|(c) Jim Edwards - All Rights reserved
In a move that rocked the online world and left many
Internet marketers shaking in their boots, the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) initiated a sweeping crackdown on
what they termed "Internet Scammers" and "Deceptive
The FTC, along with state and federal officials, filed
numerous criminal and civil law enforcement actions and
froze the corporate and personal assets of some defendants.
According to the FTC, they went after a wide array of
deceptive schemes and illegal scams including auction
fraud, illegal sale of controlled substances, bogus
business opportunities, deceptive money-making scams,
illegal advance-fee credit card offers, and identity theft.
In other words, Uncle Sam gave notice that people can no
longer treat the Internet like the Wild, Wild West!
I welcome this long overdue crackdown on Internet
For years, honest business owners suffered because Internet
scammers caused consumer fear and reluctance to conduct
As the government cleans up the back alleys of the
Internet, consumer confidence will rise and sales will
However, as with any crusade to bring about law and order,
innocent businesses stand a real chance of getting caught
in the crossfire.
Let's face it, if you get named in a lawsuit by the
government - even if you're innocent -you'll still lose a
lot of time, energy, emotion, and money defending yourself.
If you operate any business online, or plan to set one up,
the following guidelines should help you avoid problems.
** Always Tell The Truth
Actually, this basic lesson from your Mom ranks the best
way to avoid all kinds of trouble! "The truth shall set you
free" ranks just as appropriate in the online world as in
the offline world.
In fact, in the light of recent events, the truth might
actually keep you out of jail!
** Avoid Outrageous Claims
Don't make outrageous claims you can't substantiate.
A big difference exists between good copywriting
(salesmanship in print) and making claims that no sane
person, or at least the average person, could ever achieve.
It's one thing to tell people you can show them "how to get
thousands of hits to their website." It's quite another to
say you will "show them how to get 10,000 hits to their
website by tomorrow and make $15,000 this weekend."
** Turn the Tables
Look at what your business promises and actually delivers
from the standpoint of a consumer.
Would you feel happy or sad once you did business with
Would you feel like you got your money's worth, or would
you feel like you'd been held up at gunpoint in the middle
of the night in the mini-mart parking lot?
Your gut answer to that question will go a long way toward
keeping you out of trouble with the government.
Sort of funny how the "Golden Rule" of "do unto others as
you would have them do unto you" keeps cropping up in life
as a way to consistently avoid trouble and heartache.
About the author:
Jim Edwards, a.k.a. TheNetReporter.com, is a syndicated newspaper columnist, nationally recognized speaker, author, and web developer. Owner of nine (9) successful e-businesses as well as a professional consulting firm, Jim's writing comes straight off the front lines of the Internet and e-commerce.
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