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Student loan forgiveness: Don’t fall for these scams

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The federal government moves at the pace of cold molasses, so you shouldn’t be surprised that US Department of Education Have not yet revealed how to apply for Student loan debt forgiveness He. She I promised in August.

But you still need to be patient because anyone offering to help you apply now could be a scammer.

Kevin Round, Chief Technical Officer of the Internet Security Company Norton Live Look In Culver City, he said he’s seen several scams directed at borrowers looking online for guidance on loan forgiveness. The goal, he said, is to get you to sign up for a service that will cost you money — or refinance your debt into a new privately issued student loan.

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For example, he said, some will direct you to a site that will try to persuade you not to follow the advice of the student loan service. The site will claim that servants will give you bad terms, but “we’ll give you the best terms,” ​​Roundy said. Or they will offer to take your debt forgiveness application directly to the Department of Education, bypassing your loan service.

But the truth is: there is no better deal, and you will be able to apply directly to the department on your own.

“They’re trying to make it sound like they’re cutting out the middleman,” Round said, when in fact they’re trying to introduce themselves as the middleman.

Round said some are trying to hook you up by phone, promising lower monthly payments if you refinance your student loans through their lender of choice. But loans issued by the private sector do not qualify for the debt forgiveness announced in August, or for any of the other borrower-friendly options offered by the federal government.

The more people visit scammers’ websites, the more they appear in online search results, which in turn leads to more people being drawn to them.

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Roundy said he’s visited many of these sites, though he hasn’t seen any that mimic those of the Department of Education. studentaid.gov The site, they still look very professional. “Unfortunately, one of the problems we have… [is] If we see a site that looks really cool, we think, “Oh, this must be legit,” he said.

Reviews of online sites show that “people quickly realize that they have been scammed,” Raddy said. However, they “find it difficult to get their money back”.

On Student Loans Portal, Department of Education Warn Scammers may try to lure you by claiming that time is running out to get loan forgiveness. The department says other approvals convey a similar sense of urgency, including: “Your student loans may qualify for full forgiveness. Registrations are first-come, first-served,” and “Student Alerts: Your student loan is flagged for forgiveness pending verification.” . call now!”

The department says that this kind of tone is a sure sign of a scam. The department says the other dead giveaway is when someone asks you for money up front or on a recurring monthly basis in exchange for completely eliminating debt.

The third red flag is when a site asks for your Federal Student Aid username and password. The Department of Education and its partners will never ask for your FSA ID password. This is a guarantee,” says the department’s website.

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To avoid falling into a trap, here are some things to remember.

1. There is no need to rush to apply. The Department of Education is expected to make online application forms available in October, and you can Sign up to be notified by email When forms are available. You’ll need to have an account at studentaid.gov, but you should have one regardless—you’ll need it to make sure your contact information and payment history are correct.

Incidentally, the department said borrowers who meet annual income limits (no more than $125,000 for a single or $250,000 for a couple) will automatically qualify for loan forgiveness if they already have their income information. So if you have submitted annual income statements as part of a file Income Paid Payment PlanYou do not have to submit any forms to receive the loan forgiveness announced in August.

2. You do not need to pay anyone to get the promised loan forgiveness. There will be no fees, and the department says the form (if you need to apply) will be easy to fill out. Anyone who offers you help for a fee is trying to take advantage of you.

Certainly your situation may be complex – for example, you may have Several different types of student loansAnd, if your parents still claim that you are a dependent, it is their income, not yours, that will determine your eligibility. But you should be able to navigate this by following the instructions in studentaid.gov.

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3. Be wary of anyone requesting sensitive financial information. Scammers can only access your student loan information or your bank account if you give it to them. So don’t. And if there’s a site claiming to be an official government agency that requests this information, check their web address carefully – it might be a slightly modified version of the real thing.

4. No one can cancel all of your debts instantly. The common offering to scammers is the promise of immediate and complete debt relief. It’s an offer they can’t fulfill.

The federal government has a number of programs can debt forgiveness After 10 to 25 years of monthly payments, but that’s not instantaneous. Meanwhile, the new blanket exemption is capped at $10,000 (or $20,000 for borrowers who have received grant bel), which is less than what many borrowers owe. (This plan is underway challenged in court.) Therefore, total debt relief is too good a proposition to believe.

5. You may need to look at your state’s tax bill. Currently, the amount of debt forgiven under Biden’s comprehensive plan It will be taxable Income from California. The state’s top legislator has promised to pass a legislative reform by the April tax deadline.

6. If you are cheated, you can limit the damage. The Department of Education advises people who realize they have been scammed to speak to the company servicing their federal student loans as soon as possible to prevent or cancel any changes.

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Other steps recommended by the department include stopping all payments to the fraudster by your bank or credit card company and filing a complaint with  department, sections, federation Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

About the Times Utility Press Team

This article is from the Times’ companion press team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by disseminating information that Solves problems, answers questions, and helps make decisions. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles – including current subscribers to the Times and diverse communities whose needs have not historically been met through our coverage.

How can we be beneficial to you and your community? Email Tool (at) latimes.com or one of our journalists: Matt BallingerAnd the John HealyAnd the Ada TsingAnd the Jessica Roy And the Karen Garcia.

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Column: I asked ChatGPT to write me a symphony and more

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I mean, what did I expect from a chatbot? formula for world peace? Guides on how to fix a broken heart? Cheesy joke?

Sure, all of this, why not?

However, I didn’t expect it to stun me, telling me it was just too busy for me. And that he will be contacted later via email, when it’s free.

But this is how it goes with chatAnd The awe-inspiring reality show debuted in November and was instantly swamped with curious users — more than a million, according to its San Francisco-based creator OpenAI. It has been called “quite simply, The best AI chatbot ever to the general public.” No wonder it was smashed from overuse.

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Opinion writer

Robin Abkarian

With most technologies, I’m hardly an early adopter. I have absolutely no motivation to use the first iteration for anything. But many AI stories have been spread all over the media sphere, including how AI will replace journalists, and it seems irresponsible not to indulge in it.

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After all, panic seems to be one of the most predictable human reactions to any significant technological advance.

The Atlantic has predicted that in the next five years, artificial intelligence will happen Reducing job opportunities for college employees. (In fact, ChatGPT predicted that outcome after Atlantic prompted it to address the issue.)

New York Times recently A story about how chatbots like ChatGPT They write entire undergraduate papers, forcing universities to change the way they assign work. To date, The Times reports that more than 6,000 teachers from institutions like Harvard, Yale, and the University of Rhode Island have signed up to use GPTZeroa program developed by a senior at Princeton University for text detection generated by artificial intelligence.

On the less bleak front, NPR aired a story About a woman who uses a chatbot app as her therapist when she’s feeling depressed. “He’s not a person,” she told NPR, “but he makes you feel like a person, because he’s asking you all the right questions.”

A day later, my friend Drex Forward a video About the latest development of Atlas, the Boston Dynamics robot that captivates viewers with it piercing dance and parkour moves. Atlas can now run, jump, grab and throw. The new video shows Atlas handing a tool bag he left on the ground to a worker on a scaffold.

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“This is how it will end for us humans,” Drex lamented. Nah. I happen to believe less in the robots-it will kill us-at the end of the world theory and more in the humans-willing to blow ourselves up theory, so I’m not overly concerned about robots that can write research papers, bring us tool bags or jigs.

But it certainly could run out of AI. (We see: Tesla self-driving car crashes.)

CNET, the famous technology site, She had to edit dozens of her news stories After admitting that she was using bots to write it. The robots were error prone, and misjudged fundamental things like compound interest. futuristic, The site that discovered the trick, was not charitable: “CNET is now allowing AI to write articles for its site. The problem? It’s kind of idiots.” CNET claimed the bots were an experiment.

Anyway, when ChatGPT wasn’t too busy to talk to me, we were able to spend some quality time together. I asked serious questions based on some of my recent columns, such as “Does Religious beliefs are more important of academic freedom? ” “she has Prince Harry was unfaithful to his family? “Will Ukraine Win the War?” ChatGPT’s answers varied from weak to sensitive:

“In some cases, religious beliefs may be considered more important than academic freedom, while in others, the opposite may be true.”

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“Whether or not someone considers Prince Harry to have been unfaithful is a matter of personal perspective and opinions.”

“It is not appropriate to predict the outcome of a war, as it is not only difficult to predict, but also disrespectful to the people affected by it.”

ChatGPT, the latter part of which is a pre-trained generative converter, was clear about its limitations. She can tell me what a symphony is, but she can’t compose one. It was also a little overdone. When I asked him to write a letter to someone who broke my heart, she did, but she cautioned, “It’s also important to think about the person who broke your heart and whether contacting them is your best course of action.” who asked you

Less serious questions got decent, if overlapping, answers: A good plot for the novel, ChatGPT suggested, would be about a young woman who inherits a mansion and discovers a secret room with a young woman’s journal who’s lived in the house for a century. Earlier he was involved in a forbidden love affair. The protagonist becomes obsessed with the journal and the secrets it reveals about her family. “Along the way, she must face her own demons and face the truth about herself,” ChatGPT advised.

Unlike Google, which is He seems to be getting very nervous About this new contender, ChatGPT remembers your conversations, so when I asked if the plot he suggested was taken from a true novel, she knew what I was talking about and said it wasn’t.

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I also indulged in nonsense.

“How much does a Czechoslovakia weigh?” I wonder. (“Since it is an antecedent state and not a material thing, it has no weight.”)

“to be or not to be?” (ChatGPT said that Hamlet weighs the pros and cons of life, pondering whether it is better to end his life or to continue living and deal with his problems.)

And – how can I not? – I asked if he knew any dirty jokes.

“Some types of jokes, including dirty jokes, may be considered offensive or disrespectful to certain individuals or groups and it is important to keep this in mind before sharing any type of joke.” How tense. However, I made a bunch of jokes for my dad: “Why was the math book sad? Because it had so many problems.” “Why was the computer cold? Because she left all its windows open.”

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My last request to ChatGPT was to see if it could edit the opening lines of three recent columns to make it better.

I am happy to report that in my completely personal and entirely human opinion, no modifications have been made that improve my version and, in fact, make it more reliable.

You’re not firing me yet, bot.

@employee



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Trader: Big Tech is using layoffs to crush the workforce

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In Silicon Valley, the new year began as the last year ended — tens of thousands of tech workers lost their jobs. A few days into 2023, Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy announce There will be 18,000 layoffs across the company. Within weeks, Microsoft revealed that it was backing off Its head count is 10,000 Google said it was Termination of 12,000 employees. IBM is looking to be next, with Nearly 4,000 workers on the chopping block.

It comes on the heels of the bloodbath of 2022, when tens of thousands of jobs were lost at Meta Platforms, Twitter and Salesforce. to me Industry layoffs trackerThe technology sector has cut about 220,000 jobs since the beginning of last year. If laid-off tech workers formed a city, it would be one of the most populous in the United States, and larger than Des Moines Or Salt Lake City.

The question is: why have so many of the most profitable companies of our generation—most of them still very profitable—announced dizzying rounds of layoffs, one after another? And why now?

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joint abstinence from Analysts And correspondents Is that companies are “tightening their belts” after the exorbitant waves of pandemic hiring, in order to streamline operations. Executives overseeing the cuts, for their part, pointed to adverse economic conditions. “We have employed a different economic reality than the one we face today,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google. Discharge announcement. “Amazon has navigated difficult and uncertain economies in the past, and we will continue to do so,” Jassy writes. Satya Nadella from Microsoft Notice that “Some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating a recession.”

No recession has yet hit the US or its technology sector. Inflation hurts, but the US economy It added hundreds of thousands of jobs Last month. Still, some contributors They’ve been vocal about wanting to see their heads cut off — and cut back even more.

to that end, critics argue That simple greed is driving the layoffs. They point to the tens of billions in share buybacks that tech companies authorized last year. Liz Lobato is on edge Talk to industry analysts Who said tech companies evaluate their bottom line differently, and concluded that they lay off workers mostly because others do, even though they lay off workers more often cost funds of a particular company. The fact that all of these layoffs are happening in such rapid succession gives companies some coverage — making them seem essential and inevitable.

So what is really going on here? The answer may actually be very simple.

“Controlling labor costs through periodic layoffs is like breathing in Silicon Valley: periodic, essential to life,” Malcolm Harris, author of the forthcoming bookPalo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World,” tell me. Layoffs, Harris says, “have little to do with long-term or even medium-term strategy except in terms of cultivating an insecure workforce”.

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That aligns with the economic realities we face today, as the chief technology officer might put it. Because while the recession hasn’t arrived yet in any meaningful form, there is he Another economic indicator indicating willingness to lay off workers from a large employer’s perspective: A growing effort to organize tech workers in Unusually narrow job market.

Technology staff salaries jump over the during the past two yearsTheir negotiating power has begun to grow, too. Over the past half-decade, tech industry insiders have moved for changes that executives find increasingly uncomfortable.

At Google, they spoke out against gender inequality and Pressure the company to drop a lucrative defense contract. At Amazon and Microsoft, they protested lackluster climate policies and pushed those companies to make pledges to reduce carbon emissions. On Facebook and Twitter, workers rallied against content moderation decisions about keeping former President Trump on the platform after January 6, 2021. A subset of Google employees formed the Alphabet Workers Union with the Communications Workers of America union, Amazons founded Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, And at Microsoft, employees of video game subsidiary ZeniMax formed the first certified association ever recognized by the company.

The tangible gains made by regulating tech workers so far may be relatively small, but rising salaries and growing organizational capacity threaten the tech giants’ bottom line and the brand of executive sovereignty prized in Silicon Valley. Elon Musk’s mass Twitter firing last year, and his public demand that “hardcore” programmers dedicated to his software remain at the company, is useful here, not least because other tech execs have He said his approach was inspiring When choosing jobs in their own company.

Workers in an industry that has long had a reputation for union neutrality at best were forming bonds, organizing and developing solidarity. Layoffs of this magnitude and so suddenly can be a blow to the process.

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Affected tech workers told me they were struck by the randomness of the shootings; Seniors in good standing, brilliant colleagues with stellar performance reviews, all showed the door, with little rhyme or reason. Many seemed to wonder why they were saved while their peers were not.

Her layoff this month was a “huge surprise,” Alejandra Petit, director of technical programs at Alphabet subsidiary Verily, told me. For one thing, she identified herself as being in good standing in the company. “I was a high performer, considered a pillar of the local community in my Boulder, Colorado office. Now I’m not even allowed back in, not even as a visitor.” Beatty was also struck by the number of quitters who were performing jobs critical to keeping Essential Products running.

If there is one thing the expulsion of people on a large scale and seemingly indiscriminate way achieves, it is that it instills a sense of vulnerability, even fear, in those who remain.

“It’s absolutely devastating, both for the people who were laid off and their families, and colleagues, who felt, that day, and will feel it for a long time after, that they’re in danger,” said Skylar Hinnant, lead quality assurance tester for Microsoft’s ZeniMax branch. “.

Hinnant said he knows a lot of people who’ve lost their jobs via Microsoft — everyone knows that. “You can be the most important engineer at your job, you can be a great programmer, at the end of the day if the algorithm wants to go.

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“I think it awakens people to some truths about what the industry really looks like. We are workers. Even though we have advantages and we’re highly trained – we’re still workers. We can still arbitrarily lose our jobs just like everyone else.”

Beatty has been a prominent member of the AWU, advocating in media interviews for reproductive rights in the workplace. She was always civil and constructive, she says, and she felt her suggestions were well received by management. Now she often thinks about whether it was vengeful to end her relationship. In the end, I decided the layoffs were too big, too automated to target directly. “I guess I was another digit in whatever crazy algorithm the consulting firm used to figure out the cuts,” she said.

Elsewhere, there are signs of reversing the hard-won progress of tech workers. Bloomberg reported that at companies like Twitter, Meta, Amazon, and Redfin that have promised to improve employee diversity, layoffs have eliminated departments responsible for diversity, equality, and inclusion, or DEI initiatives.

On Tuesday, workers for Cognizant, a major contractor for Alphabet and YouTube, said: File a complaint With the National Labor Relations Board who were retaliated against for announcing their decision to join the AWU. They say Alphabet changed its policy to make moving to Austin, Texas, mandatory for all workers, and failure to comply will result in “voluntary termination.” Workers say this is against NLRB rules, which state that no major policy can be changed once regulation is announced.

The tech industry has certainly shown that it will go to great lengths to reduce workers’ wages and power. In 2015, Apple, Google and other technology companies He agreed to pay $415– A million settlement After a lawsuit alleged that companies colluded to keep wages low with a “no poaching” agreement between CEOs.

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But the massive cutbacks ripping through departments today need not be retaliatory to register a debilitating and destabilizing effect, to help tech giants consolidate control over their workforces and emphasize their fragility.

“Nice companies and all the perks,” said Beatty, “none of them are really useful if you’re constantly worrying, ‘Well, am I going to be the next to be arbitrarily given away?’” “”

The clinical rigors with which layoffs have been carried out often help underscore this point — Google employees show up for work only to discover their keycards have been deactivated, workers have been locked out of email accounts and are never allowed into offices again, not even To say goodbye to colleagues who have worked with them for years.

The tech sector appears to be betting that massive, algorithmically-coordinated firefights will not only drive down labor costs, but also remind increasingly empowered tech workers of their own insecurities, and the power corporations still wield. It’s a bet that paid off historically and helped turn tech giants into some of the most profitable companies in history.

But there is a possibility that things will be different this time.

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“It’s very exciting,” said Beatty. The Alphabet Workers Union held a meeting shortly after the layoffs were announced. She said: “Over 1,000 people joined, and another 800 tried to sign up for it after it started. It was big enough that we broke Zoom, and we couldn’t do breakout rooms.”

Hinnant, ZeniMax’s quality assurance tester, is also an organizer in Microsoft’s newly recognized consortium. “I think it kindled a fire with a lot of people thinking about organizing,” he says. “I have friends at Microsoft, Google, and across the industry and I’ve got… Much of calls. “

And unlike the mass layoffs of the past, there is now a foundation of organized workers in place, even if it is emerging, with the ability to provide Salt Lake City’s population of displaced workers with some resources and support.

Beatty says one of the first things the AWU did was create a Slack channel and Discord server where laid-off workers could connect, communicate, exchange information, and lead work.

“It was very helpful to have a place to go and talk to other people who were affected,” Beatty said. “And then we had people who weren’t laid off who joined in to support them, to say goodbye.”

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And soon, thousands of laid-off workers were joining the channel, not just from Google, but from Meta, and across the industry. “This has been a huge help in understanding the terminology, what you can and can’t do, and in this place where people are like, ‘Oh, I’m panicking, talk about it,’” she said. “It might become a networking space — we allow some recruiters by entering. They all need work now, you know.”

Workers provided informal, ad hoc counseling services and helped those who could no longer access their email, computers, or HR contacts get information and answers. “When you’re struggling with what just happened, it’s good to have people who can help you with that,” said Beatty. “There are people on visas or parental leave who say, ‘How do I navigate this now?’” I was putting together some of these questions to pass on, and someone who was here on a visa said, “Can you ask them how long until I get deported?”

Above all, workers like Beatty and Hinnant say it is spurring interest in more regulation of tech workers. “I think this really highlights the need for people not only in the Microsoft ecosystem, but across the industry to get organized,” he says. “I think that was a wake-up call. There’s a wave coming. And there’s no stopping it.”

Betty feels the same. She is still hurt by the layoff but hopes to benefit from it. She says, “If I don’t get anything else out of this, I hope to see AWU grow exponentially. Then the sacrifice will be worth it.”



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Male sex toys may aid in pleasure and performance

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BuzzFeed may earn a share of the sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. All products were independently selected by our editors, prices were accurate and items were in stock at time of publication.

Let’s be real – sex doesn’t always go smoothly. It is often not as smooth and relaxed as in the movies.

Sexual performance anxiety is common — and while it can affect anyone, people with penises often have to deal with it on a higher level. They are expected to have a file physical response to stimulationand few people are willing to talk about how often things go wrong.

Mike Johnson – who Bachelor’s Franchise fame – recently talked about Lovers and friends with Shan Bodrum podcast and openly discussed his own experience with erectile dysfunction. He said on the podcast that it takes about two and a half months for him to get a firm erection during sex, specifically with women he’s interested in.

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“For me, I’m overthinking in my head and not wanting her to feel like I only want her for her body, and I’m overthinking and overcompensating about so many different things,” he told host Shan Budram.

Unrealistic body standards and porn can also play a role in the unpredictability of erections: Although knowing that these paid actors create a fantasy, it sets a standard that no real human being can meet, Carolan Marcantonio said, sex therapist Based in Brooklyn.

She added that a lot of erectile unpredictability (aside from medical conditions) also has to do with the inability to stay present in your body for pleasure because you’re so focused on performance.

“Masculinity is often associated with physical perfection,” she said. She said it can exacerbate body image concerns and thus reduce the ability to get or maintain an erection. “It’s very normal for an erection to go away and wane during sex, during foreplay, play, or whatever someone wants. It’s unrealistic to think you’re going to be hard for hours.”

Marcantonio said that the rules and regulations associated with masturbation can also increase the risk of premature ejaculation. “For them, it’s about knowing how to manage their pleasure and how they feel what’s going on in their body so they can take a step back when they get close to orgasm and slow down,” Marcantonio said.

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If you are experiencing any problems with sexual performance, it is important to see a doctor. A urologist can check for any health conditions that may require medical intervention. She said that if you suffer from sexual performance anxiety, it can be treated with education and talk therapy. A sex therapist can help you come up with a unique plan and address any major issues anxiety or depression.

There are a few books Marcantonio recommends clients read, including Come as you are By Emily Nagoski W The new male gender by Bernie Zilbergeld. In addition, sex therapists can help you learn to use performance-enhancing toys.

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