10 May 2011
On the internet you can come across offers that promise huge earnings for very little effort. But the truth is, you are unlikely to get rich.
“Work at home and earn 200 euros a day!” “For just a few hours a week you can make thousands of euros.” These and other statements like them are common on internet forums. The work on offer in practice involves answering marketing or opinion surveys, or clicking on advertisements (Paid to Click). It can be done on your computer at home and does not call for any special skills.
‘Opportunities’ of this kind do not make anyone rich except those behind it all. You earn nothing or just tiny sums of money, and the fees are not even necessarily paid. If you have had to pay for a starter kit or other materials, you will never get your money back. And only in rare cases can the police or other authority help.
Pyramid scams are another way of promising quick and easy riches – they are normally disguised as an investment opportunity or on-line marketing. You have to pay a joining, or some other, fee, which goes to the person above you on the pyramid. Meanwhile, you are supposed to receive a share of the initial fees of those who join below you. The fact is, only those at the top of the pyramid benefit, and those at the lower levels lose the money they have invested.
Promises of high earnings should be viewed suspiciously; after all, why would someone that you do not know be prepared to hand their cash to you? If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You can read about earnings opportunities in the Scams section on the Finnish Consumer Agency website. The site has information on the most common scams and tips on how they can be avoided. Consumers can also use the site to pass on information on various scams to the authorities.
In 2007 the Consumer Agency launched a cooperation network. In addition to the Agency, its members are the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the European Consumer Centre, Finland, The Finnish Medicines Agency, the Federation of Finnish Financial Services, The Financial Supervisory Authority, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Consumers’ Association of Finland, the Lottery and Firearms Administration Unit of the Ministry of the Interior of Finland, the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman, and the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority. Involved in the arrangement too are Luottokunta and Itella, because they play a key role as ecommerce brokers and product carriers.
The model for the Finnish cooperation network is the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), to which over 30 countries belong. It was set up in 1992, and the Finnish Consumer Agency has been involved with the Network right from the start. The ICPEN website also has advice on how to recognise scams and make purchases online safely.