I have some good news and I have some bad news. First the good news. The number of infomercials on television is decreasing.
Some might say that is great news. But, before you yell hurray, here's the bad news. They are reincarnating as web sites. Changes the whole picture, doesn't it?
For those who've never seen an infomercial, it is a program-length TV commercial touting easy ways to make money in a variety of ways.
Real estate is probably the most often run program. Others include low-interest government loans or grants to start a new business or go to college.
Then there are the old standby classified advertisement sections in newspapers or magazines promising "big money" business opportunities and/or work-at-home schemes. The companies behind these infomercials and print ads claim that by using their products and services, you can learn how to increase your wealth or start a business from the comfort of your home.
These infomercials and advertisements make it very clear you can make the big bucks only by purchasing their books, audio and video tapes, or computer hardware and software. The materials range in price from less than $100 to several thousand dollars.
To clinch the sale, some promoters include a toll-free telephone consulting service with your purchase and offer a money-back guarantee. The fine print in the guarantee is what gets most people.
Web sites promoting these same type of "opportunities" look like an infomercial. Hype, glitz and promises of big money adorn the screen. On the other hand, contact details, other than ordering information, is scant if existent at all.
On television, these infomercials are designed to look, feel, and sound like real TV programs. The FTC says "they often imitate the format of genuine talk shows or investigative consumer news programs."
Because they imitate real programs, "the products being sold often are discussed as part of the program and touted by paid "experts," "moderators," or "reporters", according to the FTC. The programs may last for 30 minutes, interrupted by advertisements for the shows products with ordering information.
As in the offline world, online promoters of wealth-building schemes claim that if you follow their methods, you can make substantial sums of money. The means to easy wealth have shifted from real estate and government auctions to web site sales and development, autoresponder sales, gift clubs and bulk email programs.
The offline world uses the infomercials and advertisements to invite you to attend seminars where you can learn more about their program. You can rest assured the seminar is a slick sales pitch.
The smooth-talking salespeople tout the programs, materials, and services and use testimonials of the people in the back of the room selling the materials to illustrate what easy money you can make. The truth is these people are paid to give testimony. They are on the payroll as salespeople and that's it.
At these seminars the pitch is feverish and it is easy to be lured by promises of success into parting with your money. They are designed to work off the herd mentality. Don't fall for the nonsense.
On the Internet, the herd mentality is engaged through testimonials and a rush to action. You are encouraged every step of the way to BUY NOW! There are only so many days left and this opportunity will be gone forever or some other such nonsense.
The FTC, and everybody else who has studied these programs, gives the following advice:
1. Be skeptical about "get-rich-quick" advertising claims.
2. Ask companies for written substantiation for claims in their presentations, especially those about success rates.
3. Be aware that "experts" who endorse a product often are paid by the advertiser.
4. Be cautious about "testimonials." They may be paid for and probably owrse, do not reflect the experience of most consumers.
5. Be wary of purchasing a program if company representatives give you evasive answers or aren't willing to answer your questions at all.
6. Before you buy, decide whether the price reflects a fair market value.
7. Be wary of promises of free money or low-interest government loans. As a rule, these are available only in limited circumstances.
8. Dont be pressured to purchase immediately. Good opportunities are not sold through high pressure tactics.
9. Before you buy, ask about the companys qualifying requirements and refund policy.
10. Check out the company with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, and state Attorney General's office. They should be able to tell you if any unresolved consumer complaints are on file.
Additional consumer protection resources are available at your local library. Check out materials on personal finance and those geared toward the small business owner.
Your local community college may have a marketing department. Call and ask to speak with one of the professors. Explain the program and ask his/her advice/opinion.
The Small Business Administration and your state and local government have publications and programs for new and potential business owners. Write or call and ask for a list of available publications.
Tap into the Internet. That's right, search engines could turn out to be your best friend. A host of scam busting sites exist and expose scams online and offline.
As always, common sense is your best weapon in the fight against this garbage. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. However, if you have more than a passing interest, do your homework. Getting too much information is not a crime or a hazard to your wealth.
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President delivers threat after three of four main opposition parties refuse to take part in Sundayâs mayoral polls
President NicolĂĄs Maduro has threatened to disqualify major opposition parties from future elections in Venezuela after boycott-affected mayoral polls left him more dominant than at any time since he took power in 2013.
The ruling socialists won 300 of the 335 mayoral offices on Sunday as three of the four main opposition groups refused to participate, claiming the voting was rigged by a âdictatorâ.
A 27-year-old man was in custody on Monday after detonating an explosive device on the New York City subway during the morning commute.
The suspect, Akayed Ullah, was one of four people injured in the explosion, which occurred at about 7.20am in a passageway near 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, in midtown Manhattan near Times Square, New York City police said.
During an interview in Beijing, from where Rodman had hoped to fly to Pyongyang for his sixth trip there, the former NBA star said US officials had discouraged him from doing so amid continuing tensions between the countries. âBasically they said itâs not a good time right now,â he said.
Police clash with protesters in Lleida as 44 works of art at centre of dispute between Catalonia and region of AragĂłn are removed
Scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators after hundreds of people gathered outside a museum in the Catalan city of Lleida to protest against the removal of 44 works of art that have been at the centre of a long-running dispute between Catalonia and the neighbouring region of AragĂłn.
The pieces, which include paintings, alabaster reliefs and polychromatic wooden coffins, were sold to the Catalan government by the nuns of the Sijena convent, in AragĂłn, in the 1980s.
Past few months have seen scion of Nehru-Gandhi family working on presenting himself as serious challenger to PM Modi
Power has passed to a fourth generation of Indiaâs most influential political dynasty after the election of Rahul Gandhi as the president of the Indian National Congress.
The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has produced three of Indiaâs prime ministers, including its founding PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, and two who were assassinated in office, was announced as the new leader of Indiaâs chief opposition party on Monday.
As southern California entered its second week engulfed in flames, fire officials said they anticipated more growth and danger due to continued strong wind gusts, no rain and decades-old dry vegetation.
As the Gaza death toll mounts, France and Turkey want the US president to change his mind over recognition of Jerusalem as Israelâs capital
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is expected to reject an invitation to meet Donald Trump in Washington, amid a strong emerging consensus among key advisers that there are âno conditionsâ for dialogue following the US presidentâs formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israelâs capital.
The issue of how best to respond to Trumpâs announcement is at the centre of a series of emergency meetings of senior Palestinian leaders, which began on Saturday. They are expected to conclude early next week with a rare meeting of the PLO central council, and have already concluded that Abbas should not meet vice president Mike Pence when he visits Israel and Palestine just before Christmas.
To the blast of electric guitars, the revving of Harley-Davidsons, applause and tears, France bade an emotional farewell to 74-year-old Johnny Hallyday, Franceâs rock and roll ânational heroâ on Saturday.
The centre of Paris ground to a halt as the wave of national grief that had overwhelmed the country following the death of the singer, known as the French Elvis, on Wednesday morning finally broke.
Foreign secretary did not get to speak to key decision-makers in Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case: the revolutionary courts
Not long before travelling to Tehran for two days of talks, Boris Johnson described Iran as resembling âone of those Russian dollsâ, in the sense that there is a state within the outer democratic Iranian state, primarily run by the Revolutionary Guards.
At one level, the bulk of his high-stakes talks were with the outer state of the president, Hassan Rouhani, and the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. But in his efforts to secure the release of the UK dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, it could be argued that he did not gain access to the inner state and revolutionary courts, the true decision-makers in her case.
Massive wildfire torches nearly 800 buildings and destroys 230,000 acres along coastline as firefighters battle the flames
Crews battling a massive wind-driven Californian wildfire that has torched nearly 800 buildings and charred 230,000 acres are bracing to protect towns near Santa Barbara menaced by flames along the stateâs scenic coastline.
The Thomas fire ignited last week and is burning in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, about 100 miles north-west of Los Angeles.
Researchers sequence the Tasmanian tigerâs genome, showing it to be a closer relative of the kangaroo than the dingo
The first full genetic blueprint of the long-extinct thylacine has revealed the animal suffered from genetic weakness well before it was isolated on Tasmania 10,000 to 13,000 years ago.
An international team of researchers led by associate professor Andrew Pask from the University of Melbourne used DNA from the 106-year-old preserved remains of a juvenile thylacine or Tasmanian tiger to sequence the animalâs genome, making it one of the most complete genetic blueprints for an extinct species.
Between 1994 and 2013, nearly half a million people around the world died due to earthquakes, with another 118.3 million affected. A further 250,000 deaths resulted from subsequent tsunamis â chiefly in 2004 in the Indian Ocean â and more than 700 from ash fall.
Earthquakes affect every continent, though certain areas â the Pacific border of South America, the western coast of North America and Mexico, Alaska, south-eastern Europe, New Zealand and much of Asia â are especially prone. Though rarer than floods, they can cause devastating damage and large numbers of casualties very quickly. The Haitian earthquake in January 2010 killed an estimated 230,000 people, injured 300,000 and displaced 1.5 million from their homes. It also caused around $8bn of destruction, and its impacts are still being felt today.
A sun-baked Niemeyer treasure, a decaying Montana schoolhouse and a scary manmade cave are just some of the striking pieces shortlisted for the 2017 Art of Building photography awards. The winner will be announced in January
Forbidden from striking, officers in Montrealâs 4,600-strong police force wore non-regulation colourful cargo pants, checkered clown trousers and animal-print leggings in their three-year fight over pensions. They won a 20% pay rise
At the intersection of Saint Catherine Street and Bishop Street in downtown Montreal, it was hard to miss the group of police officers, standing outside the station, watching for jaywalkers. But the first thing you noticed was not the badges or the guns, but their fluorescent camouflage-print trousers.
Trapped between the Burmese army and the Chinese border, the stronghold of the Christian Kachin people is quietly gearing up for its first film festival
Laiza is a city under siege â sort of. On one side of this remote, mountainous but important settlement in Myanmarâs breakaway Kachin state lurks the dreaded Burmese army. On the other, marking the city limits, is the Chinese border. âPeople are worried,â says Dau Hku, an official with the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which controls Laiza as the de factocapital of its small and shifting breakaway territory. âEveryone knows we are within shelling range.â
In theory, the Burmese army â known as the Tatmadaw â could attack the city at any moment, and in theory, Laizans would have nowhere to run. Most people arenât officially allowed to cross the border into China.
In recognising Jerusalem as Israelâs capital, the US president has hindered the prospect of peace in the region
The relish with which Donald Trump signed the declaration recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel left me with a sense of cold resignation at the obduracy of the man. He was almost gleeful; the power he now wields enables him with the stroke of a pen to bring about historical changes to our suffering world. But I was neither surprised nor angry â those emotions having long since been spent.
I have lived under Israelâs occupation for 50 years and listened to many empty declarations while witnessing the Jewish settlements expand, destroying our beautiful landscape and rendering us Palestinians strangers in our own land. Israel has never had to be concerned about the formal positions that the US observed, which considered it an occupier of the territories, including East Jerusalem, it has held since 1967, nor by the oft-repeated position that the Israeli settlements are illegal. This was because these formal positions were never followed by any implementation on the part of the US.
Weâve been volunteering our staff and 4x4 vehicles to help people who might otherwise be stranded get the medical help they need, despite the snow. Directed by the NHS, our volunteers have been helping ferry people to medical centres so they donât have to miss appointments, and have been helping doctors and health visitors get to patients in rural locations.
Our 4x4s are usually used for site visits, sampling, or the work of our fisheries teams â work thatâs on hold while the snow poses a risk, meaning we can make the best use of our vehicles in these conditions by helping the community, whether by ferrying patients or delivering food or road salt to rural locations.
Airports continue to advise passengers to check for disruption to their flight before travelling.
President Assad tells Russian leader Syrian people will never forget Russiaâs help in driving Islamic State from country
Vladimir Putin has declared mission accomplished for Russian forces in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, as he made a surprise visit to the Russian airbase in the country.
âFriends, the motherland is waiting for you,â Putin told the Russian air force detachment based at the Khmeimim airbase during his visit on Monday morning. âYou are coming back home with victory.â
MPs warn foreign secretary against pursuing investment in country with poor record on corruption and human rights, ahead of controversial London summit
Boris Johnson has come under fire over Britainâs stance on trading with Sudan ahead of a controversial forum due to take place in London on Tuesday.
A group of MPs have signed a letter to the foreign secretary warning the government against pursuing investment in a country rife with corruption and where the president is wanted for human rights violations.
The Associated Press reports, citing anonymous law enforcement officials, that the suspect was âinspiredâ by the terror group Isis.
NYPD commissioner James OâNeill refused to go into statements made by the suspect or details of his background.
Law enforcement officials tell the Associated Press that Akayed Ullah was inspired by the Islamic State Group, but apparently had no direct contact with the terrorist group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the suspect or incident.
The suspect had burns on his abdomen and also to his hands. Three others suffered minor injuries, including headaches and ringing in the ears.
Reports of New Yorkers frightened or panicked by the explosion are greatly exaggerated, Jamiles Lartey relays.
âItâs the subway, you know,â commuter Shaun Henderson said. âNew Yorkers are used to this. The F train doesnât need a pipe bomb to be fucked up.â
âAnother idiot out there.â Elderly Brooklyn lady explains the situation to her fellow commuters.
Community groups accuse PNG government of keeping documents for its approval under wraps
A controversial experimental deep-sea mine is being challenged in court by environmental groups who have accused the Papua New Guinea government of withholding key documents about its approval.
Nautilus Minerals Inc, a Canada-based company primarily owned by Russian and Omani mining firms, wants to extract gold and copper deposits from 1.6km below the surface of the Bismarck Sea, using a seabed mining technique never before used in commercial operations.
Childcare worries hold more women than men back from workforce participation. The only remedy is a change in culture
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that childcare remains then biggest barrier to women either entering the workforce or taking on more hours. The data show that women, whether they are employed or not, will always rate the issue of caring for children more highly than do men, when it comes to thinking about their working life.
Residents near the worldâs fourth largest hydroelectric power plant say the Belo Monte dam has made their houses prone to floods of waste water
A line on the wall of Carlos Alves Moraesâ house shows the highwater mark of the flood which hit his neighbourhood in August. Houses near the lagoon are built on stilts to protect against seasonal rains, but now, because of the dam, they are prone to flooding throughout the year, he says.
âWe spent 17 days in August living here with our feet under water,â he says.
Patients too poor to settle medical debts are chained to drainpipes, starved and abused in health centres across parts of Africa and Asia, report reveals
Hospitals are detaining hundreds of thousands of people against their will every year â many of them mothers and their newborn babies â simply because they are too poor to pay their medical bills, a study has found.
The practice, which is widespread across parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, sees patients chained to drainpipes, starved and abused, and forced to perform sexual acts in exchange for cash to pay off their bills, according to the paper published by Chatham House this week.
When a Sri Lankan family moved to the Gulf in search of a better life, they reckoned without stringent labour laws that would bring unspeakable grief
Holed up in an apartment on the seventh floor of a tower block in Sharjah, the family of five desperate Sri Lankans were racking up debts and disquiet at an alarming rate.
Unable to pay fines that had been mounting daily since their visas expired four years earlier, they felt trapped. The fatherâs passport had been withheld by an employer, which meant the 55-year-old could neither find work in the United Arab Emirates nor leave the wealthy Gulf state to seek employment elsewhere.
With nearly a million Rohingya driven out of Myanmar in what the UN has called textbook âethnic cleansingâ, Lucy Lamble hears about the situation on the ground in Bangladesh â and how the international community can help
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled their homes in Myanmarâs Rakhine state in the wake of a brutal offensive by the Burmese army. Traumatised men, women and children with horrific stories have arrived in Bangladesh, and NGOs and the Dhaka government are struggling to cope.
Lucy Lamble is joined by Dr Champa Patel, head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, and Asif Saleh, senior director of communications, strategy and empowerment, from Brac, an NGO working in Bangladesh and beyond, to discuss the humanitarian situation in Coxâs Bazar and the politics of the crisis.
I was extremely hesitant to share my immigration status, and my sexuality â but I did it, and Iâm stronger for it. I say to others like me: you are not alone
Put yourself in my shoes for a moment.
Youâre a child. Youâre five years old. You leave the country you were born in for another. Youâre with your mother, and all you have is a few belongings, the promise of seeing your father again, and the hope for a better tomorrow.
Two days after Americaâs closest allies denounced it in the United Nations, a day after an Israeli air strike killed two in Gaza and hours after protests erupted near the US embassy in Lebanon, Donald Trumpâs ambassador to the UN relayed his message to the world: âThe skyâs still up there. It hasnât fallen.â
Inequality predicts homicide rates âbetter than any other variableâ, says an expert â and it is linked to a highly developed concern for oneâs own status
A 17-year-old boy shoots a 15-year-old stranger to death, apparently believing that the victim had given him a dirty look. A Chicago man stabs his stepfather in a fight over whether his entry into his parentsâ house without knocking was disrespectful. A San Francisco UPS employee guns down three of his co-workers, then turns his weapon on himself, seemingly as a response to minor slights.
These killings may seem unrelated â but they are only a few recent examples of the kind of crime that demonstrates a surprising link between homicide and inequality.
Four people were reported as injured in an explosion in the Manhattan area of the city on Monday. The incident happened at around 7:20am local time in a passageway between the 42nd Street Times Square station and the New York Port Authority
The US ambassador to the UN has said women who accuse President Donald Trump or anyone else of sexual harassment or assault 'should be heard'. Speaking to the CBS programme Face the Nation on Sunday, Nikki Haley added: 'Women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them'
A ferry carrying more than 200 passengers has become stuck in windy conditions in Calais, the local government said on Sunday. The Pride of Kent, which was bound for Dover at about midday, is believed to have run aground on a sandbank in the harbour
Horses at the San Luis Rey training centre in San Diego fled from their enclosure as wildfires engulf the area. Volunteers loosened the fence of a pen enclosing the animals who quickly ran away, panicked by the thick smoke
Iraq has formally declared its fight against Islamic State over after three years of heavy combat. Isis has been driven from all the territory it once held in the country, the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, announced in Baghdad on Saturday, although surviving militants are widely expected to launch a guerrilla war
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