Business Opportunities: Beware of Flop-portunities
"Earn big bucks selling Internet-related
products or services.
No computer experience or sales experience necessary!"
Ads promising big money from Internet-related business
opportunities: You've seen them on TV, in newspapers, and even in your e-mail. Everyday,
people make money using the Internet, and the commercial possibilities seem endless.
Unfortunately, every entrepreneur who buys into an Internet "opportunity"
doesn't automatically find a pot of gold at the end of the digital rainbow.
Scam artists are cashing in on the Internet's potential by selling fraudulent
Internet-related business opportunities. They say you can earn thousands of dollars
selling machines that enable television access to the Internet or selling kiosks that
provide walk-up access to the Internet. Or, they claim they can train you to be a
high-paid "Internet consultant." Many of these scams are targeted to individuals
who are not technologically savvy. Indeed, many pitches seem designed to take advantage of
an entrepreneur's "Internet innocence." Don't let them fool you.
The Federal Trade Commission urges you to investigate Internet-related business
opportunities as carefully as you would check out any business opportunity. Before you
invest or buy into any business opportunity:
Realize that seminar "trainers" or "consultants"
often are there to sell you a business opportunity, not teach you Internet basics. In
fact, they may be counting on your lack of experience with computers or the Internet.
Get all earnings claims in writing. In fact, get all promises in
Talk to others who have purchased the opportunity to see if their
experience verifies the claims. Visit them in person. And keep your eyes and ears open for
"shills" or phony references. Don't accept a list of references selected by the
company that offers the business opportunity as a substitute for a complete list of
franchise or business opportunity owners.
Ask for a disclosure document. Most business opportunities are required
to provide one, under the FTC Franchise Rule. It should provide detailed information to
help you compare one business with another. Be skeptical of companies that do not have
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR THE CONSUMER