Have you ever been wished a happy National Consumer Protection Week? I’m going to go out on a limb and presume you haven’t – until now. Its marketing department (the FTC) is not very well-funded. Valentine’s Day has it easy, getting tons of money from Hallmark, Big Candy, and Big Florist.
Consumer protection is a big deal to me. That’s why I include it in the top menu of the site. Everyone is a consumer, so I feel like we should be invested in helping each other avoid scams whenever we can. When the scammers are out of the system, people have more money to spend on positive outcomes – improving their own lives and those legit businesses.
Consumer protection is a broad term. It’s also not the sexiest personal finance topic. So I’m going to keep this short (many of you have probably already click away).
The FTC is having a National Consumer Protection Week. That page highlights my favorite consumer protection organization, Truth in Advertising. Truth in Advertising does a lot of great work, but I especially like their work on MLM scams.
I’ve been writing about MLM scams since 2007 when someone attempted to sell my wife $45 bottles of MonaVie juice to help with her sleep. I suspected a snake oil scam. However, I didn’t realize that there was a pyramid scheme involved where the participants had to buy so much of the juice themselves to qualify for commissions to refer others into the business. Once I found that out, it because a lot more clear why someone would pay $45 for some very ordinary juice.
That article got very popular receiving 6000 comments and upsetting MonaVie enough that they threatened to sue me for using their trademark. That obviously went nowhere except to bring more negative attention to themselves. They’ve been out of business for several years now as you might expect.
With the popularity of that article, people started asking me questions about other MLM companies. I love when people ask me questions, so I did my best to look online and see what I could find. It’s extremely easy to find the bad behavior of an MLM company if you know what to look for. The companies don’t hide it very well, because they don’t actively police their salespeople/distribution network. They put up a façade, but it doesn’t do much to curb the fraud that’s baked into every MLM plan that I’ve looked at (at least that I can remember).
I haven’t covered MLMs in a few years. A few companies spent a few million dollars on lawyers and lawsuits. I decided that I didn’t want to spend more than my life savings and all my time defending them. It’s much easier to let the lawyers at Truth in Advertising do that good work. The FTC is also warning people about MLM fraud.
All that said, I do have a few MLM articles that I think are appropriate for this week. Some of the articles have been buried on my site since they haven’t been updated in several years. If MLM scams aren’t your thing, I completely understand. (You probably get enough of it on Facebook, right?) Next week, I’ll get back to more exciting personal finance articles.