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how to know if something is a scam
March 27, 2018
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The Internet has brought countless benefits into our lives. It offers instantaneous access to news and information, a forum for keeping in touch with loved ones and untold opportunities for earning an income or building a business.

[See: A Guide to Launching Your Side Business.]

However, along with those benefits comes a dark side. Scammers. There are people who take advantage of the relative anonymity and wide availability of the Internet to trick people into giving up their hard-earned money, whether intentionally or otherwise. They try to get you to pay them for nothing. They try to harvest your personal information. They try to install nefarious software on your computer.

Don’t let it happen.

While software is available to help ward off viruses and common online scams, the best tool for prevention is you. Being aware of how online scams work and, more importantly, knowing the tell-tale signs of a scam can keep you out of sticky situations.

Here are six specific ways to spot a potential online scam. If an offer you’re reading about sets off any of these warning bells, you’re better off just avoiding it.

1. An upfront payment is required before you can get any real information. If a site won’t give you a clear overview of what exactly it’s trying to sell you with some real examples of what you’ll be getting in exchange for your payment, don’t hand over a dime. Any reputable product can be sold on its own merits, not on the claims of what that product is without showing you what’s behind the smoke and mirrors.

This is something that many websites do, offering to show you the secrets of making money at home or building a business or “banking on yourself” or countless other scams or half-baked ideas. The catch is that they don’t actually give you any real indication of how it works or whether it will work at all. Instead, it’s all about trust – they’re essentially the confidence men of old, hoping you’ll trust their claims, except that now they don’t even have to look you in the eye while scamming you.

[See: 12 Ways to Be a More Mindful Spender.]

2. You’re promised a quick route to wealth or to exceptional income. If it were easy to make a huge income using this system, then they’d be using this system to make a huge income instead of selling promises to you via email or some shady-looking website.

In the real world, it takes a great deal of smarts and/or hard work to accumulate significant wealth or a significant income, and even if you have an epic work ethic or intelligence, it’s still going to take years and years to build that wealth. It’s never going to be overnight. It’s never going to appear in a month or two. Those things are myths, designed to sell you on unrealistic dreams and to extract money from your pocket.

3. You can’t figure out how the person making the offer benefits. If it’s not obvious how the other person involved in this offer makes money, then you need to stay far away from it. Most honest transactions are completely clear in how the other person is going to make money from the arrangement. Perhaps the individual is the seller and you’re the buyer. When situations come up where that arrangement isn’t clear, be extremely wary.

Why? Often, those individuals are making money off of you in ways you can’t see, and that means it’s a way he or she doesn’t want you to see. Perhaps he’s getting you to install bad software on your computer, or maybe she’s grooming you for some form of identity theft. Whatever it is, avoid it. Only enter into arrangements where it’s clear what both sides get out of the deal.

4. You are being pressured. If a product is worthwhile, it doesn’t need pressure tactics to entice you. If someone is pressuring you, such as by stating the offer only lasts for a little while or that you’re somehow foolish for not taking advantage of this, they’re selling you a bad bill of goods.

Don’t waste your money or time on products that can’t be presented to you solely on their own merits. If someone has to introduce pressure tactics that make you feel rushed or make you feel bad about yourself, walk away. They’re telling you that their product doesn’t have enough merit on its own.

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