BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

House flipping seminars promise attendees can get rich quickly by learning a few tricks to take advantage of the real estate market. Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to use caution when attending seminars. While there usually is no cost for the initial seminar, consumers tell BBB subsequent follow-up educational opportunities can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Through the use of commercials, mailers and social media, which often use a celebrity spokesperson to deliver the company’s message, consumers are lured to the “house flipping” seminars with promises of making money with no previous experience necessary. Some programs even promise they will help fund the consumer’s projects. Consumers throughout the U.S. have filed complaints with BBB, saying they have lost money to the companies who put on the seminars, with little hope of getting any return on their investments.

“It is not easy to make money flipping houses in real estate,” BBB St. Louis president and CEO Michelle L. Corey said. “If you attend a free seminar, you likely will be asked to pay money for continuing education. Those continuing education courses are costly, and the chances of you recouping that money through real estate deals is slim.”

The seminars usually are held in hotel banquet rooms. The initial seminars typically last two hours. Attendees are then asked to sign up for a weekend course. The weekend course can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. At the weekend course, consumers tell BBB they are often pressured to purchase continuing educational materials from the business.

BBB also has received complaints from consumers who are disappointed the celebrity spokesperson did not attend the event. Celebrities rarely attend the seminars. Instead, the celebrity has members of his or her “team” conduct the seminar.

Investment scams were deemed the eighth riskiest scam in 2018, according to the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, which also noted that consumers’ likelihood of losing money when encountering this scam is 62.4%. Consumers reported a median loss of $1,965 in investment schemes in 2018.

BBB offers the following tips for consumers considering attending a business seminar:

  • Research the business and owners carefully before signing a contract, providing any sensitive personal information or paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.
  • Before paying anything, know what you are getting for your money. If there is anything that concerns you, make certain the document is changed before you sign it. Be wary of any oral promises not in writing.
  • Don’t be lured by a promise of a free meal or free gift. Often, the meal may be nothing more than a snack and the gift an inexpensive item that is not worth the two to three hours of wasted time attending the seminar.
  • Know exactly how long you have to cancel a contract and seek a refund. If that information is not there, ask for it in writing.
  • Ask for references and contact them before entering into an agreement.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the charges.

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information.

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