Weekly Financial Wrap: Rental Cars Prices, Copper and Job Scams Rise As Video Game Stocks Decline
The Latest Shortage – Rental Cars
Rental car prices are skyrocketing. It’s getting so bad in Hawaii, some vacationers have started renting U-Haul trucks to get around.
What’s causing all this? The pandemic, of course. Last year, with travel restricted, car rental firms had vehicles, but drastically fewer customers. As a result, the rental companies sold much of their inventory.
Several major brands including Hertz, Advantage, and EZ went into bankruptcy.
Higher Demand, Lower Supply
Now, with vaccinations on the rise and the economy rebounding, more people are traveling. That means demand for rental cars has suddenly increased. That has sent rental prices soaring.
“Car rental companies with bare-bones fleets are now struggling to meet the crushing demand from a growing number of folks who suddenly want to travel,” writes Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of Autoslash, a website designed to save on rental cars. “That’s leading to skyrocketing car rental rates and, quite frequently, travelers getting shut out of renting any car because they are completely sold out in a given market.”
Not Getting Any Better
Orlando, Tampa, Phoenix, and Denver sold out of rentals over President’s Day, according to Weinberg.
“Got your vaccinations and want to fly down to San Juan for some sun and surf?” asks Weinberg. “I hope you don’t mind cabbing it everywhere. And it is only going to get worse as we head through spring and into summer.”
No Simple Solution
Ordinarily, rental companies would only have to purchase more cars to meet the demand. However, the new car supply is down due to COVID plant closings and the semiconductor shortage.
For this summer, the best advice the rental companies can offer is to book your rental early. However, you may want to make that booking with U-haul.
All That Glitters Is Not Gold
Investors are beginning to take a shine to Copper. The highly used element being gobbled up as manufacturing revitalizes.
Sunday SA will look at this copper boom and how it may impact your wallet.
Job Scams on the Rise
With more jobs than qualified applicants and unemployment heading down, you might think job scams would be declining. However, the opposite is true.
Last year 16.012 people reported losing over $59 million to employment fraud, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaints Center (IC3). Meanwhile, 2,349 people have already reported losses of over $5 million in the first two months of 2021.
Let’s take a look at three of the most prominent hiring scams.
Money Laundering Scam
The online advertisement or email promoting this fraud says the employer needs to process payments through your personal checking account. You are given a small percentage of each check. Typically, the crooks will say they can not process certain payments because they are in a foreign country.
What your doing is processing stolen money or bad checks. That is money laundering. It is a crime and you could go to jail for doing it. On top of that, you are responsible to the bank for its losses.
These rip-offs tell you they need more information to determine if you qualify for a top-paying job. They direct you to a website where you fill in personal financial information.
By doing that, you are sending them your identity and access to your money. At best you are giving them information they will sell to online marketers.
This scam offers to pay you to receive, repackage and reship packages. Why would a company need you to do that?
Here, the fraudsters are getting you to ship stolen goods. On top of that, they may direct you to label the packages as “gifts”. By doing that, you would be falsifying government documents. That is a crime you can add to mail fraud.
How To Spot a Fraud
There are several red flags in employment scams. Here are some:
- If It sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There aren’t many jobs that pay a lot for little or no work.
- The company has no website.
- They want personal information upfront.
- You have to pay for training or make a deposit.
Do Some Research
Here are a few ways you can check for employment fraud before sending personal information or accepting a fishy job,
Do an online search adding the word “scam” to the company name. For instance, let’s say you get an email job offer from “Get Rich, Do Nothing”. If you Google “Get Rich, Do Nothing + scam” you will get information on any shady activities.
In addition, you can also contact the Better Business Bureau for a free report on the company. One of the best sources regarding consumer fraud is the Federal Trade Commission.
Video Games Stocks Stumble
Some businesses benefited from the pandemic shutdown. Manufacturers of hand sanitizers and masks certainly did. Another sector that increased profits as a result of COVID concerns is video game companies.
However, with the kids returning to school and parents getting back to the office, video games may go back in their boxes. As a result, video company stocks may not make it to the next level any time soon.
Major video company stocks peaked in February. However, since then, they have been on a downward slide.
“In our view, one of the big risks is the return to normalcy,” John Patrick Lee, VanEck ETF product manager, told Investors Business Daily.
Video game purchases peak during the holidays. However, they also tapper off in the months afterward.
One gauge of the industry’s health is E3. That is the Comic-Con of the video gaming world. Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic. This year’s E3 will be online June 12-15.
Some new releases to be unveiled at this year’s E3 include “Halo Infinite” from Microsoft and a new “Call of Duty” from Activision Blizzard. The consumer response to those and other releases will indicate where video game stocks are headed.
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