In this article, I’m going to show you how to spot internet scams and how you can master the art of detecting them. The principles are actually simple, and these are what I use every time I look on an Internet scheme especially on how to make money online. First, we go back to the very definition of scam itself in order to understand what it really is. This confusion is what we first have to address so that we will be on the same page with the word “scam” as we go along. Now on to the definition.
What is a Scam?
A scam is simply an act of dishonesty in the form of trickery or deception with the intention of taking advantage of other people. Maybe the scammer is not telling the truth, or he’s just not telling the whole story. Either way, it’s still a scam and is a very bad thing to do.
Scam artists of this nature are very creative at distorting reality by creating persuasive statements that make you fall for them. They’ll make you realize that you’ve been tricked once you’re inside the scheme and you have no way of contacting them back. And by the way, they seldom tell you in your face that “you’ve been scammed” so you wouldn’t know.
I experienced scams as early as high school when I was playing online games in my PC. In that particular game, I was tricked into believing an offer that I couldn’t resist. I was trading items with my virtual money that I actually bought with cash in exchange for some wonderful items that will strengthen my player in-game.
In the end, I looked dumb because I got scammed by that person because I was set up by him. My money was taken and I didn’t get the items that I was expecting to receive. I felt bad and ashamed of myself and it made me want to cry all day considering I spent real money on it.
Also, I had a little bit of experience in joining an MLM that was just starting out. I joined along with my friends considering that I knew the founder very well and he’s really awesome (or I thought he is). He explained the concept to us very well although I’m not quite sure yet if it will work. I had this feeling from within that this program won’t go well, and it didn’t (just as I thought).
The problem I think with that MLM scheme was that there was a complete lack of follow-up in the sense that he just set it up, but never continued to develop it to its fullest. I didn’t want to enter a program that is not established, so I left. My membership fee was lost in the process and so are my friends’.
I may not know your experiences of business ventures and the scams you have encountered either offline or online. But what I know for sure is: No intelligent life form on planet Earth wants to get scammed.
So How Do You Spot those Internet Scams?
There are many ways to identify a scam and it heavily depends upon the person defining it. That’s because a scam for one person might not look like a scam to another. People have varying opinions on which programs are really scams because we have different perceptions and I respect that diversity.
I strongly believe that identifying scams becomes simple once you’ve grab a hold of the basics of finding one. In this section I’m going to share them with you, so read on to find out.
- Programs that are too good to be true
Any money making program that promises to make you rich in just under a month or somehow within that time period is probably too good to be true. I know this seems the most obvious, but still there are people who fall for it. To clarify, it is 100% possible to succeed online, that’s for sure. But to succeed in just under a month or a week? That’s impossible!
People do vary on how long they take to succeed, and it all depends on the amount of hard work they’ve put into it. Even if others claim that you can make money out of it, you will still need to make your move and get started. So just be careful with reading the claims, they’re not the whole story.
- Upsells in order to maximize your training
The pattern of such internet schemes goes like this: first you stumble upon a sales page which most likely contains a video. Then you will be introduced to the product which you have to buy to get started. Afterwards, the company will offer you multiple upsells which the company claims to make your training even more effective. Although you have the choice to refuse, it will actually feel like they are cheating on you because now you have to spend more money before you can even get started!
Seriously, do you really need those training materials all at once? Unless you’re a genius and a fast learner, you don’t need to buy all those e-books, DVD’s, and 1-on-1 coaching as it will overwhelm you. As a beginner, you need to focus on the basics first and start slow until you can become confident enough to take those upsells. Remember, with great money comes great responsibility!
- Promoting the Product Itself and Nothing Else (aka Pyramiding)
You will notice this once you sign into one. They will first promise you money and riches in order to draw you in. But once you’re inside you’ll realize that the program doesn’t actually have any product or service to provide to you. Instead, they will tell you to promote the very program itself to other people so that you’ll gain commission for every referral you join. And that’s the only way you can make money out of the scheme. In order for your referrals to earn money, you will train them the same way you’ve been trained, which is to invite others as well.
In this type of program, you are actually putting yourself in the pyramid system, wherein at the very top lies the leader (the founder) of the entire scheme. The truth is, the ones in the top are actually the only ones benefitting from it. What happens is that if you don’t promote people, you’ll lose money. That’s why I don’t recommend you join such ambitious schemes.
- No Means of Contacting (No Support)
This is very dangerous and is a surefire sign that you shouldn’t commit to the program. Every business that is created must come with a customer support in order to address the customer’s problems. Even the smallest of businesses can’t escape from this fact because if you are the owner, then you will have to address your customer’s issues and concerns or else your business will fail. The same goes with online business.
What happens when you run into a concern and you couldn’t reach out for help? Add into that the possibility of the owners escaping from the business and taking away your money, which is highly probable. My advice is to look for a contact page in a company’s website and test it by asking questions. If within 24 to 48 hours the customer support doesn’t reply, then it’s a sign of dangers to come.
- Using deceptive forms of persuasion
There are many ways to persuade people, but sometimes the methods can go too far that it feels deceiving. Abusing social proof is one example, like creating testimonials of people with huge earnings that seem unrealistic. Another example is when emails were sent to people about a letter coming from an official source such as a bank or a government agency. They do that in order to convince you more to take action because the truth is, they don’t want to play fair with people who use ethical forms of persuasion.
When you’ve come across a sales page or an email that looks suspicious and deceiving to you, chances are it is. If you have no prior knowledge of the norms online, then it may be difficult for you to determine whether something is legit or not. So it helps to stop and pay attention to the details and never let emotions run your head. When you’re emotionally involved, you cannot make rational decisions properly so be careful. Once the emotion wears out and you’ve bought the product, buyer’s remorse would set in.
- Asking for your important information (this is big)
If an online scheme requires that you give important information to the company, then think twice. Remember that it’s your identity that you’re giving here. You have to proceed with caution when giving out sensitive information like account name, password, email address, or your credit card number. This is really a hot spot for scams you know.
The Bottomline: It Really Depends on You
When you start doing your research and due diligence on products and membership programs or read emails the next time around, always remember to include yourself in the equation because the most important factor when it comes to identifying scams is you. When you’re just starting out, you might find it hard to determine whether a program is a scam or legit, but it’s totally fine. Eventually, you will discover the pattern once you conduct your research on the programs and gain experience from analyzing it.
To get started, consider reading my review on Wealthy Affiliate and see for yourself whether it’s a scam or legit. Just remember, your #1 protection from scams is KNOWLEDGE, and you do it with financial education.
Come share your thoughts
Well, that’s all folks for my article about scams. I hope you’ve learned something from it and felt somewhat enlightened on the concept. If you want to add something to the discussion, please leave a comment below and share your thoughts on the subject. I’m really interested to find out how you identify scams and deal with them. So come share your thoughts below and I’ll see you there!