Affiliate marketing is one of the most legitimate online businesses and provides work-from-home opportunities for many. However, there are some deceptive people out there that are just out to get your money with no intention of providing anything (or much) in return. Be on the alert but rest assured. There is a support system that can help you take precautions in detecting online scams before they happen and help prevent you or others from falling prey to these online deceptions.
Red Flag Raisers
Here are some common marketing schemes that cater to the average persons’ desire for a fast escape from the 9 to 5 job and financial security. These might well be a sign of a scam:
- Guaranteed high profits: Starting an affiliate marketing business with the set goal of earning a specific amount of income over time. As in any business, affiliate marketing has ups and downs which are all part of a learning and growth. There are many factors that determine how much an affiliate marketer makes: the chosen niche, fluctuating market demand, site traffic, blogger credibility, and more. Therefore, no program solicitor can guarantee how much money you’ll make.
- Quick & Easy Money: This is by no means true in affiliate marketing. Building a business as an affiliate marketer requires a lot of hard work: research, planning, deciding on your best niche market, website design, social media, and much more. Building an affiliate business takes time, effort, and patience. Only then can you reap bountiful rewards.
- High-Pressure Call to Action: Sales blurbs that include “last chance” or “you’ll miss out” unless you purchase right now. This is a good sign that further investigation is needed.
- Missing Contact Info: Affiliate program websites should have a way to contact them like a toll-free phone number, email or easily accessible contact form. If there are none of these then that should raise a red flag. Genuine business opportunities want you to contact them. On the other hand, scammers lurk in the shadows. If they have email or a web form, contact them with an inquiry and see how long they take to respond. This will give some indication about the priority they place on customer service.
- No Website: Legitimate affiliate programs have a website that provides information about the income opportunity and their products. If you receive a mass emailing only and there is no web site, I’d recommend moving on to other prospects. Additionally, a web site is not proof that they are legitimate. Scammers usually have a small website – sometimes just one page, whereas legitimate opportunities have a more extensive site. Have a look around the website if it exists and examine the credibility of links as reputable organizations won’t want to link to scam sites.
- No Commission Schedule: Legitimate affiliate programs disclose their commission plans before you join. If you must pay a membership fee to find out what the program details and the payment scheme, look somewhere else as this is common in affiliate marketing scams. Honest-to-goodness affiliate programs are free to join.
- “Oh, and just one more thing…”: A continuous stream of supplemental products (upsells) at additional cost. You can join an affiliate program for free and end up spending a fortune for features that would ordinarily come as a package deal at a reasonable cost from a legit organization. Keep shopping.
- Do Online Searches: Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”
- Check Online Reviews: Do they sound authentic or just an extension of the sales pitch? Are they from verified buyers? Launch your favorite browser and query on the “Business Name” + scam. Keep in mind, there will always be a few negative comments from people. Most had unrealistic expectations out of the starting gate. Look for complaints like no refunds or payment problems. The amount and type of comments overall to give you a feel for the affiliate program. There will be criticisms but there should be some verified success stories.
- Go the Safe Route: Launching a new business is always a risk. It’s a good idea to stick with one of the more reputable affiliate networks as they are known to be legitimate. Some examples are ClickBank, FlexOffers, Commission Junction, and PayDotCom.
- Contact Authorities: The Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission offer more information about avoiding Internet business opportunity scams, and they also provide information on ways to verify offers and file complaints. Your state attorney general’s office might also have specific or general information about Internet business opportunity scams and offer an avenue to file complaints.
A list of the most recent scam alerts is available on the Federal Trade Commission website and can provide detailed information. Opt-in to a newsletter with the latest scams, tips, and advice sent right to your inbox.
Online scammers can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
If you’re in the market for a work-from-home job or just a side gig to earn extra money during your off-hours there are some mighty convincing promoters out there who promise high returns, low risk, and ‘golden’ opportunities just waiting for the right buyer. Take the time to ask the questions that can keep you from getting ripped off.
Thank you for browsing my website. If you feel you have been ripped off share your details and questions below and I will be happy to research them. As always, feel free to share any questions or comments about detecting online scams or affiliate marketing below and I will respond to all of them.