Peer-to-peer mobile payment services, like CashApp, Venmo and Zelle are portable, fast and allows users to move money and make purchases with just a wave or a few taps on the screen. Users can avoid touching cash or handing cards back and forth–a major plus during the COVID-19 pandemic–and pay for services or reimburse friends in an instant. As payment apps continue to change the way we handle our money, scammers are also hard at work innovating new ways to swipe our digital wallets. According to the New York Times, “fast fraud” is surging as more users turn to payment apps.
One common CashApp scam involves fake customer support numbers, according to Blackhawk Bank. Scammers list fake phone support numbers for CashApp users to gain access to devices and steal personal information. Users find fake customer support numbers through Google searches, and scammers convince users to download screen-sharing apps to grant them access to devices. Once scammers gain access to sensitive information, they can help themselves user bank accounts.
CashApp users should beware: the real CashApp does not offer phone support, according to the Better Business Bureau.
According to the New York Times, thieves can set up accounts as easily as legitimate users. The popular payment app Venmo, for example, requires just a phone number. That same ease of use lets scammers send requests for money to other users. And lightning-fast transactions create ample opportunity for lightning-fast fraud.
While Square (which owns CashApp), PayPal (which owns Venmo) and Zelle do not disclose fraud rates, experts believe Zelle to be the highest-security option, due to its authentication process and greater legal protections for useres, according to the New York Times. As the biggest player on the market, CashApp is believed to encounter the most scammers.
Lean into discomfort to embrace personal growth
It’s a natural human impulse – if something causes discomfort, we avoid it, and if we can’t avoid it, we seek to resolve it. When we squabbled with our siblings, we apologized and put hurt feelings to the side. We accommodate others to avoid frayed tempers and ugly arguments. We seek to resolve conflict, stay away from uncomfortable situations, and ignore troubling feelings. We dislike vulnerability in ourselves and in others.
But discomfort and failure are powerful teachers, and when we explore those uncomfortable feelings, we often come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more in touch with what we really want.
Think about what you have been able to accomplish in the past despite discomfort and adversity and apply those lessons to future challenges. Don’t berate yourself when you fall short – instead, reflect on what you could have done differently.
Author, researcher, and therapist Brene Brown writes that while “I am a screw up” and “I screwed up” sound very similar, there’s a vast gulf between them. The subtle change in language allows us to accept our imperfections without the crippling addition of shame. When we give ourselves permission to be imperfect, we are more able to embrace failure as a powerful tool for self-improvement.
The Buddhist nun Pema Chodron urges people to be gentle in the way they talk to themselves and think about why we say certain things when we experience failure. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do, and consider that maybe the real problem not that you are a failure, but that you are just hurting.
When we embrace our failures, lean into our discomfort and seek to grow and change, we also embrace humanity’s best qualities – empathy, kindness, generosity, and openness.
So the next time you experience a major disappointment, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, learn from your missteps, treat yourself kindly and emerge from your failure as a better, stronger person.
Never touch a knight’s beard
In medieval Europe, if you touched a knight’s beard, you were going to have to face him in a duel at dawn. His beard was his honor, according to the Chicago Tribune, and an unbidden touch was an insult.
Touch has been an essential part of human life through ages and cultures.
It has been considered the primary way to learn. Today, if visiting a museum, no visitor would think they could or should touch that painting or handle a fossil. Yet, in the Middle Ages, you certainly would do just that. It would be the way that you learned about something. People expected to handle everything, according to medievalist.com.
Touch has been considered holy. If you were so moved in the Middle Ages, you might kiss a saint’s foot at a pilgrimage site. That touch was considered to offer miraculous benefits.
A king’s touch was considered to be healing for some centuries. The king’s miracle was achieved through touching or stroking a sick person.
Since the dawn of civilization, the rules for touch have been both enshrined in culture and changed.
In Turkey, for example, a friend might greet another with a kiss on both cheeks, but this is considered inappropriate for business.
In Pakistan, a man greets a younger woman by lightly putting his hand on top of her head.
Nowhere in the West has the idea of touch changed more than in the workplace where a pat on the shoulder has been considered sexist.
Yet, rules change and remain the same. Today, it would still be considered rude for an acquaintance to reach out and touch a fellow’s beard, or a woman’s hair, even if it won’t end in a duel.
As rules in the workplace evolve, touch has become a tricky issue.
Between close friends, even at work, a hug is acceptable, especially as a way of congratulating or sympathizing. It’s best to remember that it takes about 200 hours of close contact to become friends with someone, according to Business Insider. A recent study by The Creative Group showed that 65 percent of those in advertising or marketing said hugging a co-worker was very common and 23 percent said hugging a client was very common. On the other hand, 18 percent of those surveyed said hugging was never done in the workplace.
A handshake has been considered the safest way to touch and say hello. But during COVID-19, this has also changed. It remains to be seen whether a handshake will stay in the lexicon of Western touch.
The best practice for workplaces today is a no-touch policy.
Music lessons: 5 reasons to pick the piano
Learning to play a musical instrument is a fun way to improve memory, relieve stress, and build confidence. If you or your child want to take up an instrument, here are five reasons to choose the piano.
1. It has a huge repertoire
With its 88 keys and impressive range, the piano has a wealth of songs written for it in all genres, from classical and jazz to pop and hip hop. In addition to having the largest solo repertoire, it’s one of the most popular instruments for accompaniment.
2. It requires little upkeep
3. It’s fairly easy to learn
While it takes practice to play with both hands, producing a beautiful note on the piano is as simple as pressing a key. Contrarily, in the case of wind instruments, you first need to learn how to position your mouth to get a clear sound.
4. It’s comfortable to play
Certain instruments, such as the violin and flute, require you to hold your head or fingers at an awkward angle. If you play the piano, however, you’ll get to adopt a natural seated position and keep your hands relaxed.
5. It provides a solid foundation
Learning the piano teaches you to simultaneously play two different clefs. This makes it easier to transition to another instrument that uses either the treble clef (clarinet, trumpet, etc.) or the bass clef (cello, tuba, etc.).
Keep in mind that while a person is never too old to learn to play an instrument, piano lessons generally aren’t offered to children until they’re five or six years old. If you want to introduce your child to music earlier, consider music appreciation classes.
The name’s Bond: How about a 007 film festival?
It’s great time to relive James Bond movies. Perfect for winter evenings.
Goldfinger! He’s the man, the man with the golden touch. Sing along!
And these days you can see Bond for free — sort of.
If you are a Prime member, most are included in your subscription, including Dr. No and Goldfinger. That is sort of free if you don’t count the $100 annual membership fee.
An even more affordable option? YouTube. Bond movies are free to watch on the streaming platform, but you have to watch commercials unless you sign up for YouTube Premium. A 30-day free trial is available — just remember to cancel if you don’t want to pay for the service.
Also, some Bond movies are free with the streaming service Peacock (from NBC Universal). You can sign up for a free account and watch all the Bond movies you want, but once again, you’ll some ads. If you want to watch ad-free, there’s a $10 monthly fee after a free trial. Still, you can cancel.
Peacock does have lots of other content, including the popular Yellowstone series, which would cost $60 on Amazon Prime for all three seasons.
Here are the Bond movies are known to be online:
“Dr. No” (1962) — Not on Peacock.
“From Russia with Love” (1963)
“You Only Live Twice” (1967)
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) — Not on Peacock
“Diamonds Are Forever” (1971)
“Live and Let Die” (1973)
“The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974)
“The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) — Not on Peacock
“Moonraker” (1979) — Not on Peacock
“For Your Eyes Only” (1981) — Not on Peacock
“Never Say Never Again” (1983) — Not on Peacock
“A View to a Kill” (1985) — Not on Peacock
“The Living Daylights” (1987) — Not on Peacock
“License to Kill” (1989)
“Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997)
“The World Is Not Enough” (1999)
“Casino Royale” (2006) — Not on YouTube
“Quantum of Solace” (2008) — Not on YouTube
How to make a perfect snowman (or snow-woman)
We never gave it much thought — pack a good, firm snowball and roll it around the yard until big enough for a base. Repeat two more times. Stack one on top of another.
But that doesn’t fly in the modern world, where you can find YouTube videos and 14-step how-to articles on snowman-building. And if you were interested in such things, snowman-building does involve a bit of science.
Case in point: Snow needs to contain three to five percent liquid water in order to be malleable and gluey enough to hold shapes, says the New York Times. The perfect snow can be found around 32 degrees Fahrenheit in regions closer to an ocean, like the Northeast or the Sierra Nevada.
Then there’s a concept called sintering, or patting. If you pat the snow as you go, you compact it and squash individual snowflakes, causing melting around the edges. As they refreeze, they bond.
This makes the snow a lot more solid — and your snowman a lot more sturdy.
A few more tips:
* Remember to face your snowman away from the sun, unless you were going for the melted face look.
* Pack extra snow around the base to give it more stability.
* Flatten the tops of the bottom snowballs so they’re easier to stack. Spheres are also a good shape to help prolong melting because less surface area is exposed to the sun.
* Try to roll the snowballs around the area you plan to place the snowman, then stick him in the middle. Avoid building a snowman on a driveway, which absorbs heat (does that even need a reminder?).
* Aim for a diameter ratio of 3:2:1 from bottom to top — like three feet, two feet, one foot.
How to safely lend money
If you plan to lend money to a family member or friend, it’s in the best interest of both parties to have a clear, legally binding loan agreement. Here’s how to go about it.
Drawing up a loan agreement yourself
If you’re loaning a small sum of money, you may choose to draft your own loan agreement. In addition to the loan amount, this contract should include the following:
• The full name, address, and phone number of both the lender and borrower
• The loan repayment schedule and whether the amount will be returned in a lump sum or in multiple payments
• The interest rate on the loan, if applicable
• The terms for late or missed payments
• The signature of both parties, the date and, ideally, a witness’ signature
The loan agreement should be written in plain language. If you aren’t confident about drafting the document yourself, consider looking for a template of a loan agreement online.
Getting help from a lawyer
Drafting a loan agreement carries certain risks. If important information is left out, or if either party’s obligations are unclear, the agreement may not be legally valid. Alternatively, you may unwittingly agree to adverse terms simply because you aren’t familiar with contract law. If you want extra assurance, or if you’re loaning a large sum of money, always have a lawyer draw up your loan agreement.
A lawyer can be counted on to create a comprehensive, airtight contract. In addition, they can provide legal advice about how to handle the more delicate aspects of the loan, such as the procedure for handling missed payments.
By entrusting a lawyer to draft your loan agreement, you may spare yourself some frustration if a dispute arises.