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FAQ

Do military members have to pay any fee for leave or fiancee forms?
NOOOOOOO. You are talking to a military romance scammer. I received an email from the US Army that directly answers your question that is pasted below please keep reading.I believe you are the victim of a military Romance Scam whereas the person you are talking to is a foreign national posing as an American Soldier claiming to be stationed overseas on a peacekeeping mission. That's the key to the scam they always claim to be on a peacekeeping mission.Part of their scam is saying that they have no access to their money that their mission is highly dangerous.If your boyfriend girlfriend/future husband/wife is asking you to do the following or has exhibited this behavior, it is a most likely a scam:Moves to private messaging site immediately after meeting you on Facebook or SnapChat or Instagram or some dating or social media site. Often times they delete the site you met them on right after they asked you to move to a more private messaging siteProfesses love to you very quickly & seems to quote poems and song lyrics along with using their own sort of broken language, as they profess their love and devotion quickly. They also showed concern for your health and love for your family.Promises marriage as soon as he/she gets to state for leave that they asked you to pay for.They Requests money (wire transfers) and Amazon, iTune ,Verizon, etc gift cards, for medicine, religious practices, and leaves to come home, internet access, complete job assignments, help sick friend, get him out of trouble, or anything that sounds fishy.The military does provide all the soldier needs including food medical Care and transportation for leave. Trust me, I lived it, you are probably being scammed. I am just trying to show you examples that you are most likely being connned.Below is an email response I received after I sent an inquiry to the US government when I discovered I was scammed. I received this wonderful response back with lots of useful links on how to find and report your scammer. And how to learn more about Romance Scams.Right now you can also copy the picture he gave you and do a google image search and you will hopefully see the pictures of the real person he is impersonating. this doesn't always work and take some digging. if you find the real person you can direct message them and alert them that their image is being used for scamming.Good Luck to you and I'm sorry this may be happening to you. please continue reading the government response I received below it's very informative.   You have contacted an email that is monitored by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Unfortunately, this is a common concern. We assure you there is never any reason to send money to anyone claiming to be a Soldier online. If you have only spoken with this person online, it is likely they are not a U.S. Soldier at all. If this is a suspected imposter social media profile, we urge you to report it to that platform as soon as possible. Please continue reading for more resources and answers to other frequently asked questions:  How to report an imposter Facebook profile: Caution-https://www.facebook.com/help/16... Caution-https://www.facebook.com/help/16...   Answers to frequently asked questions:  - Soldiers and their loved ones are not charged money so that the Soldier can go on leave.  - Soldiers are not charged money for secure communications or leave.  - Soldiers do not need permission to get married.  - Soldiers emails are in this format: john.doe.mil@mail.mil Caution-mailto: john.doe.mil@mail.mil anything ending in .us or .com is not an official email account.  - Soldiers have medical insurance, which pays for their medical costs when treated at civilian health care facilities worldwide – family and friends do not need to pay their medical expenses.  - Military aircraft are not used to transport Privately Owned Vehicles.  - Army financial offices are not used to help Soldiers buy or sell items of any kind.  - Soldiers deployed to Combat Zones do not need to solicit money from the public to feed or house themselves or their troops.  - Deployed Soldiers do not find large unclaimed sums of money and need your help to get that money out of the country.  Anyone who tells you one of the above-listed conditions/circumstances is true is likely posing as a Soldier and trying to steal money from you.  We would urge you to immediately cease all contact with this individual.  For more information on avoiding online scams and to report this crime, please see the following sites and articles:   This article may help clarify some of the tricks social media scammers try to use to take advantage of people: Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/61432/ Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/61432/   CID advises vigilance against 'romance scams,' scammers impersonating Soldiers  Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/180749 Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/180749   FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center: Caution-http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx Caution-http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx   U.S. Army investigators warn public against romance scams: Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/130... Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/130...   DOD warns troops, families to be cybercrime smart -Caution-http://www.army.mil/article/1450... Caution-http://www.army.mil/article/1450...   Use caution with social networking  Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/146... Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/146...    Please see our frequently asked questions section under scams and legal issues. Caution-http://www.army.mil/faq/ Caution-http://www.army.mil/faq/ or visit Caution-http://www.cid.army.mil/ Caution-http://www.cid.army.mil/ .  The challenge with most scams is determining if an individual is a legitimate member of the US Army. Based on the Privacy Act of 1974, we cannot provide this information. If concerned about a scam you may contact the Better Business Bureau (if it involves a solicitation for money), or local law enforcement. If you're involved in a Facebook or dating site scam, you are free to contact us direct, (571) 305-4056.   If you have a social security number, you can find information about Soldiers online at Caution-https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/sc... Caution-https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/sc... . While this is a free search, it does not help you locate a retiree, but it can tell you if the Soldier is active duty or not.  If more information is needed such as current duty station or location, you can contact the Commander Soldier's Records Data Center (SRDC) by phone or mail and they will help you locate individuals on active duty only, not retirees. There is a fee of $3.50 for businesses to use this service. The check or money order must be made out to the U.S. Treasury. It is not refundable. The address is:  Commander Soldier's Records Data Center (SRDC) 8899 East 56th Street Indianapolis, IN 46249-5301 Phone: 1-866-771-6357  In addition, it is not possible to remove social networking site profiles without legitimate proof of identity theft or a scam. If you suspect fraud on this site, take a screenshot of any advances for money or impersonations and report the account on the social networking platform immediately.  Please submit all information you have on this incident to Caution-www.ic3.gov Caution-http://www.ic3.gov (FBI website, Internet Criminal Complaint Center), immediately stop contact with the scammer (you are potentially providing them more information which can be used to scam you), and learn how to protect yourself against these scams at Caution-http://www.ftc.gov Caution-http://www.ftc.gov (Federal Trade Commission's website)
Why don't schools teach children about taxes and bills and things that they will definitely need to know as adults to get by in life?
Departments of education and school districts always have to make decisions about what to include in their curriculum.  There are a lot of life skills that people need that aren't taught in school.  The question is should those skills be taught in schools?I teach high school, so I'll talk about that.  The typical high school curriculum is supposed to give students a broad-based education that prepares them to be citizens in a democracy and to be able to think critically.  For a democracy to work, we need educated, discerning citizens with the ability to make good decisions based on evidence and objective thought.  In theory, people who are well informed about history, culture, science, mathematics, etc., and are capable of critical, unbiased thinking, will have the tools to participate in a democracy and make good decisions for themselves and for society at large.  In addition to that, they should be learning how to be learners, how to do effective, basic research, and collaborate with other people.  If that happens, figuring out how to do procedural tasks in real life should not provide much of a challenge.  We can't possibly teach every necessary life skill people need, but we can help students become better at knowing how to acquire the skills they need.  Should we teach them how to change a tire when they can easily consult a book or search the internet to find step by step instructions for that?  Should we teach them how to balance a check book or teach them how to think mathematically and make sense of problems so that the simple task of balancing a check book (which requires simple arithmetic and the ability to enter numbers and words in columns and rows in obvious ways) is easy for them to figure out.  If we teach them to be good at critical thinking and have some problem solving skills they will be able to apply those overarching skills to all sorts of every day tasks that shouldn't be difficult for someone with decent cognitive ability  to figure out.  It's analogous to asking why a culinary school didn't teach its students the steps and ingredients to a specific recipe.  The school taught them about more general food preparation and food science skills so that they can figure out how to make a lot of specific recipes without much trouble.  They're also able to create their own recipes.So, do we want citizens with very specific skill sets that they need to get through day to day life or do we want citizens with critical thinking, problem solving, and other overarching cognitive skills that will allow them to easily acquire ANY simple, procedural skill they may come to need at any point in their lives?
What is the best way to invest in real estate?
From a distance, investing in real estate does seem very exciting. But it can prove to be a tough endeavor for those who’re starting a new.At the beginning, most investors feel that getting a real estate licence is enough and they can take everything on the go. But that approach is only confusing. It’s sort of like wanting to try out everything in a short span of time with no planning or strategy behind it.With that approach, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s okay, everybody makes mistakes but making one too many can leave you with little or no money, and you don’t want that do you?Are you a new investor? Here are 7 Mistakes Every Real Estate Investor Should Avoid.So if you want to start investing in real estate, where do you begin?The answer is very simple, stick to the basics. There are only two real estate fundamentals involved with starting in real estate. I’m not saying this is your formula for success because you’ll have to try out different strategies.Keeping it simple. Firstly, you have to identify your niche and secondly you have to plan a driving strategy to be successful in your niche.Identifying your nicheMaking a plan of actionThis blog will take you through all of the niches that you can look into when you’re beginning to invest in real estate and the different strategies that you can use.But, first let me paint a scenario for you!As children, all of us loved those every flavor candies, I sure did. When I got a hold of one of those boxes, I wanted to try all those different flavors and get a taste of everything. There were so many choices to pick from.Similarly, there are many choices while investing in real estate. You can choose a niche of your own liking and choose to apply a strategy to it. But unlike candies, you don’t have to try them all out to find out if you like them or not.You have to pick one and stick to it until you gain experience and get better at it. And that is what real estate investing is all about.Remember, choosing one niche helps you narrow down your focus and come up with a better action plan that will help to you make more money.Picking A Niche:When you’re investing in real estate, there are many niches that you can choose from. I have covered some of the basic and common types of property that you are likely to deal with in your line of business. Each of these categories can even be divided further but remember the point that I made earlier, these are just the basics, you can dig down further once you get a strong grip of the basics.Large Apartments:Small Apartments:Multi Family homesSingle Family homesCommercialRaw LandLarge Apartments:You might have seen big apartment complexes in your area as well. Yes, that is what I’m referring to when I say large apartments. This class of property usually is very high end and most people invest in this type through syndicates: a group of investors pooling in their resources. They are costly but they provide a steady inflow of cash after the investment with minimum personal involvement.Small ApartmentsThe difference between a large apartment building and a small apartment building is not very well defined. But usually buildings with 50 or lesser units is considered as small. Investment in such type of property can prove to be tricky because it’s a small investment for big expert investment funds while it’s too expensive for starting newbie. But once the finances are arranged, it can prove to be a worthy investment with great cash inflows.Multi Family Homes:Multi Family homes are usually 2-3 units and are a decent investment to make. Firstly, because you see lesser competition in this category and secondly, you’re able to enjoy the purchasing benefits of a single family home when you’re investing in this type of property. They prove to be a steady source of income and can even be used as a residence.Single Family HomesOne of the most common type of investment property that you’d see many investors dealing in is single family homes.Why is that so?Well, this type of property is usually easy to “buy n sell” and easy to rent out.And it’s relatively easier to arrange the finances for it. However, the cash inflow from this type of investment is not very big. The profits are small and marginal.Commercial:Investments in commercial real estate can vary between sizes and the intentions from the property. Some investors rent out their properties to small businesses for office use while some rent their property out to mega stores and supermarkets. Investment in this type of property is not recommended for those who’re not at a very strong financial position. Why? Because, although the cash flow is consistent when these properties are rented out but they might even remain empty for many months in a stretch.Raw Land:Well, it’s just a piece of land that can be used in many ways to generate profit . It can be worked on and sold for more value, it can be leased or rented out, and it can also be subdivided into smaller plots and then sold.Usually, a common strategy that is applied to raw land by many investors is “buy and hold” which means that they purchase the land and then hold for until it gets them substantial value. This value can increase over time due to a development nearby or a main freeway passing by.I have just outlined some of the very basic niches to start your real estate investment career. In the beginning, all you have to do is pick one niche and start working in the niche. This should be your stronghold, you should form connections, network, and know the in’s and out’s of that niche by heart. Sure, you can expand and test yourself in other niches as well when you’re experienced but when you’re starting in the investment business, sticking to your knitting is the best policy to adopt.Choosing a Driving StrategyNow that you have identified what niche you want to start with, it’s time to work on a driving strategyto get you going. I’ll try my best to keep this as simple as possible and take you through some of the basic strategies that you can adopt. It’s not set in stone to work with a single strategy and instead you can try out various strategies for your investment business.The Buy and Hold Strategy (long term investment)One of the most common forms of strategies involved with investing in real estate is the “Buy and Hold” strategy. The basic idea for this strategy is to buy a property and hold it for a substantial amount of time. During this time, the property can either be rented out or just held vacant until the time it’s value increases significantly.Pros of the Buy and Hold StrategyDecreasing principle balanceIncreasing equityHowever, with this strategy, success is greatly depends upon an investor’s ability to identify good deals. It’s this basic understanding that makes all the difference. So as a starting investor, you should focus on learning how to identify deals, what bad decision you should avoid, and how to estimate expenses on a deal.If you’re able to do that, then my friend, you’ll surely be on your way to master the “buy and hold” strategy and will hopefully be on the road of making more money with your business.The Flipping Real Estate Strategy (short term investment)The second most popular strategy that is often used when investing in real estate is the house flippingstrategy. The basic idea is to purchase a house or a property at a lower price, making a small investment to make the property better and then selling it for a higher price. These type of investments are short term and are linked with your business objective.Rule of Thumb for flipping Houses: Buy the property for 70% of its original value (including investment)But for this strategy to succeed, speed is very important because it’s a short term investment. For you to be a successful house flipper, you can’t wait around and do it passively. You have to buy, make improvements, and sell the property as quickly as possible.The quick shotgun strategy helps you to avoid any monthly charges that might apply to your property, they may include, financing charges, property taxes or any other financial bills that might be due.Pro Tip: If your niche is to deal in single family houses, then this particular strategy is highly recommended for you.The WholeSaling StrategyUsually regarded as the easiest strategy for investing in real estate because an investor dealing wholesales does not actually have to own anything. A wholesaler’s job is to identify a good deal, get a contract for that deal, and then sell it to another investor or retail buyer.The fee of the contract may vary depending upon the size of the deal. However, being successful at wholesaling is not as easy as it sound. It may look easy but the key to being successful with this type of strategy is to continuously seek out newer and better deals and find new buyers for those contracts.Pro Tip: Staying persistent is the key to being successful in wholesaling.Starting in wholesaling is not a hard thing and someone with little financial resources (gotta have some money) can start to deal in wholesales. However, you have to manage your time and resources at the same time to be successful with it. A good amount of time needs to be spent prospecting for newer options while the same amount of time has to be spent in building a marketing funnel.If all of this information is going over your head and is too much to consume at the moment. There’s nothing to worry about. It’s only the beginning and investing in real estate is a learning curve from the beginning till the end. There are no shortcuts to being successful, so be patient. Take your time, step into the unknown waters, and learn to swim with the tide.I believe I have given you everything that you need in order to figure out what investment will work best for you. You can also plan to invest in rental properties. For which you might want to get yourself familiarized on How To Start Investing In Rental Properties.Hope my answer helped you a great deal :) Happy investing :)
How do I get the capital or loans to invest in real estate and rent real estate out?
It depends whether you’re investing in commercial or residential real estate.The process to receive funding for a real estate investment differs on the type of property you’re looking to invest in, with the first and most important decision being between Residential real estate (homes and 2–4 unit Multifamily buildings), and Commercial real estate (buildings occupied by companies, or 5+ unit Multifamily properties).If you are looking to get started with Residential real estate investing and not sure where to start, there is a lot of great content on BiggerPockets: The Real Estate Investing Social Network - both guides and forums with other investors. The short answer is that funding will largely be based on your own credit score and finances.If you are looking to get involved in Commercial real estate, the process for receiving funding is a little bit different. Broadly, you can raise Equity (co-owners of your property), and generally you’ll supplement the total equity with Debt (an interest-bearing loan against the property).If you’re going commercial and have enough equity lined up, between yourself or an LLC with multiple investors including yourself, then next step is to find the property to invest in and create a great plan. Lenders in commercial real estate will evaluate the property itself and the plan, to determine metrics like the ratio of the property’s income to interest owed (Debt Service Coverage Ratio), the percent of the building value represented by the loan (Loan to Value), and some other measures of return and risk. These factors, plus your experience and financial strength, will determine the type of loan you qualify for. Banks, private lenders, and several other types of entities play in the commercial loan space.We’ve made it easy to find the best property-backed commercial lenders in the US by creating a platform that guides you through the loan application process, and instantly matches you with top lenders that are pre-selected for your deal scenario. Check out StackSource to learn more, or feel free to ask me other questions related to commercial real estate lending!
What happens to all of the paper forms you fill out for immigration and customs?
Years ago I worked at document management company.  There is cool software that can automate aspects of hand-written forms.  We had an airport as a customer - they scanned plenty and (as I said before) this was several years ago...On your airport customs forms, the "boxes" that you 'need' to write on - are basically invisible to the scanner - but are used because then us humans will tend to write neater and clearer which make sit easier to recognize with a computer.  Any characters with less than X% accuracy based on a recognition engine are flagged and shown as an image zoomed into the particular character so a human operator can then say "that is an "A".   This way, you can rapidly go through most forms and output it to say - an SQL database, complete with link to original image of the form you filled in.If you see "black boxes" at three corners of the document - it is likely set up for scanning (they help to identify and orient the page digitally).  If there is a unique barcode on the document somewhere I would theorize there is an even higher likelihood of it being scanned - the document is of enough value to be printed individually which costs more, which means it is likely going to be used on the capture side.   (I've noticed in the past in Bahamas and some other Caribbean islands they use these sorts of capture mechanisms, but they have far fewer people entering than the US does everyday)The real answer is: it depends.  Depending on each country and its policies and procedures.  Generally I would be surprised if they scanned and held onto the paper.   In the US, they proably file those for a set period of time then destroy them, perhaps mining them for some data about travellers. In the end,  I suspect the "paper-to-data capture" likelihood of customs forms ranges somewhere on a spectrum like this:Third world Customs Guy has paper to show he did his job, paper gets thrown out at end of shift. ------  We keep all the papers! everything is scanned as you pass by customs and unique barcodes identify which flight/gate/area the form was handed out at, so we co-ordinate with cameras in the airport and have captured your image.  We also know exactly how much vodka you brought into the country. :)
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