Cheat Sheet Q&A: 


Today’s topic:  "Neighbor" phone scams


Here’s today’s entry:

Brian, I just got as call (I get quite a few of them) asking me if I know a particular person. Supposedly it is a neighbor according to the caller.  When pressed for an address sometimes it is on my street but many other times it's quite far away. Any idea what these calls are about?  The caller will only say it's a business matter.  I just told this last one not to call anymore and I'm on the "Do Not Call" list.  He said he would remove my name.  I doubt it.  Since this was an early morning call I answered even when the number did not display on my phone.  Well, no more of that!


Bottom Line:  I haven’t come across the exact scenario you’re explaining but it does sound similar to other phone scams that I’ve heard of based on the “neighbor” concept.  Earlier this year there was one going around that involved a “neighbor” who had theoretically received a  and accidently opened package that they thought belonged to them.  They would check with you to verify the account information you charged it to (or something to that effect).  Clearly if you were to give them personal and/or financial account information you’d be setup for fraud.  What you are describing is likely and adjunct of that form of phone scamming.  So what can you do ? 


The Federal Trade Commission has actually been pretty effective in recent years in tracking down those involved in phone scams in recent years.  Report your situation to them via this link (select the category on the right hand side of the page and get started):


Congrats on not falling for it…  Part of the early morning timing was likely to try to catch you of guard and thus trick you into giving up so info before realizing what was really going on.

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:


Audio Report:




Simple and brilliant - enter the smart cup:


Bottom Line:  If you watch your waistline the form of calories that most easily creep into you, often unwittingly, occurs in liquid form.  The average adult drinks more than 300 calories per day or more than 15% of the recommended total caloric intake per day.  Would you like to track your liquid caloric intake without having to dissect everything you drink? 


Soon we will have a smart cup.  No really a smart cup.  A company called Vessyl has invented a cup that will calculate to the calorie how much many you drink per day.  You simply pour your liquids into it and drink from it.  Pretty cool isn’t it?  It won’t be cheap.  It’s going to retail within the next two month at $99 but if you’re serious about limiting your caloric intake it may be worthwhile. 


Audio Report:




Inside Ford's fuel efficiency over reach:


Bottom Line:  If you have one of six recent model Ford vehicles (list forthcoming) keep your eye on the mailbox and look for a check from Ford.  Yesterday Ford announced that due to errors they miscalculated fuel efficiency ratings (all higher than they actually are).  They are sending compensation checks to the owners of these vehicles to try to make good on the issue.  In some cases the overage was only 1 MPG but in a couple it was over 5 MPG.  Here’s the breakdown:



So as you can see the 2013 & 2014 Fusion models were exaggerated by 5 MPG or about 10% and the MKZ Hybrid was off by 7 MPG or 16%.  Those examples are potentially a bit more detrimental.  Especially in the case of the MKZ hybrid. 


The reason we pay extra for hybrids is naturally better fuel efficiency.  When you’re falsely advertising fuel efficiency by greater than 10%, you may be talking about a big enough difference that would lead a customer to not having purchased the vehicle if they knew the truth to begin.  Especially in the case of the Lincoln MKZ hybrid which was inflated by 7 MPH (16%) but also fell out of the 40+ MPG category.  The checks may be in the mail but there could be another legal outcome to this story. 


Now the question is…  Is Ford the only company with the over inflating MPG issue? 


Audio Report:





The importance of work to our mental well being:


Bottom Line:  Gallup studies and researches a lot of data pertaining to politics and employment.  Recently they decided to take another step in studying the impact of unemployment on those who are laid off.  The results are rather significant. 


  • Adults who are identified as being depressed (clinically depressed – on anti depressants) is 5.6%


So what is the rate of those who are laid off from work? 


  • Those who are unemployed for less than 6 month have a 12.4% rate of depression


So nearly double the rate of the average adult.  So how about the long term unemployed?


  • Those out of work for 6+ months at depressed at an 18% rate

So the rate of depression rises by more than 300% for the long term unemployed.  These are understandable yet alarming numbers.  If one is depressed and long term unemployed it would obviously make it that much more difficult to successfully gain employment.  It is worth noting that it appears as though the rate of depression peaks at around 19%.  They did study those who’ve been out of work for over a year and the clinical depression rate never rose about 19%.  That likely means that about 80% of Americans simply aren’t genetically predisposed to depression.  This does mean that we should likely pay even close attention to our loved ones struggling with unemployment given how closely work is tied to mental well being for those with a predisposition to depression. 


Audio Report:




In one more attempt to get you to spend $99 per year for Amazon Prime - Amazon is getting into the music streaming business too:


Bottom Line:  Just what we needed, one more music streaming service right?  Clearly I’m partial to iHeart Radio because it’s the one our company is behind, it has more content than any other streaming service & it’s free…  But even if you use one of the other services you’d be far better off than the product Amazon just released.  Much like the TV streaming product that lacks most highly desirable content (Amazon’s TV service only has about 1% streaming TV market share), Amazon’s music streaming service lacks more than it offers.  For example if you want current hits…  Too bad.  9 of the Billboard top 10 hits right now aren’t available through the service.  Perhaps it will get better with time, perhaps not.  It’s really just another method to try to offer perceived value to their $99 per year Prime service (imo).  You’re likely to spend more time trying to find music that you want to listen to than listening to the songs you like. 


Audio Report: