Monday, April 29, 2013

Earn Tons of Cash in Your Spare Time!

Headlines like this one on the radio, TV or Internet should raise eyebrows and cause your defenses to go up.  It sounds too good to be true, so it probably is.  They make it sound like you can sit back with your feet up and watch the money roll in.  What I always wonder is:  If it’s that easy, why are they trying to sell CDs or starter kits instead of doing it themselves?  If they know all the secrets to making money in the stock market or in real estate, why are they giving those secrets away?  If I knew how to make money on my computer at home, why wouldn’t I pay a bunch of people to sit at computers in a big building and keep most of that money myself?  Maybe it’s easier (and less risky) to sell books, CDs and kits than it is to actually make the money.  Maybe if it sounds too good to be true, there’s a hidden catch.

Making easy money is not the only promise that lures unsuspecting citizens.  Another magic answer many people are desperate for is how to lose weight easily.  In the Federal Trade Commission’s recently released report, Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011, fraudulent weight-loss products are cited as the number one issue.  An estimated 5.1 million Americans over the age of 18 bought and used such products including nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, skin patches, creams, wraps, and earrings that were found to deliver little or no benefit while promising easy, substantial weight loss or weight loss without diet or exercise.  It was too good to be true!

Other areas for fraud included prize promotions, buyers' clubs, work-at-home programs, credit repair, debt relief, credit card insurance, business opportunities, mortgage relief, advance-fee loans, pyramid schemes, government job offers, counterfeit checks, and grants (see page 22 of the report).  In some of these area there are legitimate organizations offering services.  The best way to avoid possible fraud is to understand that the valid ones don’t sound too good to be true; they require effort.

The source that led me to this report suggests measures to combat fraud including:  a task force of regulators, consumer advocates, and legislators to promote new laws and regulations; more accountability for media outlets and communication channels that "profit from the frauds responsible for the losses suffered by victims" and more government regulatory power.  Do we really need (or want) more laws, penalties and advocates to protect us from too-good-to-be-true schemes?  As long as we keep looking for the easy answers and abdicate responsibility by claiming to be victims, that becomes the commonly proposed solution.  The real answers are changes in behavior, which require the discipline to get in physical and financial shape and the responsibility to own our problems instead of claiming to be victims.

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