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Scams are a growing problem in our world; nearly all of us have either heard about them or maybe even had the misfortune of being a victim of one.
Scammers have become incredibly cunning and deceptive with their schemes to separate people from their cash and other valuable possessions, so much so that even those who consider themselves skilled at spotting scams still fall prey to them.
Today, we’ll discuss 19 scams that are so deviously clever that even intelligent people can get scammed by them if they aren’t careful.
So, if you want to stay informed on the latest scams plaguing society today, you’re in the right place!
Table of Contents
#1. Free Trials
The free trial scam has been around for a while, and unfortunately, it’s still going strong.
It starts with an offer that sounds too good to be true: sign up for a free trial of some product or service, and you won’t have to pay anything unless you decide to stay subscribed after the trial is over.
But here’s the catch: there’s often a clause buried deep in the Terms & Conditions that gives the company permission to charge your card for the full cost of the product or service if you don’t cancel before the trial is over.
It’s very important to read and understand any T&Cs before signing up for free trials.
#2. Batteries Not Included
You’ve been burned by a purchase that didn’t include all the important pieces.
You thought you were getting a great deal, but when it arrived, there was something missing.
The most common causes of this problem are either a misunderstanding between buyer and seller or false advertising by the retailer.
Either way, it can be incredibly frustrating.
#3. Unpaid Internships
An unpaid internship at Goldman Sachs might be worth the clout it brings to your resume. An unpaid internship at the local burger joint? Not worth the effort.
Use your best judgment when offered an unpaid position of any kind, as the proposition of exchanging your time and effort for zero money is one to view warily.
#4. Naming a Star
Wishing upon a star? Well worth the effort. Paying to name a star? Not worth the money. Odds are, any company bestowing ownership of celestial bodies probably doesn’t have the right to do so.
Even if a company has some right to sell stars, what are the odds your star is yours and yours alone?
#5. Payday Loans
Any Financial Literacy 101 course warns students about payday loans.
Unfortunately, many (dare I say most?) never enroll in Financial Literacy 101.
#6. Bottled Water
OK, get this: It’s the same clear, tasteless liquid you get out of your sink, but bottled in particle-shedding plastic and sold to you for $1.99 (or more, if you’d like).
Is this something you’d be interested in?
#7. Overpriced Funeral Services
Those who have lost a loved one and assisted in the funeral service know how predatory the grief business can feel.
There is a sense that if you’re unwilling to pay the $10,000-plus price tag that most funerals carry, you’re somehow callous or cheap.
This pressure leaves surviving loved ones ripe for all sorts of scams that, to be frank, constitute grief profiteering.
Remind me of the explanation for the eye-popping increase in college tuition over the past few decades.
Are students to believe that their education is exponentially better than the schooling their parents and grandparents received?
That’s a tough sell.
#9. Multi-Level Marketing
This is an entire genre of scam. At the risk of offending, I’ll refrain from mentioning specific companies or programs.
Once you’ve finally quit your multi-level marketing scheme and seen the light, you’ll know that you were part of a scam—no matter how passionate you might be about it right now.
For many, multi-level marketing businesses are very expensive friendships built upon a foundation of fool’s gold.
#10. Renting Your Router
Though the internet is a modern amenity worth paying for, one web surfer realized their internet provider was charging them for a router.
That is normal enough, except the customer already paid for the router upfront. This story begs the question: How many customers are paying their internet provider excess rental fees without being the wiser?
#11. Third-Party Security Systems
Remember those ADT signs you’d see in yards throughout suburban neighborhoods in the late 90s and early-to-mid 2000s? Some people still have those.
Despite being more expensive and less effective than newer, DIY home security system setups, third-party security services are still a thing.
#12. Renting to Own
Without exception (find one, and I’ll admit I was wrong), renting to own means paying borderline predatory interest rates.
By the time you pay off the product (plus interest), it may no longer be the cutting-edge electronic or appliance you started renting.
#13. Manufacturer Repairs
Nowadays, more and more companies are forcing people to go back to the dealers to get their cars fixed.
If they decide to go to an independent repair shop, the repair will void the warranty.
Some companies even lock out their software so only certain businesses can repair their products.
The good news is that the right to repair movement is gaining momentum so that you can go anywhere to get your products repaired.
#14. Problem Solving Scammers
There are many times when smart people fall victim to hype.
The scammer will promise to give you details on how to stop telemarketer calls, make more money, or keep your house cooler without needing air conditioning.
Usually this works best when s person is at their wits end and frustrated.
#15. Carnival Games
You’ve shot at the basketball hoop with a rim half a millimeter larger than the basketball’s circumference. You’ve tried to toss the rings onto the pin, only to have them bounce back mockingly in your direction.
You’ve played the carnival games and lost, yet you’ll play them again.
Don’t beat yourself up; there are worse things than donating to your local carnie.
#16. False Mobile Game Advertising
Game developers are a clever bunch. Too often, the advertisement you see while waiting for your YouTube video to load is a far cry from the cookie-cutter product you get once you’ve paid for the game.
In other words, what you see isn’t what you get.
In the past, the government enforced the law regarding monopolies.
This is why AT&T had to break up into regional phone carriers.
But now, the government, and most people, don’t seem to care.
Apple dominates the smartphone industry.
Google controls the internet.
People simply accept it and not realize they are being swindled out of money.
#18. Introductory Pricing
More and more companies offer special pricing for new customers.
This great price is used to lure people into signing up for the service.
Unfortunately, most people don’t read the fine print and then end up paying out the nose when the special pricing ends.
#19. Store Credit Card Offers
This one isn’t as common as it used to be, but it is still out there.
Many retail stores will offer a sizeable discount if you sign up for the store credit card.
On top of this, they also offer 0% financing for a set term.
But the catch is if you don’t completely pay off your balance by the time the promo ends, you owe interest for the entire amount, not what your remaining balance is.
Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Identity theft is everywhere and it is only going to get worse.
Here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself from scammers and hackers.
Unique Savings Hacks To Try
There are many ways to save money, and you most likely heard many of them.
But not all of them.
I sourced the internet far and wide for expert approved saving hacks and came up with this list.
The only question is, which one will save you the most money?
Best Places To Hide Money At Home
Did you know there are many places around your house you can hide cash?
Many of these places, no one will ever think to look, making them excelling hiding spots.
Are Hybrids Worth It?
Many people think buying a hybrid car will save them money. They base this on the fact they will buy less gas, which means saving money.
But they don’t take into account the higher cost of a hybrid vehicle. Can this difference make a hybrid more costly to own?
How To Have Stealth Wealth
When we think of the wealthy, we think of big homes and flashy cars. But many millionaires have stealth wealth.
This means you would never know they are rich by looking at them. The benefit? People leave them alone.
This thread inspired this post.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.