Avoiding Online Scams
It’s a “dog eat dog” world in online business and within the Internet Marketing arena especially, where you’ll easily find hundreds of buyers and customers eager to discuss their horrible buying experiences with others through community sites, blogs, public forums and social media portals.
It seems to be a common trend to focus business models around shoddy schemes, and questionable tactics. “Anything to bring in the sale”, so they say.
But where does that leave you, the honest consumer? You’re forced into evaluating and analyzing every single offer you consider before you even come close to clicking on the “order link”.
You’re immediately forced into “defense mode”, because you can no longer trust the sales copy that’s designed to pitch you on a deal of a lifetime, nor do you know WHO is behind the scenes and what they’re really all about.
And even after doing your due diligence and evaluating the offer at a distance, how can you be sure that you are purchasing from a reputable and honest merchant.
How do you make sure it is not someone who is all too eager to use shady techniques and underhanded tactics to steal your hard-earned money, and lock you into unforeseen agreements? How do you steer-clear of merchants who would leave you stranded, and helpless, in ever recovering your money should the product or service you buy, not live up to your expectations, or its promises?
This is what makes this special report so invaluable to you as a consumer.
Scam Busters was written to shed light on some of the industry’s most questionable tactics, so that you are able to identify potential scams and schemes before you’re a victim. It’s one thing to learn from your mistakes after the fact, but why should you have to go through a tremendous loss of time and money when you can easily learn how to decipher and separate the REAL genuine offers, from outright spineless gimmicks?
You should NOT, and that is why we’ve created this report.
We’re focusing on providing you with the information you need so you can make better buying decisions, and protect yourself from those lurking in shadows, awaiting their next victim.
When it comes to identifying and avoiding online scams and schemes, knowledge REALLY is power. Let’s begin.
You may have never heard the term, but it’s likely that you’ve experienced it up close and personal.
Blind sales letters.
They are designed to provide you with a million and one reasons why the product being offered is something that you truly need. It’s life altering, it’s unique, it’s “all inclusive”, it’s “push button easy”, but… WHAT is it, exactly?
That’s where blind sales letters become dangerous. They focus around what the product or offer ISN’T rather than being honest and transparent with what it IS.
For example, blind sales pages might say:
You can start making money INSTANTLY with this product, but DON’T be mistaken!
- This offer is NOT about making money with blogs.
- This offer is NOT about making money with Adsense.
- This offer is NOT about making money with membership sites.
So, naturally, you’re drawn in by curiosity. The copywriter has done their job, and you’re hooked. It’s human nature to want to peek behind the yellow curtain, to find out what makes something ‘tick’, and so you’re compelled to click on the order button to see for yourself.
$97 later, and a few upsells and you discover that the offer isn’t all that unique, genuine, legitimate or even useful at all.
You’re left with a watered-down product that doesn’t come close to anything you expected but hey – the merchant NEVER promised it would really do anything in the first place. They focused on telling you what it WOULD NOT do.
Curiosity is a strong motivator, and it’s used within countless sales pages every day. There’s nothing wrong with using curiosity or any other emotion to drive people to respond. The problem comes in not being upfront and clear about the offer.
Reputable merchants and Internet Marketers know the power in effectively utilizing curiosity and other emotional “triggers”, but they go the distance in giving you a meticulous breakdown of what is being offered, so you are well informed BEFORE you make the decision to purchase. They don’t want high refund rates, or potential problems from consumers not being clear as to what they’re actually buying.
Avoid blind sales pages like the plague, and turn your attention towards honest offers that aren’t afraid to explain what they’re all about. After all, that means that they have nothing to hide!
Have you ever considered purchasing a product, only to scan the sales page for income screenshots and earning statements?
Within the “make money” industry, there are countless offers claiming to hold the Holy Grail to undeniable fortunes.
And while many of the merchants and marketers behind these products CAN help you make money online, beware of one of the most common “triggers” used to push you into buying mode.
FAKE SCREENSHOTS & EARNINGS!
Nothing will motivate you into buying a product from someone who claims to know exactly how to build online fortunes than a crisp and clear screenshot of a recent bank statement showing thousands of dollars in income.
Nothing will prompt you into action like a giant snapshot of a Paypal account boasting thousands of dollars in earnings.
Nothing – and I mean NOTHING will get you as excited as a seemingly innocent screenshot of the kind of money you’ve been dreaming of. After all, if THEY can do it – surely YOU can do it, too?
The problem is that a large majority of those snazzy screenshots and income statements found online are fakes. Not all of them, but MANY of them are, and you need to be aware of this and not base your decision to purchase solely on the fact that someone can produce dazzling income shots, or hefty bank account statements.
As to HOW people create these fake screenshots?
In fact, with just one line of code pasted into any browser, you too can edit the text on any website, or within any account.
But fake income screenshots aren’t the only thing to be leery of.
Many marketers use ‘actors’ and ‘live talent’ on their websites in order to help connect visitors with a “face”. It adds a personal touch, and helps to lower your guard.
You’ve probably seen this type of marketing, where an actor “walks” onto the side of a website and immediately starts selling the product or service. While there’s nothing wrong with using actors within marketing messages when it’s CLEAR, the problem comes into play when these actors pose as “customers” who are satisfied with the product and claim to provide an unsolicited testimonial.
With sites like Fiverr.com and other low cost gig sites, anyone can hire an actor or online personality to create video testimonials, and voice-overs from people claiming to be happy customers, case studies, or successful “students” of the websites offer or product.
Be careful when visiting websites that use this type of marketing gimmick. Most honest marketers would prefer to be the ones discussing the product on the sales page, rather than hiring third party services to do the job for them.
So, now that you know about just how easy it is to fake screenshots and earning statements, what can you do to verify that the person behind the website can actually show you how to make real money online?
Run a search! Take some time to evaluate what that person has done online. What websites does he or she own? What other products have been released under her or his name? What are other people who have purchased their products said about them? What kind of success rate are customers having with the products?
Take some time to browse through forums, review sites, open communities and social networks. It won’t take long before you’re able to gain a better, more clear idea, as to whether the person offering to teach you how to make money online, REALLY can and does make money online themselves.
It’s a bit of work evaluating offers and researching marketers and merchants, but in the end, it’s one of the easiest ways to eliminate risks and protect your investment. And no one is going to do that for you – but YOU.
Side Note: Beware of affiliate testimonials and reviews when evaluating marketers and offers. You want to make sure what you’re reading is a genuine review from a customer, not from an affiliate trying to sell you on the product.
Try to avoid traditional review websites, and focus on user-powered networks like public forums and community sites that focus around that market.
One of the things you need to look out for is ‘after sales support’.
Sure, a product might live up to its expectations, and perhaps the marketer did the best job possible to create an explosive product or mind-blowing program. And it just may be your golden ticket into making money, or completing a task that you’ve been struggling with.
But what happens AFTER the sale?
Genuine marketers and developers want to help their customers. They come from the school of thought that if they go the extra mile in building rapport and providing exceptional customer support that they’ll earn a loyal, lifetime customer.
Savvy marketers know that loyal customers equate to ongoing profits – and they work hard to increase the value of every customer’s experience. It’s in their best interest to make you happy.
But shady marketers don’t care about after the sale. They’re only goal is to ring in the orders and go to work on the next big offer, leaving their customers frazzled, helpless and frustrated because while the product may be phenomenal, they simply don’t know how to use it, what to do next, or how to put all of the pieces together.
While it’s never easy to determine whether a marketer or merchant will provide ongoing support after the sale, you can certainly do your due diligence in minimizing problems in receiving support and communication after you order.
Search the Internet to determine whether the merchant offers a support desk. Then, take a few minutes to post a “test” question. Make sure it’s a legitimate question or concern you have about the product BEFORE you order it. Give the merchant adequate time to respond, and see just how well they communicate.
Next, browse through online forums and search engines to see what people are saying about the product, and whether people are generally satisfied. Make sure that there is far more positive than negative feedback and that those who purchased and needed help were given support.
Look to see if the merchant offers a telephone number, address, direct email or other methods of communication. The majority of reputable merchants will always offer multiple channels of communication, with some even offering direct contact through Skype or a call-in number.
Make sure you are comfortable with the methods being offered and that you’ll be able to get in touch with someone, should you need them after the sale. Test out any telephone numbers or emails provided on the website to make sure they are in working order.
It’s important that you take an active role in evaluating offers to minimize your chance of being scammed. You should always search for a merchants name, website, or product offer BEFORE buying, so that you are able to detect any problems or concerns that would prevent you from purchasing.
Check for any ongoing or existing law suits by entering in specific search terms that will help you quickly locate any problems, such as “merchant name+law suit”, “merchant name scam”, “merchant name refund”, “merchant name reviews” and so on. You should also run a search through the “Better Business Bureau” online as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
While it takes time to evaluate offers thoroughly, doing so will help to protect your investment, so that you’re only giving your business to those who truly deserve it.
Tony’s Money and Affiliate Marketing