How to avoid scams in stocks and options

July 05, 2020

I’ve been trading since 2013 and haven’t fallen for a scam yet. Here’s how I filter out the noise and find quality information on strategies on active trading.

  1. Assume everything is a scam until it is proven otherwise
  2. There is no free information: be aware of how they are compensated
  3. When in doubt, google Is XYZ a scam and read the search results judiciously

For trading tactics I avoid the trading forums and paid content. The trading forums are vaccum chambers where people shout out their trading position without the context of their strategy. The paid content, be it stock alerts or stock trading courses, is worse. They entice with sexy headlines such as “How to make a million in a month on the stock market”, then they promise to share information so you too will make money. There are 3 problems with that:

  1. You may not have enough money to trade using their stock picks or trading strategy
  2. Their trading strategy does not match with your personality type. For example my skeptical personality is incompatible with day trading
  3. Without a trading strategy, simply executing trades and hoping for a gain is a good way to burn real money. Do not follow someone’s advice on trading without understanding how that trade fits into their overall trading strategy, and test that strategy through paper trading before real trades

What to do instead? For example if I’m curious regarding the tactic of trading options around earnings time, I search for those terms at Fidelity and Charles Schwab/TD Ameritrade’s. They make money through interests, trading fees, and asset management, so they don’t charge for tactics. Even then, test the tactics in a paper account first before trading real money.