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Nobody likes to find out they’re a sucker. You only want to be called a “mark” when your name is Mark.
The truth is, though, that everyone has fallen victim to a scam at least once. Unfortunately, some well-known scams remain inexplicably common.
1. 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?
2. 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.
3. 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.
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. 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.
6. 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.
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.
8. 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?
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Payday Loans
Any Financial Literacy 101 course warns students about payday loans.
Unfortunately, many (dare I say most?) never enroll in Financial Literacy 101.
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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.