Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By The Next Big Thing

I have a junk email account that I use when signing up for mailing lists, newsletters, and other such things.  I use it to help keep my business account inbox at a manageable level.  Because along with an ever-increasing presence online comes an ever-increasing flow of "offers" and "opportunities" into my inbox. 

Now don't get me wrong.  Not everything that arrives via email is junk.  I met the fabulous Ken McArthur by replying to a "junk" email.  But it's hard to know which offers are legitimate and which really are junk.  When I first started out, I subscribed to, joined, or purchased just about everything that came my way.  And after spending a pretty good chunk of cash and filling my inbox with a ton of things that were either outdated, full of info available for free online if you just took the time to look, or were just outright scams, I learned - the hard way - to be more discerning.

The Internet is full of offers for the next big thing.  A new product or system launches and everyone is pushing it and suddenly you are caught up in the hoopla and poof! - there goes your cash out the door for another purchase.  Some of these offerings are wonderful opportunities to start or expand your business.  But even if they are worthwhile, that still doesn't mean you should jump right out there and grab it. 

How do you tell the scams from legitimate offers?  And how do you know when an offer is right for you?  Here are some tips.

1.  Use your common sense.  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Do you really think you are going to put up a website tonight and "Make 1000's Overnight While You Sleep"?  Let's be real.  If that were at all possible, everyone would be doing it.  Making a living online takes work.  In fact, you may work harder getting your business off the ground than you do at your job. 

2.  Do your homework.  Most real scams have been around for awhile in one guise or another.  Get online and do some research.  If there are others who have tried it and found it to be a rip off, word will get out.  You just have to look.  Look for forums, newsletters, or other websites that review work-at-home business opportunities or internet marketing programs.  Post a question on Twitter or ask on Facebook,  LinkedIn, or any of the social networking sites.  Many users of these sites have been where you are and are willing to share what they know. 

3.  Contact the company.  Search for the company online.  Can you find an actual site for them or just their sales letter?  Is there a phone number?  When you call the phone number, does someone actually answer?  Look at the email address the offer came from.  Is it a bona fide address?  If you reply to it, does your message get bounced back?  If so, is there an email address provided somewhere in the offer so you can contact the company with questions?

4.  Look at the offer itself.  Does the price seem ridiculously low for all that you are promised?  That can be a warning sign.  Scam artists know that most people are not going to come after them for $20.  They count on that.  Instead of hoping for a few sales of a high-dollar offer, they count on massive sales of $20 or less, knowing that most people will write off their mistake as a learning experience.

If you find that the opportunity or product is legitimate, how do you know if it's right for you?  Again, there are some basic guidelines.

1.  Does it complement or enhance your core business?  When you are just starting out, you especially do not want to be distracted by trying too many things at once.  Focus on your basic business and get that fully profitable before branching off into something else.

2.  Can you really afford it?  If you are taking money from daily expenses to cover the cost of the next book, class, system, or opportunity, you probably shouldn't.

3.  Will you actually use it, read it, follow it?  If it's just one more ebook on your computer or bound book on your shelf, it's not worth it.  If you don't have time to read and use the information you already have, why do you want to spend money on more?  If the program requires you to do something you have no skill in or dislike, you won't be successful.  Why waste the money and the time?   

Use this knowledge the next time you are tempted to try the "next big thing".  There are lots of good, reliable, effective programs, tools, mentors, and systems available.  Hopefully, this information will help you find them and avoid the scam artists.