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We keep hearing about people getting scammed out of their money by some strange means. The latest involves people getting calls from who they think is the IRS demanding money and immediate payments, and some people are actually paying them; sigh…

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Truth be told, almost everyone has what I like to call “Spidey senses”, those chills that run up the back of your neck when something seems out of the norm, extraordinary if you will, or just “this” side of unbelievable. Yet people get fooled all the time, or get taken in some way, when all it took was either a little bit of due diligence or listening to your intuition and taking some time to check on things.

Many people know the name Les Brown, a motivational speaker who used to also have a television show. What many may not know is that in his past he bought a house for his mother and ended up having to leave that house with her within 2 weeks because he didn’t do a title search to learn there was a lien on the property, listening to the guy who sold him the house when he was being told how great he was and how the guy wanted to help him fulfill a dream.

Then there’s the tale of our old “friend” Bernard Madoff, who by now everyone knows ran a Ponzi scheme that took billions from people over the years. Some have said they couldn’t see it coming, that he seemed so trustworthy, but later on there were more than a few people who said they found it strange when they were told that they couldn’t access their accounts online so they could check on their money, even though every other financial institution had that kind of access.

A few months ago we shared our ideas for how to protect your shopping experience; this time we’re going a little further. Here are some ideas on how to protect your money across the board:

1. Always ask questions. This may not tell you everything you want to know but sometimes you’ll start to get a strange feeling if the answers you’re getting don’t make any sense.

2. Always ask for proof. Years ago my wife & I were thinking about moving into am apartment complex, but something was bothering my wife about the arrangement. I finally went with her and we asked to see the apartment they were going to give us, and it was a dump, with holes in the wall in 3 of the rooms and the front door right next to a dumpster at the back of the complex. No way!

3. Always do your own research. The problem with Madoff is so many people convinced others to invest and they do without questioning it because they trusted the people who recommended him. However, a quick search would have shown them just how many financial experts were warning people about him, including a guy who kept telling the SEC about it and was proven right when Madoff was arrested.

4. Never agree to pay anyone immediately unless you know it’s the real deal. So many phone scams; IRS, police benevolent societies, charities you’ve never heard of, relatives you don’t know leaving you money… even many collection agencies when you know you don’t owe anything to anybody. Unless you have unlimited money to spend don’t make rash decisions you can’t afford.
 

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