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Articles of Interest to PC Entrepreneurs

Any of these articles may be republished by other newsletter, magazine or ezine publishers as long as they are posted intact with all credits. If you are an author and would like an article added to this list, email the article in HTML format to mtims(at)matcopublishing.com
Beware of online investment scammers
Michael A. Tims

Along with the proliferation of legitimate businesses appearing online, there have come the inevitable scammers at an even faster rate.

If you belong to any of the online services such as America Online, Prodigy, CompuServe or others, you already realize the tremendous sources of information and entertainment they can be. You can get the latest news, even as it's happening; join in electronic chat sessions; find out about the latest movies and much, much more. You can even hear of lucrative investment opportunities.

Unfortunately, if you invest any money with some of the unscrupulous hawksters online, you could lose all of your hard earned investment money.

Professional con artists have invaded the online world with all sorts of phoney investment scams. Many promote highly speculative "penny stocks" without issuing the legally required prospectuses.

Others bill themselves as brokers without being properly licensed. Still others claim "fantastic product breakthroughs" that are usually more fiction than fact.

Unwary investors have lost thousands of dollars to these cyberspace crooks whose operations are even harder to monitor or squelch online then they were off-line. Online service providers will generally take no responsibility for the accuracy of anything that appears on their electronic bulletin boards, although some have been known to remove blatantly false claims relating to investing and investments from their bulletin boards.

There are several things you can do to avoid being victimized by the cyberscammer.

*Don't believe ridiculous claims. If an offer appears too good to be true, it probably is. If you see a bulletin board ad premising "easy money" or "guaranteed high returns", just keep on browsing. In the real world of investing, there is no such thing as "easy" money and the only investments that can come close to offering a "guarantee" are the relatively safe, but low yielding Certificates of Deposit or Treasury Bills.

*Never send ANYONE money without first checking them out; especially if your only source of information about them has been online. Have them send you, by snail mail (USPS), an audited financial report on the investment. If they cannot provide this -- pass!

*If the online "company" has only one "product" or stock they are hawking, you might conclude that they may not be full time brokers and your risk may be increased proportionally.

*Verify the legitimacy of online "brokers" by calling the North American Securities Administrators Association (202-737-0900). From them you can get the phone number of your own state's or the broker's state's securities agency. With just a couple of quick phone calls you can determine if an online broker is legitimately licensed to even offer securities for sale. Be sure to also ask your state agency if the offering is even registered to be sold in your state.

*Always ignore demands that you "act quickly or loose out". If the bulletin board or news group posting includes reference to the investment "disappearing" if not acted upon immediately, just pass on by! High pressure, rush-rush tactics have been used by scammers effectively both online as well as off-line for years. Just remember that if an investment is sound, it will still be there after thoroughly checking it out.

*Never give out your email or postal address online. That is, of course, unless you WANT a steady stream of offers from pesky brokers who have gotten your address off the bulletin board. There are even high tech software programs (FloodGate for one) that will strip email addresses from bulletin board and news group messages so they can be used to build up a mailing list of potential suckers.

Your biggest ally in the investment world is time. An investment needs time to grow and mature and you also need time to thoroughly check out the investment, whether you hear about it online or not.

Just because the online services, the Internet, as well os the World Wide Web are, by their very nature, geared to the "here and now", don't be RUSHED into ANY money transaction. It's your money - stay in control. Use your time effectively to thoroughly check out any investment before committing any money to it. ==================================================================


Michael A. Tims is a retired time high school math teacher but has run a mail order business as a sideline for over 20 years. Being a self taught computer NUT, one of his passions has been to find unique ways to use a PC to enhance or enable a small business venture.

Mr. Tims has written numerous magazine articles on PC basics or using a PC in business and is the author of the published book, "101 Computer Related Businesses", as well as a syndicated column called, "PC Biz of the Month".

Visit his new web site at www.matcopublishing.com and let him know what you think of it. Many other articles may be read at www.matcopublishing.com/articles.htm



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