Spot the Scam

The method (text or e-mail) may be different but the message is the same: "Congratulations! You just happen to be the winner of an electronic/digital prize. All you need to do is send your very personal info. Send it now or forfeit the prize!"

Avoid being ripped off and don't be a victim.  Protect yourself with these tips because once you've parted with your hard earned cash, it's harder to beg for your money back.

Check the source of information
Big contest, big earnings, from a big company? Before giving out any personal data, call the company's customer service hotline or check out their website.

Ask for documentation
Tell the person promising you huge returns on your investment that you'd like to see certificates of their company, actual investment studies that project probable costs, risks and return-on-investments, and written proof that the people on the Board of Directors are real. You can also check with the Securities and Exchange Commission to see if they are a bona fide registered company.

Consult with  bona fide financial experts
If the scammers do manage to show some documentation, photocopy it and show it to accountants, auditors, bankers, stockbrokers, and other financial gurus who know a counterfeit when they see one.

Don't take the word of your friends
Unless they're financial experts, don't take advice from them. They don't have the inside information, they don't have the skills to spot a scam, and their own desire to earn money may have clouded their judgement. Many scams in fact make a killing by appealing to people's genuine desire to help their friends and family share the wealth by spreading the good news.

Never give out financial information to strangers
Reputable companies like credit card corporations and financial institutions won't ask you for information. In fact, they'll be the first to tell you to keep your account numbers and credit card numbers private.

Cut your losses
If your investment requires never-ending advances, walk away. 

Report Scams
Bring your concerns to the Department of Justice ( and the National Telecommunications Commission (for text scams).

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