You can run your own business safely if you know the ways to avoid scams online. It's important to make yourself approachable, but if you're open to any suggestions or invitations you'll come across with a lot of scammers. The bottom line is, not to trust anyone who's approaching you so easily. Shut them out before they start messing about with you. Here are 8 ways to avoid scams online.
#1 Google It!
Before signing up - to a service, membership, free trial offer... Always search by the brand name and read several reviews before saying yes to it. The moment someone introduces you to a product/service named, say "XYZ", go straight to Google and type in "XYZ review". Many reviewers state pro's and con's, which help you to decide whether it's good for you or not. Beware of some reviewers who flatly recommend the product/service throughout the page, they're not reviewing it, they're trying to sell it for a commission.
If you can't find the name of the product/service by Google search, then it's likely to be a scam. Stay away from it and you won't miss anything. The person who recommended it to you might say it's a brand new product and it's a secret offer before the official release. Don't believe any of it - if it's not on Google, it doesn't exist.
#2 Trust Your 'Mindset' First
Never trust shiny objects before you trust your mindset!
...It means, if something sounds too good to be true to you, then it definitely is. There is a way to earn a million dollars within X months out there for sure. But in order to achieve it, you'd have to be committed to it and work hard for it. Money is never waiting for you to simply collect it. Here are some of the typical catchphrases that you shouldn't be swayed by;
- "All you have to do is, e.g. click and earn, copy and paste" (something that sounds easy)
- "Proven system by thousands of marketers" (as if to say you are the only one who doesn't know)
- "Copy the exact formula (and you'll make 6 figures)"
- Spend only a few hours in the morning...
- Money will pour in "while you're asleep"...
Don't be blinded by a multiple-commission payout diagram, often presented by MLM introduction videos, it's never gonna happen that way!
#3 Don't Pay In Advance
Most of the "work from home" "make money online" programs offer a free trial period or 30-days money back guarantee. If they don't, there should be a valid reason for it. Software license for example, cannot be easily revoked once distributed to you. A PDF book is another example, the moment you receive it, you can duplicate a copy and you can't physically return it.
If they're not offering a free trial or money back guarantee, ask yourself WHY you think they aren't. If you can't find an answer, don't pay. Don't be afraid to ask them why they aren't. "Because we're proud of our product" is not an acceptable answer. Don't pay! You should only invest money if you're absolutely confident that you'll receive a positive return out of it.
#4 Check Their Credentials
If someone approaches you and recommends a product - inspect that person's profile. Ask them if they have a website that they own (rather than the product sales page), and ask them for their social media accounts; LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook Page. Just because they have an account, does not necessarily mean they're trustworthy. But at least you'll know this person may not be totally fake. Watch out for an excuse such as "My LinkedIn account has recently been hacked and I had to have it shut down"...!
#5 Don't Try To 'Understand Them'
Have you ever heard of a Nigerian Scam? Someone contacts you out of the blue by email, explaining there's a large sum of money trapped in a Nigerian bank account. It's a lengthy email and the story itself does makes sense. I first received one of those at my inbox over 20 years ago. I'm not going through all the detail (check this site if you want), but basically they're all going on like this;
"We have a problem. It's complicated. Here's what it is. But the twist is... What's more complicated is this... So here's a deal. Help us and we'll give you $300,000 as a reward."
Don't waste your time by trying to understand a 'deal' that's not straightforward. The Nigerian scam is an extreme example, but this applies to any businesses, charities, any sort of invitations.
If someone approaches you but cannot explain what they're offering/asking in a couple of sentences, stay away from them. Don't get involved with anything 'complicated' - you're not helping them nor yourself.
If you can't simply ignore them, don't just tell them that you don't understand what they're offering. I would say to them, "Your message is too long and I can't read it. Can you explain it in no more than 20 words, then I may get back to you."
#6 Find Out WHY They're Contacting You
Someone approaches you and say they're making $10,000 every single day. And they're inviting you in. The scheme is so good and everyone's crazy for it right now. So good that this person feels obliged to give you an opportunity to join in. All you have to do is to pay $50 per month and you too can become a millionaire.
...If this person was earning so much, why would they bother contacting you? They're only after a referral commission, and you do a math. If you joined the scheme and started paying $50 per month, this person could receive 50% at best = $25 per month. This person would have to have 12,000 referrals in order to earn $10k a day. They're scams, no doubt.
#7 Remember Some Copywriting Technique
The following phrases are not necessarily used by scammers but by many marketers in order to urge you to buy. Some are old-fashioned but still used and seen as effective. If you see phrases like these - they don't really mean anything, so don't be tempted!
- It's normally worth $997, today only $47
- You're one of the luckiest 1,000 people chosen by the Facebook administrators
- Offer is only open for less than 48 hours
- Only 56 spots left! Get in NOW!
- According to statistics, 83% of people are... (there's no such statistics but often they make it up!)
#8 Don't Let Them Barge Into Your Life
Nobody likes receiving cold-calls. Do you? I don't believe in any business deals that require a chit-chat. Anyone who gives you a phone call out of the blue without considering whether you are busy or not are ignorant and stupid. I'm not talking about friends. People who promote themselves, "me, me, listen to me" people.
This also applies to SNS messages.
Unless you know that person already - if someone messages you via SNS for the first time and say "Hi, how are you doing today?", they have a clear intention to sell something. If they have a reason to contact you otherwise, they shouldn't be wasting your precious time by being overly friendly to break the ice. They should be briefly explaining their intension to you first.
And you'd be wasting your next 20 minutes if you tried to have a decent conversation with a stranger popped up on SNS; So where do you live? What do you do for living? How's your business?
If they ask how you are today, ask them what they want right away. "Fine thanks. How can I help you?"
If they start explaining about an 'awesome money-making opportunity', let them be aware that they're being intrusive. You could say; "I'm so sorry, I have to go now. But please feel free to leave your messages, I' may get back to you when I have time."
They may be offering you a genuine product in the best interest of you, but they should know that contacting people randomly via SNS is a lousy 'cold-calling' method. One of the most spammy marketing methods that many scammers take. For you, missing whatever a good opportunity by not responding to a stranger is like missing an opportunity to win a lotto by not buying a ticket. So just ignore friendly strangers on SNS!