visit.

The red envelopes will be available all day, and you don’t have to buy anything to get one, according to a Panda Express representative.

8 Treasure Chicken Breast is a new menu item created to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year and is only available for a limited time. It features all-white-meat chicken breast, diced Chinese sausage, bell peppers, celery, fermented black beans and whole dry chili peppers all tossed in a wok with a rich, spicy sauce.

Red envelopes are traditionally given out during the Chinese New Year as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Panda Express has certainly enjoyed some prosperity, having expanded to more than 2,000 locations worldwide.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. For personal reasons, he’s partial to the Year of the Pig.

Jessica Gray, an editorial assistant at The Penny Hoarder, contributed to this post.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Norovirus Is Hitting The Olympics. Here’s What You Need To Know.

As the Winter Olympics take place, it looks like diarrhea and vomiting are going for the gold.

Officials are currently scrambling to contain an outbreak of norovirus among security staff at the Winter Olympics. So far, nearly 200 people have gotten sick.

Officials are currently scrambling to contain an outbreak of norovirus among security staff at the Winter Olympics. So far, nearly 200 people have gotten sick.

In the days leading up to the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, an unlikely competitor arrived to steal the show: norovirus, a nasty stomach bug. The outbreak, which has occurred primarily among security guards, sent officials into a frenzy.

As of Tuesday, there have been 199 confirmed cases; 154 of those people have returned to work while 45 remain in quarantine, according to the latest statement from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). So far, the majority of cases (108) have been at the Horeb Youth Centre, a dormitory where security staff members reside during the games. However, there have also been 38 cases in Pyeongchang and 53 cases in Gangneung, the coastal city where indoor ice sports such as figure skating are taking place.

Allsport Co. / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

In response, 1,200 members of security detail were quarantined, and officials drafted members of the South Korean army to fill in as staff, BuzzFeed News previously reported. No athletes have been diagnosed so far.

In response, 1,200 members of security detail were quarantined, and officials drafted members of the South Korean army to fill in as staff, BuzzFeed News previously reported. No athletes have been diagnosed so far.

So what is norovirus, how does it spread, and how can you prevent yourself from getting infected? We reached out to an expert to find out.

Afp Contributor / AFP / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

Andreypopov / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

It typically spreads through contaminated water or food, or contact with contaminated people and surfaces.

It typically spreads through contaminated water or food, or contact with contaminated people and surfaces.

Norovirus typically spreads by the fecal-oral route, Wormley says, which means people contract the virus from consuming food or beverages contaminated with fecal matter, or from touching their hands to their mouth after coming into contact with a contaminated surface (the bathroom sink, counter, doorknobs) or while cleaning up after a sick person. It can also spread directly from person to person when you are in close contact.

“It only takes 10 to 20 virus particles to infect someone, and when you're contagious you're shedding millions and billions of disease particles,” Wormley says. So you are most contagious when you have symptoms, but you can still transmit the virus to others after symptoms go away and you feel fine. “The virus can be found in your stool for up to two or three weeks after,” Wormley says.

Aunt_Spray / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

So outbreaks often occur in environments where tons of people are crowded together, such as cruise ships or…you guessed it: the dorms at the Olympics.

So outbreaks often occur in environments where tons of people are crowded together, such as cruise ships or...you guessed it: the dorms at the Olympics.

Norovirus outbreaks have also been linked to schools, public bathrooms, and kitchens where food is prepared for the masses. It doesn't take much for norovirus to spread, so one sick person can lead to a massive outbreak.

As we mentioned, norovirus has been known to spread like wildfire on cruise ships, but also planes and buses. “When you're traveling, you might already be dehydrated and this can exacerbate the norovirus symptoms, so you have to be careful,” Wormley says. However, norovirus is not the same as traveler's diarrhea, which is usually caused by bacteria.

Fernando Trabanco Fotografía / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

The infection typically isn’t life-threatening, but you should see a doctor if your symptoms become severe or you are considered “high risk.”

The infection typically isn't life-threatening, but you should see a doctor if your symptoms become severe or you are considered "high risk."

“Most people don’t need to be hospitalized, but some people can become severely dehydrated and others are at risk for more complications,” Wormley says. You should go to the hospital if your symptoms do not go away after three days or they worsen. Severe symptoms include a high and persistent fever and signs of dehydration (dizziness, not being able to urinate, sunken eyes, etc.). You should also seek medical care if you contract norovirus and you're considered “high risk,” which means the very young, the very old, and people who are immunocompromised, Wormley says.

If you go to the hospital or urgent care for norovirus, you'll probably just get an IV bag to replace your fluids — and no antibiotics. “A common misconception with norovirus is that you need to go to your doctor and ask for antibiotics but this is a virus, so antibiotics won't work,” Wormley says. So just remember to stay hydrated and ride it out. “You might feel like you're going to die but you probably aren't,” Wormley says.

Liderina / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

You can protect yourself and others from norovirus by washing your hands and avoiding or limiting contact with infected people.

You can protect yourself and others from norovirus by washing your hands and avoiding or limiting contact with infected people.

“Handwashing and sanitizing should be your best friend,” Wormley says. So make sure to wash your hands properly (with soap and water for at least 30 seconds) after you use the bathroom or public transport, before you eat or prepare food, and before you touch your face. You also want to avoid putting your hands in your mouth or biting your nails at all times, Wormley says, because this can transmit virus particles directly into your body.

If you're caring for a sick person, you should sanitize everything and wear gloves, Wormley says. You should also limit or avoid contact with said sick person, even if it's your partner or child. “When you vomit you can release aerosols and these can infect someone if they are close enough,” Wormley says. Oh, and no kissing your sick partner for a while, especially if they were vomiting. And if you're sick, try to stay home and do not prepare food for other people.

Mike Kemp / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

And if you recover from norovirus, remember that you aren’t in the clear — you can still spread the illness…and you can get reinfected after a few months.

And if you recover from norovirus, remember that you aren't in the clear — you can still spread the illness...and you can get reinfected after a few months.

As we mentioned, norovirus is a highly contagious bug and you can still be contagious after your symptoms go away. So make sure you exercise caution for a week or two after you get better. And sorry, but there's no long-term immune protection with norovirus. “When you get norovirus, you only have immunity for a couple of months so you are still susceptible to get it later in life, especially since there are multiple strains,” Wormley says.

Fernando Trabanco Fotografi­a / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

17 Ways You Probably Didn’t Realise You Were Annoying Your Hairdresser

Lying about whether you’ve boxed-dyed your hair recently.

Giving a vague or contradictory description of what you’d like done.

Giving a vague or contradictory description of what you'd like done.

Twitter: @Itsawrap_US

Not knowing how much you actually want to change.

Not knowing how much you actually want to change.

It's always a good idea to know your “change threshold” – when you say you want something different do you mean more inches off than usual, or a whole new style?

Universal Pictures

Lying about whether your hair is box-dyed.

Lying about whether your hair is box-dyed.

Letting your stylist know this before they start colouring your hair is the best thing to do, so they know how to approach it.

Instagram: hairbyjessypor / Via instagram.com

Asking for layers in numbers.

Asking for layers in numbers.

Twitter: @hairdprobs_

Not being honest about the level of maintenance you’re willing to do for your hair.

Not being honest about the level of maintenance you're willing to do for your hair.

If you ask for big voluminous waves, it's important to think about whether you want to style it every day.

E!

Expecting your hair to look exactly like a Photoshopped picture.

Expecting your hair to look exactly like a Photoshopped picture.

pinterest.co.uk

Or a wig.

Or a wig.

Instagram: hairpainters / Via instagram.com

Not showing up or being late without giving a heads up.

Not showing up or being late without giving a heads up.

Universal Pictures

Moving your head a lot.

Moving your head a lot.

Twitter: @stylistproblems

Moaning while getting your hair washed.

Moaning while getting your hair washed.

Yes, it is a nice sensation but…don't do that.

Columbia Pictures

Lifting your head up while getting your hair washed.

Lifting your head up while getting your hair washed.

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Pointing out you can get it done somewhere cheaper.

Pointing out you can get it done somewhere cheaper.

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Touching and restyling your hair with your hands before the it’s finished.

Touching and restyling your hair with your hands before the it's finished.

Fox

Not booking an appropriate amount of time for a big change.

Not booking an appropriate amount of time for a big change.

Instagram: alexpardashian / Via instagram.com

Or trying to do something complicated that’ll take a lot of time while in a last-minute appointment.

Or trying to do something complicated that'll take a lot of time while in a last-minute appointment.

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Thinking a trim is different and therefore should be cheaper than a regular haircut.

Thinking a trim is different and therefore should be cheaper than a regular haircut.

A haircut is a haircut regardless of whether it's an inch being cut off or twelve, so don't be surprised if when you get to the till it's not at a discounted rate.

Paramount

And expecting to go from dark hair to blonde overnight.

And expecting to go from dark hair to blonde overnight.

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20 Ways To Help A Partner Living With Mental Illness

“You’re going to be okay, and I’m here.”

We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share what their significant others have done that helped ease their mental illnesses. Here are some things that you can do to help your partner (and anyone, really) who is going through a hard time:

We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share what their significant others have done that helped ease their mental illnesses. Here are some things that you can do to help your partner (and anyone, really) who is going through a hard time:

Pixar

“Before I started dating my boyfriend, I was agoraphobic and would never get into cars with people. After about six long months with a lot of practice and A LOT of patience, he brought me out of my comfort zone and finally to his house. My boyfriend has been helping me out of my comfort zone over the last three years, and we’re still going strong!” —meganc4d25442ea

“Like most of my dad's side of the family, I have bipolar disorder. My husband is really great because when he sees that I'm getting to a bad place mentally, he offers to take our toddler out for a bit so I can have some time to myself. Just having him take our son out to the park for an hour or two so I can have quiet time makes a such a huge difference!” —jamesmoriarty

“Whenever my depression kicks in or I can feel myself about to panic, my boyfriend will hold me. He repeatedly tells me to breathe and that everything will be okay. Afterwards, he always suggests we get froyo or smoothies because he knows they’re my favorite. Sometimes you just need to hear that you’ll be okay out loud. And a smoothie doesn’t hurt either.” —katarinar4ece229c3

Syd Robinson / BuzzFeed

“I used to do this thing where if I was anxious about something, I would dig my nails into my skin. I didn't even realize I was doing it at first, but he noticed right away. Immediately, he gave me his hand to hold just so I wouldn't hurt myself. It was such a small act of kindness and patience, but his selflessness and unwavering support was and has been a huge influence in my journey to getting better.” —leahmroy

The most amazing thing my boyfriend did for me was accept me. While he hasn’t personally dealt with mental health issues, he didn’t judge me or think less of me, or think I was being dramatic. He is wonderful at pointing out days or moments where he sees I am making progress. Often times he notices my progress more than I do.” —caseyc471932c25

Syd Robinson / BuzzFeed

“When I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder, my boyfriend had a lot of trouble understanding what I'd been going through. He asked if he could meet with me and my doctor so that she could answer his questions. He also attended all of the family parts of my treatment, and constantly made sure he was doing what he needed to in order to support me throughout my recovery.” —clairebnewman

“My girlfriend and I happen to both have a mental illness. We have our own special code where we can tap each other’s hands a certain amount of times to ask if the other’s okay, if we’re anxious, or if we feel a little off. It helps to be able to ask if we’re okay without having to say it out loud in case one of us is super anxious or upset and doesn’t want anyone else to know.” —meanreed08

“When my depression cloud is really dark over me, my husband puts on America's Funniest Home Videos or takes me to the bookstore. He's the best.” —jessl44432cacd

“After I started dating my boyfriend, I realized how important it is to grow as a person and be able to be your own light. I also recognized that in order to be truly myself and help our relationship grow, I needed to be completely open and honest with him about all that makes me, me. After nervously telling my boyfriend about my past struggles, I found I felt more confident. And instead of feeling judged or thinking I was weird, he embraced me for me and reassured me that these things don’t change his feelings for me.” —amylynnm433301477

buzzfeed.com

Syd Robinson / BuzzFeed

My girlfriend talks me through my anxiety by asking questions like, Why did you feel this way?, Is this realistic? and, Are you sure you heard/saw this? These questions remind me to always stay grounded and that the world isn't as critical of me as I am.” —steviesue

“Little things make a world of difference, like how he calls me on Skype instead of on the phone because he wants to see me while we talk. Knowing how he sees me makes me feel so much more confident about my appearance and personality.” —katiep4472f3c87

“My boyfriend and I have great communication. Since I have depression, I've made sure to tell him exactly how I want to be supported if I'm having a bad day. The best thing he did was listen and remember what I needed. Now, he always asks if there's anything he can do or if there's anything I want or need. He also reminds me that he's always here for me, and encourages me to talk to him about my depression and to not let it build up inside.” —kcbrin

Syd Robinson / BuzzFeed

“My husband has gotten me into new hobbies that help relieve my stress and anxiety. He’s gotten me into crocheting, bought me book after book, and he’s gotten me several video games and puzzles. I can't thank him enough for always thinking of new things for me to do instead of pacing back and forth and getting stuck in my thoughts.” —kittytoes

buzzfeed.com

My husband encourages my creativity (like wanting to get bright pink hair) or hobbies (like adult coloring books).” —taramisu2

My husband started working late, so he gave me a jar filled with little notes about how he feels about me. Now I take them out whenever I anxiously start to doubt the relationship or myself.” —firelilyfairy

“I have a difficult time with loud, unexpected noises, so before doing anything noisy — whether it's crushing a water bottle or turning on the vacuum — my significant other warns me with a “Noise alert!” It sounds silly, but it really means a lot to me.” —a413307118

“My husband will talk about nothing in particular for as long as I need. I begin to focus more and more on what he is saying, and before I know it, my racing thoughts have slowed and I feel like I have a better grasp on my thoughts. My husband has so much patience with me. Being bipolar isn't easy, but having someone like him in my life makes my days better.” —j4b0cf1602

My partner encouraged me to see a therapist. He's been in therapy for five years and uses skills he's learned to help me when I'm anxious.” —pami45535c347

Syd Robinson / BuzzFeed

“My boyfriend helped me learn the difference between supporting someone (healthy) and taking responsibility for their wellbeing (unhealthy).” —s4b8bc1fb7

Syd Robinson / BuzzFeed

“I have Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder. The best thing my fiancé has ever done for me is not let me take my diagnosis and wallow in it. He is constantly helping me do research, he keeps my medicine and gives them to me weekly because I always lose my bottles, and he's called and booked me a therapy appointment because I was emotionally and physically unable to. Basically, he won’t let me become a diagnosis. To him, I am Courtney, a woman full of love and laughter, and that pesky mental illness is something that we'll combat and overcome together.” —courtneyw4d1efa99d

Syd Robinson / BuzzFeed

If you are thinking about suicide or just need to talk to someone, you can speak to someone by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting HOME to 741741, the Crisis Text Line. Suicide helplines outside the US can be found here.

Note: Answers have been edited for length or clarity.

This New Uber Policy Aims to Pump the Brakes on Drowsy Driving

When you’re trying to turn a side gig into a full-time career, it means you’re always hustling.

But working long hours can be pretty dangerous if you drive with Uber. And now, the company is taking action to make sure you’re staying safe.

On Monday, Uber announced a new policy mandating drivers take at least a six-hour break between 12-hour shifts. Even though 60% of drivers operate less than 10 hours a week, the company says it wants to stamp out drowsy driving.

“This new feature has tremendous potential to protect not only Uber driver-partners, but also their passengers and, ultimately, all road users,” said Governors Highway Safety Association Executive Director Jonathan Adkins in a statement with the announcement.

OK, fine. So how will this all work?

Here’s How These New Uber Regulations Will Affect You

As an Uber driver, you want to maximize your time out there on the road, so any policy regulating it might make you nervous.

The app will now include a counter to determine when you hit 12 hours (this amount may vary based on local regulations in your city), then force you to go offline for six hours straight.

But the counter doesn’t include the time you spend waiting for a scheduled pickup — say at an airport.

Still, if you’re stopped at a traffic light, for example, the time it takes to turn green will count against that 12-hour limit. And according to a Washington Post article, if you don’t take a six-hour break between consecutive six-hour driving sessions, the app will count the combined working hours and force you to stop driving.

Uber had already rolled out the feature in New York City, but now it is implementing the safety policy nationwide.

Rival rideshare firm Lyft limits drivers to 14-hour shifts.

These forced breaks might be frustrating if you’ve made major bank driving for more than 12 hours during holidays like New Year’s Eve. But when it comes to roadway safety, it’s just not worth sacrificing Zzzs for $$$.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

What Things Do You Do To Get Better Sleep?

Looking for small, doable tips and tricks that have helped you get more shut-eye.

For some people, getting to sleep is a piece of cake. But for others, it can be an absolute pain in the ass.

For some people, getting to sleep is a piece of cake. But for others, it can be an absolute pain in the ass.

^^^ Me on most nights, TBH.

ABC / Via wedoitbetta.tumblr.com

So we want to know: What are your little tips and tricks for getting better sleep?

So we want to know: What are your little tips and tricks for getting better sleep?

What things do you do before bed, throughout the day, or while you're in bed to make getting quality sleep a little bit easier?

Nintendo / Via imgur.com

Maybe you simply decided you weren’t going to bring your phone to bed anymore.

Maybe you simply decided you weren't going to bring your phone to bed anymore.

No more scrolling through Instagram in the middle of the night.

E! / Via buzzfeed.com

Or you stopped eating foods that were high in sugar or sodium at night because you realized they were keeping you up.

Or you stopped eating foods that were high in sugar or sodium at night because you realized they were keeping you up.

Or maybe you found foods that actually help you get some quality Zs.

FOX / Via everybodylovesbobbyhill.tumblr.com

Perhaps you started journaling before bed so that you got all your to-dos and random thoughts off your mind and down on paper.

Just over here trying to keep my never-ending spiral of thoughts to a minimum.

instagram.com

Via idownloadblog.com

Maybe you started listening to some white noise or soothing podcasts.

Maybe you started listening to some white noise or soothing podcasts.

Who doesn't love the sound of a babbling brook?

Nickelodeon / Via tenor.com

Or you decided to give up naps and start sticking to a regular sleep cycle, EVEN on the weekends.

Or you decided to give up naps and start sticking to a regular sleep cycle, EVEN on the weekends.

Because getting a solid night's sleep is probably better than a two-hour nap in the middle of the day.

FOX / Via giphy.com

Apparently, Hackers Got More From the Equifax Data Breach Than We Thought

The hits just keep coming from Equifax.

Back in September 2017, the credit bureau announced a data breach that exposed 145 million Americans’ personal data, including names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and some driver’s license and credit card numbers.

Turns out, that wasn’t all, according to a document submitted to the Senate Banking Committee that The Wall Street Journal reviewed.

The document disclosed that cyber criminals may have also accessed tax identification numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, credit card expiration dates, and issuing dates and states of some driver’s licenses.

Equifax spokesperson Meredith Griffanti told CNNMoney that the original release of potentially compromised personal information wasn’t intended to include all the information that was possibly exposed in the attack.

The scary factor is that most consumers never gave Equifax this information. It gathered its data from social media, retailers and employers, leaving consumers even more vulnerable than they thought they were.

How to Tell if Your Information Was Exposed in Equifax Breach

Details weren’t clear as to how many of the original 145 million people this affected, but Equifax told The Wall Street Journal that it mailed notices to affected consumers, and the hack on additional driver’s license information “was extremely minimal.”

Equifax said that anyone can find out if their data was potentially exposed by looking up their status on its website.

The precise amount of personal information the hackers accessed remains unclear, but those details make come soon. Sen. Elizabeth Warren continues to pursue Equifax for the full truth, claiming the attackers accessed tables that also included passport numbers. Equifax denies these claims.

Warren has asked for detailed information that includes what data hackers accessed and its processes for informing the public about by Feb. 16.

How You Can Protect Your Personal Information

As of October 2017, 59% of people still hadn’t checked to see if the breach affected them. Don’t let that be you. If the breach affected you, you can place a temporary freeze on your credit. Equifax recently extended to the deadline to freeze your credit until June 30.

Tax season is upon us, and with so much personal information swimming out in the cyberverse, there is a threat of your info falling into the wrong hands. Getting your taxes completed as soon as possible can help protect you against fraudulent filings.

Be diligent about your personal information, and consider signing up for free alerts when your credit report changes.  

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her information was compromised in the breach. She has safeguarded her information by setting up credit alerts and already completed her taxes.

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