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More than likely we can help you with advice or other resources.
If you have been called out of the blue, if you being asked to invest substantial sums of money in a scheme up front, if you are having doubts about what you are being presented with, there are questions you should ask and investigating that you should do.
Remember, no one else will take more care of your money than you do.
If you are being offered an investment or opportunity with large profits, easily, with little or no risk ; if there is any sense of urgency to invest; if they have cold called you, you need to take care.
There is some things you can do yourself to investigate a company:
Start off with a web search, which needless to say you have already done since you found this page. Sometimes you will need to go a few pages deep as unrelated companies may come up or good pages may be buried under well targeted pages belonging to the company you are searching about. Search for ‘company’ complaints, review, feedback or scam even. Take time to read reports and think carefully about what you read. The material could have been posted by a genuinely happy or grieved individual, the company, or someone with a malicious intent toward the company. Certainly any complaint should be heeded as a warning to look further.
Next we want to look at the company itself: how long have they been in business?
You can start by checking the Australian Business Register lookup to see whan they were registered, when they registered for GST and other company names they may have gone by in the past. If it was a recent registration, perhaps newer than they hinted at, take note. You can go the whole hog and do a Company Search on ASIC for details of Directors and Shareholders and then see if any of those people have any ‘history’ through the web searches. Same with previous company names.
Similarly, check Whois.com for details about when their website was registered and whether they have private registration details or you can see who registered the site. Sometimes companies buy older domains, and even business names, to try to cover the fact that they are actually quite new.
Put their address into Google and see if it comes up with a location with small, rented office space. Often it’s a floor of a building with centralised reception for several businesses. Certainly, if they are located on the Gold Coast, it is one more reason to treat with caution. Not that every business on the Gold Coast is dodgy, it’s just that many scammers are located on the Gold Coast.
Their website should have information about who owns or runs the company. Beware if there are other websites or blogs promoting the company. Do they look at all suspicious, or don’t make sense? Are there many press releases by the company? Sometimes these tactics are used by genuine companies to boost their search rankings, but if you are finding too many, it could be a warning sign.
Search ChillingEffects.org for attempts to suppress webpages talking about the company.
When talking to the sales representative, take note of the techniques they use. Do they try psychological manipulation to get you to empathise with them? Do they suggest there is any scarcity to the opportunity? Do they mention getting their friends and family to join too? Do they make you feel stupid for not taking up their great offer? Do they not give you time to think it over? Are they willing to provide you with evidence of their track record – statements, audited reports, etc? Get them and have a closer look. Don’t just take their word for it that they are genuine. Get everything they promise in writing: expected returns (and for what investment) , guarantees ( and is that guarantee really worth anything??), etc. Speaking of guarantees, often you will get something like ‘ You can start off paying 50% and if you don’t make $X,000 in the first year, you don’t have to pay the rest. What a great deal, not! What if it all makes a loss, what then? What if they are not around in a year?
Other questions you can directly ask your sales person to see how they react:
Where, or how did you get my name?
What risks are involved? How much chance is there I could lose my money? If you don’t understand the risks, really…you shouldn’t be investing.
Can you send me a written explanation of the investment so I can show it to my accountant, or financial advisor?
Can you give me your full name, the name of the firm’s directors and principal officers?
Can you provide references?
Do you have documents such as a Product Disclosure Statement, Prospectus or Risk Disclosure?
Are the investments regulated? By which regulator?
How long have you been in business? How do I know you’ll still be around in a year?
What is your track record? Can you prove it?
Where exactly will my money be?
How much money goes to commissions, management fees, etc ?
How can i liquidate my funds?
How are disputes resolved?
Do you have a guarantee? If not, why not?
Now, well rehearsed sales people will have good answers for most of these questions, as will genuine sales people, but it is always good to test them.
Never feel pressured to invest. It should set off warning signals if you do.
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