There is no end in sight to the schemes that people will use to separate you from your hard-earned money. They will use every trick in the book to get you to sign, divulge, or give away your financial secrets to them. Here are some ways that you can protect yourself.

What is financial fraud? It is the action of taking money from someone using dishonest means. Unless you can prove that they defrauded you, you are simply out of your money. It is a hard lesson that people may have to learn for trusting someone or a company who says that they can do something for them.

Here are some tips to follow to stay financially safe.

* If it sounds too good to be true, it is – Anyone who promises a triple return on your investment for very little or no work is to be suspected. It could be that they are honest. Think of those people who invested in Disneyworld (an amusement park built in swampland?) or the Microsoft Company when computers still took up an entire office. But, if the red flags are waving, put your money back in your pocket.

* Getting in on the ground floor – When they tell you that you are a “seed person,” this means that your money supports their project. Ask them if they believe enough in their project to invest their own money. If the answer is no or quite ambiguous, don’t let go of your money either.

* Ask for a portfolio and a business plan – If they want investors, they need to have something in writing like a business plan and projections. This is what they would have to show the bank. They can also show that to you.

* Investments that you can’t see – This includes the condo builders who pre-sell properties when there isn’t even a model prospective buyers can see. All anyone can see is an empty plot of land and a sign. How much does that cost to put up? In this case, talk to other investors or home buyers and see what they think about their money being tied up with no concrete guarantee of a return. Make an informed decision.

* Learn all about the latest schemes – There are multi-level marketing, offshore banking schemes, stock scams and the like. If what they say sounds like something that you’ve read to stay alert for, then don’t trust it.

If you are investing even $100, ask for proof that your money is being spent for what they say it is. Ask questions, demand proof, talk to those who you find reputable about the source of these claims and don’t sign or give away any information unless you can sleep on it for a few nights and conduct your own investigation.