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Avoiding Online Business Scams

May 26, 2008
Many online business opportunities are, in fact, only opportunities for the individuals selling them. Countless books, software, e-books and other media are available in cyberspace and will promise you everything imaginable. You can make $1000 on your first day. Start your own company and have a six-digit profit margin within a year. You can become a real estate magnate with no money down, a stock tycoon with the help of a $69 e-book or an affiliate who earns $200 an hour.

These claims are both amazing and fraudulent. They are also emerging at epic proportions online. With such tantalizing claims as "work from home," they often use the angle of more money for your children or family as bait. They flash banners, buttons and commercials boasting of your earning potential. You can get paid to fill our surveys, test video games and even stuff envelopes. If you decide to take the plunge into working from home, take several steps to protect yourself. The best adage to bear in mind is, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

The first step is to explore what options you have available. Will you sell your own product or service? Will you work with another company? Selling your own products requires little attention to other companies and is fairly straight forward. Many home business owners will go into business with affiliates or other programs, and this process does require investigation.

Give yourself plenty of options before deciding on a single company. Create a list of various companies of interest and explore them as much as possible. Be certain you are excited about the company and the product or service they offer before choosing one. Never opt for something merely because it looks like a good deal. Always choose the program that looks the most interesting. Also each company should keep their information posted online, including an address, telephone number and e-mail addresses.

It's time to start thoroughly researching when you have narrowed your choices to three or four. Your first stop will be with the Better Business Bureau. Visit their website and check all listings both nationally and in that company's region. Look for warning signs, such as complaints over abuse or fraudulent behavior. Are complaints against the company over a lack of service, attention or pay?

Even if the records have a clean listing, or no listing with the bureau, you still need to look through a good online search or two. Look for complaints in forums, message boards, blogs and newspapers against the company. A good listing with the Better Business Bureau is a positive factor; however, it doesn't mean every bureau will be attentive to consumers on a local level. One or two minor complaints should be expected if the company is large. Look elsewhere for an opportunity if the complaints start to add up.

Once you have checked for public complaints of malfeasance, you should visit the website or sites of the companies left in good standing. How are they arranged? As an affiliate or associate, you should have access to many free tools to help you sell. Many companies offer a free Web page or small site to associates to get them started. Do they provide your first leads? Do they help you with new leads starting out? Are they eager to offer training and advice on promotion?

While most of these opportunities require some form of financial investment, at some point, they should offer you a great deal of free information upfront. Beware of a company that requires you to pay anything just to look through their website. There may be a secure section for members only, but this should concern only those who are signed up with the company. You shouldn't have to pay $9.95 to have access to the company's history or other such general information.

You should ensure the company you are interested in has a proven return. It should be in operation at least five years before you sign with them. Many dubious companies that scam consumers for "at home work" seldom last longer than two or three years.

A final way of evaluating a company's regard to their business is the way your concerns are handled. Are you given prompt attention? Are your e-mails returned quickly and professionally? Are the answers written in professional sentences with a personalized salutation and signature or are they automated? Are you given a ticket of any kind and told to wait 48 or more hours for a response? This is a final way of investigating how a company will interact with you once you are working with them.

Consumers need not fear the work-at-home field with these methods. With common sense and some investigation, you can avoid much headache and anxiety over a dubious or questionable company. Working at home is a goal that is both realistic and attainable.
About the Author
John Cantu provides expert analysis of home based business opportunities and invites you to visit his site that shows reviews and comments on the current Top 10 Work at Home Opportunities.
Visit: http://www.wahometop10.com:80/1659.html for more information.
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