Pandemic sparks increase in network marketing

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- From essential oils, to skin care, and cooking utensils; many unemployed Americans are turning to in-home sales to find financial freedom during the coronavirus pandemic.

As many Americans turn to in-home sales during the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Trade Commission is offering tips to avoid illegal referral schemes. (Source: Gray DC)

“I love being my own boss; setting my own hours adjusting them,” said entrepreneur Deb Vincent.

Vincent is a sales representative for Opulenza designs. She sells hand-crafted jewelry online, through Facebook and social media.

Recently, Vincent says business has been booming. During the outbreak, she says her team has grown exponentially and she’s seeing an increased interest in her product as well.

“It’s been really great,” said Vincent. “I don’t want to go back to the corporate world.”

Direct sales, or Multi-level marketing companies, have been around for decades.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, they are legal companies that recruit distributers to sell a certain product to friends, family, and a network of acquaintances. Many of these businesses are reputable and can contribute significantly to household income.

But, while some sellers find financial success, others don’t.

If you are considering this method of employment, Kati Daffan with the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection says you should do some research.

With more than 30 million Americans filing for unemployment, Daffan says pyramid schemes, or illegal referral schemes, are also popping up online.

“Sometimes a pyramid scheme might be trying to look like an MLM enterprise. We have some red flags that we encourage consumers to look out for,” said Daffen.

If a company promises extravagant earnings, strongly emphasizes recruiting, or uses high pressure sales tactics, it could be a pyramid scheme. Daffen says you should research the company and contact the FTC with your concerns.

The FTC is a civil law enforcement agency. While the agency doesn’t have the authority to make an arrest, they partner with other agencies that can.

Copyright 2020 Gray DC.  All rights reserved.
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