In a move that rocked the online world and left manyInternet marketers shaking in their boots, the FederalTrade Commission (FTC) initiated a sweeping crackdown onwhat they termed "Internet Scammers" and "DeceptiveSpammers."
The FTC, along with state and federal officials, filednumerous criminal and civil law enforcement actions andfroze the corporate and personal assets of some defendants.
According to the FTC, they went after a wide array ofdeceptive schemes and illegal scams including auctionfraud, illegal sale of controlled substances, bogusbusiness opportunities, deceptive money-making scams,illegal advance-fee credit card offers, and identity theft.
In other words, Uncle Sam gave notice that people can nolonger treat the Internet like the Wild, Wild West!
I welcome this long overdue crackdown on Internetevildoers.
For years, honest business owners suffered because Internetscammers caused consumer fear and reluctance to conductbusiness online.
As the government cleans up the back alleys of theInternet, consumer confidence will rise and sales willincrease.
However, as with any crusade to bring about law and order,innocent businesses stand a real chance of getting caughtin the crossfire.
Let's face it, if you get named in a lawsuit by thegovernment - even if you're innocent -you'll still lose alot 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 bestway to avoid all kinds of trouble! "The truth shall set youfree" ranks just as appropriate in the online world as inthe offline world.
In fact, in the light of recent events, the truth mightactually 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 saneperson, or at least the average person, could ever achieve.
It's one thing to tell people you can show them "how to getthousands of hits to their website." It's quite another tosay you will "show them how to get 10,000 hits to theirwebsite by tomorrow and make $15,000 this weekend."
** Turn the Tables
Look at what your business promises and actually deliversfrom the standpoint of a consumer.
Would you feel happy or sad once you did business withyourself?
Would you feel like you got your money's worth, or wouldyou feel like you'd been held up at gunpoint in the middleof the night in the mini-mart parking lot?
Your gut answer to that question will go a long way towardkeeping you out of trouble with the government.
Sort of funny how the "Golden Rule" of "do unto others asyou would have them do unto you" keeps cropping up in lifeas 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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