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Bait and Switch Marketing
Bait and switch marketing scams come in many forms. The basic concept, though, is to get you to take the bait of an appealing offer, and then to sell you something else.
Some types of bait and switch advertising are misleading and dishonest. Some are no more than phishing scams. Both can convince you to buy something that you had no intention of buying.
The Federal Trade Commission (TFC) recently issued a scam alert about lead generation bait and switch scams. This is a type of phishing scam.
Bait and switch scams are a type of fraud. Bait and switch advertisers can face lawsuits for misleading advertising. Spotting a bait and switch before you get reeled in, though, is not at always easy.
Here are the facts about bait and switch scams that you need to know:
What Is Bait and Switch?
Bait and Switch Scams are often difficult to spot. They usually involve offers of cheap products or services. Things that the scammers know people want or need.
The scammer may be out to get your contact details so that he can sell them to other companies. In this case, you will end up getting nothing from the original offer. Nothing, that is, but lots of sales calls, emails, and junk mail from companies you have never heard of.
Bait and switch selling tactics are also used by dishonest advertisers. Sometimes, even large and well-known businesses use the tactic. Bait and switch advertising tricks involve too-good-to-be-true special offers that don’t exist. You visit a store or a website to get the great deal, but you end up buying something different.
Examples of Bait and Switch
As we mentioned above, bait and switch scams will offer something appealing. But then they will either sell you something else or use your contact details for marketing. Here are some of the common bait and switch scams to watch out for:
Fake Job Offers
There have been cases of job listing sites being little more than lead generators. A site may ask you to register to receive job offers. To register, you will need to fill in a form. That form will include all your personal details, including your salary expectations.
The information that you put on your CV is perfect for marketers. It tells them what types of products may interest you and it gives them an idea of your disposable income.
To protect yourself, only apply for jobs advertised on reputable sites. If you don’t recognize the company, check them out first. Do some research before you provide any personal information
Fake Online Services
Some sites that offer useful services for free are only after your contact details. They will then use or sell your details for marketing purposes.
Sites of this type might offer advisory services. Help claiming benefits, for example, or help finding medical insurance. Some might say they help you with things medical compensation claims.
There are organizations that offer free help and services. These organizations are usually charities or government sponsored organizations.
Unfortunately, there are also scam sites. Some of these sites appear to be charities or government organizations, but they are not what the they seem.
Whenever you register for any website, be sure that you know what you are registering for. Most legitimate sites do not ask you for any confidential information at all.
If a website asks you for your real name, your address, and other details, be careful. Ask yourself why they need that information. Do you background checks. Make sure that it’s not a fake website that you are looking at.
Too Good to Be True Offers
Sometimes, dishonest retailers draw customers in with offers that don’t exist. The advertisement might say that you can buy a top of the range laptop for only $100. The small print might say “while stocks last” or “at selected outlets only”.
Some offers like these are genuine. Sometimes, though, the stock of the item on special offer is very small. So small that only a handful of people will get the product at the lowest price. Or, the product is only on sale at an obscure outlet that no one ever visits.
Similar tactics are used by hotels. The headline of a hotel chain advertisement might say “Rooms from $20 a night”. The key word in that phrase is “from”. It may be possible to book a room for only $20. But only if you book it one year in advance at the hotel chain’s least popular hotel.
How to Avoid Being Caught by Bait and Switch Tactics
Advertisers that use obvious bait and switch tactics are using misleading advertising tactics. This is illegal. If you see an example of this type of scam, you should report it to the FTC.
Companies and scammers are always trying to stay one step ahead in the bait and switch and game. They will try to push it as far as they can while still staying the right side of the law.
This can make it hard to spot what’s going on until it’s too late. In fact, while all bait and switch tactics are dishonest, they are not all illegal.
Here are some tips on how you can avoid getting caught by a bait and switch scam.
1. Watch Out for the Upsell
As soon as someone tries to sell you a more expensive item, be on your guard.
Don’t let a salesperson pressure you into spending more than you want to.
Be firm. Insist that you will only buy the item that you wanted. Don’t let the salesperson convince you to for that upgrade at a bargain, one time only, price!
2. Always Read the Small Print
Always read the small print before you buy or subscribe to anything. Be especially alert for anything that suggests that the item may not be in stock. Look for any signs that there are extra hidden costs or ongoing subscriptions.
3. Be Wary of Vague Pricing
Be very wary of any pricing that includes words such as “approximately”, or “estimated”. Always ask for a fixed price in writing before you sign any agreement.
4. Check the Returns Policy Before You Buy
Watch out for terms like “non-refundable”, or “non-returnable”. Bait and switch advertisers will often use these terms to prevent you changing your mind. They will do anything to stop you getting your money back.
5. Don’t Provide Information That an Advertiser Doesn’t Need
If any business or website asks you for personal information, be careful. Ask yourself why they need your credit card details before you have bought anything? Why do they need your phone number?
6. Be Cautious About Bargains
If it’s free or very cheap, be wary. Business are out to make money, not give products and services away. The best way to avoid most types of scams is to always treat deals that look too good to be true with skepticism.
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