by Catherine Pratt
How do you tell if a web site is providing good information or if it's just another one of those Self Help Scams?
I've been seeing more and more Scam sites popping up everywhere which REALLY upsets me.
If someone is looking for advice and guidance on how to solve issues, the last thing they need is to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous scammers.
You deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.
Unfortunately, these scammers know that your emotions are running high and that you're desperately searching for a solution to your problem. So, you give them your credit card number and you just end up feeling worse about yourself when you realize you've been had.
At first glance, it can be hard to tell if a site is good or not because they're so very persuasive. So I thought I'd provide a checklist of things to look for to help you determine what's real and what's just more self help scams.
Where did you find the information?
It's important to remember that just because you found the information on the internet doesn't mean it's true. There's a lot of misinformation out there.
Also, did you find the information on a one page web site? One page web sites are usually just hard sell sales letters. They put all their effort into that one page to get you to buy their product. All they're interested in is selling the product.
If the web site provides additional articles and information for you to read then you'll have a much better chance of understanding what kind of advice they provide and if it's something that's going to address your needs or not.
Is everything promoting more items for you to buy?
If the web site does provide some articles for you to read, do they actually provide information you can use or are they just pushing the same product (or other products) for you to buy?
Do they use "fear mongering"
Or in other words do they try to scare you into thinking you must purchase their product.
- "There's an issue that may be a much bigger problem than you might have imagined..."
- “This issue could be causing the quality of your relationships to suffer right now without you even knowing it."
They use fear to try and scare you into action as well as to gain your trust.
Do they ask questions that basically if you're breathing you're going to answer yes to?
When they do that, it makes you agree with them and also think that you really might have this imagined problem they’re talking about.
- Do you ever find yourself getting angry with people?
- Have you ever said something and it just came out wrong?
What kind of language do they use?
Do they use a lot of stories like "unemployed drug addict completely turns life around and makes $10 million dollars in just 3 days using our technique". Stories are often used to get you to relate to the product or to see yourself in the same shoes as the person they're describing.
Or do they use a lot of words like "imagine yourself", "see yourself as", "smell...", "taste...". These are all meant to stimulate your emotions towards the product so you make an emotional purchase rather than taking the time to make a logical, well thought out decision.
Is this problem something that we apparently all do without realizing it?
Do they say things like, “If you want to have a good relationship then you must not make this mistake yet we all make this mistake".
This technique makes you think that there is something you must be doing and just haven't realized. "We all make this mistake so I must be doing it too" is what they want you to think.
Is the problem they describe so serious that it affects every aspect of your life; personal, career, friends, etc.
By the end of the sales letter do they leave you wondering what this terrible secret is that's silently ruining your life? They make you feel you just have to buy this product to find out. Your whole life is being ruined by this one problem. This is just more high pressure tactics.
Brand New Life
Do they promise to completely transform your life if you just learn about their technique? Also, do they make it seem like there’s only one true solution to this problem and that they're the only ones in the world that know it.
New Recently Discovered Concepts
Do they talk about how they’ve developed a new, never before revealed product or concept?
Here's an example:
"talking on thin ice" (I just made this up)
This new concept will be closely related to a concept or saying that most people are familiar with. In my example, you would be familiar with "walking on thin ice" so "talking on thin ice" would make this new concept seem more familiar and believable. Walking on thin ice is real so "talking" on thin ice" must be too.
Do they say that they’ve talked to or interviewed "hundreds and hundreds of people" without backing it up with any solid proof
It’s meant to make you feel that you can’t argue with them and that this must be real information if they’ve done all this research. So how can you argue with research like that. When you think about, “hundreds and hundreds is pretty” vague. I’m sure you’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people throughout your lifetime as well.
Only One Way
"There's a right way and a wrong way" and only they know the right way. And, they'll share this secret with you for just $24.95. Be wary of people who tell you that there is only one solution to a problem. There's usually lots of different ways to tackle a problem. Also, what works for one person may not work for another.
Time Limited Offers
Do they tell you that you need to act now or this amazing offer is going to go away forever or increase in price?
This is a pressure technique to make a snap decision without thinking about it or doing some more research on the product.
They'll also try to make you believe that there's only so many of these products available and that once they're gone, they're gone. A company or person who is interested in really helping you isn't going to suddenly take away the information.
Are there numerous pop up ads, banner ads, and links to other hard sell sales pages on their site?
Or after you've visited a site do you suddenly discover you have a bunch of other windows open offering you screen savers and emoticons? This could be a sign that their real motivation is more on how much money they can make rather than helping you or focusing on their profession (life coaching, etc.)
What other ventures are they involved in?
Do they have numerous web sites on debt collection, insurance, mortgages etc? These sites are often put up by scammers because they feel there's easy money in it. But, if a site is involved in a lot of other activities that have nothing to do with each other, it could be a sign that they're just after your money.
Watch for things like links to insurance companies which have nothing to do with the site concept.
Also, do they want you to answer surveys? Often the companies
that just want your money, ask numerous surveys so that they can figure
out what you want and then sell it to you. Or they could be getting paid by having you fill out surveys.
What are their credentials?
What is their background? They don't need to have a doctor or a psychology degree but if they're former sales people who've just suddenly gotten into self help then that might be a warning sign. There’s nothing wrong with a sales person changing careers but it may give you an insight into their motivation. Why is this person providing the information? Have they actually used this information themselves? Do they even tell you who they are?
Have you researched them?
You need to be careful with this one as there are many instances of people providing "good" reviews of a product because they're trying to sell you the product too. But, if you do a search on the product, you may be able to find a couple of unbiased reviews of the product. So, when you find a review, is the person an affiliate of that product? If they are, take the review with a huge grain of salt.
Also, check out that affiliate program they offer. If they promise to pay their affiliates huge amounts of money (for example $100) then definitely be more wary of any reviews you find.
What about the bonus offers?
Are there a ton of bonus offers being provided from other self help experts if you purchase the product? If you find a site that offers hundreds of other products when you buy their product, be wary. Usually, the reason behind this is that those other "experts" have agreed to provide a copy of their product just for the free exposure. Often, the bonus offers will be useless in that they're really just sales letters for other products.
Also, if you checked into it, you'd discover that most of those experts will be sending out an email to their email lists promoting this product in return for being listed on that sales page. Usually, they've never even tried the product they're recommending. They're just recommending it so that they can be promoted on the sales page too.
The other nasty thing that can happen with those bonus offers is that often you'll be expected to provide your email address in order to receive the bonus offer. Once you do that, then you're going to be bombarded with more high pressure sales to buy from these other experts as well.
Also, be wary of the sites that offer a lot of "normally sells for $197 but I'm giving it to you for free" items. Usually, they get those items for free. Also, do those items even relate to the product they're selling or are they completely unrelated?
Sometimes those offers can give you an added clue into the product though. If the bonus offers are things like, "how to sell PLR products" it could be a sign that this product is a PLR product. PLR stands for Private Label Rights. Basically, people buy the rights to a book so that they can change it how they want or just put their name on it and sell it to you. They haven't written the information themselves. Usually, the information is quite low quality.
About The Company Page
On the page where they tell you about the company or the person behind the advice, does it tell you about the person? Have they gone through this situation themselves? Do they have a genuine passion for this subject?
Do they get you to sign up for their newsletter and keep sending you emails about one more product that you just have to buy? Or do they keep sending you promotions on the next seminar they're holding and how you must go if you want to solve your life problems?
There's nothing wrong with telling you about products that they've tried and feel you might be interested in. It's just when there's nothing being provided except for sales promotions that you can see that they're more interested in the money than you.
Hopefully by using this checklist you'll have a better idea on whether a product you're interested in is legitimate or just more self help scams.
If you have any others you'd like to add, feel free to discuss it on the Confidence Help Forum or if you've been sucked in by a nasty scammer, post a note there as well and let's get the warning out on these nasty people.
I just have no respect for people who try to take advantage of others especially when they're down and hurting. So, I hope by reading this list it will help you to find the real information that can help you and to avoid being scammed.