Three Ways to Avoid Disreputable Businesses
A Look at Common Scam Letter Tactics
Threatening marketing materials stating, "Important Open Immediately" and "Final Notice," which appear to come from governmental agencies get your attention and increase your blood pressure. For some businesses, profit is sweet even if it is the result of deception. Disreputable companies are tough to find too. Most threatening mailers fail to contain a phone number and the P.O. Box listed on the mailer is simply a conduit address. Though many industries have their bad apples, the bad actors in the labor postings industry are particularly aggressive.
Disreputable labor poster companies often purchase the government lists for new business entities and automatically mail threatening and deceptive marketing materials to those new businesses. This practice is especially reprehensible considering the fact that the majority of such businesses have no employees and usually do not even need labor posters. The cost of purchasing labor posters from companies who employ scare tactics is usually very high. What is more, if you order one, it may never be delivered. Further, our investigations have found that the people responsible for these activities have been in trouble in the past for other scams.
The human resource industry is quickly becoming wise to these scams. As a consequence, the new target has become the naïve small business startup. Before doing business with a company, consider following these simple rules:
Do Your Research
There are a lot of resources to help you determine if a business is reputable. You probably already enter the business name into Google and Yelp to see what comes up; but if you feel the need to dig a little deeper, important resources are available. Did you know that many company, tax, licensing, and court records are online and searchable? In addition to checking with local government entities, consumer organizations, and professional organizations, the following entities and websites may help you with your research:
Ask for References
Generally, reputable companies are pleased and proud to offer at least a few references that can vouch for an organization’s record of good service. If they will not provide references, steer clear.
Refuse to Fall for the Hard Sell
If a service or product requires the hard sell to unload, you likely do not need or want it. Work with organizations that want to help and partner with you, not organizations simply interested in selling to you.
An old Georgian proverb warns, "If you forgive the fox for stealing your chickens, he will take your sheep." If you, like many others, find yourself victimized by a dishonest business practice, consider taking action. Taking action might include:
- Reporting the organization to the Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org, the federal trade commission www.ftc.gov or the Attorney General for your state.
- Reporting deceptive or fraudulent marketing materials you receive by mail to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service http://ehome.uspis.gov/fcsexternal/.
- Visiting with an attorney who specializes in consumer protection and rights, if the financial damage warrants taking legal action.
Successful businesses know that lost money can be gained again but a lost reputation is gone forever. When working with another business, seek out those that value honesty, integrity, and longevity above short-term profit.