how-to-tell-a-company-is-legitimate-in-usa

Last Updated: October 23, 2020

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The internet is populated with different opportunities to make money. But this one specifically has caught your eye – it seems too good to be true. The life of your dreams is hiding behind one little bank transfer.  You know there exists a chance that the money will never come back, but it feels small. But you aren’t about to trust someone without doing your homework first. How can you take the steps necessary to make sure you don’t get scammed?

We here at AzonWiki have outlined a bulletproof strategy in order to keep your hard earned money out of the pockets of scammers. Online verification is one thing, but this strategy employs physical and legal verification methods that are much more difficult for scammers to work around. In this article, we’ll go through it all to make sure you can invest your money confidently. 

Let’s walk through the verification of a company, Promises Inc. Follow along at home with your own company! Without further adieu, let’s get to it!

Phase 1: Online Verification

The digital fingerprint of any online business is rather expansive. They have interacted with search algorithms, social media sites, domain hosters, transaction service providers, and many other websites. All of these interactions, for the most part, are also available to you as someone working to verify legitimacy.

As a rule, the more interactions, the more pages, the more information you can find about a company, the better the company. However, in no way does an internet presence liberate a company from your critical eye – it is the first step. For now, let’s enter Phase 1 and see where Promises Inc. ends up.

 

  1. Google

    We use to ask God, now we ask Google. Take this powerful tool and make it work for you! Google keywords with your company name like “Promises Inc. company reviews” or “Promises Inc company scam”. You can also try the words:
    – lawsuit
    – rip-off
    – complaint

    If nothing comes up, great! But you aren’t out of the woods yet.
  2. Determine Internet Reputation

    This involves looking into social media and other online presences. Do they have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram? If so, ask yourself these questions:
    Do people interact with their content?
    Do they allow negative interactions or user comments?
    Do they interact within community forums?
    Was the last post, comment or interaction recent?

    Be sure to follow and get as close as you can to the community. From there, search their name up on popular forums such as Reddit or Quora. If you feel good about their presence, you’re ready to move on to the next step!

    Promises Inc. has none of these; that is a massive red flag!
  3. Utilize Specialty Online Tools

    There are systems in place to help us fight the scammers. We particularly like to use the completely free Rip-Off-Report and Scamion. Be sure to use them both as they cater toward different user bases!

    RipOff Report has been in the business of exposing scammers since 1997, and as of writing this, have saved their users over $15.7 Billion. You’re in good hands there.
    Scamion takes quick complaints from customers who have had issues with online + real world companies. They’re very personal reports that are filed often! We searched Promise Inc. on both of these websites – nothing came up!

    Not being listed on these websites doesn’t guarantee the company isn’t a scam! For example, Promise Inc. doesn’t have any scams associated with it – of course not! The company was only invented 30 minutes ago! The same person could be operating under a new name or they may be early in their scamming days. So, how about we take a look at Promise Inc.’s website.
     
  4. Light Website Investigation

    There are a few things we’re looking for in general. One is the quality of the website. A nice website can cost good money, but an online business should be willing to pay for it. Some important questions to answer:
    Are there spelling errors?
    Does it seem well managed?
    Look up their website on Domain Authority – is it above 20?

    If they fail any of those questions, it is another massive red flag. But if they pass, congratulations, you’ve made it to the deep investigation part of the process!
  5. Deep Website Investigation

    This is where you turn your hat around, turn the lights out and get into the investigation. Now, the questions you need to ask are more thorough and require you to look into the hollow information a scammer would have on the surface. A few critical questions might be:

    Do they have an About + Privacy Terms page? Is there information on those pages?
    Do they have original, real photos of their management team? Or are they using cartoons?
    If you reverse image search their management team’s photos, are they stock photos? (Learn how to do this here)
    Are there any broken links or blank pages?
    Are there any comments from customers? Can you find the customer online?
    Do they have any complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau?

    This is where many scammers are exposed. Inconsistencies will become apparent, their image will be shattered. If they pass the deep investigation, we still aren’t done! A website and an online image can be faked. What is much more difficult is the physical and legal presence of an online scam.

Phase 2: About the Business:

You aren’t sold on the company’s legitimacy yet. Or, maybe you want to be extra precautious moving forward with such a large investment. Whatever your reasoning, it’s important to go through the process of removing the digital mask and look at the business behind it. 

  1. Legitimate Businesses Have Paper Trails

    A legitimate business located in the US will have registered with the government. The easiest and most typical way to register a business is through a Limited Liability Company (L.L.C) classification – find them using this method. Even if they claim to have L.L.C or registered status, verify. Writing LLC beside a company name is much easier than registering. Feel free to have a conversation with the owner of the company you’re working with to see where and how they are registered. A scammer will not want to share this information; a legitimate business owner should not have a problem with the question.
  2.  Utilize Public Records

    There is nothing between you and a fraudster’s past if they live in the US. A company has a listed name, a specific owner, or a US mailing address. Use that information and find their local circuit court on Google. If the person you’re going to entrust your money to has any history of fraud, the circuit courts will have that information listed publicly. Typically, circuit courts will have a database with those records online. At worst, you simply need to make a phone call and request the information. This is a must if you are investing large sums of money within a single organization or product.
  3. Payment Do’s and Don’ts

    So, you feel everything looks good and you’re willing to commit to a payment. There are a few things you need to do in order to protect your payment(s) from being abused or completely irretrievable. With scammers, understand that once they have your money, they win. To get it back, no matter the amount, usually requires years and much more money in lawsuits that will make your life hell. They are counting on that to dissuade your pursuit. Instead of giving them all the cards, here are a few rules to protect your payment.

    Rule 1: NEVER WIRE TRANSFER MONEY.
    To wire transfer your money is to lose your money. That’s great with friends and family, but do not wire transfer money to a stranger on the internet. The ONLY reason someone would require a wire transfer is if they are trying to scam you. Once you send the money, it is gone without lawyers and years of litigation.

    Rule 2: Credit Cards + PayPal = Safe
    When you send a payment using PayPal or through a creditor, you are sending someone else’s money. If you get ripped off, a quick phone call to the creditor cancels the payment. Further, the much more powerful creditor is then able to take action on the fraudulent account and prevent other people from being scammed.

    PayPal also has reinforced payments. As long as you start the dispute process within 60 days of the transaction, PayPal can claim the payment as fraudulent and make sure that money is returned safely to your bank account.

    Rule 3: Establish a Timeline
    Understand that there is a timeline for fraudulent payments when they are digital. Even if they are claimed and withdrawn, the money has not left the digital ether. If you get scammed, your only shot to recuperate your investment is to work with these payment companies. So, start working with them before the payment.

    Establish a timeline with the payment company you are using and the person you are paying. Ask the question, “If I pay this money tomorrow, how long do I have to make a fraudulent claim on this money?” For PayPal, it’s 60 days. If Promise Inc. isn’t going to give you anything of value until 61 days from the date of payment, there is something fishy going on.

    These companies may have information specific to this particular account or person that is not publicly available – it’s a good idea to establish a relationship with them before the payment.
  4. Brush off Pressure
    If a company wants you to sign on the dotted line as soon as possible, the opportunity is slipping away, or there isn’t time to work with a bank, firmly tell them no. Even if they are legitimate, do not be a lacky for this company’s disorganization. A good deal today should be a good deal tomorrow, so do your homework and make sure that you understand the kind of company with whom you’re getting involved.

    Nothing in business is guaranteed. A company is saying, “X return Guarentteed”, “Price will not go below of this $$$ amount” or “Price will go up after xxx”, they are lying. Avoid this company, there are better investments to make on the horizon. If they are guaranteeing high profits in a short amount of time, there is something else they aren’t telling you. Take a breath; you’re ready to move to Phase 3.

Phase 3: Judgement Time

You’ve gathered the facts, got your money ready, and are ready to commit. Wait one moment! Let’s do these last two steps.

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
One day, my dad came to me with a property listing – by his calculations, 20% – 35% undervalued. If we did it right, we could flip it and see north of $110,000 return for minimal investment. But we had to act fast; someone else was in the market, according to the owner. But we took elected to be cautious; upon initial inspection, we found it completely infested with termites. They had compromised most of the stability of the home – it looked great on the outside, but it was a completely hollow investment.

Do your homework and see what kind of termites you uncover before putting your money down. Hopefully, this list has helped. But understand there are other risks. 

2. Present to Someone Else

Ask yourself this: would you rather A) Explain a potential investment to fresh eyes or B) Where your money has gone? Explain the investment to someone you trust – a friend, family member, or colleague, and see what questions they raise. If you can’t answer all their questions, maybe it’s a good idea to ask them yourself before going through with the investment.


Final Words of Warning:
Any investment is a risk. Following these standards will do the most to protect your investment from scammers. Remember, even a written contract does not 100% guarantee you can get your money back. Once your money is out the door, there’s a risk that it won’t come back. But, if your company has passed through this verification process, there’s also a reasonable potential for a return. Regardless of where your money is headed, best of luck! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
roger young