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3 Ways to Spot an Insurance Scam

Posted By: on April 14, 2013

Scams, by their own nature, are bad – but insurance scams go beyond the pale. They prey on people’s trust and their sense of right and wrong, coming up with the most insidious ways to make the innocent look guilty and sign their savings away. Lives have been ruined – and ended – as a result of these crimes, but as with most crimes, there are telltale signs that something isn’t right before you sign on the dotted line. Here are three ways to spot an insurance scam.

1. Staged Accidents

Every driver knows that as good as he or she may be behind the wheel, there’s always someone out there who isn’t, and that someone is the reason we all get auto insurance. But what if that someone isn’t really a bad driver, but an insurance scammer? They stage accidents to make you look like the guilty party and have to fork over thousands of dollars in reparation and fines.

How can you identify these scammers? A scammer who stages an accident will usually do so with a team of colleagues, ‘witnesses’ who show up on the scene of an accident immediately after it happens. These ‘witnesses’ may recommend (or even urge you to consult) certain lawyers or doctors (usually more fraudsters also in on the scheme). If a tow truck arrives on the scene suspiciously quickly, it may be a prop in the ruse, designed to throw you off your game while you’re still disoriented from the accident. If, following an accident, everything happens very quickly, there is the possibility that you are being manipulated into a corner. Use a trusted insurance provider, for example, those found on quote engines like US Insurance Net before listening to anyone else.

2. Fraudulent Discount Healthcare Plans

Medical and health insurance is a complicated jungle, and unfortunately, there are predators who use the lush red tape to trap innocent people who have to navigate the world of claims and payments. Insurance scam artists call up people who need expensive surgery and offer a “discount healthcare plan”. They use similar terms and words in the health insurance world, such as “pre-existing conditions” and “affordable healthcare”, and might assure their victim that the plan is supported by the relevant doctor and/or hospital.

The truth is much less comforting. While there are legitimate discount healthcare plans, fraudsters deliberately blur the lines between discount plans and health insurance, preying on the inability of most people to easily pay off surgeries that cost thousands of dollars. They promise to pay off a significant portion of the bill if a client enrolls and pays a monthly sum – but do no such thing (other than take your money).

If a salesperson or telemarketer is pushy for a quick signup, promises wildly optimistic discounts that seem too good to be true, if their program has a steep enrollment & monthly fee, or if they encourage you to drop your current program, beware. Get everything in writing, and if the person on the other end of the phone is reluctant to provide any proof or written commitment, you’ve probably headed off a health insurance scam.

3. Personal Injury Insurance Mills

We trust that if someone accidentally (or otherwise) hurts us, there are systems in place that ensure we don’t go bankrupt in paying for hospital and attorney bills. Naturally, these systems are prime targets for insurance scammers, who set up ‘insurance mills‘ that promise unnecessary and expensive medical and legal assistance. They sucker us in with promises of specialists, righting grievous wrongs, and complex legalese and terrifying (and drastically exaggerated) medical jargon. All they really want is for us to sign the checks they put in our hands.

Fortunately, despite how insidious they are, you can see them coming a mile away: they will insist that your injury, no matter how small it is, requires medical attention – and of course, they know a physician. If someone else caused your injury, they might tell you they know of a great lawyer who handles cases like these; they may even say you can get rich from the settlement. If they try to rush you to make a decision, tell you what you want to hear, or scare you with worst case scenarios of how bad your injury is, you’re likely looking at an insurance scammer out to get you.

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7 Ways to Avoid Being Played in the Penny Stock Game

Posted By: on April 13, 2013


A lot of people get into penny stocks because they think it’s safe. After all, how dangerous can stocks be when they cost under five dollars? However, a safe penny stock strategy is just as important as a safe NASDAQ strategy. Penny stocks might initially seem more affordable, but the cost of them–not to mention transaction fees–can quickly add up. Before investing, keep these 7 tips to avoid being played in mind.

1. Go for Broke(r)

Choosing the right penny stock broker is crucial. Some of them may charge additional fees, and that’s never worth it. Investors need to keep as much of their money as possible, especially when low stock prices are on the table. Pick an investor with a solid background in successfully trading penny stocks. This will require shopping around, comparing experience and trusting gut instincts. Make sure the broker is certified and has solid experience in penny stocks. Just because a stock broker is starting to incorporate penny stocks in addition to other items doesn’t mean he’s qualified (yet).

2. Watch Out for Scams

Scams are more common in penny stocks than in more traditional markets. One of the most popular plays is the pump and dump, where someone buys a lot of penny stocks and tries to “pump up” the company’s reputation. This is a false boon, but newbies might not be able to identify them right away. This is why research is so important.

3. Know the Company

Before investing in any company, know about them. Do the research, know their history, understand who’s leading the company and have a solid understanding of their past. This can be difficult, especially for tiny companies or businesses based overseas. Sometimes investing in an up and coming business can work out great, but other times it can be disastrous. If no information is available, it’s best to steer clear of that stock.

4. Ask for Financial Reports

Some companies might be so new that there’s no information online about them. That can be a red flag, but not always. Call the company and request financial reports. Any business–no matter the size–will have these available for investors. Don’t be shy about asking for information and gauge how professional the person on the phone is. A little human contact can be a great indicator of the viability of the company.

5. Keep the Eggs Separated

For investors just getting into penny stocks, keep the old adage in mind and don’t put all the eggs in one basket. It’s rare that a penny stock truly takes off and makes someone rich in just a few weeks. Instead, penny stocks are notoriously volatile. It’s possible to earn a good investment from them, but diversifying is key here. A good broker can help keep an investor’s portfolio diverse while keeping an eye out for good penny stocks.

6. Ride it Out

While riding out a rough patch isn’t always a good idea, it’s usually pretty safe with penny stocks. Remember that they’re volatile and prone to drastically swinging one way or the other with little notice. Don’t get scared and sell just because stocks hit a rough patch one day. Hopefully, since they’re penny stocks, an entire life saving’s isn’t invested in them. Instead, try to ride it out, wait for recovery and sell when there’s a profit to be made.

7. Don’t Follow Online “Tips”

It’s possible to get some great advice online, but there’s no telling when that advice might be coming from a scammer or someone who really doesn’t know the market. Depend on a broker and personal research for tips. That’s the only way to guarantee reputable advice and direction.

Penny stocks can be great fun and even lucrative for investors who put in the effort. Play it safe, don’t get caught up in the low prices and remember that it’s just as serious as NASDAQ trading.

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TopCultured Legends

Differentiating Between Displaying Goods and Effective Merchandising

Posted By: on August 26, 2014

Shoppers are visually attracted to merchandise that is both creatively promoted, and attractively displayed. While the most important reason for business owners to differentiate between displaying goods and truly effective merchandising is profit, there are Read On »

What Should I Eat? Freezer Aisle Edition (Flowchart)

Posted By: on December 7, 2009

Here’s another fabulous flowchart to help in those tough times when your brain is fighting your stomach and your wallet is fighting your bank account. How often have you been rushing to get home only Read On »

Low-Fat Alternatives to America’s Favorite Foods

Posted By: on November 2, 2009

This infograph was sent in by a TopCultured reader that wishes to remain anonymous. That’s ok, me and Anon go wayyyy back. So, I got this one for ya buddy. There are many foods that Read On »

The 4 Big Facts in the Hypnotherapy Debate

Posted By: on April 7, 2013

Some people swear by hypnotherapy while others consider it hocus pocus. No matter what side of the debate a person is on, there’s no denying that hypnotherapy is an answer many people seek out. There are clinics geared towards it for everything from weight management to addiction issues. Is it the real deal, or is it all an illusion?

Here’s a look at the four biggest facts that critics and fans point to in the ongoing hypnotherapy debate. Consider each of them carefully to make an informed decision about hypnotherapy services. After all, could it really hurt?

1. Research Shows Hypnotherapy is a “Cheat”

Recent research conducted by the University of London suggests that using hypnotherapy even one time can produce results that otherwise can take multiple sessions of other types of therapy. Does this work all the time and is it guaranteed? Of course not. However, more quickly altering human actions and behaviors can be a great tool when used safely.

2. It Improves Self-Esteem

Don’t think that all sessions have to involve another person, because self-hypnotherapy has also been effective for some people. In fact, a recent study shows that people who use self-hypnosis tapes at least three times per week had higher self-esteem and more inner peace than those who don’t. However, the questionable part is whether these people are more inclined to have a better self-image and life outlook in the first place.

3. Brain Wave Patterns Change

Northern Arizona University dipped into the pool of college students to see how hypnotherapy utilizing ego-boosting suggestions might impact the brains and test scores of 60 college students. Granted this was a small pool, but the results were surprising. In just a few weeks, the sessions resulted in “significantly dramatic effects” that included changes to brain waves, more self-esteem and higher test scores. Now that’s something every college student can use.

4. It Lessens Pain

A University of Wales professor recently researched how hypnotherapy might impact cancer patients between the ages of 6 and 16. She discovered that patients who underwent hypnosis for pain management experienced much less pain than those who didn’t, and it’s certainly worth a try for those facing serious medical treatments. There’s little evidence that hypnosis has counterproductive effects, especially when monitored by a proven professional, and it’s certainly worth a try.

No matter how a person feels about hypnotherapy services, it’s not going anywhere. There’s still a lot to be learned but, thus far, the effects show great promise.

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5 Vacation Destinations for the Politics Buff

Posted By: on March 24, 2013

capital-buildingMy girlfriend absolutely loves politics – she has campaigned, works for a state senator, and wants to get her doctorate in public policy. She spent a semester in Washington D.C. and fell in love with the process of politics. There are a lot of people out there who are passionate about politics, and it’s fun for them to vacation a little differently than the rest of us.

1. Boston

This New England city is famous throughout American history and had a great effect on the politics of today. From the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party and beyond, Boston’s political history is almost as rich as New England clam chowder. Boston has also worked to preserve its political history and has made certain parts of the city tourist attractions that cater specifically to the political buffs.

2. Any Library

This may seem odd, but many politicians have libraries dedicated to them. Finding out the favorite politicians of the politics buffs in our lives and seeing if those people have their own libraries is a great way to personalize vacations. Obviously, most people aren’t going to take an entire vacation for a library, but they can be great day trips during a regular vacation.

3. Disney

No, I’m not kidding. If politics buffs find themselves at Disney, they can visit the esteemed presidential library there. It’s pretty decked out and if offers some reprieve from the overwhelming atmosphere at Disney that is all princesses and giant mice.

4. Any Capital City

State or national, capital cities tend to be rich with history and politics. Most have capitol buildings that give free tours, and that’s where a lot of the magic happens, so to speak. From Austin to Washington D.C., Madrid to Mexico City, capitals offer immense opportunities to learn about and experience politics and the history of the political process. It’s also fun to see historical capitals; the best Italy tours may include a trip Venice or a stroll through the Cinque Terre at night, but to me, the best tour of Italy would be centered on the ancient Roman empire.

5. Jamestown

I used to live in Virginia, and I visited the colony of Jamestown many times as a child. The colony was preserved and made into living history. The colony consists of a Native American area, replicas of the three ships that crossed the Atlantic, and an area that is the original fort. These three areas are all interactive and have actors who remain in character through the entirety of the tour. The astounding part of this is that Jamestown represents the beginning of the country, and without that colony, the entire course of history in the US might have been entirely different.’

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The Hidden Costs of Having Your Own Apartment

Posted By: on March 21, 2013

A lot of people choose to rent instead of buy because they think it saves money. While renters aren’t required to do things like pay property taxes or (hopefully) do repairs, it doesn’t always work out to a money-saving arrangement. Apartments have hidden costs–some more than others–and it’s important to know exactly what they are.

There’s No Investment

Don’t point to the housing bubble burst as the only reason to rent instead of own. Anytime a person overpays to buy a house, it’s not a good investment. However, right now is a great time to buy a house. Prices are low, it’s a buyer’s market and the risk of being given a loan someone can’t afford is pretty much gone. A house can be a great investment, assuming the price is right, mortgage payments are feasible and the house is in good shape. Renters, on the other hand, are paying high prices for the luxury of borrowing.

Does Anyone Get the Deposit Back?

Beyond the deposit given to landlords, there’s always the risk of being sued. After all, a renter is essentially paying to borrow someone else’s property. What happens if a grease fire starts, the cherry hardwood floors get scratched while moving furniture or a picture window gets shattered? Hopefully, the renter has renter’s insurance.

Rent’s Gone Up…Again

Moving as a renter is expensive. There are application fees, deposits, first and last month’s rent, pet fees and cleaning fees and of course the cost of actually moving. However, many landlords take advantage of their timeframe to increase the rent. Sometimes renters stay–even when they could get a better apartment for less money–simply because moving isn’t worth it.

Parking? That’ll be Extra

Landlords aren’t known for giving extras, especially in the city. Everything is going to cost extra– parking space(s), in-apartment washers and dryers, little gyms and even the doorman. Don’t think that anything is actually “included” in the rent. Renters make up for any perks with the cost of rent.

Compare Rent to Mortgage

Most apartments are, by nature, small. There’s little square footage and a huge price difference between a studio and one bedroom, or a one and two bedroom. There might be 407 apartments for rent in the city, and chances are they all have small square footage. Compare the cost of a mortgage for a 700 square foot apartment and the cost of rent.

There’s a very good chance that renters pay more for the exact same thing–and they don’t even get the deed at the end of the deal. Landlords become landlords to make money, so keep that in mind. Carefully consider if it would be wiser to own rather than rent before signing that new lease agreement.

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5 Shrines That Can Be Made in Anyone’s Honor

Posted By: on March 15, 2013

There’s no need to stick with stiff shrines and memorials. Even if it’s the beloved family cat, why not celebrate who’s most loved? A gift complete with a favorite image of a loved one is sure to turn into a favorite keepsake. Here are 5 ideas for shrines that everyone will love.

1. Keep it Comfy

Custom bean bag covers can be designed with any image. If someone is used to curling up with Fido on the bean bag couch, why not make it official? Custom covers are affordable and a truly unique gift. It’s also a great way to liven up a room and add instant color. Additionally, bean bags are great alternatives to beds and provide the perfect support–it’s a win-win situation.

2. Put it On Canvas

Framing is expensive, difficult and heavy to mount. A great alternative instead of another ho-hum pictures is to have an image put on canvas. It’s lightweight, provides an interesting texture and it’s easy to hang from almost any surface. It’s also reasonably affordable when compared to custom framing. The next time the perfect picture is snapped, go to canvas instead of the frame shop.

3. Flower Vases

Flower vases can be customized with any photo or script. It’s the perfect gift because everyone needs a selection of vases on hand. The next time flowers are in order, whether it’s for a memorial or an anniversary, consider customizing below the buds. This is an instant heirloom and provides that necessary personalized touch during a special or difficult time.

4. A Nod to Traditional Jewelry

Decades ago, everyone wanted a locket with a photo of someone they love tucked inside. Charm bracelets with mini-photo frames were another popular choice. Choose a traditional, high-quality locket with a photo already included. It’s the perfect gift for someone with a love of vintage flair and stunning jewelry. Consider consignment shops and auction sites for the real deal.

5. Virtual Frames

Virtual frames that are pre-loaded with special images are the perfect gift and shrine. However, the ticket is pre-loading the images and giving the recipient clear instructions on how to change, add or remove the images. Often times, one photo just isn’t enough. Do the research and choose a virtual frame with great ratings.

A house becomes a home when it’s indulged in personal touches and memories. Choose one of these gifts cum shrines for an addition that the recipient is sure to treasure.

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How College Students Can Protect Themselves From Bad Landlords

Posted By: on February 8, 2013


College students have a lot to worry about. Grades, being away from home, strange roommates, dates and getting ready for the job market are just the tips of the icebergs out there. One thing college students shouldn’t have to lose sleep over is bad landlords, whether it’s landlords who are out to make a quick buck by offering terrible accommodation, or those who are genuinely mean and uncaring.

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5 Chores Many Homeowners Overlook

Posted By: on January 15, 2013

Maybe we overlook them, maybe we put them off and pretend there’s something more important to do, either way, each season brings with it a slew of new household chores, and with those chores come more chores, and so on and so on until eventually even the most well intentioned among us hasn’t cleaned out the fridge in months.

Well, it’s a new year, and along with it we can at least resolve to attend to those chores which are most often overlooked, the ones that have really slipped our minds. Here’s a list of five often “forgotten” chores, accomplishing them will certainly feel like a whole new person, and your house will be grateful.

1. Clean That Sewer

Worst is first on this procrastinator’s list, and there’s a great reason why. Maybe you’ve never even considered the fact that a sewer must be cleaned, or maybe you’ve been avoiding the task since you purchased your house ten years ago, but there’s good news. There are folks who can do this nasty task for you, they’re called professionals. Bob Oates sewer cleaning is just one of the many excellent and reliable places to turn to. Don’t suffer through accomplishing this task without the experts. Knowing that you can check this off your list with a click of the mouse or a quick phone call ought to make it much easier to accomplish.

2. Snake the Plumbing

This is another chore that falls under the jurisdiction of: call in the pros. However, if you’re feeling empowered it can be done on your own. It’s an often unpleasant task, but doing it yourself will teach you a lot about what’s been sitting in your pipes, and knowing that will help you keep them clean in the future.

3. Cleaning the Toilet Tank

This task recollects the days in which it was necessary to defrost the freezer. A task that, if overlooked for too long, became nearly impossible to accomplish.

Especially if your home is in a place with hard water, the tank of the toilet needs to be regularly scrubbed. If avoided, neglect of this task can also result in a toilet overflow, or the breaking or malfunction of an important flushing mechanism. Toilets that don’t flush are useless, so remember, the water in the tank is clean, if you keep it that way.

4. Sweeping Behind Kitchen Appliances

If you’re like many folks, you’ve forgotten that your dishwasher can actually be moved. Unfortunately, the kitchen is a great place for infestations to start if the appliances aren’t regularly moved and swept behind. Refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, and any other moveable appliance should be carefully and regularly swept behind.

5. Scrubbing Grout

This task sounds like the easiest, but is probably the most time consuming of all. There’s a lot of grout in a house, often in the bathroom, and we humans have failed to come up with a truly wonderful and easy way of cleaning it. So long hours of scrubbing can be involved if the grout has been ignored too long.

Luckily, this task also has the most evident rewards, clean grout looks dramatically better than dirty grout, and will make any room seem brand new. Now, get scrubbing!

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7 Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Moving

Posted By: on December 14, 2012

Moving is an exciting time in your life because you’ll soon be in that perfect house. In order to ensure that the process runs smoothly though, avoid these common moving mistakes.

Not Labeling Items
When you get into the new house, you’ll want to know where everything is. Even though labeling requires a little bit more work now, it will be so worth it when you aren’t panicking later on.

Carelessly Packing Fragile Items
Once again, you might try to simplify things now by just throwing items into boxes. Sure, you might tell yourself that you’ll take extra caution with that box on moving day. However, when moving day comes, you might not even be the one to pick it up and put it in the car.

Underestimating Time
Do not assume that you’ll be all packed up and moved into the new place in a matter of a couple of hours. Dedicate a whole day to the actual moving process, and remember to add more time if you’re moving to another state or across the country. You’ll likely need to take the day before off to pack any last minute items, and taking the day after off is wise as you’ll be extremely tired.

Not Watching Kids and Pets
You must be so careful when children and pets are in the home! For little ones, consider hiring a babysitter or dropping them off at a relatives house for the day. When it comes to pets, it might be better to let them stay at a pet hotel for the evening. It would be horrific if one of them wandered out of the house during the move.

Unpacking Everything at Once
Trying to unpack all of your items the same day that you move is practically impossible. Instead of giving yourself all of this extra stress, just unpack what you need and leave the rest for the next few days.

Not Preparing for the First Night
No matter how well you pack, you’re still going to need clothing and food for the first night. Be sure to fill a suitcase with clothes for each member of the house, necessary feeding and walking supplies for the pets and some canned goods and pots with which to eat on that first night.

Not Hiring a Reputable Company
Remember, you are picking a company to handle some of your most prized possessions, so you want to ensure that the workers are trustworthy. Check out to connect with some of the professionals.

You might think that you would never make some of these mistakes. Hopefully, you won’t, but the stress of the day could make you change. Be sure to keep all of these helpful hints in mind.

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The 5 Most Breathtaking Places to Go on Safari

Posted By: on December 13, 2012

Going on safari is on the to-do list of many adventure travelers. The special lure of the safari is often the opportunity for people to see animals that are unique to Africa that they have only seen in zoos. It is also an opportunity to learn about how Africa’s tribal people live.

There are many beautiful places to safari to in Africa, but one of the most popular is the Serengeti in Tanzania. This unique ecosystem in East Africa provides tourists a chance to see prides of lions in their natural habitat, one of the great majestic sights that few other experiences can match. Visitors will get to view the expansive golden savannas, misty volcanoes off in the distance, and the bustling wildebeest herds as well. It is a truly one-of-a-kind vacation.

Another place to safari is found in Namibia, in Southwest Africa. Visitors who travel to this semi-desert land can see the Skeleton Coast, which has a history of shipwrecks especially from the whaling era. There is also a nearby seal colony. Bush elephants and mountain zebras are inhabitants of the coastal Namib Desert, and may be viewed during this safari.

The country of South Africa, a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the ocean and first-world status, has captivating safaris as well, especially through Visitors may see leopards, elephants, rhinos, lions, and buffalos, all in the same place when they choose this spot on the globe. Guests who go on safari here often get to see Kruger Park, one of the world’s most extensive game reserves, or Moditlo Private Game Reserve.

One place that is not thought of as a safari destination is West Africa, even though this part of the continent has its own fascinating geography, history, and wildlife. In countries like Mali in West Africa, visitors can look forward to dune camping in the desert and sights such as the Bedouin tribes, salt caravans of traders and camels, and the ancient clay dwellings and mosques of Timbuktu. Cruises down one of Mali’s rivers will reveal an up-close look at hippos cooling off and enjoying the water, one of Africa’s most characteristic sights.

One of the richest lands for exotic wildlife actually lies right in the heart of the African continent, in the Central African Republic and surrounding areas. This tropical hinterland features lazy rivers, mountains, and rainforests, and also provides access to savannas and rolling hills in the northern part of the country. It is also teeming with wildlife that few people not from this part of the world have ever laid eyes on outside of captivity, including elands, bongos, baboons, and warthogs. Tourists can experience some of the most breathtaking sights in Africa watching these fascinating creatures and learning about their habitats.

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