Investment & Biz Opp Seminars

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Promises of quick, easy money can be a powerful lure, and seminars provide a perfect setting to get people excited about a new venture. The energetic atmosphere can make it easy to buy into what appears to be a promising business opportunity or investment product. If you do, you're likely to find that the products and information you paid for are worthless and that your money is gone.

The Seminar Pitch

You get a letter, email, or text message, or see an ad or infomercial, promoting a seminar that promises to help you make a lot of money. Supposedly, you’ll get valuable information about how to invest successfully or operate a profitable business. The “success stories” and testimonials seem to show that almost anyone can make money if they just follow a few steps. Some promoters even claim to have gotten rich using their own programs.

Promotional materials and sales pitches often make over-the-top claims, like:

  • You can earn big money fast, regardless of your experience or training.
  • The deal is a "sure thing" that will deliver security for years to come.
  • You’ll rake in money by working part-time or at home.
  • You’ll be coached to success each step of the way.
  • The program worked for other participants — even the organizers.

People who invest in these “opportunities” usually find that the pay-off doesn’t match the promise — and that they can’t recover the money they spent.

Considering a Purchase?

Remember that checking things out before you commit is a more effective and practical way to safeguard your money than trying to get a refund afterward. Here’s what you can do:

  • Take your time. Don’t rush into buying anything at a seminar, in spite of the upbeat atmosphere and energy in the room. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to buy now or risk losing out.
    • If you’re considering a business opportunity, ask for the one page disclosure document that sellers are required to give you. The Business Opportunity Rule provides other protections, as well.
    • If you’re thinking about buying a franchise, the FTC offers tips to help you evaluate the opportunity before you spend any money.
  • Investigate the business you’re considering. Talk to experienced business people and experts in the field before you invest any money.
  • Be skeptical about “success stories” and testimonials. The organizers may have paid “shills” to give glowing stories.
  • Don’t buy from seminar representatives who are reluctant to answer questions, or who give very general answers. Legitimate businesspeople are more than willing to give you specific information about the opportunity and their experience.
  • Ask about how much money you need to qualify for the investment or sales opportunity, and ask about the company’s refund policy. Get this information in writing. But remember that you may never recover the money you give to a dishonest seminar operation, despite the stated or written refund policies.