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Finding a Legitimate Online Business Idea

The internet is filled with identity thieves, fraudsters and scammers lurking in wait for unsuspecting persons looking for a way to make money online. In fact, an internet search for "make money online" turns up millions of results. Internet scammers play on people's naivety, desperation and lack of information, to rip them off. There are legitimate business ideas online but finding them requires research, diligence, patience and healthy dose of skepticism before one commits to them.

There are certain things one can look out for when trying to distinguish between a genuine business idea and a scam. As a general rule of thumb, if it seems too good to be true, then there is a high probability that it is not true. Scams always play a psychological game of tempt one with rapid and attractive returns.

Thus any online business idea that promises an unusual return over a short period of time and with relatively little commitment on your part is something you would want to steer clear of. A genuine business idea must be realistic. One of the questions you should ask yourself is how is it that you will immediately start to earn five or six times your current salary, with virtually no effort, nor any technical training?

If a business idea does not make sense or if the logic on how the money is made is difficult to follow, then it is probably a scam. Do not fall for the hype or sign up because of a "one time offer". When it comes to starting a business, do not move with haste. There is no cause for urgency. If you come across an idea that interests you, take time to understand it before committing your money. Consult friends and family to get a more objective view point.

Does the site fronting the business idea have contact details prominently displayed on the site? If it does, what kinds of details are available? If the only means of contacting the vendor is an email address or a contact form, you should tread carefully.

A physical address and telephone number always adds legitimacy to an online business as it shows that the vendor has nothing to hide and can be held accountable if anything goes wrong. That said, the physical address should not be the only thing that determines your eventual decision since some fraudsters set up a forwarding physical address to make it difficult to track them.

Check for evidence of verification and validation by an independent third party or a regulator. Online businesses running out of the US have better credibility if they are registered with the local Better Business Bureau (BBB). If the organization is registered with the BBB, the BBB logo will prominently appear on the site. Also look for validation on the site's security from third parties such as VeriSign, Thawte and Equifax.