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5 ways to avoid getting scammed

Lori Wilson is a SheKnows.com Home & Living columnist, as well as a freelance writer in Los Angeles, who after a lifetime of enduring harsh Michigan winters, relishes the warmth year round.

Protect yourself from fraud

It's a sad fact of life, but there are people out there looking to scam you out of your money. They have many tactics and schemes and they don't care about what losing money will do to you. In order to avoid getting scammed out of your hard earned cash, keep a few of the following tips in mind.

Internet Security

1. Never Pay For a Job

Sure the ads sound good. Who wouldn't want to make thousands of dollars a month working part time from home? However, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. When looking into work-from-home jobs, be wary of any business that that asks for money up front, doesn't give out a phone number or address (other than a P.O. box), uses a free web hosting service or email account, and spams you. Always check out a business before you agree to anything and research their claims.

2. Protect Yourself on eBay

eBay is fun, easy and often cheap, but it can also be a place for scam artists to prey on unsuspecting victims. When making a purchase on the auction site, make sure you:

  • Check the user's feedback, which tells you how many times that person has sold something and whether or not people approve of them. To be safe, only buy from people with a sales status of 95% or greater and read any negative feedback comments.
  • Look to see how many items the user has sold, which is the number next to their name. Also other symbols will give you an idea of how reliable they are.
  • Find out what forms of payment a user accepts and avoid those that only take cash or money orders. PayPal is usually king on this site and the safest method (you will be refunded if you find yourself a victim of a scam and the seller won't get any of your info), so if they don't accept it, you should probably not buy from them. 

3. Hang Up on Pushy Callers

Phone scams are one of the most common and longest running scams going. You're smart women, so you probably already know this, but as a reminder it's safe to assume it's a scam if the caller tells you:

  • To act immediately because the offer is only good for a limited amount of time.
  • You won a free gift, vacation or prize, but you have to pay for shipping and handling charges.
  • To send money, give a credit card or give a bank account number before you even have time to think about their offer.
  • You don't need to check out the company or receive any written information about them.
  • You can't afford to pass up this once in a lifetime, no-risk offer.

4. Don't Pay Advancement Fees

This type of con occurs when someone promises clever financing arrangements for products, investments, lottery winnings, or other "amazing" opportunities and asks for a finder's fee in advance. If you encounter a situation similar to this, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Research the person or company who approaches you, make sure you fully understand the agreement you are entering and be leery of people who require nondisclosure or no circumvention agreements that prevent you from verifying the company you are about to do business with.

5. Use Common Sense

Your greatest weapon in the fight against scam artists is your intuition and common sense. If something seems off to you it probably is, so don't give away your money or sign anything. Make sure you do some research on the company or charity asking you for money, suspect all "Get Rich Quick" schemes, be suspicious of all door to door salesman or telemarketers, and never pay by cash (you can always cancel a check). If you're aware and think before you leap, you'll have a head start on protecting yourself against scam artists.

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