There is a simple process you can use to avoid being a victim of consumer fraud. If you implement this process before making any purchasing decision, you can avoid a loss of time or money and huge headaches in the process.

Step 1: Think

As silly as it may sound, people tend to make purchases without really knowing what they’re buying. And people who engage in frauds and scams KNOW THIS. They bank on people not paying much attention to what they’re doing. It’s much easier than it sounds to get pulled into an emotional or impulse purchase situation without fully understanding the offer.

Moreover, with the advent of online shopping, it’s difficult to know if you will actually receive anything once you make the purchase. It’s super easy to create fictitious purchasing sites with falsified reviews. Whenever possible, make sure you only purchase from legitimate, verified sites.

Step 2: Ask

What is the offer? What exactly are you buying? What are the promised deliverables? Do you really need what’s being offered?

These are all valuable questions to ask prior to making the decision to purchase. The quickest way to become a victim of consumer fraud is to not be clear prior to making a purchase. The people who operate frauds and scams count on you not being informed or not pausing to make sure you have all the information you need before making a decision. A lot of consumer fraud ploys actually incorporate a time sensitivity to try to force you into rushed decision-making.

Step 3: Verify

Just because you ask the questions and get the answers, that’s not always enough. People who perpetuate frauds and scams are really good at talking people into things and making them sound legitimate. After you get the information, make sure you verify it.

If it’s an online site, run the company name through google and make sure it doesn’t have any obvious red flags. If it’s an individual person offering something, get contact information for references and CALL THEM. There’s always a way to verify legitimate information.

If the information can’t be verified, ask yourself if the opportunity is worth the risk. Most frauds and scams can be avoided by simply choosing not to invest time or money until you have enough information to make an informed decision.

Before you make any purchasing decision use this simple process of: Think, Ask, Verify. It can be implemented easily and quickly in any situation. If you do, you’ll be able to avoid becoming a victim to frauds and scams.