A collection of tips, tricks, and advice on how to avoid being conned, scammed or defrauded.
Do not under any circumstances give out your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, social security number and other personal information to people or web sites you are not fully comfortable with.
Keep close watch on your sign-in names, ID names and passwords on the internet and a keep close watch on your credit and debit card PIN numbers.
Products that are too good to be true
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that a con artist makes a career of using excuses and explanations to lead you away from your common sense. When dealing with your money and personal information, never allow yourself to be rushed, threatened or persuaded against your judgment.
Don’t believe offers that claim to have found a way around the law — like reasons you don’t have to pay your bills or taxes, promises to clean up your credit history or claims that you can get a new Social Security number or a new driver’s license if yours was revoked. And claims of “miracle diets or pills” that can enhance your features or help you lose weight should be regarded with skepticism at best.
Keep in mind that offers that are too good to be true aren’t confined to the Internet or telemarketers. They can also be found in mail offers, the ads in the back of magazines and in brick-and-mortar stores. Stay vigilant and trust your gut.
Candy from strangers
Don’t trust anyone you don’t know who calls and solicits money. Be suspicious of anyone offering get rich schemes or unexpected letters offering great returns for very little risk. Being personable and sounding legitimate are con artist’s bread and butter.
Think twice if the person you’re dealing with tries to pressure you into parting with your money before you have a chance to research. Using guilt, greed and other methods to make you feel stupid or dumb are not the hallmark of legitimate businesses.
As the old adage goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is”, so does any scheme involving low risk for high returns. Scammers know what people want to hear and they use it to their advantage. Non risk investments simply don’t exist.
Phrases like, “Act now! Don’t delay, for it will be too late tomorrow!” should make you run the other way. Take a moment to really think about what they’re offering. Why would they call you if it’s such a great deal? Wouldn’t they have people knocking down their door? High pressure tactics are almost always associated with frauds or scams. They don’t want you to check them out. Acting without investigating is one sure way to increase your chances of becoming a fraud victim.
Do a complete and thorough examination on any company or individual asking for money. Request written information about the entity, the people sponsoring the investment and their history with investments. Once you have the information, read it and ask more questions. Never make a commitment or sign anything until you’ve had a chance to really research what you’re purchasing. If the sums involved are substantial enough, hire a professional to do a background check. Keep in mind that the most experienced of con artists will forge or falsify material to increase your chances of falling for it.
It’s OK to hang up on a promoter or telemarketer pushing an investment opportunity. You’re not being rude and in fact, their call to you is an invasion of your privacy.
It’s illegal to make money off of information not available to the general public. Terms like “hot tips”, “insider information” and “rumors” should make you want to walk away. Why would anyone want to offer you this type of investment?
Free, unsolicited financial advice can only lead to potential trouble. And by no means are you to feel beholden to anyone who provides it. Chances are it’s worth what you paid for it…nothing.
Taking the time and spending the money on a third party professional is always worth it. Search out attorneys, stockbrokers and/or accountants you’re familiar with. Their advice could be invaluable.
Watch out for multilevel marketing scams. In these scams, distributors or their agents make their fees for recruiting you and you are the one paying them. Be wary.
To report internet investment scams, contact the Securities and Exchange Commission at [email protected]