Sylvia Sky, M.A., is an experienced writer-astrologer and author of "Sun Sign Confidential: The Dark Side of all 12 Zodiac Signs."
The Skepticism Around Fake Psychic Predictions and Promises
When suffering or facing the unknown, we often turn to religion or other sources of comfort to ask and answer the big "Why?" Why did he leave me? Why did my grandchild die? Why is my luck so bad? Why won't my daughter speak to me? Many people seeking answers and guidance have learned from television or movies that psychics can offer helpful guidance. They may call up an advertised psychic or contact one online thinking they can get an instant "psychic" perspective. Maybe they don't intend to believe what they hear, but the inquirer is often easily sucked in.
Fake psychics who work online or by phone are highly skilled business people, and psychic readings make up a 22-billion-dollar-a-year industry. This industry draws in customers and keeps them paying for guidance from strangers who sell themselves—without any proof—as specially gifted beings with answers about the unknown and the future.
"In Your Previous Life . . . "
The Most Common Psychic "Pickup Lines"
Fake psychics—be they shamans, astro-clairvoyants, mediums, rune readers, phone psychics, numerologists, or intuitive astrologers—often feed their clients these lines, and clients believe them and pay to hear more:
- Your troubles come from a previous life, and for money, I can fix that.
- I have never seen a chart (or numbers, or an aura) like yours. You are exceptional.
- You are under an evil influence or a black-magic spell and I can fix that.
- I guarantee to return your ex to you.
- I am a 100% proven psychic.
- In your previous life, you were royalty, a movie star, or died in the Holocaust.
- I sense a dead person is trying to contact you.
- Love and money are coming your way, but you need me to guide you and tell you what to do and when.
- I saw you in a vision (or a dream).
- Buying my magic talismans or crystals will help you.
- I need money to travel to a place (often France) where I can do an occult ritual to help you.
- Bad things will happen if you refuse my services.
- Someone important to you has the initial "R."
- I have read for the rich and famous.
- You are surrounded by enemies; I am your only true friend.
- I inherited my psychic powers from my ancestors.
What Fake Psychics Know About You
Happy and contented people rarely call psychics. A fake psychic operation's bread and butter is troubled people. The vast majority of callers are female. According to statistics from the American Federation of Certified Psychics and Mediums, 69 percent of U.S. women and 39 percent of U.S. men admit to having called a psychic hotline; 85 percent of the female callers ask about love, while men ask mostly about business and money.
In an ABC News interview, Mark Edward, a former phone psychic and the author of Psychic Blues, discussed how he handled his callers. He always began by asking questions:
"I ask for their name and birthday, and if they had a specific question. At $3.99 a minute, they want an answer quick. And then I answer as if I'm answering the question about myself. All these things about yourself are relatable. Nine out of 10 times you will hit a nerve with them. Then I'd pause and let them jump in. People love talking about themselves and hearing what you say about them."
Edward would encourage clients to talk about themselves, and a 20-minute conversation would then become a much more lucrative hour-long conversation.
Traits That Make You a Target of Fake Psychics
These traits have been found to make a person vulnerable:
- Being female
- Age 21-60
- Going through a loss
- Problems with love
- Problems with finances
- Living with relatives or friends because of necessity
- Displaced from their home country
- Thinking they have to be strong for other people
- Unhappy with their work situation
- Feeling that others have the right to criticize them
- Feeling unattractive
- Dependent on others
- Feeling helpless
Phone or internet psychics can sometimes tell you with shocking accuracy about your current feelings or situation. That's because the people who call them mostly have some or all of the above traits. Experienced phone psychics will also listen to your tone, your accent, and even background noises in order to decide what to tell you. According to statistics, both rich and poor people call psychics, and half a million women said they'd gladly spend $1000 (if they had it) on a psychic friend they could talk to regularly.
The job of a fake psychic is to keep clients coming back, get them "addicted" to psychic readings, and take their money (most goes to the network, not the psychic) until the client either feels better or wakes up and smells the coffee.
The last psychic I talked to said she "woke up one day speaking Aramaic." I didn't believe her. If she'd lie about that, what else would she lie about?
How to Prepare for a Psychic Reading
Most "psychics" work for networks. Only 0.1 percent (2011-2014 statistics) work outside of networks, according to the American Federation of Certified Psychics and Mediums. These networks attract and tempt people with an initial offer for a free or discounted reading, but will try to get them to pay about $60 to $100 for a "second reading," or phone rates ranging from $1.99 to $6.99 per minute.
For troubled people, there are benefits to phone readings: They're convenient (just a click or a phone call away) and they're confidential. Internet-based psychic networks usually pretend to be one psychically gifted person or medium, such as "Padre," or "The Extraordinary Chris," and are always available 24/7. That's a clue that your reading will be "entertainment only"—not real answers, but computerized. Psychics, real and fake, have to eat and rest like everyone else.
If you're going to call, prepare. Get a prepaid credit card with a minimum amount on it; avoid the possibility of losing big money to charges you didn't authorize or you didn't think you authorized. There may be a tiny checked box you didn't see on the website, or perhaps pressing a certain digit on your phone was the default, and now you belong to a "club" or "circle" that charges you monthly. A throwaway credit card reduces the risk.
Before you get to speak to a psychic reader on the phone, a clerk or salesperson will pry for all sorts of detailed information about you, and then hard-sell you on more than you want. Understand that the salesperson thinks you're a sucker just because you called. Listen carefully to the clerk's description of your options and the charges. If anything sounds slick or very expensive, object to it immediately. Say, "Stop!" and, "Will you explain that again?" Say, "But your ad said two dollars a minute. Why do you now say $6.99?" Troubled callers tend to be vulnerable and passive and easily distracted by fast talk. Stay conscious of how much money they intend to take from your credit card.
My First-Hand Experience With Psychics
The tactics of online psychic hotlines aren't illegal, they're just pushy. Like any business, they want your money now:
- I've had a recording tell me, "You have $75 in your account," when I did not create an account with them. They were just trying to get me to believe I had $75 to spend on their psychic services.
- A clerk told me I couldn't have the advertised "free reading" with a psychic unless I first gave them my credit card information. I hung up.
- I phoned in to a service that offered a five-minute reading for five dollars. A clerk arranged my five minutes with the psychic, but before I got to talk to the psychic, he told me that almost every caller wants to extend the reading beyond five minutes. He also said I should give them my credit card information to pay in advance for the extra minutes. I told them I intended to listen to the psychic for five minutes and no more. They insisted. I said, "You advertised five minutes for $5 and I want my five minutes." They finally gave me my five minutes and when a beep signaled that time was up, I hung up and owed them nothing extra.
Understand the psychic's customer service and refund policies. Generally, you have between 7 and 30 days to claim a refund if you are not happy with the services received, but increasingly, refunds are very hard to get (for example, requiring that you must send a postal letter to Hong Kong). Sometimes, refunds are promised but not actually given.
I've also met with psychics for live one-on-one readings, very much wanting to believe they could truly tell my future. None of them was ever correct about my present or my future. One who kept repeatedly guessing wrong finally said, "You are hard to read." So it was my fault!
I've tried apps. They're either automated or their "psychics" are ordinary people willing to work for just pennies per reading, their typed responses often showing that they are barely literate.
What Are Some Alternatives to Psychic Readings?
Highly intelligent or educated people can be fooled into forking over their hard-earned money for fake psychic readings. No one is immune to a seduction that promises instant answers to painful problems—and we all have problems from time to time.
If you must have a reading, don't go online, and don't phone a network. Even if there is a real psychic on the other end, electromagnetic interference between the caller and psychic, and the pressures of time and money might distort the reading. Consult an astrologer or Tarot card reader, preferably one you can meet in person. A genuine astrologer or Tarot reader will be glad to give you his or her full name and references so that trust can be established before you pour your heart out. The cost is a flat fee set beforehand, not per minute, and it will be a true reading by a true human practitioner. You can get all your questions answered and avoid tons of automated emails telling you that you need yet another reading for a higher and higher price.
Can't find a local, live diviner? How about contacting a licensed counselor or therapist? Haven't got a nickel to spare? Don't search online and pay strangers for "free" answers that their own websites say are for "entertainment only." Instead, look around you and find an older, experienced person who has led a good life. Ask them for their honest advice and take their advice. The right person will not be shocked or upset by what you have to say. They know life is not easy and not every question has an answer.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Sylvia Sky
Cleo from Canada on January 17, 2020:
When I was first perfecting my craft, I worked for a Canadian company that was/is very reputable. I can't speak for others, but I know I was never encourage to lie to customers or ramp up minutes.
It's true callers are often experiencing crisis or uncertainty. Connecting with a compassionate empath can be comforting for some. Especially when feeling isolated or alone.
I agree there are some dodgy psychic lines out there, but it is not a broad sweeping cloth of ill repute.
There are some very gifted readers that will be honest and forthright about what they are picking up. They can't "fix" your life, nor can they solve your problems.
No good reader will offer a guarantee. No prediction is 100%. Free Will is our gift from the creator and we can choose any path...smooth or challenging.
If a person doesn't believe in astrology, it doesn't make you a fake if you're a practitioner of astrology. There are as many fake astrologers as there are psychics.
Those who will take your DOB, input to an automated program that spits out generic info that seems personal yet is applicable to thousands of people sharing the same DOB.
Fake astrologers charge hundreds of dollars for a chart that is often available online for free.
And yes, the chart reading always has a pitch at the end for an upsell. That's the nature of commerce.
No matter what you do, disbelievers are less likely to place any value in what you do if they are not believers.
Some people pay thousands of dollars for alternative healing yet others will call such methods scams or fakes and wouldn't pay a dime.
I was very thankful to be able to work a psychic line early in my career. I had access to a myriad of personalities I might not have connected with at the local level.
I know my services added value to people experiencing difficulties.
When I retired to do private work, many of my regulars insisted we stay connected.
There is good and bad with any profession. I've heard clients tell me they've drained their bank accounts for services that offered a big fat zero return.
Any professional that tells you it's your chart, your past life or an overload of gluten in your body is taking a one dimensional approach to problem solving. When in reality, there's a myriad of complexities that lead to spiritual, emotional or physical breakdown.
There are no quick fixes in life nor is there a magic fairy that can wave her wand and make your problems disappear overnight.
However, there are some very gifted professionals that can help you clear a path forward if you are willing to put in the effort and dedication for life transforming experiences.
This is true of psychologists, physicians, astrologers and yes, "psychics".
Shop around, ask questions, and don't believe everything your read :)
Most importantly, trust what your intuition is telling you. It's own personal gift from Divine Spirit. Everyone has it yet most ignore it. Start listening and start paying attention to the subtle and not so subtle messages from your Source.
Elie123 on May 08, 2019:
Hi, I called a psychic hotline about ban operation I was going to have as I was nervous about it. They couldn't really tell.me anything definite . On the same network I tried different people to see if any were real. They told me I was going to meet a guy and I was going to stay with a friend and her cousin who is a nice guy was there. They said I am going to end up with him I said buy his life is a mess as he ha two exes and three kids etc. Oh no for sure you guys are soulmates. It was my fault I got sucked in as he has a nice soft side but I felt no chemistry and nothing was happening so thus one woman encouraged.me to let.him know I liked him, which I did and that didn't work either. It was all lies as far as I can tell. Also at the same time I was there, my friend who I knew for twenty years acted so weird and I found out that she is running an illegal business from home, let's just say drug distribution. She had two kids and she completely neglected them and she treated me.like a babysitter and lied to me, followed me, told me I am not allowed no talk to anybody about her and her partner and basically was not a friend at all . None of the pshyics picked up on any of this happening and yet when I rang them.and told them they are like oh yes she is bad keep.away from her.
So basically follow your own intuition. If someone is a boring, unattentive and unreliable jerk ignore them, and if your friend is a bitch, don't waste your time trying not find out why. And don't waste your money non psychics. I don't anymore and I had to learn the hard way . But guess what? No one still knows anything about my operation. Hahahaha
Kitty Kat girl on October 16, 2017:
Psychic phenomenon does exist. But there are a lot of bad ones. One to stay away from: Diandra psychic channeler of "Salem." She operates in the Chicagoland area and has a website named "inward journey. My friends and I caught her out as a fraud. She is aweful, and so is her weirdo husband "Batavia" as in "Lord Batavia" whatever that is. Also stay away from a man in Wisconsin named Charles Cosimano or "uncle chucky." He is a fake, fraud, charlatan, Satanist, alcoholic.
Mfundo on June 28, 2016:
I did a session once with Orarum.
The lady I had a session with was on point with everything
I didn't need to give her any information.
From the moment I joined the chat room she was able to pick up that I am from a different continent so I think she is the real deal but I could be wrong.
itzy on April 03, 2015:
i recently perches a tarot reading from valentina some of the stuff i got back from it did seem true but at the same time i'm not 100% sure if it is... Frpm reading your post it does make me more aware now... thank you for this advice
Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on December 29, 2014:
Thank you! Please warn any of your friends who might be thinking of buying psychic services.
Rhonda Wentz from USA on December 28, 2014:
Very good and useful article.
Maggie Bennett from New York on July 19, 2013:
Very insightful, and I hope people read this and then own it for themselves so they are never taken. You did a good service here.
Sylvia Sky (author) from USA on June 10, 2013:
I don't know of any difference between US psychics and Asian psychics. If they are phone psychics they are probably not psychics but phone actors, or in the very best case, are reading Tarot cards but not saying they are.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 04, 2013:
I certainly appreciate this advice. When people are vulnerable, anything sounds sensible. Hope anyone thinking of contacting a psychic will read you before it's too late.
Ceres Schwarz on May 04, 2013:
This is very useful and helpful in helping people to not be fooled by fake psychics. It's terrible to be taken advantage of like that when people just want answers to their questions. It's important not to let themselves be fooled by these fakes. Great advice about not contacting psychics and instead just talking to someone you know.