This one is really simple:
Read every single word of anything you sign.
I don’t care what the situation is. I don’t care what it’s for. I don’t care if there’s someone impatiently waiting for you to sign it.
Read. Every. Word.
And FYI – the impatient waiting thing is a tactic to pressure you into *not *reading it. So if someone is clearly trying to get you to “just sign it,” read it twice. There is absolutely no excuse for not knowing what you’re legally binding yourself to. Equally as important: get a copy for your records at the time of signing.
Any legitimate business won’t have a problem with any of this – in fact, it’s common practice for people who aren’t idiots. So if you meet resistance, chances are there’s something shady happening.