The Red Flags Of Affiliate Marketing Scams
Thanks to the legitimate business model of online affiliate marketing; many people are earning a good living working from home. Unfortunately there exists a series of affiliate program scams masquerading as genuine Internet marketing opportunities. These scams are designed to make their creators wealthy without providing value to their customers or associates. Email scams and work at home scams don’t have any chance of long term success, so any time spent promoting them is largely wasted.
So what are the characteristics that reveal an Internet scam attempting to disguise itself as an honest affiliate opportunity? Since the nature and complexity of these scams change as quickly as technology, it’s almost impossible to create a comprehensive list, but here are some strong indicators that a program should be avoided or at the very least examined with a fine-toothed comb.
No affiliate support contact.When an affiliate program includes a toll-free telephone number, it’s a good sign that things are on the up and up. However, the lack of a phone number does not necessarily mean the program needs to be avoided. The Internet lends itself to email contact, and most websites structure their contact support system accordingly. If the website for an online income opportunity does not include an email or a contact form, though, you are probably looking at an affiliate program scam. Once you locate the email or contact from, it’s a good idea to send a message with a simple question to see how long it takes the company to respond. If you don’t receive a response addressing your question within a few days, tread lightly. The company might not be intentionally trying to scam you, but if they can’t quickly respond to emails, they are doing something wrong.
No web site.Similarly a contact email without a website shouldn’t instill much confidence. A legitimate online income opportunity will have a detailed web site, providing information and showing some time and energy has gone into planning. A simple website is not difficult to create, but leaves a slightly larger trail leading back to the creator than that left by a mass emailing. Again, while the presence of a web site is not a guarantee that a program is trustworthy, the absence of a web site should definitely be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.
No product or service.What is the company selling? If the only product is a chance to make money, you’ve probably stumbled onto a pyramid scheme. In order for any referral marketing organization to make money, someone on the outside must pay money to the organization. If the only people paying are joining the organization, than no income is being generated. The members are just passing money around between themselves with everyone hoping to be holding the bag of money when the music stops. Above and beyond this fundamental flaw in the business model, pyramid schemes are also illegal in the United States.
No free participation.If you have to pay a company for the privilege of trying to sell their product and increase their profits, you aren’t looking at an affiliate program. You’ve found an example of multi-level marketing (MLM). Not all MLM opportunities are scams, and some people are extremely successful at MLM. Unfortunately, if you aren’t one of the few who can make it work; you’ll usually spend a fair chunk of change discovering this MLM program doesn’t fit your needs. True affiliate programs are free to join. If things don’t work out the way you expected, you haven’t risked any of your money.
No positive testimonials.Even though there is no financial cost for an affiliate program, you will be investing quite a bit of your most precious commodity, time. Before making that sacrifice, it’s always a good idea to spend some time scouring the Internet for people who have some experience with your program. Don’t rely on the testimonials a company provides on their website to give you a complete and accurate picture. Head to your favorite search engine and see what kind of dirt you can dig up. A search with the program name and the word “review”, “scam”, or “experience” is a good place to start. Even high caliber programs will likely have some negative reviews from people frustrated the program wasn’t a good fit for them, so don’t immediately condemn an opportunity for a little bad press. Unless a program is brand new, though, you should be able to find a few positive experiences and success stories.
No track record.A good affiliate program is going to continue to be a good affiliate program for a while. Resist the temptation to be swayed by marketing hype that urges you to “get in on the ground floor” of a brand new opportunity. Of course, there’s something to be said for being the first to market with a new idea, so you shouldn’t be afraid to immediately embrace an affiliate program that you feel good about and doesn’t set off any of the other red flags described here. If you are on the bubble trying to decide if a program is legitimate, though, you’re better off waiting. In six months dependable affiliate opportunities with quality, high-demand products will still be around, and they’ll still be plenty of money to be made. Meanwhile, most of the affiliate program scams will have collapsed.
About the Author
Clay Mabbitt writes articles about online income opportunities. He is the founder of a community of Internet entrepreneurs sharing knowledge and experience at http://www.affiliatescreen.com