EP 4 - Steve Simonson - How to Avoid Being Scammed.
|Awesomers Insights - Steve and from time to time other "insiders" will share their knowledge about specific topics to help the listeners improve their knowledge on a subject. We considered calling these episodes noesis shows, but we didn't know how to pronounce the word. By the way, Noesis means: The psychological of perception and learning and reasoning. We would choose this word because we want to help leaders develop into decision machines vs. always looking for an external solution.
STEVE'S QUICK BIO:
Steve Simonson is a lifetime entrepreneur having founded, purchased, built, and sold numerous companies over the past 3 decades.
Along the way Steve’s companies have been publicly recognized with three consecutive years on the Inc. 500 list, multiple listings on the Internet Retailer Top 500, Washington State Fastest Growing Business as well as a number of other
company accolades. Steve was also a finalist in the Ernest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
In this episode, learn how you can protect your business from scumbag companies trying to prey on entrepreneurs and business owners around the world.
Steve lets us in on a letter he received from what seemed to be a legal government entity. Not only that, he shares more valuable information to help you spot a scam from a mile away:
The Occam’s razor and why every business owner must understand its general philosophy.
Why you should learn to trust your gut instincts when it comes to personal and business decisions.
And how to solve problems like a true entrepreneur.
Stay awesomer and hit the play button to know how you too can safeguard your business from predators and scam artists.
Example Document: FAKE LABOR LAW COMPLIANCE NOTICE - Pretending to be from a government agency. They add a disclaimer at the bottom after past attorney's general have tried to stop this, but they continue on right under the nose of the state governments. They operate with the full intent to trick businesses into thinking they are responding to a government document. Even the email they use is intended to deceive.
The pre-paid return envelope is titled: FILING LABOR COMPIANCE DEPARTMENT - as if it is some government office.
The original envelope sent also tries to appear like a govenment communication using the same fonts as the IRS.
This FLORIDA based company has created a PO box in Olympia Washington to imply that the Washington State Labor Compliance Department is the one that is communicating with me. It is such a shame to see this type of scam and predatory behavior to be tolerated by various government agencies. I am not interested in over regulation, but how about a reasonable minimum standard to NOT pretend to be a government agency when making solicitations via junk mail??
The Filing Labor Compliance Department is a total scam in my opinion and nobody should fall victim to their unscrupulous marketing tactics.
Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.
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Steve: Hi everybody, today we’re going to talk about one of my pet peeves. You want to know what it is. It’s the slimeballs and scumbag companies that are trying to prey on entrepreneur and business owners around the world. And in today’s episodes were going to talk about an exact sample where a company has sent a letter essentially indicating and looking like, even impersonating a government entity and giving us an impression that if we don’t comply, if we do not send them the money as they're showing on their piece of paper that somehow we'll be running afoul of the law. And as it turns out as I'll explain in the episode it couldn't be further from the truth and I dislike any company that their foundation their premise is based on working over somebody else. It doesn't matter if they're working over the elderly or an entrepreneur or an elderly entrepreneur I don't like that stuff. I really want to find situations that are like this and if you have any don't hesitate to share them with us and we'll go after them and we'll definitely try to at least shine the light on them a little bit. In this case, you'll find that this company has been doing this for years and they have built a profitable business on scaring and falsely advertising that they in these advertisements they send that by mail so enjoy today's episode I look forward to your feedback.
Steve: Hey Everybody Steve Simonson coming to you again from Awesomers.com. The awesomer podcast is live and ready for you. Awesomers.com is a place to kind of look it up find all the details. Today I want to talk about a kind of a common problem that we've seen really over the past nearly 30 years of business that I've been carrying on. I started my first business when I was 18 when I was first legally allowed to and I recently just turned 48, that's thirty years in business. Now technically I started when I was almost nothing so there's a few months in between that probably shouldn't count but I'm going to just round up for the benefit of easy math if you will. So one of the things that we see commonly is they are scam artists essentially and they send messages to companies and often those messages, they used to be disguised in like a Yellow Pages invoice. So in the old days people use the Yellow Pages as a typical methodology for online marketing and lead generation and so forth. Since Yellow Pages have gone the way of the dodo, they have targeted other things and a lot of those things tend to involve what appeared to be legal compliance notices. So recently, we received a legal compliance notice and the first thing that we noticed is that the envelope from the legal compliance was from Florida and it was sent to our labor company which is based in the state of Washington and some are like well you don't have any employees in Florida we don't do any business of Florida why would Florida send us a message? And and that's a fair question to ask, right? Why in fact would Florida send a message to us? The answer is they wouldn’t. So already my spidey sense is tingling. All right so the bottom line is when you get something, your spidey sense starts tingling, you got to start asking questions. In my case, as I said the item came in from Florida I don't know how well y'all can see that reversed when I was watching from home but as soon as something is marked from Florida and it's to a Washington based company about legal compliance again I'm wondering what's up? The other interesting thing is the reply that they kindly included was to the filing labor compliance Department in Miami Florida also. So this is as you know another clue. When I actually looked at the document the document had some very interesting and I would say misleading details.
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Steve: So to describe it I'm going to just share my screen for those of you who you can watch at home. So in the very top right it's got a very sophisticated looking barcode - labor law compliance notice it means. Failure to comply with posting regulations can lead to fines up to $17,000USD and then they quote these labor laws which may not be real and may or may not be relevant. In fact, they are real and they're relevant but they're federal laws and they are compliance notices about posting labor regulations within a company. I'll talk more about what it really means at the end. Then they show my company Symo Team in Washington and the type of business, the name of the business, the type of company and it really kind of looks like it's an official-looking document right because they know it's a Washington limited liability company, they know the status is active. On the right it's got the UBI number, which is the universal business identification numbers in state of Washington so it looks like they've got these inside government document IDs and further they've got a address to the left that says F dot labor compliance Department now the F has been abbreviated which is a very interesting little detail as you'll maybe recall from the envelope that they included the self-addressed stamped envelope. It says Filing Labor Compliance Department, that's the name of their company. So anyway I'm going to just carry on with the description of the rest of the document. Fundamentally it's got a bunch of official-looking things, the notice date. Now your business is required by federal law to keep these things up to date even if you have just one employee. But sort the federal out of this and that and they go through all this and it just looks like it is going to scare the crap out of you if you don't get it right. It goes further to you know show that you know if you don't respond by this date, you could have a problem and it's only $84 you know to get this compliance done. So the entire point of this document is to look like a real live government document but it is nothing of the sort. Now the regulation they're quoting is real. If you have employees even what a single employee on that employees if it's a work premise you're required by law to show certain federal compliance documents which include things like minimum wage and other things that are to help employees if they have run into a jam if they're employed. At the very bottom of the page, they say this little tiny disclosure very small print readable but still small: Filing Labor Compliance Department is a non-government publisher of copyrighted compliance poster compilations which are intended to assist employers in meeting their legal obligations under labor law posting regulations. If you're not 100% satisfied it is returnable within 30 days for a full refund. But fundamentally my issue with this company is their complete scam artist. Everything they're doing by showing a Washington compliance Department address in Olympia which is where the government is in the state, that's the state capital of Washington. So they're looking like the labor compliance Department if you can skip over the F dot so that's absolutely misleading. They're showing my business identification number and a lot of people might assume oh gosh where would they give it if they're not the government? They're showing the Washington limited liability company details. These are all legitimate details but they're also a matter of public record. So what happens is these types of companies, they troll around to all the states, they look for new business openings and filings and then they stand out in these kinds of troll notices and they'll send these out annually. There are other variations of these types of schemes as well. You'll often find other you know kind of misleading departments or misleading company names that are really they're trying to scare the crap out of you. You go you know what for 84 bucks let me just get this behind me. And that's another check mark off my list. But I want to just call people's attention to this. This is a complete and utter sham. These people are not government people even though they're acting like they're government compliance department. And they've gone so far as to make a you know appeal box in Olympia Washington and calling it the F dot labor compliance part. Again total scam art so every business owner should beware there are people constantly trying to prey on your business. Don't let them do it. There's no point in allowing outsiders who have no vested interest in your company and they have no interest in actually helping you. I would have a lot more empathy and probably even support of a company like this but instead of trying to trick people into paying them for their product they came out and they said hey you know what here's a law you may not be in compliance with. We're gonna help you get there. Not only we're going to do it for this first time for some X amount of dollars but you can subscribe annually and with this automatically send you a new one. These sorts of things really are important and they really are something that we should have an easy button for as employers and business owners but they have chosen a very very deceptive method of marketing. In my personal opinion a complete scam so I would highly stay away from these types of companies and seek out new companies that will do a better job. So how do you solve this particular labor law compliance? You can go search for these types of display posters, the legal compliance poster and you can find it on Amazon. You can find it all over the place you can find it in Office Depot, Staples, just any major place that sells business-related supplies for very inexpensive rates. Certainly far less than eighty-four dollars and they also will not try to scam you though they'll be honest in teaching right. So again I want to just share with you guys. You are the prey and there's a bunch of predators in the marketplace. There are a bunch of predators in the marketplace. Hopefully, as fellow Awesomers you can try to see all the way through these things and look when something doesn’t smell right, start to look in deeper. One of the core principles that I share and that I have talked about for many years it's the idea of Occam's razor and we're gonna talk about a little bit more about that right after we come back from the break. We'll be right back.
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Steve: Okay, we're back here. We're talking about you know kind of the general philosophy, of what is Occam's razor? What does that mean? My general interpretation of Occam's razor is whatever the most likely solution is usually the most clear and evident solution, which is I really butchered that translation, but basically if something doesn't smell right and you think it's a scam is probably a scam. If you see something and you're like this thing you know, whatever they're saying, it doesn't add up and my guts telling me that the most obvious answer is probably the right answer. It’s another way to say it and perhaps more clear and that's what the theory of Occam's razor is. So many times we say to ourselves - well I don't know enough or we suffer from you know self-proclaimed and often accurate impostor syndrome where it's like well somebody else knows more than me at all times so I should just listen to them but when your gut is telling you something it's really important to listen. And a lot of people don't realize that there are two sides your brain and one side is nonverbal, that's the side that has kind of a lot of the answers and that side knows unequivocally this is the wrong thing to do. Whatever the case might be. In my case, we had this fake labor law compliance notice. So I have the experience to know what to look for but when your gut grabs you and says something doesn't smell right, that's the nonverbal side of your brain that's saying this is not right. It can't turn those things into words to the other side of your brain that actually can put it into words. This is not right because of this reason or that reason so when people talk about trusting their gut instinct it's really trusting what their other side of the brain, the nonverbal side has already worked out. It cannot be underestimated, the value of a gut feel when it comes to entrepreneurs. You know often women call it female intuition. Whatever you want to call it it's fine with me. It doesn't matter the name, it just matters to follow that gut instinct. Now doesn't mean it can't be wrong and also doesn't mean that we know you know everything, just you know for my guts without learning. But in general, when something doesn’t smell right, it probably is not right. There are so many examples we could give on this type of situation. So Occam's razor is a very important philosophy and I highly recommend that you guys get on board with that. We're gonna take a quick break and we'll be right back.
Okay, we're back. We're talking a little bit more about my philosophy as it relates to the general principle of Occam's razor. Sometimes they also call it the law of Parsimony, by the way. Other people pronounce it parsimony but I have my own way of pronouncing stuff and I often make the final words as well. So we should ignore just about everything I say. The point of Occam's razor again is to try to give you a mental model that allows you to simplify your decision making and trust your guts basically. Trust your instincts. So when you think about multiple answers, the answer with the fewest assumptions, the answer with the fewest leaps of faith should be selected. So again the simplest solution is usually the correct solution and it's interesting that you know Occam's razor dates back to a guy who was basically named Occam although it is William of Ockham which is 13th -14th-century timeframe. And today we spell Occam's razor O-C-C-A-M. so if you want to look it up, Occam's razor without using that spelling. And one of the things that is interesting is, he didn't call it Occam's razor. Other people referring to his work referred to it basically and started cloning that phrase as Occam's razor. You know that the theology of it is to make sure that you make the simplest scientific explanation or factual based explanations you possibly can without having to put in a bunch of unnecessary assumptions and this applies to business everyday. Don't forget that as business owners we are entirely problem solvers. We're consumed by solving problems, that's our job. So for everybody who says gosh you know, I thought this was gonna be easier or you know, if I'm my own boss why is it so hard? The reality is of being the boss, being an entrepreneur means that you're just a problem solver full-time. First, you try to solve a big-picture problem for on behalf of customers so you find a problem they have or you develop a product or service to deal with that problem. Then you presented a life afterward after that problems been solved that they ended up buying. That's ultimately what you should sell, by the way, the life after not the product itself. So being in the business of problem-solving means we're going to face problems regularly, recurrently and it's it's unnecessary and it's unhelpful to find ourselves becoming confused or frustrated or even fatigued by problems. So we're in business to solve problems. If there weren't problems it would be easy and then anybody could do it. And so every time you kind of have a problem you kind of give yourself another problem you know. You can not kick yourself in the shins if you really want to feel pain but otherwise alright this is why I exist. This is what I'm meant to do and then you go about your work in solving. When you're solving it then you want to try to use again my principle or not the principle that I started, but the principle which again is Occam's razor and that is all about trying to figure out what the simplest answer. Which is almost always the right answer. We don't want to oversimplify this thing but we do want to say that if the more you tear down the excess, the more likely you are to be at the core fundamental truth which is then leading you to the right decision. Even when you cannot describe to yourself in words, you can't articulate it, that's again because I think it's the right side of the brains that's a creative side and is not verbal, and it can't transfer transmit the verbal instructions to the other side of the brain. To just articulate: here's the nature of the problem, here's what I think it and here's what we're gonna do about it. But it's sending you the vibe, that gut feel as people call it, that says something’s not right, don't do this, my spidey sense is tingling. Entrepreneurs have some of the best gut feels on the planet and it's when you don't follow your gut you end up in a lot more trouble. I'm giving lots of example of me not following my gut and costing me dearly and in some cases tens of millions of dollars. So my recommendation to each of you trust your gut, study up on the principle of Occam's razor and really think about the most simple solution is often the correct solution. To peel away the fat and get right to the core of the issue. So that's it for today really I was definitely triggered by this fake labor law notice that I got, sent by complete scam artists. Don't get sucked in. Don't be the prey. Be a fellow predator in the marketplace if you have to be, but don't be the prey. I rather not be predators, I rather earn and be in a market that exists and I create demand based on delivering value versus having to be a predator and moving on to the next prey right? We should have long-term aspirations versus just you know one kill and be gone and that's so often what these types scammy companies do. They want to just scam for as long as they can and then they'll move on to the next scam. In many ways, when you think about this labor law compliance notice, I'm sure they are very good at split test. You have no doubt that you have multiple split tests and my concept - okay here's a labor law you need to be compliant with. We know your new business and we're gonna make this super easy on you and we'll even let you opt in for a multi-year subscription. I bet you that that didn't test as well as a percentage but the reality is does that mean that their business is not better off overall in the long run? And I would argue that it's not better off overall. It's a ticking time bomb. Regardless of the fact they put a little tiny disclaimer at the bottom that they say Filing Labor Compliance is a non-governmental publisher. They're clearly trying to look like the government. They're definitely trying to scam people. People do this all the time with contractor's licenses and all kinds of different governmental departments. They try to impersonate the government and scare you into doing something. I would just say be extra careful and don't fall victim to these scumbags. So that's it for me, Steve Simonson and I hope you got something out of today. Don't forget to pass the word on to your friends. Subscribe, like and you can even leave a review if you like. And I’ll put you on my Christmas list. How about that? I don't mind it said about incentivizing reviews yeah positive or negative, I'll put you on my Christmas card list. Full disclosure, I have not sent Christmas cards ever my whole life so don't wait up. Thanks again, everybody. Talk to you soon!
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I hope you learned something today about the fact that things aren't always what they appear to be. You know despite the fact that this looks like a government-approved and even a government-sent message. it couldn't be further from the truth. And these types of you know crazy slimy scumbags have been operating in the marketplace for years and they prey especially on the inexperienced entrepreneurs and business owners out there. I don't like scam artists again that doesn't matter where they're attacking and I want to be sure that we do whatever we can to help shine the light on these this problem and help people avoid these challenges. Well, we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck, you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com . Thank you again.