August is small business month! For boomers who are planning to retire but still want to work for whatever reason, whether it is to pay bills or to keep busy, this is a great time to consider starting a small business.
Before you get started, there are few things that you need to consider. We’ll cover these here in my blog over the next few days.
One of the first things that should be considered, is whether the opportunity that you are looking at is a scam or not.
The prevalence of scams, particularly for seniors may scare some people from certain business opportunities. Work-from-home scams have been around long before online work-from-home scams existed. In the past these were often magazine advertisements that promised millions for doing nothing, you just had to send in your money to find out how.
Here are some suggestions to help you determine whether a business opportunity is real, or simply too good to be true.
* No Way to Contact the Business – If the opportunity is real, they’ll have a real business website with a real business email address at the minimum, not a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail address. You should easily be able to look up the people and the name of the business to find out more information.
* Promises of Riches Overnight – Any plan that claims you’ll become rich overnight is a scam. It’s just not going to happen. Working from home at a job, or running your own business, requires skill, work, and more work to make money. You’re not going to just set up a business and do nothing to get paid.
* They Ask for Money Up Front (and Now) – Many MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing) do ask for money up front, which is a business investment. Even if you do not like MLMs, some of them are legitimate companies with real opportunity. However, some jobs or opportunities only want your money. You should have plenty of time to do research before giving anyone money. Never pay for a job, although an investment in a business opportunity is considered normal. If you do invest in a business, make sure you do your due diligence and check it out. These days it’s easy to check out most businesses on-line. I usually do a Google search of the business or product and add “scam” in the search. One thing to be wary of is the practice of businesses to write their own scam info where they dispel any suggestions of scamming. Check the source of your information before you make a decision based on on-line reviews.
* You Feel Pressured to Act Now – If you’ve been contacted by someone making a lot of promises to you about making tons of money and claiming you must act right now or lose out forever, it’s a scam. A real opportunity is going to be there tomorrow. Some on-line offers will have a limited time offer with a reduced price for a specific time. A legitimate business will still offer the product after the initial introductory price. Again, do your research before buying.
* It Has Anything to Do with Western Union – Sorry to name a place like this but it’s true; if you need to use Western Union to send money to anyone, run. In fact, any type of money-changing, bank-involved delivery system is usually a scam and it’s not only that; it’s illegal and you could end up in jail. There are all kinds of “business opportunities” where the money is tied up in a foreign bank and all you have to do to release it is send a few thousand dollars. It’s a scam.
* It Sounds Too Good to Be True – You know it in your gut that it’s just too good to be true, but you are tempted. Stop. Take some time to research the company and not just the people and places they give you to research. Do your due diligence and walk away if you can’t prove they’re legitimate. If you have the type of personality that would take a chance, or you get to a point where you feel trapped, have a standard line ready like “I’m going to run this by my son/daughter who is a police officer and I’ll get back to you”. When I use this line they never call back.
* Random Email Offering Position You Did Not Apply For Directly – This happens sometimes when you apply for or fill out real job opportunities online. They get the information online and then they send you unsolicited jobs or offers of advice for a fee. It’s no different than a phone call during dinner making you promises. Delete.
* They Offer ridiculously high pay for low wage positions – This is a common indication of a scam. You’ll see the advertisement on a seemingly legitimate website that promises a lot of money for many different positions that just do not earn that kind of money. Be realistic. You’re not going to make $45 dollars an hour as a receptionist.
Above all, pay attention to your gut. If it feels fishy, it probably is. Some of these scammers only want you to fill out their applications so they can steal your identity. To protect yourself if you’re in the USA, get a free employment identification number (EIN) from the IRS so that you don’t give out your social security number. Other countries may have similar set-ups, but you’ll have to check. Otherwise, don’t blindly give out this information to strangers.