How to Avoid Being Conned
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The consumer who is too trusting, who does not ask detailed questions, who does not
check references and information for accuracy, and who makes decisions without careful
consideration is vulnerable to con artists.
Here are some general guidelines to help you from being conned.
- Realize first that nothing is free. It is almost impossible to get something for
- Avoid putting yourself in situations where you are setting yourself up to be deceived.
Dont listen to sales pitches on the telephone or go to motel rooms to hear sales
pitches. Dont let unknown door-to-door salespeople into your home.
- Try not to be overly sympathetic toward sales representatives. This will help you avoid
becoming the victim of a hard-luck-story.
- Be careful about buying things over the telephone. A useful guideline is not to buy
anything over the phone unless you initiated the call or know the caller. Ask telephone
solicitors to mail information rather than discussing it over the phone. You can call back
if youre interested after reviewing the information.
- Never ever give credit card, checking account, or social security numbers for identification
or verification purposes.
- Never send cash. Dont send money orders or checks to a post office box unless you
are sure about the companys reputation, have its street address, and know about the
- Dont send money by a courier service that picks up at your home or work place.
- Be aware that high-pressure sales tactics are a warning. Some sellers push hard because
they earn commission or want to win a contest. Even if they are honest, they do not have
your best interests in mind.
- Do not make quick decisions about buying or investing. Read the fine print. Get help
from an objective third person.
- Dont assume you always have three days to cancel a transaction or that you can
always get out of a contract. In many cases, you do not have any right to cancel a contract
once it is signed.
- Watch out for planted people posing as real users. When you check references you can use
on-line forums, news groups, etc. to talk to other customers about the product and
Remember, to avoid being conned, you need to ask questions and take plenty of time in making a
decision about a product.
Carole Bozworth, BozworthC@missouri.edu
Regional Specialist, Consumer and Family Economics
Jackson County, MO
University of Missouri Extension