All of us have heard of 'get rich quick schemes' – which are termed that for a very good reason – they are often put together by those who are willing to take your money for promises that then do not pay off. In the worst case scenario, they take your money and run. Or at least take it, invest it in something high-risk, and have no obligation to you or others when all of the money is lost. This is not to suggest that you should never take a risk in investing, but it is to say that you should carefully consider any kind of instant wealth promises by asking yourself a few questions.
First, realize that if someone is offering you a get-rich-quick opportunity, it is because they need your money in order to help themselves to get rich. There may be a possibility that you will earn something as well, but really what most of these plans entail is getting you to provide the capital needed for something other investment companies – those with expert staffs or lawyers – are not willing to invest in themselves. Think about it – if what they have to offer you were really a 'secret,' why would they share it with you? They are usually either selling you a product or wanting to use your money to invest in their risky idea.
Second, who is the person or firm that is offering you this opportunity? What is their history and what are their credentials that would make them an expert that you should trust? Just as you would not necessarily buy a new electronics device or car without checking on the industry knowledge about the item, do not invest with a company or person without doing the same thing. Ask for copies of annual reports for the last years, or see if they are available online. Legitimate companies will have no problem giving you this information. If you are considering investing your money with an individual, then your task to ensure your investment is safe is a bit more difficult. Ask for licenses, credentials and references from the person. Check with local and national agencies such as the Better Business Bureau or the trade contracts to see if any complaints have been made against the person.
Next, be certain of exactly what you are investing in, what your risks are, and what your potential earnings might be. There should be clear terms and conditions regarding your investment and how you will be paid any disputes or earnings. Are you committed for a certain period of time or are you free to withdraw at any time? Before you sign anything or hand over your money, read through everything thoroughly and have your lawyer do the same. You want to protect yourself and your family from any consequences that you did not realize were part of your investment.
Overall, remember that the adage 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,' should apply to your investing as well. Risks should only be taken with funds that you can afford to lose, as part of a well-balanced investment strategy. They should not be your only attempt at investing. Otherwise, you could end up with nothing to show for your efforts.