Are eBayers and PayPalers Really That Dumb?

By now you have no doubt read no less then six zillion warnings about “phishing”. (See definition below)

Sorry to test your patience, but here’s yet another one.

I have a small presence on eBay selling art prints and posters. A hundred years ago, (maybe I exaggerate a little), I had three gallery/frame shops that I sold to someone that wanted them more then I did. About a year, maybe two years, back I decided I wanted to see about all the hype surrounding eBay. Truth be known, I also wanted to use it as an excuse to get back into the art business. Conversely, I reestablished a number of old contacts with some of my friends and associates in the publishing business. That is when I set up my eBay Store.

One of the things I quickly learned was that these “phishing” thieves must think I am really dumb.

Since the first month I opened my store, I have been getting phishing emails. Lately, the number I get has increased to as many as 5-6 every single day.

These thieves must be making money on the scam. It must be working, and there must be some people out there that are falling for this. Otherwise, why would they keep doing?

I get not just “look alike” but copies of email forms from these people that are identical to the legitimate forms from eBay’s new email system. To be honest with you, I cannot tell them apart and do not even try. I just delete them. I don’t read any of them. I don’t even click on them beyond what it takes to delete them.

One of scams they run is sending an email saying they have bought one of my prints. They claim that they have paid for it but that I have failed to deliver it to them. And there’s the “Respond Now” button right where it should be. The trouble is it does not go to the legitimate eBay site. It goes to a phony site that these thieves have set up. If I were to click on it and log in, they would get my ID and Password which would give them full access to my account. To compound this, they are using the same information on their PayPal account and who knows how many other sites.

Same thing goes for PayPal.

I have had a PayPal account that goes back a year or so before eBay bought them out. To this day I have never opened an email form PayPal.

There is a simple solution to what is becoming a growing problem – don’t do it! Don’t fall for it!!

If these people want to contact you, they will do so from inside you account. Incidentally, PayPal is a bank, and like any bank account you have to track the transactions, check your balances, deposits, and debits… “Balance your check book” every month. I do this, and to this day I have not found one penny unaccounted for in a legitimate fashion. Although I do have some doubts about the three drivers I bought on eBay that still can’t find the fairway on Saturday.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t take a genius to set-up (steal) someone else’s page lay-out. And anyone can attach any URL address to any form or set of words and letters.

Just because it says paypal.com doesn’t make so.

Phishing

A method of identity theft carried out through the creation of a website that seems to represent a legitimate company. The visitors to the site, thinking they are buying something from a real business, submit their personal information to the site. The criminals then use the personal information for their own purposes, or sell the information to other criminal parties.

Investopedia Commentary

A classic example of phishing is an identity thief setting up a website that looks like it belongs to a major bank. Then, that thief sends out many emails that claim to be from the major bank and request the email recipients to input their personal banking information (such as their PIN) into the website so the bank may update their records. Once the scammer gets a hold of the needed personal information, they attempt to access the victim’s bank account. -dictionary.com

Working From Home – The Three Keys to Success

There are several trends that are driving forward the popularity of working from home. The main trend is the improvement of communication technology, mainly the Internet. The Internet allows people to access information and communicate with people all over the world in an instant. For employed people, this often means accessing company databases remotely and for the self-employed, this means marketing products, services or an opportunity online.

Another trend that is driving the popularity of working from home is people’s quest for a different lifestyle. People no longer want to work 40 or 50 hours a week for a boss, just to pay the bills. People are generally seeking more control of where and how they work and whom they work with. This brings us on to another trend…

A much improved scale and efficiency of logistics. People now expect to order something online or on the phone and receive their goods within a day or two. This has created new distribution channels for manufacturers and wholesalers and new income opportunities for people who can help those companies find new customers. These new distribution opportunities are usually in the form of Direct Sales / Network Marketing or eCommerce websites. The Work From Home era is truly here.

My Background

I first got involved in working from home on a part-time basis 7 years ago, with a British Direct Sales and Network Marketing company called Kleeneze. Their business model uses commission based, self-employed distributors who distribute their home shopping catalogues to households and then take orders and deliver products. The company takes advantage of the growing home shopping trend, improved goods distribution and people’s quest for a better lifestyle. Kleeneze are basically a goods warehouse that uses a catalogue distribution methodology, combined with a network marketing incentive structure to take their products to market. It’s a strong model.

Over the past several years, I have built up a team of distributors, whose sales contribute to my group turnover, which the company pays me a percentage on every month. This gives me a passive income that allows me to free up time to focus on other activities such as helping a selected team members, developing ideas and exploring new opportunities.

More recently, I have become involved in financial services. I am an appointed representative for a financial services practice and a consumer credit compensation company, both on a part-time basis. This means I am running 3 businesses on a part-time basis, all of which compliment each other quite well. In one role I am helping people earn a substantial extra income. In another role I am helping people with protection, insurance and mortgages. In another role, I am helping people to significantly reduce debt. I try and help people improve their lifestyle and finances in one form or another. The skills I’ve learned along the way include selling, public speaking, coaching, web design and Internet marketing.

Why Work From Home?

People will want to work from home for many different reasons and in many different ways. For example, the schoolteacher working from home marking exam papers is very different from an entrepreneur working from home trying to build a successful enterprise. For the purpose of this article, I will endeavour to give some useful advice for people who are looking to work from home to either earn an extra income, or build a business for the longer term. This will usually be a network marketing or eCommerce business.

The idea of working from home can be very attractive. Being at home for your family. Flexibility of hours. Home comforts and more. These are all real advantages but as with everything in life, there are two sides to the coin. Positive and negative. With children or other family members can come distraction. Flexibility can be hard to discipline, so time can easily be wasted and time wasted can never be gotten back. Home comforts can again distract your focus from important tasks that need to be carried out.

The Three Keys To Success

There are 3 things you need to be successful. Willingness, ability and a good opportunity. The good news is they’re all down to you. Willingness (motivation) is down to you. Ability (acquiring the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for success) is down to you by how much you’re willing to learn. Finding a good opportunity is also down to you – research as many opportunities as you can and don’t just go for something because it’s initially appealing.

Let’s first look at finding a good opportunity. I will use the criteria I use when looking at an opportunity and these criteria should serve you well. Let’s assume you’re looking to join a Network Marketing company for example. Here are the questions to ask yourself:

  • Products / Services: Is there a good market for the products / services that the company provides. Are they priced to sell and priced for profit? Are they of acceptable quality? Are at least some of the products / services consumable, offering future repeat business? Can they easily be bought elsewhere more easily and cheaply? Is there a strong guarantee? Do the products / services satisfy a growing trend or need in the marketplace? Having all these criteria together is not critical, but the more you have, the bigger the advantage
  • Company: Does the company / supplier have a proven, successful track record? Does it have strong corporate and financial backing? Does the company have a positive public image, or if it’s a newer company, positive endorsements or testimonials? Does the company practice integrity?
  • Support: Does the company take support and training seriously? The vast majority of new distributors or representatives will probably need to learn specific skills, knowledge and attitudes to enable them to attain a certain level of success
  • Innovation: Does the company have the right people in place to help drive the development of the company through changing economic and market conditions? Change is the only constant in life and only those people and companies who adapt will survive and prosper in the long term.

My final advice when assessing a company is imagine you are preparing to invest a large loan that is secured against your house into the business. Do your due diligence and invest using your brain, not your emotions. Emotion can come later.

The second key to success is willingness. This means a willingness on your behalf to put the time and effort into learning the knowledge, skills and attitudes required and of course, quite simply getting down and doing the work. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Before you commit time and effort into something, you need desire and belief and they are both closely linked. Desire comes through pain or pleasure. You’re either motivated by something you want to move towards, or motivated by pain to move away from something. Here’s something interesting: for the majority of people, pain is more of a powerful motivator than pleasure, especially in the shorter term. Here’s a few quick tips to develop consistent desire (motivation):

  • Allow yourself to dream about what you really want your life to be like (the pleasure principle). If you find this difficult, remind yourself of your dreams you had as a child, before disappointment and cynicism took over!
  • Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you
  • Feed your mind with information that is conductive to helping you build the life you want. This includes books, audios and even refraining from watching trashy, negative TV!
  • Take yourself forward 5 years and imagine what your life will be like if you don’t follow your dreams (the pain principle). Now 10 years. Now 20. Now imagine yourself as an old man or woman looking back on your life. Are you proud of yourself or full of regret?
  • Set your goals and take immediate and sustained action!

Belief will come through being associated with the right company. By company I mean a physical company and of course people. If you did your due diligence before joining a company, then this shouldn’t be a problem. If this belief starts fade, then you need to ask why, because a lack of belief in what you’re doing or what you’re involved in will destroy your chances of success as fast as anything else. Here’s where having a good coach or mentor will help massively. Try and find a mentor or coach that you feel comfortable with and one who’s qualified to help i.e. one who’s done it or doing it.

Finally, I recommend you become a student of personal development, if you’re not already. Simply put, if you want to become successful, study success. If you want to become wealthy, study wealth. There’s a great range of personal development material on the Internet that you can explore.

The third and final key to success is ability. This simply means the ability to turn work into positive results. In other words, having the right knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA’s). What might the KSA’s be?

  • Product / service knowledge
  • Selling and negotiating skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Marketing knowledge
  • A knowledge of human psychology
  • Specific technical knowledge / skills
  • A focused attitude
  • An attitude of courage – willingness to expand one’s comfort zone to do things they haven’t done before

How do you develop ability? If you’re involved with a company that takes support and training seriously, they will have a training programme that you can join. It should be structured and allow people to work through it at their own pace, with various competence standards along the way so you can measure your progress over time. A good training and development programme should:

  • Be clear and in easy to understand language
  • Be organised and structured
  • Have clear learning outcomes so the student can measure their progress against set competence benchmarks
  • Allow feedback between the student and teacher. The ”student’ is usually the distributor or representative and the ‘teacher’ would be the coach or mentor that has proven success by using the information that is being taught
  • Have a certain degree of flexibility so people of varying experience and timescales can work through it at their own pace
  • Use various media such is written text, audio, visual and ‘hands on’ practical activities
  • Include group learning and fun!

One quality that is often overlooked by companies and trainers is character. Although having the right skills and knowledge is really important, just as important is a person’s character. This includes qualities such as trustworthiness, empathy, good humour and discipline. Character is developed through the interaction of life’s experiences and one’s own fixed mental attitudes. A great way of helping people grow is through group activities, and not necessarily business orientated. The key is to create and fun and conductive environment for people.

What I have outlined in this article is a general blueprint for your success in running a business from home, without the specific details for your particular company. I hope you have found this article useful and I wish you all the best in your current and future ventures.

Internet and Business Online – Dealing With Entitlement Issues

Let’s face it; the web is filled with entitlement issues. For a few dollars a month we gain access to the world via an Internet connection. We want sports scores and we don’t want to wait for the sports networks on television to scroll their list, so we log on and get the score. We missed a portion of a television show we like so we log on and often find the program available to watch on demand.

We gain free access to online encyclopedias and dictionaries.

We play along with game shows and sit at the computer to find the answers before the contestant does.

We want to know more about the weather and a few clicks later we know.

We want the ratings on a car we’re thinking about buying and we find it online.

There is often one underlying prerequisite to our online perusal. We do not want to have to pay to get the information. This information is typically thought to come at no cost when we pay to log onto the Internet.

The entitlement issues have largely been managed by websites competing with other forms of media for your attention. If a site is brokering knowledge they will typically offset the expense by infusing Google AdSense Ads or other PPC or banner ads into the site thus allowing the visitor to have access to the information without the concern of payment.

Even fee-based sites generally have a free tier of service for anyone. A perk-filled membership is generally available at a modest price. If a visitor gains significant value from the free tier they may be inclined to purchase a membership if they feel the extended value is worth it.

Interestingly many sites that are entirely fee-based may struggle more than those with at least a most basic free tier of service.

Whether the mentality is correct or not the Internet has accommodated those who may have a feeling that the world owes them something. Obviously businesses online can’t give product away, but they can and are infusing their sites with information and free downloads that add incredible value at no cost to consumers. This strategy has become a primary component to improving trust between online business and potential consumer.

Websites are filled with free podcasts, video streams, game downloads, teaching materials, recipes, home improvement tips, garden development plans and information on virtually any subject you can think of.

To online businesses it may seem unfair to have to find alternative ways to fund free information and advice, especially when you may be used to being paid for the information you can provide.

In most cases the information provided is designed to work as part of a marketing strategy pointing visitors to products and services you make available. The knowledge-based content provides information that coincides with something you can offer the customer.

Since face-to-face connections are not easily managed online this strategy not only tackles the entitlement issue, but it is useful in developing a trusting relationship with those who do not easily pass on their trust.