Saturday 1 April 2017

Ten Commandments

What are the rules we need to live by in the modern technological world? Are the rules actually any different to the rules our parents and grandparents had to learn? In fact, I don’t think anything has changed. Here are ten rules that I think apply today but aren’t actually new.

1. Don’t trust strangers, particularly if they offer you money, a business “opportunity” or love.
Anyone offering you sudden wealth, a fantastic job which you know you're not really qualified to get and anyone, absolutely anyone who says they love you when you've never seen them "in the flesh" can't be trusted. They're after your money, money you’ll never see again. Remember that scammers don't offer refunds.

2. Things that seem too good to be true ARE too good to be true.
Schemes like Pipcoin and Billcoin that suggest you can make a “99% return within 24 hours” or even just 90% per month are lying. They're simply not true. No investment scheme in the history of the world has been able to offer that sort of return. That applies to South Africans who arrive in Botswana driving gold-painted cars as well. In fact, anyone who suggests you can earn more than five times what a bank will offer you is lying. Whenever anyone offers you a way to make amazing amounts of money ask yourself this. How do they benefit from me joining their scheme? If it’s so good, why aren’t they keeping it to themselves?

3. Miracle cures aren't really cures.
Products like Xango, the magical juice that its proponents say can apparently “combat” cancer, diabetes, leukemia, Alzheimers and dementia and can “improve HIV” can't actually do these things. If they could, someone would have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine by now. And probably the Nobel Prize for Peace as well. They would deserve both. Products like Xango are dangerous and the people selling them should be ashamed of the things they’re doing

4. The only way to become physically healthier or slimmer is to eat better and exercise more.
Despite what the peddlers of many health products will tell you, there are no easy fixes, no highways to getting healthier. No magic potion, no herb, no ridiculous machine can fast track health. The only way to get healthier is to eat better and to exercise more. And drink lots of water. And get more sleep.

5. If you want commitment, sign a written agreement.
Whenever you sell or buy something put the agreement in writing. Remember that verbal agreements have no value. Even though a court will listen to arguments about verbal agreements, where's the proof that you made one? Courts like things in writing. With signatures. And dates. And witnesses. It doesn't need to be anything complicated but get your agreement down in black and white to protect yourself.

6. If you can’t commit to an agreement, don’t sign it.
If you can't commit to something, don't sign anything. If you're in any doubt, don't sign it. Go away and think about it. Sleep on it, come back back the next day and you'll think more rationally. Don’t imprison yourself in an agreement you might not be able to stick to.

7. Never sign an agreement you haven’t read or don’t understand.
Hire purchase agreements, tenancy agreements, cellphone contracts, whatever it might be, if you don't understand it, don't sign it. Always, and I DO mean always, make sure that any contract has a termination clause that allows you to walk away. If there isn't one, ask yourself why? Always take an agreement home to consider overnight. Show it to someone who can explain it to you.

Don't ever sign an agreement after you've taken alcohol or haven't had enough sleep. Never.

8. Don’t trust a communication channel that isn’t secure.
Don't do anything sensitive on a public WiFi network. Yes, that DOES include internet banking. Save that for home. Yes, you can visit Facebook, yes you can tweet, yes you can surf the web looking for whatever titillates you, but no, don’t go banking.

9. Qualifications from institutions that just want money aren't real qualifications.
Real qualification require essays, research papers, dissertations and exams. Any establishment that says you can shortcut this based on "life experience" and a credit card payment is lying. Remember that if you get a job or a promotion based on a bogus qualification your employer can fire you and call the police and have you charged with obtaining by false pretence. You might get jail time. Is it worth the risk?

10. Do the maths before deciding anything. I mean anything.
Even if you're not so good at maths, there's no excuse. Everyone has a cellphone and even the cheapest of them has a built-in calculator. Before you commit to any financial obligation do the maths. Calculate if you can afford the deal. If you can't do the maths, then ask us. Or ask your Mum or the auntie who's a maths teacher. Ask your kid’s maths teacher, ask anyone who can do the maths for you if you don’t trust your own maths skills.

I’m sure you can think of other “commandments” we should follow if we want to protect ourselves but maybe this list is a beginning. It’s also important to know that none of the threats we face are new, they’re the same as the threats our ancestors faced, they’re just now more widespread. That’s probably the only change that new technology has had. The threats are the same but they are communicated much more easily. In the past a chain letter scam took enormous effort to run but in 2017 the internet has allowed scammers and crooks access to millions of potential victims in moments. The good news is that it also means we can spread the commandments just as easily.

What rules would you add to the list? Send me some more and we’ll publish them as well. Who knows, you might save someone from heartache and poverty.

No comments: