Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But, unfortunately, beware -- not everything written down is true.
Don't buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply. It's never rude to wait and think about an offer. Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor. Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won't pressure you to make a snap decision.
Do your research. Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
Ask for information. Obtain a salesperson's name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.
Sending money. Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment. Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
You must not be asked to pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered. Some con artists will send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
Don't pay for a "free prize." If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are -- the kinds of financial information you will and won't give out on the telephone.
Never respond to an offer you don't understand thoroughly. Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. "What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?