Flag #1: Reviews
The first thing you can do to find out if a product is legit or not, it’s to Google it. Search for the product name + “review” and you’ll find a lot of reviews about it.
Click on the first few reviews to see what people think about it. If there are a lot of negative reviews, that’s a flag that this could be a scam.
Other than the regular stuff that you’ll see in the reviews (if the product is good, if the training is adequate, if they pay well – if they pay at all, actually – if this way of making money is legit), also check out these two things:
If you see that the product has a lot of upsells (3+ are too much), that’s bad. Especially, if they don’t tell you about the upsells before you join.
A lot of products have different memberships depending on what you’re looking for, and that’s fine. But before you join, legit products have a comparison table to see what you get for each membership. They don’t tell you that you need to pay only x dollars, and then they tell you to pay more and more if you want to succeed.
A lot of these scams pay actors – usually, freelancers – to use them as spokespersons so that they tell you how much money they’ve earned with this product. If you find out that this “opportunity” has paid people to lie to you, don’t trust them.
Why would someone need to pay an actor to tell you they made money if there are so many people that have made money with this system?
If you see a lot of positive reviews, though, this doesn’t mean that it’s a 100% legit product that can make you money.
You see, a lot of these products have affiliate programs. That means people can make money from recommending this product to you. And even though bloggers are obliged to tell you there are affiliate links in their review, they may not do that. (Affiliate marketing is a legitimate way to make money, but only if you choose to recommend quality products. Some bloggers choose not to.)
Even worse, there are products that the only way to make money is by recruiting others; there’s no other product to sell or promote, skills to learn or ways to make money other than badgering friends, family or strangers. In this case, just stay away!
Still, if you see a lot of positive reviews about a product, that’s a good sign.
Flag #2: Age
Not yours, don’t worry!
Another flag you can watch out for is the age of the company. If they’ve been around for a while now, there’s a good chance the product is good.
Most sites that try to scam you can’t last for a long time. Either the owners get reported, so they’re forced to shut down their site or they shut it down on their own after a few months or years so that they won’t get caught. And then they start the same company under a new name.
This doesn’t mean that every new product is a scam, of course. It could be a start-up that has a good product to sell. Still, it’s a warning flag.
Flag #3: Trial
Most legit products have a trial period. It could be a free month, a free week, or using the product for a certain number of times before you start paying for it.
My favourite trial periods are the ones you don’t have to give any credit card information while you’re trying the product. Because when you give your credit card information, they usually start charging you when the trial period is over without you having to click anything more. So if you forget to cancel, they’ll keep charging you until you remember to cancel it. Unfortunately, most trial periods are like this.
This doesn’t mean they’re not good products. For example, Canva is like this, but still, it’s a great tool to create your images and I love using it.
Some products may charge you for the trial. For example, Ahrefs is an awesome SEO tool, and the 7-day trial costs $7. Does it mean it’s a scam? No, it’s just a high-end product.
Flag #4: Return Policy
Most physical products you don’t like, you can return them and get your money back, get a replacement, or some kind of compensation, at least.
With digital products, it’s a little more difficult, because you can’t really return them. Especially with downloadable products, they have to trust you to delete them. And let’s be honest. There are a lot of people who would keep the products and ask for their money back if they could.
But even if we’re talking about an online service or tool, you may pay for a month, use it to do your job and then ask for the money back. Is it right? No, but it happens. They have no way to learn if you really don’t find the product useful.
And the sellers have to find a way to protect themselves, right?
So what can they do?
For downloadable products, like images, templates, audio, etc.: They can be honest and straightforward about the no-return policy. They should have it somewhere you can see it for sure before you buy them.
For online services: They can have some kind of trial, a return policy under some conditions (e.g. limit on the number of days or times you used the product) or at least, be honest about the no-return policy.
Flag #5: Overpromising
Let’s be honest. Is there really a chance someone can help you make $1000 a day without you having to do anything and charge you 20 dollars for this?
No. Why would they?
Still, there are lots of sites that claim exactly that. That with a click of a button, you can make 1000 dollars per day with their amazing system. All you have to pay is 20, 30, 50 dollars (or more) and you’ll get these DFY (done for you) sites, reviews or anything else they tell you that you can make money with.
But the truth is that you can’t get rich, just by clicking a button. So if you see these crazy claims, don’t believe them.
Now, am I saying that if you choose to start an online business without any experience, you won’t be able to make $1200 a day at some point?
No! It is possible. And you can make even more. But first, you’ll have to work a lot to reach this point.
Flag #6: Owner
Owners of big, legitimate companies have no problem to show their face to you. Especially since they’re trying to earn your trust. Which is essential if they want you to invest money in their product.
On the contrary, you’ll see their face a lot. Even if they’re a little shy, they’ll have a photo on the About Page. Or at least, you’ll see social media accounts: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
If you can’t find a single photo, if you can’t find any social media accounts connected to the site, if you can’t find any trace of owner online when searching for their full name… that’s a red flag.
Flag #7: Emails
It’s really unlikely that a stranger will send you an email with a great, legitimate offer about making money online. So, unless you have subscribed to an email list, don’t expect to find something decent on your mailbox from strangers.
Especially from accounts like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. Do you see Apple or Microsoft having a Hotmail account?
Most of these emails end up in the Spam folder, but a few can slip up and get into your Inbox. What should you do? Just delete them. Or if you’re curious, copy the email and Google it to see what it’s about.
But no matter the reason, never click the links in them!
Flag #8: You
Trust yourself! Do YOU feel that what you see is a scam?
To make money, you need to invest something. It could be work, time or skills, but it’s very difficult to start making money without investing any of them.
So when you see someone trying to sell you something, ask yourself: “What’s in it for them? What do they get from it?”
If you see that they earn something, then you know what? That may be a legit opportunity. If they tell you that they earn nothing, why would they start this business? How can they benefit from it?
After all, do you work for nothing? No, you work for money. You may like your job, but you still need money to live. Well, so do they.
To be honest, I don’t have such an interesting experience with online scams. Sorry!
I’ve always been extremely careful – according to my friends, borderline paranoid – about sharing stuff online. And that’s how I was when I started looking for ways to make money online. I wasn’t going to share any personal data, let alone my credit card info.
The first way that I found online – probably, the first anyone finds – is taking online surveys. But they pay very little and it’s not a good way to make money online. It takes time and there aren’t enough surveys to make a full-time salary. Still, maybe you can make $50-$100/month if you sign up to enough sites. You can complete the surveys while watching TV at night, when you’re bored or when you’re on the bus.
That wasn’t for me, though. I wanted to make enough money so that I wouldn’t need a second job.
While I was searching for good survey sites, I saw someone recommending affiliate marketing, as a way to make money online, along with a training platform for beginners at affiliate marketing. I saw that you can check it out for free (no credit card info required, just the way I like it!), so I gave it a chance since I wouldn’t have to pay for anything.
So sorry… no crazy stories about how I got scammed and lost thousands of dollars. What I can tell you though, is that if you’re careful and you look out for these warning flags, you can save yourself from scams.
By the way, if you want to read the full story, check out my About Me page.
These are the warning flags I use when checking out new training or services. Of course, it’s not necessary to find all of them to believe that a product is a scam. And of course, if you see only one of them in a product, it doesn’t mean that’s definitely a scam.
But when you see one of them, be careful before you join, and check it out thoroughly before you give any personal data!
So… what’s your experience with work-from-home-scams? Go ahead and let me know in the comments below!
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer! Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write. And if you liked this, check out how to start an online business the way I did.
See you next time!
Hi there, I’m Jenny.
Blogger/Internet Marketer/ Occasionally Cool Person
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If you have any questions, suggestions or just want to say hello, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. If you’re nice, I won’t bite!