Not all psychics are created equal. As with any field, some psychics are just plain better than others. Some have gone into the field for money, others for glory -- then there are those who are truly called and want to share the information they are receiving. Unfortunately, there ARE charlatans and snake-oil sellers out there. Why? Maybe because it's so easy to fool people when no hard physical evidence is apparent.

So how can you tell them apart? How can you separate the snake-oil sellers from the truly gifted psychic reader? The good news is: it is possible, but it will require a little work on your part.

Number one: NO GENUINE PSYCHIC WILL USE FEAR TACTICS OR INTIMIDATION IN THEIR READINGS. Yes, I yelled that because it is an important point. Any reader who disempowers you in any way is either 1) not a genuine psychic reader, or 2) abusing their position.

One of the oldest scams in the book is for some psychic to tell you that you are under a curse of some sort or that "evil spirits" are creating havoc in your life. This usually leads up to you being asked to bring in money for him/her to exorcise these demons. On the phone lines, you may be asked to call the reader back after they have had time to remove the curse. Don't do it. This is a ploy to get your money, and in the case of the phone reader, to get you to call them back. Avoid these people.

If you get any of these so-called phone psychics on the other end of the line, hang up immediately. It is a good idea to get each reader's extension number at the beginning of your call. Write this down. That way, if you feel you have been scammed, you can call the network to report the charlatan.

Other scams include:

Selling you items other than the network's promotions, including but not limited to candles, incense, books, tarot cards, magical spells, or even financial investments.

Giving you ways to contact them other than through the network. Network readers are strictly prohibited from personal interaction with clients. Stealing a network's clients is bad enough, but a few readers (a very few) have gone so far as to befriend, date, and steal from lonely, vulnerable clients.

Sending you a few scary tarot cards with the directions not to even attempt to read them until you call that psychic. This is a scam, whether it comes from a reader or a network. Usually these are mass mailings with the same cards in each envelope.

Next: Trust you intuition. Did the reader hit your issues head on or did you feel unsettled afterwards? Granted, sometimes the truth will leave us feeling unsettled, so take notes or record your readings (simple telephone recording devices are available at electronic stores like Radio Shack). Re-read them or play your tape back in the following month. No psychic is 100 percent accurate, but the good ones will at least be in the ballpark.

Before using a 900 line, it is best to ask around for a good recommendation (you can ask for specific psychics on most lines). If that's not possible, trial and error is your only avenue. If you find a good psychic -- stick with him or her. Finding a good psychic is like finding a good car mechanic. Hang on to them for dear life! This is something many callers miss out on -- a genuine, long-running relationship with their reader. There's something to be said for not starting "cold" at each reading. Having a regular reader will help you utilize your time on the network to the greatest advantage by providing deeper readings with less "introductory" time.

As you well know, 900 line calls are not inexpensive. Finding a reader that you click with is well worth your effort. Unfortunately, paying for the call by the minute precludes an extensive interview of each psychic reader. But do ask a few questions like, "What type of reader/psychic are you?" and "How long have you been reading?" Even a reader new to the psychic networks should be able to answer these questions to your satisfaction.

Legitimate phone psychics will...

Give you hope, strength, and courage.

Help you find solutions to your dilemmas.

Tell you truthfully what the cards (or their psychic impressions) appear to be saying.