Beware of quick fortune-making ideas related to side job, investment, etc. Soaring problems about information sold on the Internet
Local consumer affairs centers and similar organizations across Japan received soaring inquiries and complaints about information sold on the Internet advertised as money-making know-how for "earning several millions yen per month by working just a few minutes per day" or "making billions of yen by investing tens of thousands yen"1. The number of such inquiries received through PIO-NET2 was 6,593 in FY2017, showing a seven-fold increase from FY2013, and still on the increase in FY2018.
Typical inquiries are: "I saw an advertisement for guidance on how to earn a high income. When I contacted the service provider, I was told that they would impart know-how to earn money from a side job or investment if I enter into an expensive contract. I did so, but I cannot make any profit. Things are different from what I was told."
In order to prevent the occurrence and spread of similar problems, NCAC introduces some inquiries about information for sale and issues an alert to consumers. NCAC also makes a request to the Consumer Affairs Agency and provides information to relevant organizations.
Diagram: Annual transition in the number of inquiries about information for sale
* The 753 inquiries were received from April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017 by PIO-Net (the period corresponds to that in FY2018).
The number of inquiries was 872 in FY2013, 999 in FY2014, 1,754 in FY2015, 2,965 in FY2016, 6,593 in FY2017, and 1,628 in FY2018 through June 30, 2018 (753 in the corresponding period in FY2017).
- 1 See "Characteristics of information for sale".
- 2 PIO-NET is a database that collects information on inquiries concerning consumer affairs by linking NCAC with local consumer affairs centers and similar organizations across Japan via an online network. Inquiries referred to NCAC from local consumer affairs centers are not counted. The above graph shows data registered through June 30, 2018.
Characteristics of information for sale
Information for sale is information sold on the Internet advertised as know-how for earning a high income with a side job, investment, gambling, etc. Information for sale is often traded in electronic form such as PDF files, and can be viewed or downloaded on a PC, smartphone, or tablet. Some business operators provide such information through video, e-mail newsletter, application, leaflet or DVD.
In addition to selling such information, some companies induce consumers to sign an expensive contract for consulting services, business seminars, software, etc. In that case, a written contract may include words like affiliate, business support, consulting, outsourcing, etc.
Sampling of inquiries and complaints
Inquiries about information for sale related to side jobs
- I bought low-priced information. I was further induced to sign an expensive contract. I made the contract, but I cannot receive support which they promised to offer.
- I bought information for sale introduced on SNS. The content is different from what was explained, and does not help earn money.
- After seeing a job advertisement on a job posting website "You can earn money at home. Money-back guarantee", I entered into a contract. However, I cannot make any money. The company refused to refund my payment.
Inquiries about information for sale related to investment
- I read about FX-related information for sale on SNS. I joined a seminar and signed a contract for the know-how, but the content was worthless.
- I got interested in an idea of making a profit from cryptocurrency and I signed an expensive contract for the know-how. However, they don't provide any service.
Problems highlighted from sampling of inquiries and complaints
- Advertisement and endorsement highlighting easiness of earning a high income
- High-pressure solicitation to sign a contract one after another
- Some consumers were induced to sign up for a credit card or loan to conclude an expensive contract
- Contrary to an advertisement or prior explanation, it was unprofitable. No support. No money-back guarantee.
Advice for consumers
- It's not possible to check the content of information for sale before entering into a contract. If you feel suspicious, do not contact the seller.
- If you are induced to conclude an expensive contract or if you find something different from original explanation, flatly refuse to enter into a contract.
- Do not dare to take out a loan or use a credit card to make an expensive payment.
- If you feel uneasy or get in trouble, consult your local consumer affairs center.