Buyer, Beware

You've Been Conned!

What if, despite your best efforts, you still get ripped off? Begin by contacting the company and asking for your money back. Let the company know you'll notify law enforcement and other officials about your experience.

Keep a record of all your conversations and correspondence with the company. If you send documents, send copies--not originals. Send correspondence by certified mail, and request a return receipt to document what the company received.

If you can't resolve the dispute, contact the attorney general's office in your state and in the state where the company is based. Provide the name and address of the company, a copy of its advertisement, all correspondence to and from the company, a copy of your check or money order, and evidence that you had to send money before you received any information or merchandise. The attorney general's staff can tell you if you're protected by any state laws.

You should also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Although the FTC can't resolve individual disputes, the information you provide may help the commission determine whether there's been a pattern of possible law violations requiring it to take action against the company. Write to Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580, or call (202) 326-2222.

"Operators of work-at-home schemes like to keep the dollar amount low so more people will send in money. But that makes it harder to prosecute," explains postal inspector Kevin Koscki at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. "That's why the best advice is still this:

`Buyer, beware.' "

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This article was originally published in the December 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Buyer, Beware.

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