Scam Alert! Ten Signs to Avoid

Imagine if you had little or no ethics or morality at all. You live under the belief that if you lie and misrepresent right to a person’s face and they believe it, they deserve to have their money taken from them for being so stupid.

There are a lot of people out there that fall into this category. Rather than treating people fairly, they’re much more interested in doing whatever they can to convince you to give them something for next to nothing.

Of course, if you’re the one to fall into this kind of trap, you pay with your money, your property, and sometimes your identity.

Thankfully, there are usually big red flags for many common types of scams. Here are ten of the most common ones. I’ve built this list over the past few years while reading up on how various scams and unethical arrangements operate.

Unsolicited emails If someone sends you an email out of the blue with a business arrangement or a request for money or a request for business, ignore it. Delete it immediately. The only emails you should ever spend a second of your time looking at are personal communications and contacts from businesses you’ve already established a relationship with. Everything else should go right in the trash.

Unsolicited phone calls Similarly, if an individual or business calls you with any sort of financial transaction proposal or arrangement of any kind, ask to be removed from their call list and then hang up the phone. The risks of such unsolicited contact are far greater than the potential rewards.

Unsolicited mail Yep, junk mail. Trash all of it. Tear it up and throw it straight in the trash can. If you do happen to see an offer that interests you, research it on your own and find a legitimate way of going about it rather than following the instructions on an unsolicited mailing.

Tip #1: To sum up these last three points, don’t spend even a second of your time on unsolicited communications from any individual or business that is offering any sort of sales arrangement. If you want to purchase any sort of product or service, find the business yourself and establish contact yourself. This way, you can verify at least to some extent that the organization is a legitimate one before there is any contact between the two of you.

Pressure tactics If anyone attempts to trigger your emotions – guilt, anger, stress, anything at all like that – in order to make a sale, walk away. No “bargain” is worth that level of undue stress. Start your shopping over again and find an organization to do business with that is confident enough in their product to not have to engage you in uncomfortable practices just to make a sale.

Requests for personal information The only time a business should ever ask you for personal information is when you initiate contact with them and set up your account with them for the first time. After that, there should be no requests for personal information, period. If a business contacts you and claims to need your information, never give it to them. If it’s a business you’re already working with, contact that business yourself and make sure that the request legitimately came from them.

Refusal to provide documentation If you’ve worked out an arrangement with a business but they refuse to provide documentation for that arrangement, back out. Do not give them a dime. Do not give them any of your personal information. Any legitimate organization will provide you with all of the documentation you request with regards to the arrangement you’re entering into with them.

Refusal to provide contact information If someone contacts you for any sort of exchange of goods and services but refuses to provide verifiable contact information, walk away. The only reason a business won’t provide you contact information is if they don’t want pesky customers contacting them after they’ve taken the customer’s money. You don’t want to be that customer.

Refusal to accept trackable forms of payment If a business will only accept cash as a form of payment, walk away. It’s fine for them to accept a multitude of payment types, but if they’re refusing to take a trackable form of payment from you (a carbon-copied check, a credit card, etc.), then they don’t want you to be able to provide any sort of proof of the transaction, and that’s never a good thing.

Refusal to provide credentials or proof of their statements Again, if a business makes a claim but won’t provide any sort of proof of their claim or any type of references, close the door and walk away. This is something you should always ask for when people are providing services. Ask for licenses. Ask for references. If they can’t or won’t provide them, use a different service.

Tip #2: Simply put, if you make a reasonable information request of a business that you’re considering doing business with and they refuse, walk away. Any legitimate business will provide you with whatever documentation you request, within reason. The things mentioned above are all within reason.

Promises of extremely simple ways to earn or win money Let’s get this straight right now. You can’t sit down at home and immediately start earning thousands of dollars (not without a lot of luck or someone helping you tremendously). You can’t get a bunch of money for a little amount of money with any guarantee. These things simply don’t work – they don’t make basic economic sense. If you’re offered anything that seems to offer an incredibly easy way to add money to your pocket, just walk away. The slight chance that it is legitimate is not worth the losses you’ll incur from the overwhelming chance that it’s just another scam.

In short, walk away from anything in your life that doesn’t pass your smell test. If anything seems off at all for any reason, walk away. Trust me, you can always find a more legitimate arrangement later on without the headaches of being involved with a con artist.

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