`I live in a French chateau and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year – so can you!’
`If you can write a simple letter you can live like a King – just buy my ebook and I’ll show you how!’
No matter how new you are to the internet, you’ll be familiar with ads like these. The internet abounds with `business opportunities’. But before you hit the `send’ button, take some time to investigate these claims. Some of them are legitimate, and some promoters do have sound advice or a marketable product for sale that can help you set up a profitable home business.
But other `opportunities’ are just scams, put out there by people who have found a profitable home business of their own – separating the unwary from their money. Here are some tips on avoiding them.
Don’t fall for inflated promises
Remember the old rule – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Before you put money down on an ebook that promises you a `surefire way to make millions’, or a business that will bring in thousands of dollars a month, put the name into a search engine. You will often find forums and websites offering the opinions of people who have had experience of that particular book or business. For example, there are literally hundreds of `pay to click’ sites, offering huge sums of money for just opening emails and clicking on links. But if you visit one of the many forums dedicated to pay-per-click sites, you will soon find out who actually pays out and who doesn’t – and the amounts earned are nothing like the huge sums quoted. So don’t be fooled by promises of profits that run into telephone numbers.
Check the credentials
OK, so the projected profits look realistic, and the general feedback on the business looks good. Now it’s time to check with the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general in your state and where the promoter is based. Find out from them if there are any complaints outstanding against the promoter. The BBB will do a company report. Just go the Better Business Bureau website to find your local bureau, ask for a report or make a complaint.
Watch out for high pressure
Don’t let the promoter rush you into a decision. As the Better Business Bureau advises, a legitimate opportunity will wait for you to decide. If you feel you are being pressured, take time to cool off and do some research on the company, especially if there is a financial outlay involved. In some businesses, such as a franchise that requires you to purchase equipment, some financial commitment from you will be expected and is legitimate. But it still pays to do your research and find out if other franchisees are satisfied with the returns from their outlay. Remember, a sound business that has a record of successful franchises won’t need to pressure you to make a quick decision.
Get the facts
One of the ways to tell a scam is the lack of concrete details. The promoter or seller will just keep telling you how much money you will earn, how easy it is and that anyone can make money this way – but they won’t tell you exactly what it is you have to do. Lots of capital letters and exclamation marks in the advertising copy are meant to take your attention away from asking hard questions like – “what does thisÂ business opportunity actually entail?” Of course, this is justified as keeping this astounding secret for making money just between the promoter and those who buy it. But think about it – if it’s such a great idea, why is he selling it? Why doesn’t he just keep it to himself and get even richer? The answer to that is, of course, that he doesn’t make money out of his `great idea’, he makes money out of people gullible enough to pay for something he refuses to explain until they pay up. And then it’s usually just more of the same advertising patter.
Research the market
Take all inflated claims about a product’s selling potential with a grain of salt. Do your own research. Can this product really compete with other similar products? Check out what others are selling in this line – this will be your competition. Is the product you have been offered equal to, or better than, the quality, marketability, visual appeal and pricing of other brands? Is there a natural opening for this product, or is the market already overcrowded? No business ever succeeded without careful research into its market potential first. This is even more important if you are to be given an `area’ in which to sell. Sadly, many people find that the area assigned to them is too poor to afford the product or just not responsive to it. This may not appear to be a problem on the internet, where the world waits to buy – but remember you have to drive that potential market to your website first. What is so special about this product that buyers will seek it out?
Really be your own boss
One of the best ways to avoid falling into the clutches of a scammer is to be your own boss. If you have a product that passes market research, and are willing to invest your own time and money in your own business, this is the way to go. After all, if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? But you should still do your research before committing yourself to production. Make sure you have a product that will find its own niche in the overcrowded internet market place.
What to do if you have been scammed
If, in spite of your best efforts, you still got caught by a scammer, and lost money, or didn’t get paid money you were owed, don’t just chalk it up to experience. If you do that, the scammer will go on ruining other lives. Make a loud and long complaint, to the Better Business Bureau, to the attorney general in your state, and to the Consumer Protection Association. If you have been the victim of fraud, contact the National Fraud Information Center or the International Fraud Complaint Center.
Written by Gail Kavanagh exclusively for TopWahms.com