Scam Artists Everywhere – BEWARE!

Recently, my brother told me that my mother and my aunt had been “taken” by a “travel Agent” in a “You’ve won a Free Vacation” scam. I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, anyone could be taken if they had access to the internet. I buy my cars on-line, and we review all business dealings before we make any buying decisions.  I don’t even pass on emails forwarded to me by hundreds of my friends, unless I check first.


About a month ago, I received a postcard in the mail from the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW). It said that I was being offered a membership in an exclusive club of women business owners and there was no charge to sign up. I went to their website, which by the way looks very legit. I signed up on line – basic information ei: name, address, phone numbers, profession and job title. This was all they asked you to fill out. Basically, the same information you would provide when signing up for any social networking website.


This past week, I received a phone call from a person who claimed to work for them. She said that she was verifying my information and wanted to find out a bit more about my business. The funny thing was that the entire time we were talking she seemed to be in a rush. (You know, the kind of rush telemarketers are in when they are new and don’t like their job?) Anyway, she hurried me through what we did, and how we did it and then she went in to this spiel about all the things that NAPW can offer me and my company. Things like discounts and networking, webcasts and podcasts etc. I finally asked her, “Why does your company offers all of these things for free?”  AND this is where it came to: “Oh, the listing is free, however these things I mentioned are not, now we have …….. The Elite Plan for $689, and then the something else plan for around $400”, (at this point I had stopped listening – so I am sure the pricing of the other plans were not grounded in my head).


I asked her to send me information on each of the plans so I could look them over and make a decision. You know, any informed business professional, woman or not would ask to review the paperwork. But oh, no, she said that this was a one-time deal, “just as if I was ordering from a website” and I needed to provide her with a credit card number now to be become a member. When I explained to her again that I would need her to email me information she hung up the phone. At first I thought we might have been disconnected, but no, I was hung up on – since I did not get a return call.  I am sure she was on to the next number on her list, hoping that the next person was dumber than I and would provide that credit card number.


So, that night as I sat thinking about this phone call, I decided to read up on this company to see if they really were legitimate. And, none to my surprise, did I find that there were several complaints against this company with not only the better business bureau but several other companies.


Then, over the weekend I was watching our local area news with a story about a new diet pill that has been endorsed by a many celebrities.  I was actually thinking of ordering this item, as they had a “Free Trial” and you “only pay the shipping”. The news report went on to say that the company was being investigated by the state of Arizona, where they are located, and that the state of Florida too was looking into fraudulent activity too. It seems that even though the shipping was only $4.95, they either added other items to your mailing and then charged you for those or they went ahead and charged you upfront for your next purchase before you had agreed to purchase. There were hundreds of people who were out a lot of money.


I don’t know when working smart and hard went out of the window. But this is insane that so many companies are coming out of the woodwork to scam others, consumers and businesses alike. My advice: before you sign up or make a purchase with a company with whom you are not familiar, do a look up on the internet: Type in the word complaints (name of company), and reviews (name of company or product) to be sure that you too will not be taken by someone waiting to pounce.