Ten Steps to Avoid Being Conned
- Say NO to aggressive tactics. If you have listened to a
salesperson’s spiel but feel uncomfortable or pressured, stand
firm – walk away if you are in a shop or market; close your
door firmly if you are at home; say goodbye and hang up if you
are on the telephone. Uninvited salespeople are not visitors to
your home and are legally obliged to leave when you ask.
- Ask for ID. By law, door-to-door salespeople must show
company identification if you request it. Do not invite
strangers inside unless you have confirmed their identity. Note
the person’s name, the name of the company, its address and
phone number; ask the salesperson to wait outside and keep your
door locked while you confirm his or her identity.
- Ask questions. Don't feel foolish requesting more
information, no matter how solid the investment seems – you
will feel much more foolish if you lose your money!
- Read the small print. If you are interested in a
purchase, make sure, before you sign anything, that you know the
whole cost, including delivery. Find out if there is a ‘cooling-off’
period. For any purchase involving a large amount of money,
having a solicitor check any documents before you sign.
- Ask about a warranty and request a receipt. Do not
purchase unless you get the warranty in writing. Genuine
door-to-door salespeople will issue a receipt for goods sold;
the receipt should include the name of the company, its ABN
(Australian Business Number), its address and phone number.
- Be wary of scam letters or emails, and other 'fabulous
opportunities'! Every year, hundreds of gullible people lose
money to swindlers. For example, you receive a letter from an
overseas company, asking for assistance to bring money into the
country; for the use of your bank account, you are promised $1
million dollars. If you provide your bank account details, that
account will soon be empty.
- Don’t pay for ‘love’. Con artists target the
vulnerable, for example, many lonely and/or elderly people have
been conned out of their life-savings by dubious introduction
- Know what to look for. Scams have common elements –
large sums of money are involved, either as deposits or
processing fees or payments from you, or promised in return for
your bank account or credit card details. Don’t be fooled by
flashy, official-looking logos on stationery or the lure of
winning a lottery sweepstake.
- Be wary of on-line fraud. It’s hard to resist a good
Internet bargain but, according to a recent study by the
Australian Institute of Criminology, up to 10 percent of all Net
transactions involve fraud. Before investing on line, conduct a
safety check on the company seeking your money with the ASIC
(Australian Securities and Investment Commission) consumer
- Protect yourself. Limit the personal information you
disclose as it can readily be misused. Read any privacy
statements on Internet web sites to ensure your details are
protect. Read the fine print at the end of any forms on which
you have given personal details. Ask yourself: Is it reasonable
for this company to request this information?
REMEMBER THE GOLDEN RULE – If
it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
* These steps are discussed in more detail in Money
Management for Women by Sheila Freeman and Helene Richards.
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