1. Religion & Spirituality

Before You Hire an Astrologer or Psychic Reader

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The best way to find an astrologer is through word of mouth from someone you trust. But if you're flying blind, there are a few red flags that should tip you off to a potential scam. Because it's an art that is hard to quantify, there's ample room for shady business.

When you're at your lowest, scammers are there to prey on your fears and longings. Many are truly gifted, which is why they can be so darn shrewd. That's why you've got to be careful about how to spend your hard-earned money. Here are some of the things to look out for.

Hone Your BS Meter

Online marketers today are savvy. There are mass mailing astrology sites that know how to cast a wide net. They use authentic astrologers as a front to lure you in. You are offered a personal reading, but given a computer printout. By the time you realize you've been taken, it's too late. They would argue that they deliver what is promised, but many feel defrauded in the end.

Look closely at the site. Is there really a way to contact these people if you are not happy with your report? Does it seem authentic? Google the name of the primary astrologer listed, and see if there are complaints of fraud.

High Stakes Spirit Power

Don't pay someone to light candles for you to ward off evil spells or do rituals on your behalf. This is the ultimate scam that can escalate into hundreds of dollars of extortion by means of intimidation. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't -- so get the heck out of there!

Be Wary of the $10 Introductory Special

You'll see this sign in storefronts or outside a "Sister Hope" palm reader's sign on the side of the road. Once you've stopped in, you'll likely find out that $10 only buys a trickle of information. The rest comes with additional palm pressing on your part.

Don't be a Senior Statistic

Many direct mail companies will market to the over 50 crowd and try to wheedle out regular payments for a monthly horoscope, magical trinkets, special blessings and the like. The tip off is an unsolicited letter that starts out with a personal greeting (insert name here) and is peppered with comforting terms of endearment. "My dear," prove that they're wrong about you and toss it in the circular file.

Seeing into Your Soul

If a reader begins treating you like you're a stranger to yourself, they're probably not the real deal. This type of scammer takes a stance of certainty that you're the one in the dark. It's a tough call because we all have mysteries beyond our conscious awareness. An honest reader will work with your own intuition and not try to invalidate your perceptions of things. This is one way a con-artist will try to take the upper hand.

Dependent No More

Watch out for psychics that are only looking for repeat business. If they're trying to encourage dependency, this is a trap that you don't want to fall into. A good advisor will set you on the path to self-confidence and being able to trust your own intuition.

Beware of the Per-Minute Reading

Once an online psychic or astrologer becomes popular, their charge per minute skyrockets. If you're watching the clock, you probably won't get much insight and could end up a frazzled mess. If your heart is set on your favorite $6.99 per minute Reader, one suggestion is to set the time limit in advance and stick to it. Not technically a scam, but feels like one when you get the credit card bill.
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