Due to the popularity of ghost shows on television, there has been an extremely rapid growth in the number of ghost teams advertising their services. Today, everyone wants to be a ghost chaser, and now it’s easier than ever to become one. It is up to the public to protect themselves from potential harm and fraud. We urge everyone to be aware of the human dangers of “paranormal investigation” that can be far more devastating than those caused by any ghost or spirit. First: What you want from an investigation? Some folks just want to know that they are “not crazy” or that the family is not in danger. Not everyone is frightened or wants a spirit banished or “crossed over”. They just want some facts. Other people like the entertainment factor, they want the thrill of experiencing something unexplained. Establishments with haunted histories can bump up prices with a documented haunting. People love a ghost story! The third type wants to study phenomena using applied science to answer the question of what happens after we die. All these are good reasons to investigate. But the danger lies in another type of paranormal investigator, one that the public needs to avoid. There are people who only want to gain fame and fortune from anything paranormal. Perhaps they want to get on television and have their own show, but the bottom line is to make money, regardless of what they have to do. The teams to avoid seem to be sincere, but in the end, you realize this is not the case. To begin the process of narrowing the field, find web sites and study them carefully. FaceBook pages ARE NOT web sites. and remember, ” Meet-up groups” are not investigators. These groups are at best enthusiastic, but usually have little or no training. An official web site contains a large amount of information and will sometimes tell you more than the author intended if you look closely. Professional investigation teams will explain their mission, methods, post evidence backed by data, and educate. Entertainment paranormal web sites are fun to look at but it is entertainment, not research. There are various means of making web sites more attractive to users and not all are honest. Beware of paranormal hoaxes, here are some examples: Beefing Up the Numbers: The more clients you appear to have, the better your services look. Posting a counter on a web site will show the number of hits the site receives. Counters can be big and flashy, and the count can appear high when it has been started with a very high number. Another way to imply high traffic is friends log on the site multiple times each day. Mass e-mails are sent for friends to “like” the site and can include an automatic link to that site that also trips the counter. In other words the counter is not a reliable gauge use or credibility. Another way to falsely impress potential clients is to list years of experience using this method: Take the age of each team member and calculate how many years since their first “paranormal event”( If you were 2 years old and saw a ghost under your bed and are sixteen now, you have thirteen years of experience). Add each team member’s’ “years of experience” and post that number as “years of paranormal experience” the whole team claims to have. Just like the number of “years” can be misleading, the date the team was established has no value when deciding which team is right for your needs. Making multiple listings for a team can boost web presence and is a great source of free advertisement. Slight variations of names will show up more frequently in a search. Variations include adding a letter, vary spelling or adding words such as society, group, radio, team, seekers, research, and researchers. Teams may buy multiple domains ( .org, .net, ..com, .Anything.) that link back to a main web site.Currently there is no school for paranormal doctorate studies, but there are experts with experience we can learn from. If someone claims to have a doctorate, ask where they received this title and in what field. The number of “years”, the date the team was established has no value when deciding which team is right for your needs. Evidence: Many teams say they are looking for answers about life after death, historic facts, or information about a loved one. They announce they seek proof of paranormal events. So where is the evidence? To look more impressive, teams will list investigations they have never done but appear as "Private Cases” such as “Pvt residence in Joetown Pa,” or “Private residence in Somewhere, NJ” etc. Groups add these bogus cases, as experience, knowing they cannot be verified. Posting photos of well-known haunted places is an old trick used to suggest the team has performed a full investigation, when in reality they may never have been there. Posting a investigation without evidence is meaningless. Take a good look at the quality of evidence (if any) that is available on a site. Is it clear? Has it been altered in any way other than to increase clarity? So called “paranormal photographs” can be the result of smudged or dirty lenses, be cigarette smoke,dust, an insect, or due to camera shake more often than a Spirit. Knowledgeable investigators know their equipment and are careful to discard photographs of dust, rain, mist and photographs that induce paradolia. Finally, Do not accept evidence gained only by psychic means as positive proof of spirit activity unless there is objective evidence to support it. Taking anyone’s “word” they have contacted the spirit world with out question can lead to fraud. Testimonials and Awards Multiple flashing awards are used to get attention and prove this team is the best. These awards are pretty worthless for the most part. One site lists twelve awards for content, photographs, evp, horror, scariest, etc., but out of the twelve: TWO were in Japanese, THREE sites are no longer available, ONE domain was for sale, TWO pages listed”not Found”, TWO had no link, and one linked to an ad for a new website. Out of the 12 awards, listed TWO were linked to a site that offers free awards…. To get a real award one must work or perform some excellent service to be eligible to display one, not just link up. Testimonials offer a positive review of a business and rave about their service and knowledge, but that is all. There is no way to check a testimonial statement when presented as..”..Joe C from Whoville, Ar. Says “so in so”)… Who is Joe anyway? Is he part of that team, maybe a friend? No amount of testimonials can replace a list of good references. The best references are from others who work in the field or have hired this team in the past. . Good references are those who can be easily identified and contacted. Finding a team with a good reputation is the key to knowing who you are allowing to enter your home. Don’t just accept endorsements. Call and check for how they know that team and what services they received. Call all public sites and ask the staff about their experience with team. You may be surprised. More Dangers...Investigators sometime ask home owners to leave while they investigate: This is a MAJOR red flag when dealing with an unknown team! Only under special circumstances the entire family need to leave, and certainly not for the initial assessment. Homes have been entered on the pretense of finding paranormal evidence, unfortunately the owners return to find more than they bargained for. Are these teams really looking for evidence or are they “casing the joint?” Are they holding sceances and dabbling in occult practices, provoking or using Ouija? This type of investigation in your home could result in something nastier than you started with. The home owner or a responsible person should be present during any vigil, more if the home/building is large. This one precaution can deter theft, fires, damage, evidence planting and in some cases large ghost hunting parties.( Yes, teams have even been caught selling tickets for public “Ghosts Hunts” at private homes without the consent or knowledge of the owner) Finally, when the investigation is over, and the team pronounces your home to be haunted, possessed, or a portal to the gates of hell, Ask how they arrived at this conclusion and where the evidence is to back it up. If you hear the word demonic, don’t be frightened, be a skeptic ! Ask the team what they can do about it, and if they quote a price, ask them to leave. Scaring a family into paying for spirit removal is a scam. Never take someone’s word on any information reportedly gained through ‘psychic means’. What someone says Uncle Harry told them is not valid evidence unless backed up by physical evidence. A good “psychic” con will do serious background research to perpetrate even a small hoax. Be careful, and continue to look for truth. The paranormal has always been a hot bed for scam artists, that has not changed, The scams have just become more sophisticated. We all want to believe and know the answer to what lies beyond death. Those answers will come, and they will be free of charge.