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.
2000(c) All rights reserved. No one may reproduce this article without permission of the author (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Transport minister says senior management of Genoa bridge operator âmust step downâ
Italyâs transport minister has called on senior managers at the company that operated the collapsed Genoa motorway bridge to resign, as the death toll rose to at least 37.
Rescuers searched overnight for survivors through tons of concrete and steel under the shattered structure of the Morandi Bridge. âWeâre not giving up hope, weâve already saved a dozen people from under the rubble,â a fire official, Emanuele Giffi, told AFP. âWeâre going to work round the clock until the last victim is secured.â
As judge prepares key ruling, Siti Aisyahâs mother recounts her daughterâs journey from aspiring TV star to suspected tool of North Korean regime
In the beginning, there were a few times that Benah pretended not to know her daughter, Siti Aisyah. She just couldnât face the questions.
One day while Benah was visiting the doctor in town the receptionist recognised the name of her sleepy Javanese village, Rancasumur â a name popularised by the nightly news. âHow far away is your house from Sitiâs?â the receptionist asked, leaning in conspiratorially. âOh, itâs far,â replied Benah, âI donât even know her.â
Politicians unite in condemnation of Fraser Anningâs speech, but his party leader Bob Katter says he backs him â1000%â
Bob Katter, the veteran Queensland political maverick, has lauded an inflammatory speech by his Senate representative, Fraser Anning, declaring the contribution âabsolutely magnificentâ and âeverything that this country should be doingâ.
Far-right conspiracy theorist will not be able to tweet, retweet or favourite tweets for seven days
Controversial Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been suspended from Twitter for up to seven days.
The suspension has put Jones into what Twitter describes as âread-only modeâ preventing him from tweeting, liking or retweeting, but not removing his tweets or personal account from the social network. The Infowars Twitter account remains unaffected.
Arrested man, thought to be Salih Khater, 29, of Birmingham
Officers raid properties in Nottingham and Birmingham
Mayor suggests Parliament Square could be pedestrianised
Police are continuing to question a man over a suspected terrorist attack in Westminster on Tuesday, after the investigation went nationwide with raids on addresses in Nottingham and Birmingham.
The 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of preparing an act of terrorism after a silver Ford Fiesta was driven into cyclists travelling around Parliament Square on Tuesday morning. He is understood to be Salih Khater, a British national who lives in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham and is of Sudanese origin.
Priests harmed more than 1,000 children according to a grand jury report released by the state supreme court
More than 300 âpredator priestsâ were found to have committed sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, harming more than 1,000 children, according to a grand jury report released by the state supreme court on Tuesday.
The near-900-page report is the result of one of the largest US investigations into sexual abuse in the Catholic church. In painful detail, it showcases how for decades one of the most powerful churches in the world hid the abuse and suffering of children.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus âmore worried after the visit than beforeâ, as death toll in north-east of country reaches 41
The director general of the World Health Organization has appealed for an end to fighting in the north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo to allow humanitarian groups to tackle the Ebola outbreak there.
On his return from a trip to North Kivu where there have been 57 probable cases and 41 deaths so far, a sombre Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was âactually more worried after the visit than before the visitâ.
Hotter, drier summers in Australia mean longer fire seasons â and urban sprawl into bushland is putting more people at risk
At first the smoke on the horizon âdidnât look like anything major,â says Joe Mercieca of that day in 2013. But then the wind picked up.
His house in the Blue Mountains, an hour and a half out of Sydney, was soon surrounded by the blaze. âI told my wife it was too late, letâs retreat,â he says. Mercieca, Merylese and their dog took shelter in the concrete fire bunker they had built beneath their house. âWe sat in there and listened to everything explode.â
Cities are already up to 10C hotter than surrounding areas. As temperatures rise, here are four ways to cool cities down â saving both lives and energy
If youâve felt uncomfortably hot in a city this summer, chances are itâs not just because of the weather. Look around any urban centre and youâll see the built environment itself exacerbates summer temperatures.
Vehicles stuck in traffic emitting heat. Airconditioners pumping waste heat into the air. Concrete and asphalt across almost every surface, absorbing and radiating the sunâs rays. Urban canyons formed between tall buildings, trapping heat at the street level.
Heat now kills more Americans than floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters â but cities are facing it almost entirely alone
On yet another day of roasting heat in Phoenix, elderly and homeless people scurry between shards of shade in search of respite at the Marcos De Niza Senior Center. Along with several dozen other institutions in the city, it has been set up as a cooling centre: a free public refuge, with air conditioning, chilled bottled water, boardgames and books. Last summer a record 155 people died in Phoenix from excess heat, and the city is straining to avoid a repeat.
James Sanders, an 83-year-old who goes by King, has lived in the city for 60 years and considers himself acclimatised to the baking south Arizona sun. âIt does seem hotter than it used to be, though,â he says as he picks at his lunch, the temperature having climbed to 42C (107F) outside. âMaybe itâs my age. Maybe the wind isnât blowing. It canât get much hotter than this though. Can it?â
Migrants also speak of phones damaged or being taunted but Croatian authorities deny allegations
The lucky ones escaped with only their mobile phones smashed. Those less fortunate say they were beaten with sticks, taunted or attacked with dogs. Many allege they had large sums of money stolen.
According to the testimony of migrants and monitoring groups, the Croatian police force is engaging in a systematic campaign of violence and theft against migrants and refugees attempting to find a route to western Europe through the country.
Allegations of rape and trafficking of five girls date from between 2005 and 2012
Thirty men have been charged with raping and trafficking five girls in West Yorkshire.
The allegations against the defendants are non-recent sexual offences dating back to between 2005 and 2012. They relate to five women who say they were abused as children in the Huddersfield area between the ages of 12 and 18.
Party says leader had been attending memorial to Palestinian airstrike victims
Labour has hit out at what it said were âfalse and misleadingâ claims about Jeremy Corbynâs visit to the Palestinian cemetery in Tunis and insisted he had attended an annual memorial for victims of an Israeli air attack on the Palestine Liberation Organisation headquarters in October 1985.
The party offered its most complete version of events yet about Corbynâs controversial visit in 2014, and said the commemoration for the 74 people who had died was attended by âmainstream leadersâ, including a Palestinian authority minister.
Christine Hallquist becomes first transgender American to be a major party nominee for governor, while Minnesota Republicans reject Tim Pawlenty
Democrats in Vermont have chosen for the first transgender nominee for governor for a major party, in primaries that also saw Minnesota Republicans reject a former two-term governor attacked as not supportive enough of Donald Trump.
Homicide rates in Mexico and Brazil are climbing even further. Yet Britain could learn from listening to debates in Latin America
Brazil has set a new and chilling record: it saw seven homicides each hour in 2017, or almost 64,000 deaths, a 3% annual increase on a sky-high rate. Mexico is on course to another unwelcome milestone, with nearly 16,000 homicides in the first half of this year, up 15% year-on-year on already record levels. More people are murdered than die in wars worldwide, and they are especially likely to be killed in Latin America. Brazil has 30 homicides per 100,000 citizens, compared with five in the US and around one in England and Wales even after a recent rise.
Victims and their families are not the only sufferers; 42% of Brazilians are âvery afraidâ of being murdered (in fact, victims are disproportionately young black men, although femicide is also a cause of grave and growing concern). The government estimates that violence cost the country nearly $2tn over two decades. Yet as daunting as the figures are, the problem is not irresolvable. âViolence can be prevented. This is not an article of faith, but a statement based on evidence,â says the World Health Organization. A campaign by multiple NGOs aims to halve the regionâs murder rate in a decade; cities such as BogotĂĄ and Cali have delivered dramatic falls in the past, although not always sustainably.
Lucy Lamble talks to Sandra Olsson from Child Soldiers International, who works with girls formerly caught up in armed groups in Democratic Republic of the Congo as they struggle to settle back in their communities
After studying in Gothenburg and Ghanaâs Cape Coast, Sandra Olsson worked for Unicef before joining Child Soldiers International and researching the lives of girl soldiers in eastern DRC. Often used as âwivesâ and sexually abused by other soldiers, many former girl soldiers are shunned by family and friends when they are released or escape. The girls spoke of their strong wish to go back to school and CSI now runs a programme to help them return to education, despite the stigma they face.
ConocoPhillips and Perenco try to stop ÂŁ140m levy from sale of oilfields in key case for tax avoidance by multinationals
Two multinational oil companies have launched a pre-emptive legal strike, seeking to stop Vietnam from collecting taxes on the profits made in a major oil deal.
An investigation by Finance Uncovered has found that ConocoPhillips and Perenco will attempt to stop the Vietnamese government from levying an estimated $179m (ÂŁ140m) in taxes on the profits made from the sale of oilfields in the country. The dispute will be heard at a little-known but powerful international court, so secretive that information on the date and location of the hearing is restricted.
Agriculture startups from around the world gathered at a vibrant conference sponsored by pesticide manufacturer
As confetti showers a theatre inside Rio de Janeiroâs normally sedate Museum of Tomorrow, electronic pop music pounds and dozens of young people crowd the stage to dance enthusiastically, hugging each other and waving flags as their audience films the festivities on their phones.
But this is not a religious event, or a disco. Itâs an unusual conference that has attracted several hundred young people from across the world to pitch and discuss ideas on how to feed the worldâs booming population with agriculture startups â and make their fortunes doing so.
One year after visiting the Philippines to document the impact of President Rodrigo Duterteâs crackdown on drugs, photographer James Whitlow Delano returns to the city of Navotas, Metro Manila, to assess the impact of a campaign that has now claimed up to 20,000 lives
Teenage widow Jasmine Durana dries off her 18-month-old daughter, Hazel, after a morning bath, before preparing a fire to make breakfast. Plastic jerrycans hang on the rafters behind her in the one-room slum dwelling she shares with her parents, two brothers and younger sister.
The single mother, who saved for a month to pay for the containers, hopes they will help her to launch a new business selling drinks in the market or near a local school.
Pontiff vowed âdecisive actionâ when elected but has failed to get a grip on series of scandals
The damning report on the sexual abuse of potentially thousands of children by priests in Pennsylvania, and the subsequent cover-up by a Catholic church primarily interested in self-protection, is another blow for Pope Francis, who is already reeling after a series of damaging scandals over recent months.
The shocking accounts of rape and assault of vulnerable children by men who are supposed to be moral exemplars are bad enough. But, as is almost always the case, the actual abuse is compounded by collusion and concealment by senior church figures and attempts to silence and intimidate survivors.
Bob Goodlatteâs son and Stephen Millerâs uncle have proved that when it comes to politics blood is not thicker than water
The Republican party is increasingly alienating younger voters,older voters and voters in the suburbs. But there is one constituency turning against GOP lawmakers that they must be especially disappointed about losing: their own family members.
On Monday, Bobby Goodlatte, a Virginia-based designer, announced he had donated the maximum amount to Jennifer Lewis, the Democrat running in Virginiaâs sixth congressional district. He also claimed he persuaded five others to do the same. There was nothing untoward about the donations save for the fact that Goodlatteâs father, GOP congressman Bob Goodlatte, has been the representative for the district since 1993. Bobby says he wants to âflipâ districts like his fatherâs in 2018.
Todayâs economic uncertainty and struggle can motivate people to change their allegiances and sensibilities, and make âpie-in-the-skyâ solutions seem more attainable
After another week of political despair and tawdry scandals involving porn stars and payoffs, we retreat into our Netflix accounts and wait for all this to end.
Or do we? At the end of July, US senator Bernie Sanders proposed a bill abolishing cash bail, long a scourge of indigent people and the activists who defend them. âPoverty is not a crime,â Sanders said. âHundreds of thousands of Americans, convicted of nothing, should not be in jail today because they cannot afford cash bail.â
As the public spat between Donald Trump and former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman continued, the White House was unable to guarantee that no recordings existed of the president using the 'N-word'. Manigault Newman, a former contestant on the reality TV show The Apprentice, is promoting a memoir, Unhinged, in which she recounts her time in the Trump administration before she was fired last year
Helicopter footage released by the Italian fire brigade shows the full extent of destruction after a motorway bridge collapsed in the northern Italian port city of Genoa, killing at least 23 people and injuring 15. Firefighters have been working at the scene searching for survivors and bodies amid the rubble
Omarosa Manigault Newman has revealed on CBS This Morning a third tape that she claims is a recording of a 2016 conference call among Donald Trump's campaign aides discussing how to address potential fallout from the release of tapes that allegedly showed Trump using the N-word. The aides had previously denied that any such conversations had taken place. On Monday, Trump denied claims of racism and said Manigault Newman was a liar for claiming he used the N-word: 'I donât have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.'
At least 20 people have been killed after a motorway bridge collapsed in torrential rain in the northern Italian port city of Genoa. An 80-metre section of the bridge, including one set of the supports that tower above it, crashed down on to the roof of a factory and other buildings, crushing at least one lorry and plunging huge slabs of concrete into the river below
The Perseid meteor shower has been spotted across Europe, the US and Canada. Darker skies have created a spectacular show. The annual occurrence can be seen until the 24 August, but peaked on 11-13 August
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