People all over the world want your business, but how do you know the company is legitimate?
Don’t send your money until you know the business is legitimate
It’s called a shoebox operation: everything that exists about the business could fit into a shoebox. The business is just a name, and its office suite is just a mailbox. But the offer it sends to you for a great business opportunity requires you to send in real money. We’re not just talking about the “Nigerian prince inheritance” scam. There are many internet businesses, product sellers, and even local service providers that don’t have enough of a legitimate business presence to actually get the job done. Here are some ways that you can spot a scam or other business that is not legitimate.
Contact the business in a different way
If the company first reached out to you by email, find a different way to contact them. Look for the company’s phone number through a directory, and try to use a different number than the one in the email. Visit the company’s website. While anyone can set up a website, the quality of a company’s website can give you a sense of whom you are dealing with.
Search for news about the business
Beyond the website that the company put up for itself, search online for the company. A great company wins awards and is talked about in the news. People often post reviews about a company, particularly if they had a bad experience. Also, you should always ask a company for references before you start to work with them. It’s easy for a company to “edit” a testimonial on their website, but when you actually speak to a person you can learn a lot about how the company does business.
Verify the business on the Florida Department of State’s website
Any company that is a legal entity, like a corporation or limited liability company, must register with the Secretary of State before it can engage in business in Florida. While this won’t provide all the information you need to review a company’s performance, it will tell you if the company actually exists. From the Department of State’s website, you can learn the company’s address, management, and how long it has been in business. You can look up companies in Florida through the Department of State’s corporation database.
Stay alert for suspicious behavior
The “Nigerian prince” scam may be old by now, but people fall for scams all the time. Even attorneys receive regular emails from someone claiming they need help to collect on a debt. What seems like the easiest case to win is in reality just another form of a check-cashing scam. When dealing with businesses over the internet, always stay vigilant. It’s trite, but true: If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Also, if you have any sense that the business activity might be illegal or dishonest, stay far away. You might just end up being the one being taken advantage of.
If you’re trying to do business with a legitimate company, take the time to consult an experienced business attorney, like Matthew Fornaro. Drafting a contract at the beginning of the business relationship is a very cost-effective way to ensure business success. By writing an agreement, both sides can be assured that their expectations are understood and will be achieved. Also, a good attorney like Matthew Fornaro would investigate the other business and ensure that the company you’re dealing with is legitimate.
Matthew practices complex commercial litigation, including contract disputes, commercial and residential real estate disputes, antitrust matters, unfair competition, trade secrets and landlord-tenant disputes in Coral Springs, Parkland and Broward County.