The column last week was, in retrospect, about reading between the lines BEFORE you sign on the dotted line or tattoo the word VICTIM on your backside.
This week let’s talk about where to draw that line in the sand between “never trust another living soul and you’ll never get burned” and “try to live a happy life while hoping that nothing di$astrous happens to you — but what to DO if it does.”
Acknowledgement that circumstances, the economy and maybe even sociology has dumped us all into a dog eat dog existence needs to be understood. Money and “things” are important to the masses … and yours are free game.
Never DO NOTHING (double negative, I know) besides vow, “Hrmpf. I’ll never go to THAT PLACE again!” If you get scammed by a misleading advertisement or a sleazy sales tactic, make a report. A good place to start is your state Consumer’s Protection Bureau. If you need to go farther than that, they’ll direct you.
Salesmanship is based upon placing emphasis on the good points of a product and downplaying those that aren’t so good. Don’t buy anything on impulse that costs more than a five dollar bill. Five bucks is entertainment; five hundred bucks is not.
Take absolute care to protect your identity. If you’re a computer person, you place yourself at risk when you share personal information or transfer money to/from unsecured sites. Be sure you know the hows and whys of safe Internet navigation.
If you’re not a computer person, make friends with the person above and ease yourself into it. Apprehensive or not, daunting or not, it is the future.
Accountability provides one layer of protection. Be sure that your financial dealings are, whenever possible, with people or institutions that you have reason to trust. Every business starts somewhere, however if you are walking in to a merchant with no history other than a flyer on your door handle, it helps if you know the owner’s Mom or Dad.
Accept the fact that not everybody is good, kind and honest. Exercise common sense, slow down and never, ever, ever wave around your American Express card.
Fraud is the Number Two most costly economic crime in America. Too good to be true is just that … and sure shots are not. The voice on the phone can be oh so convincing, but words like “free,” “guaranteed,” and “you’ve won,” are a secret code that really mean “fraud,” “gotcha” and “you should’ve known better.”
Listen to what other people are saying and learn to notice what’s around you. Watch for the little things that don’t seem right, trust your own Spidey Sense and look for patterns. For instance … the first letter of each paragraph in this column SPELLS SOMETHING. The first person who calls the PV Times office and tells them what it stands for gets a prize.
Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.