Maybe you’ve been watching television shows on flipping houses and think you’d be good at it. Or maybe you’ve been reading about stocks and want to try your hand at the market. You might read some books or listen to some podcasts, but there’s something appealing about sitting in a room with actual experts for a day or two, learning from their experience and becoming an expert yourself, quickly.
It’s easy to get drawn in by charismatic presenters, success stories and testimonials. The promises made in promotional materials can be tempting:
▪ You’ll earn money fast, regardless of your experience.
▪ This opportunity is a sure thing.
▪ You can make significant income working part time or at home.
▪ You’ll be coached and supported every step of the way.
▪ The program has worked for past participants and even the presenters themselves.
The seminars themselves may not be scams — you’ll go to an actual seminar and learn about the things they promise you’ll learn about. But the promises made about your resulting success and the high-pressure tactics used to get you to buy products or invest in programs are problematic.
The excitement of a room full of people who believe they are about to make a lot of money can be contagious, but there are things you can do to make sure you don’t get caught up and spend money you’ll regret later:
▪ Take your time. Don’t fall for high-pressure sales pitches that say if you don’t buy now you’ll lose out. Any reputable promoter will let you take time to do research and will not pressure you for an immediate decision.
▪ Investigate the business you are considering. Do some research and talk to experienced business people and experts outside of the seminar before you invest anything.
▪ Be skeptical about success stories and testimonials. Anybody can be paid to say anything.
▪ Don’t believe claims that investing/trading strategies are easy or simple. If it was easy to make money, everybody would be rich.
▪ Be cautious when seminar representatives are vague or reluctant to answer questions. Legitimate businesspeople are happy to give you specific information about all aspects of the opportunity and their experience.
▪ Be mindful of guaranteed returns. There is always risk and there are no guarantees. High returns generally require high risk, so don’t believe any claims promising you lots of easy money.
▪ Ask upfront about how much money you need to qualify for the opportunity and ask about the refund policy. Make sure you get all this information in writing. Remember that if the opportunity is a bogus one, you may not ever see your money again regardless of what you’ve been promised.
Keep in mind, a legitimate business will portray an honest picture of the opportunity, including the possible risks, rewards and challenges. A business opportunity scheme, however, will enthusiastically sell you on the promise of making tons of money with very little effort. Before getting caught up in the hype, take some time to check things out.
For more tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.
Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving the Fall Line Corridor including 83 counties in portions of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The column is provided by the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The BBB sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a company or charity should be referred to the BBB at 1-800-763-4222, www.bbb.org or by email to email@example.com.