The Dangers of Psychics, Mediums, and Tarot Readers

Sam Headshot Contributing expert: Dr. Sam Youssef, Ph.D. - Updated: Feb 16, 2023


A person with psychic abilities has great potential to help others. Receiving an outside perspective on big questions and personal issues can help you improve yourself and your life. Due to the sensitive nature of psychic abilities, this unfortunately leaves room for people to take advantage of those seeking these types of services. While there are plenty of good, professional psychic practitioners out there, it’s important to be aware of possible dangers when working with someone who claims to be psychic. This article will help you learn what a psychic reading is, how to identify red flags, and how to avoid being the victim of a scam.

What Is a Psychic Reading?

Psychics are people who claim to use extrasensory abilities outside the realm of five essential human senses. They use these powers to discern information about people, places, animals, and objects. That information is then used to perform readings for their clients who may be seeking to discover knowledge about the future, to communicate with the spirits of their dead relatives, or to just get advice on big life decisions. 

Types of Psychic Readings

Professional psychic readings are not limited to fortune telling alone. Psychic practitioners come with a variety of abilities and may offer many types of readings. Psychics will often specialize within one category of readings to master their ability and provide unique results for their clients. Here are only a few types of readings you can expect to find psychics offering to their clients:

Types of Psychic Readings
Palmistry A palm reading gives you insight into your unique character traits and abilities, as well as a possible glimpse of your future, all through the interpretation of the lines and shapes within your palms.
Tarot Tarot readers use a deck of cards to answer a specific question(s) about anything you can think of with the storytelling and symbolism of the images found on each card.
Career If you’re looking for intuitive insight and guidance on your career path, then a job-specific reading can help you take steps towards finding purpose and power at work.
Pets With the use of telepathic intuition, a pet psychic can communicate with your best furry friend and analyze their extrasensory vibes to better understand what they may be trying to tell you.
Runes Similar to tarot readers, a rune caster can help you find the answers to your questions through the interpretation of these ancient Nordic symbols.
Mediums Make a connection with a deceased loved one through the guidance of a medium and their ability to communicate with spirits on the other side.

Common Types of Psychic Fraud and Scams

As we’ve discussed what psychic readings are and the types of readings you can purchase, it may be easy to see how someone could falsely claim to possess psychic abilities simply for money. There are people who have successfully convinced their clients that they must pay them small amounts or even ridiculous sums of money in order to receive a lucky charm or good fortune.

“In the correct circumstances, psychic readings may be a safe activity. Following the guidance from a psychic can lead to positive growth for your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. But, while a psychic visit may seem innocent, it can lead you down a negative path if you’re not careful” says Dr. Sam Youssef.

Below we’ll discuss some common types of fraud, what to be wary of, and how to avoid being the victim of a scam.

Types of psychic fraud

People who pose as psychics to commit fraud use their victim’s emotions to lead them on or scare them into complying. Fear and false promises can be weaponized especially against people who are desperate for help or answers. If one of these con artists can convince you that you need their help to bring good fortune to your life or get you out of trouble, then they can gain control over you and your money. While there isn’t much data on psychic fraud statistics, the AARP was given a statement from the FBI confirming that there has been an uptick in reports of psychic scams in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tarot reading scams

Tarot readings can also be used to manipulate people. Not only can the deck be stacked to show certain cards, a fraudulent tarot reader can interpret the cards to say whatever would benefit their scheme. Some scammers have even begun charging people for a reading and then not showing up for the call. The customer never receives the service that was advertised but the tarot reader keeps all the money.

The cost of psychic readings

On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1 per minute to as much as $30 per minute for a psychic reading. Frauds who know the money is in the minutes may try to rack up the price by keeping you on the line longer. There are also psychics who charge flat rates for packages that are limited to a certain amount of time. Those looking to scam people could provide only a small amount of what was promised during that time or pressure the client into purchasing another package for the rest of their information or services.

Black Tarot Cards

How to Avoid Psychic Scams

Avoiding a scam starts with education. You have to know what to look for in order to steer clear of it. Con artists are usually very kind and convincing at first. They will likely lead you on and try to earn your trust before making their demands. Again, using your emotions against you can be a very effective tactic to instill fear and create a situation of desperation.

You don’t have to fall prey to the schemes of a scammer. Once you know what’s normal and what’s not, you’ll be able to avoid these tricks and lies. Here are a few red flags that can point to a psychic scam:

  • Demanding money with the promise of good fortune to come
  • Threatening to be cursed if you don’t pay a fee
  • Predicting a coming trouble and demanding payment for protection
  • Requesting specific financial information like bank account numbers

Scammer-proof your reading process

If you plan on consulting a psychic, make sure to research the practitioner you’re wanting to work with beforehand. Read their reviews and ratings not only through testimonials on their website, but with a resource like Trustpilot that compiles consumer opinions with the goal of business transparency and authentic dialogue. If you’re going through a large online psychic website, take a look into how they screen and approve their practitioners. When looking into a local psychic, see if you can get some first-hand experiences from people you may know who have worked with them before. Again, keep a lookout for any red flags like the ones we mentioned in the list above.

What to do if you’re a victim of psychic fraud

Not only is it violating, but it can be embarrassing to be the victim of a scam. You can and should report any fraudulent activity to your bank and local authorities. Usually the police and financial institutions are very concerned about fraud and theft. However, due to the nature of psychic readings, there is a lack of protection for people when it comes to psychic scams. Law enforcement seems to think that people are technically choosing to give their money to these people even though they were lied to or didn’t receive the services promised to them.

Other things to consider before consulting a psychic

Due to the emotional manipulation that can be done through psychic scams, money is not the only thing at stake. The coercion and lying that can take place through fraudulent psychics can be extremely traumatic and harmful. Loss of money alone can be enough to cause stress and anxiety. If you’ve been a victim of any kind of psychic fraud, consider talking to a mental health professional to work through the emotional damage something like this can cause.