5 Words or Phrases That Usually Scream…SCAM!!!

by Khaleef Crumbley on October 22, 2010

in free,Personal Finance,shopping

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I heard an ad the other day on the radio – honestly, I don’t even remember the product or service being advertised. But I heard a key phrase that automatically made me think it was a scam.

Then that made me think of all the phrases that I hear in advertisements and infomercials that scare me away from the product.

Here are a few that I can think of:

1) What the [government, or some huge industry] Doesn’t Want You to Know!

For a long time I was such a huge fan of The Motley Fool, but then they every newsletter and report they advertised was about some secret that Wall St. didn’t want me to know!

Of course, you also have “the fat cats in Washington”, “banks”, “credit card companies”, and even “the food and drug industry”!

This type of sensationalism is usually meant to hide the fact that there is nothing substantial in what they are offering you!

2) You Must Call in the Next [insert insanely short amount of time] Minutes to Get This Deal!

Are you kidding me? So, I can’t get this handy, dandy new kitchen item that slices, and dices, tenderizes, and sends you a tweet when your meal is ready, unless I call in the next 10 minutes?

Well, since you’ll be running the same taped infomercial or radio ad over the next 6 months, why should I now believe anything else that you have to say?

3) But Wait…There’s More!!!

Another phrase (often said with much excitement and fervor) that is meant to get the blood flowing faster and seal the deal.

Usually this lets me know that the main item in the deal is a piece of garbage and they are trying to distract me with shiny add-ons!

4) New and Improved:

This one may not point to a scam, but it’s usually ridiculous hype!

If you told us that the old formula was a great, amazing innovation that had no equal, why do you come out with a better version every 6 months?

5) This Time it’s Different:

You hear this often in economics or investing, when someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

In every industry where there has been a huge surge in demand, and thus prices; you will here these words. When you do, be on the lookout for someone who wants you to invest in something right before it crashes!

A few thoughts from others:

I also asked people on Facebook and Twitter to give me a few phrases that signal “scam” to them. Here is what they had to say:

“Just send a small token of interest to show you’re serious.” – Victor McCloud

This is definitely a popular phrase with these “work from home” scams!

Multi level marketing” – Len Penzo

Most multi level marketing programs (even the ones with good intentions), end up like scams in the long run. Here is a great article looking at the nature of most multi level marketing.

Your credit card will not be charged” – Max Messner

This happens a lot when you sign up for a free service. They claim that you aren’t making a commitment, but then want your credit card information, with the promise that “it will not be charged”! Then why do you need my credit card number?!?!?!

“Free”Harrell Financial Services

This is another phrase that usually does it for me as well. However, since I have receive a lot of freebies in the mail recently, and I know of several ministries that give away items; this doesn’t always mean scam.

But 99% of the time it will!

Timing doesn’t work” – Rob Bennett

Another phrase that is common in investing circles. People will first misrepresent market timing (by presenting it as only day-trading), and then use this phrase to keep you stuck in their program/investments.

However, many times this is said out of ignorance regarding timing based on long-term valuations!

Reader Questions:

  1. Have you ever heard these phrases in connection with a scam?
  2. What words or phrases signal scam to you?

photo by SMercury98

© 2010 – 2013, Khaleef Crumbley. All rights reserved.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brad Castro

You definitely nailed #1.

In fact, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately – my own next post will probably be entitled, “Option Trading Secrets – There Aren’t Any!”


2 Khaleef Crumbley

Oh, I’ve definitely seen much of this with option trading. There are a few who claim to have the secret that “wall st. doesn’t want you to know”! I look forward to reading your article!


3 BigJohnBen

I especially love those long sales pages for digital downloadable products when they say,
“hurry, only x amount available”
Come on, its digital, there are infinite quantities available.


4 Khaleef Crumbley

Yeah, they’ll try anything. Limited digital quantities? That’s priceless!


5 Andreas

A great article, really enjoyable to read!


6 Khaleef Crumbley

Thanks Andreas!


7 ditchtheboss

Great post, I get particularly annoyed when I see them saying …call in the next x minutes…

Why only in the next few minutes. If I call 30 seconds later will they say no to my money?

I can’t believe that there is people that believe in that kind of advertisement


8 Khaleef Crumbley

Yeah, I think they really want people to believe that they will miss out on the deal of a lifetime if they wait and think about it first!


9 Lisa@CentsToSave.com

“Operators are waiting” is a phrase that always makes me think it is a scam. Of course operators are waiting…. and they will always be waiting for the next gullible person to call. I have been that gullible person a time or two. Usually it is late at night, and I get sucked in by the hype! Gah!!!! Then the next day, I have a clearer head, and instantly regret what I did. It does not happen so much anymore, hopefully with age comes wisdom.


10 Khaleef Crumbley

Hahaha – I like that approach. I guess I’ll keep them waiting as well.

I always try to put some space between my impulse to buy and the actual purchase. Gives me time to think and pray. Didn’t always do this, though, so I can completely relate.

Glad we are now wiser!


11 Aloysa

How about “We’ve been trying to track you down. Call XXXXX.” Something like this. My husband for some reason gets this type in the mail all the time. Or even better “You won a trip to Las Vegas!”


12 Khaleef Crumbley

Yeah, it’s really bad when they have your real name and tell you that! Makes you question yourself for a moment!


13 Paul Williams

Thanks for linking to my article on MLMs, Khaleef!

You bring up a lot of good points in this article. It’s always good to keep your eyes open for potential scams.


14 Khaleef Crumbley

No problem – I see you just had another lively discussion this week!


15 Paul Williams

Hahaha, yep! I’m glad it went well, too. He was a little hostile for a bit and said some things that hurt me, but I tried to remain patient and pray for grace. It worked out well! I thank God that He sends His Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and guidance because things would not have gone well if I relied on my own nature!!!


16 Mark

The sad part is that the Motley Fool used to be such a great site. Now it has just become one big marketing tool. I run like crazy whenever anyone announces the have a network marketing opportunity to offer me. Whenever I hear MLM I think pyramid scheme. They give you little to no information about and you always have to attend a meeting to find out about the “opportunity”. The products have little to no value and the only real money is made by recruiting new members which you inevitably run out of.


17 Khaleef Crumbley

I used to love Motley Fool, but you’re right about them now. Those MLM’s usually just use the hype of “get rich quick” to draw people in. Then they are sent out to harass their family and friends!


18 Roshawn @ Watson Inc

The thing I didn’t realize was that these phrases are deliberately included in many advertisements because they elicit particular responses and resonate with a certain types of buyers. I read a marketing book years back, and the author was completely in favor of using such phrases to manipulate buying behavior.


19 Max

That’s interesting Roshawn. You would think that advertisers would avoid these types of phrases, so that they didn’t appear to be a scam.


20 Khaleef Crumbley

@ Shawn – It’s amazing how much time and research goes into the smallest detail. They focus on the exact colors, words, voice inflections, and even smells to manipulate us…and it works!
@ Max – I agree! Especially with the infomercials. Whenever I hear one of these phrases, or see the dramatic expressions, I automatically think it’s a scam!


21 Kevin@OutOfYourRut

The last one always gets me–“this time it’s different”. It’s in direct conflict with another well traveled saying–“If it’s new it isn’t true, if it’s true it isn’t new.”

I think we all want to believe that something truly dramatic is going to happen THIS TIME, and that hooks us in. We’re all drawn to drama. Then, we’re vulnerable to a scam or what ever else is coming down the road.


22 Khaleef Crumbley

I never head that saying – but I like it!

You’re right – we want to believe that things are different and that we’ve learned from the past. I think it’s the arrogance of thinking that we are progressing and therefore, better than those who made the mistakes of the past.


23 Jason @ Redeeming Riches

Ha ha, good post! I love your comment about the “Call in the next 10 minutes” one! So true!


24 Khaleef Crumbley

Yeah, I hear those on the radio and television. I wonder how many people fall for it?


25 Everyday Tips

I was just thinking about this when I got some spam email about how to get traffic to your blog. Of course, the price is going to RISE in the next 24 hours because the early purchasers should be the ones to get the best deal. But, I have to act NOW. I got very angry when I read that because it was obvious it was a scam.

90 percent of offers seem to be ‘off’ in one way or another anymore. The last thing I would use when deciding to purchase something anymore if their advertising. I trust nothing!


26 Khaleef Crumbley

Yeah, I get those emails as well! I love the ones that send you one every few hours to give you a countdown.

I’m with you as far as never trusting advertising. Their job is to get me to buy the product, not to give me helpful information.


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