Get rich quick? 2 tips to live by to avoid scams

With jobs being insecure and low-paying, it's easy to buy into the lure of money-making schemes. With some solid advice though, you'll be able to avoid the temptation and grow your savings in other ways.

Get rich quick? 2 tips to live by to avoid scams

The moment you get a few extra dollars in your pocket, investment advice starts leaping at you from every corner of your life: from a favourite uncle, from co-workers, from strangers on the telephone, from unsolicited e-mails and from magazine ads.

  • Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind to ensure you don't fall victim to bad advice or a scam:

1. Be wary

Greet all unsolicited investment suggestions with an enormous amount of skepticism. Here are seven signs of a possible investment scam trying to pluck dollars out of your wallet.

  • A promise that there's no risk.
  • A promise that you'll make lots of money quickly.
  • A promise of tax sheltering in an "offshore" investment.
  • An offer of offbeat investment "opportunities" such as oil leases, artwork, coins or jewels.
  • A woeful story from a stranger who wants your help in accessing a large bank account or other funds.
  • An investment based on information that, supposedly, no one else has access to.
  • An investment plan that asks you to recruit other investors.

2. Think twice

Thinking of becoming a day trader? It sounds like the ideal life. Rather than reporting to an office or waiting on tables every day, you can sit at a computer at home in your pajamas, making quick buy-and-sell stock decisions and racking up bucketloads of cash.

Well, hold on to your wallet, and think twice before making the leap. Here's a reality check.

  • Don't bet the farm. The harsh reality is that most day traders lose money big time. So never, never, never day-trade with money you need for routine living — tuition money, retirement funds, money you need to cover household bills and the like.
  • Understand the expenses. Many day traders have to pay the company they're affiliated with, paying out enormous commissions in exchange for training and equipment. They work with borrowed ("on margin") money and can quickly ring up mountains of debt. Given the hefty expenses, have a clear idea of what it takes to turn a profit in this scenario.
  • "Easy" is a myth. Day trading requires that you be glued to a computer all day, every moment, monitoring prices and trends. Done right, this is hard and gut-wrenching work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is scamming you.
  • Consider the source. Once you become known as a day trader, you will be barraged with hot "insider" advice, primarily from people who are trying to drive up their own investments. Don't act on advice if you aren't sure of the source.
  • Check out that class. You may have been invited to find out about day trading at a special class or seminar. Find out whether the instructor will benefit if you decide to become a day trader. If so, the information provided in the class might be seriously skewed.
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