Everyone has a friend or relative that is difficult to purchase a gift for. I’m sure you’re thinking of one after reading that sentence! That’s why gift cards are so popular –the person gets to pick out something they know they’ll like. It’s really a win-win situation. However, in recent years, scammers caught wind of the lucrative gift card market and have come up with schemes to target consumers.
AICPA Insights reached out to Howard M. Silverstone, CPA/CFF, a forensic accountant and member of AICPA’s Fraud Task force to learn how Americans can protect themselves from gift card fraud this holiday season.
AICPA Insights: I only recently heard about gift card fraud a few weeks ago. How long has this scam been around?
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Have you ever been to the gym the first week in January? It’s usually packed with folks looking to improve their health. Many of these newcomers are there as part of their New Year’s resolution, while others may be trying to rebound after a particularly indulgent holiday season. And that’s a noble pursuit. However, very few of them are likely to still be going to the gym a few months later. I’m not a psychologist, but it seems to me that human nature responds to a setback or feeling of being stuck in a rut with a flurry of positive changes. Unfortunately, once our memory of what caused us to want to make those changes fades, we tend to slip back into our old ways.
I sat down with Neal Stern of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission to talk about how Americans can make some positive changes to their financial plans – and stick with them for the long term.
Continue reading "Goooooooooal: Planning your way to financial victory" »
Applying to the AICPA’s Leadership Academy Could be the Boost Your Career Needs
Hey, you. You made it over the hurdle of getting your CPA license, and you’re eager to take the next step in your career development… But you’re not quite sure what that looks like. Professional development takes on many shapes and sizes. Some people like online learning and self-study, while others are drawn to a classroom setting. Many people focus on developing their soft skills, while other prefer to keep their knowledge base sharp with more technical sessions.
One often overlooked aspect of development is building a strong network of contacts in your chosen profession. If you’re interested in connecting with some of the best and brightest young CPAs in the country, look no further than the AICPA’s Leadership Academy. This selective event exposes the next generation of CPAs to a strong ethic of leadership and service to their profession that CPAs are known for.
Continue reading "A Call to Action for Young Leaders" »
In these waning days of summer, my Instagram feed looks like a Lonely Planet top 10 list. I don’t know how, but it seems like the 300+ people I’m following have all conspired to be someplace awesome, while I’m toiling away in the office. It can feel frustrating when it seems like everyone (except for you) is having the time of their lives – and bragging about it online.
A new survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the AICPA, found that when it comes to feeling envious on social media, I’m far from alone. In fact, many Americans are caught in a cycle of feeling jealous of friends who post about their lavish vacations and extravagant purchases, while admitting that they also post things solely because they are fancy or expensive.
Continue reading "You Fancy, Huh? One in Four Americans Envious on Social Media" »
I don’t always get mail, but when I do it’s usually a credit card offer. And these cards are often tied to a particular hotel chain or airline. Many of these offers tout initial low-APRs, a waived annual fee and, increasingly, an obscene amount of rewards points – enough for a ROUND TRIP flight!!!! - if I only spend a few thousand dollars in the first couple of months.
However, my wife and I have been diligent about putting all of our charges on a credit card with a rewards program for a particular hotel chain and booking rooms at this brand whenever possible. The last thing I want is to lose our status with that chain by spreading ourselves too thin. This approach is working for us; over the past few years alone, we’ve paid for hotels in Denver, Boston, Puerto Rico, Baltimore and New Orleans using our rewards points. I’m by no means an expert travel hacker – that is, someone who has mastered collecting rewards points to earn free travel – but I’m making sure the money I spend on my card and the trips I take is working to my advantage. Seems simple, right?
Continue reading "Get to the Point: How to Make Travel Rewards Work for you" »