Avoiding Scams: Social Pressure
One way that predators succeed in scams is through social pressures. For example, you have talked with the person about one set of terms but when it comes to the actual signing of papers, the papers reflect a different set of terms. Or, as you are getting ready to sign the papers, you are being hurried or pressured into signing without reading. Or, perhaps you have been told you have to make the decision right now because otherwise it will not be available. Or, the sales person tries to use people you know against you (”your children/friends/spouse will be disappointed….”). At that point, many people do not feel they have the right to stop the deal or they feel that the social consequences of stopping the deal (anger, etc.) make it impossible to do anything but sign on the dotted line.
Most of us have been raised up to be polite to people we do not know and aggressive sales people play on that characteristic. They know when we are less likely to upset the apple cart: we have put a lot of time and energy into a set of negotiations and they are coming to a close or perhaps we are desperate for a loan and do not have too many options. At this time, the predator will throw in something that will profit him or her and turn the whole deal into the kind of scam it will take years to overcome.
As difficult as it is, the best way out of something like this is to refuse to make a deal unless you take the contract home overnight and read it yourself on your own time, at your own rate of speed (and then have a knowledgeable friend go over it with you).
Also a deal is not finished until all the paperwork is signed. This means that you can stop the deal even when you have the pen in your hand, poised over the signature line. Put the pen down and say no. Stand up and walk out. It does not matter what the other person thinks or says; you are ultimately responsible for the documents you sign and if you don’t want to sign one, there is nothing that person can do.
You might say to yourself: but I don’t have a choice. Actually you do. If you are needing money and you start to take out a loan but figure out that the lender is pulling a bait and switch or some other scam, then you are about to experience something far worse than what you would experience if you simply didn’t get the loan: you are about to fall into a financial pit from which you may never extract yourself. The consequences of not getting the loan will not be nearly as bad (even if they include foreclosure or eviction) than the consequences of getting the loan and not being able to pay it off because of high interest rates.
Social conventions keep our society civil, but they should not put us in the situation of being taken to the cleaners, financially speaking. That is when they can be dropped.