How do you feel if you paid someone $10 for a parking spot on Black Friday, then see plenty of open spaces right in front of the entrance three minutes later as you walk towards the mall?
Scams are everywhere. Online and off, we are faced with the task of weeding out the genuine offers from all the ones that crooks publicize. With the holiday season and year end coming up, we are in the mood to say yes but don’t want to waste our money. Below are several ways to avoid a scam. Hey, someone’s got to kick some crook’s ass without physically wasting our energy.
- Never Decide on the Spot
It could be an email, a speech or even a mailer, but many scams happen because victims are moved emotionally by the sales pitch. Always give yourself amble time to think about the offer so you can decide on your own schedule. If you are pressured in any way to make a decision immediately, just say no.
- Check Online
The information available on the web is incredible. Just search for the description of the offer with the word “scam” or even the company name. Even if it’s a genuine offer, there will be lots of information to help you decide.
- Ask Tons of Questions
Most of us can smell a scam from a mile away, but crooks sometimes dangle that carrot two miles away. Ask as many questions as you can possibly think of, and be specific. If some of the answers don’t make sense, then it’s best to avoid the offer all together.
- Know the Return Policy
A reputable company won’t be afraid of returns. Ask about the return policy and the specific steps of what happens if you don’t like the product and want a refund.
- National Fraud Info Center (NFIC)
NFIC at www.fraud.org or 1-800-876-7060 has a database full of information about telephone, mail, and online scams. Use it to see if you can find anything on the offer you were presented.
- Credit Card Payment
Credit card payments are much easier to reverse, since you can ask the credit card company to charge the amount back to the vendor. However, be careful about giving away your credit card number, especially if it’s through email or over the telephone.
- Stop Telephone Scams
You can register your phone number in the “Do Not Call Registry” (donotcall.gov). This way, no telemarketing calls that come through are going to be genuine.
- Never Give Out Too Much of Your Information
Unless it’s clearly needed (like an address if you are signing up for a magazine subscription), be skeptical about giving any personal information on ANY offer. Request to give as little info as possible, and always ask why they need it.
- Too Good to be True
You know what they say. When it’s too good to be true, it almost always is. Offers that make bold promises are seldom legitimate. There’s no free lunch, so don’t expect one.
With a little change in how you handle offers out there, you can pretty much stop all scams in its tracks. Follow these simple rules, and may all of you have a happy and scam-free holiday.