Whether it’s investing in the newest cryptocurrency, or eyeing some type of “make money while doing nothing!” scheme, it can be hard to resist all the shiny “new” finance trends that constantly pop up. Often, though, these trends aren’t actually all that new—and even if they are, it’s important to look for signs that they’re doomed to fail. Any income or investment opportunity that seems too good to be true is, most likely, just that. And scam or not, chasing these trends is usually a mistake.
Sure, you know not to fall for a phishing scam; e.g., you wouldn’t give your PayPal information to a text from an unknown number. Here are other types of finance trends that you’d be better off ignoring.
Avoid “get rich quick” investment opportunities
It’s important be wary of finance trends that aren’t an outright scam, but are a mighty big risk if you don’t know what you’re doing. Take gaming apps, for instance. If you’re going to put large sums of money into a sports betting app (especially one that promises to pay out in cash), for instance, then you need to budget for compounding losses and long stretches where you win nothing. Even if you aren’t a victim of fraud, these apps aren’t usually a fruitful way to make money.
Avoid income scams, too
In addition to investment scams, many income “opportunities” are scams, too. Virtual personal assistants are a common example of this. You get hired quick and almost immediately need to deposit a paycheck from your “boss.” You might see some of that money, giving you a sense of security as you carry out your next task from your boss: Sending money to another account or buying gift cards. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these scams work because banks have to make funds from deposited checks available within a day or two, but it can take weeks to uncover the fake check you received as “payment.” And it’ll be up to you to pay the difference to the bank. The FTC says that the median reported loss on fake-check job scams is $2,300.
The best way to avoid income scams is to do your research and take your time. Avoid a high-pressure hiring process, and search online for the company’s name plus words like review, scam, or complaint.
Stay skeptical when it comes to finance trends
To sum up, here are four signs of a scam (or scam-adjacent opportunity) according to Ontario Securities Commission:
- Promises of high returns and low risk.
- Claims of “hot tips” or insider information.
- Increased pressure to buy now.
- The seller is not registered to sell investments.
As a rule of thumb, avoid “get rich quick” investment advice. If it were actually true, why would this person be sharing it with millions of people? More questions to ask yourself: Are you feeling pressured by someone to act on an idea with zero successful track record? Do you personally understand where your money will be going? Do your own research before putting your money anywhere.