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Here are three of the week’s top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:
The president’s Venmo account
“We found Joe Biden’s secret Venmo account,” said Ryan Mac at BuzzFeed News. Following “a passing mention in The New York Times that the president had sent his grandchildren money on Venmo,” the popular peer-to-peer payments app, it took us less than 10 minutes to find Biden’s account “using only a combination of the app’s built-in search tool and public friends feature.” The president had made his transactions private, overriding Venmo’s default settings. However, there is no way to make Venmo’s friend lists private, making Biden’s identity easily verifiable through “the people he was connected to, including an account that appeared to be for his wife, Jill Biden.” At least one person seems to have used Venmo’s public directory to ask for money from Biden family members.
Child credit payments start in July
Roughly 39 million families will receive monthly child tax credit payments starting July 15, said Lauren Egan at NBC News. The monthly payments for most families will be $300 for each child under 6 years old and up to $250 for each child between 6 and 17 years of age. Those amounts are reduced for married taxpayers who file jointly earning over $150,000; $112,500 for heads of household; and $75,000 for all other taxpayers. The payments were passed as part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in March. It marks the first time that such payments, “normally given annually as tax refunds, will be distributed monthly.” Most families will get the benefits by direct deposit into their bank accounts.
Social media’s shopping perils
Social media is turning people into shopping addicts, said Emily Glaser at Vox. Already filled with consumer temptations, “integration of direct shopping capabilities into apps” has made Instagram and Facebook into minefields, especially for people already in debt. Studies now indicate “a direct correlation between social media use, credit card debt, and low credit scores.” The worries about debt and consumerism are felt even by influencers who have made a living promoting products. Lifestyle blog author Jess Ann Kirby, with 138,000 Instagram followers, went through a “Marie Kondo–style reckoning” and now writes about how to cut your environmental impact. Nika Booth, who used to “swipe her credit card for impromptu trips to Miami with friends” now lets her 33,000 followers track her journey toward paying off her debt.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.