This article is to help both online business owners, those thinking about selling online AND online consumers! I'm putting to rest some questions and arguments, once and for all.

If you were to start a business down on Main Street, you would - without question - find out what the legal ramifications are, and do whatever is necessary to cover your butt.

I continue to fail to see WHY folks think that should be different if they have a business on the Web. It still seems as if way too many online business owners think they can cut corners just by the very fact that they DO operate online.

This is an erroneous idea that gets people into trouble!

I DO understand you can start an online business for FAR less capital than it takes down on Main Street. This is a GREAT thing for those losing jobs or needing additional income. I whole-heartedly recommend it!

However ... Are you in business - or not? The Web isn't a playpen, and it should be taken seriously if you plan to make a living on it!

Who do YOU do Business With?

Consumers ARE finally becoming more savvy about who they choose to do business with. They look for physical contact information - including a telephone number.

But, they are ALSO learning to look for the legal documents that protect them. True: it's becoming more complicated. At one time, it was mostly just a Privacy Statement they expected.

So many scammers have now brought consumers to the point for knowing to look for more protection. Can you blame them?

I shop online constantly, and you'd better believe I'm VERY careful to be sure the companies I patronize have the proper legal documents! I want to be SURE I'm dealing with a professional - and legal - business!

Which Brings Us to My Point ...

I RARELY join an affiliate program. If I did it for one iCop member, I'd feel like I had to do it for all of them. No time.

But, I DID join the AutoWebLaw Pro program when it first came out. Why? Because this is a product that can do nothing but help every single online business owner!

In fact, it's a NECESSARY product to doing legitimate business online. I truly believe in it for several reasons - not the least of which is the money business owners can save by using it instead of running to a business attorney every time some regulatory guideline changes.

And, by the way, the words "guidlelines" and "regulations" ARE used interchangeably by the regulatory institutions!

In another life, and for 15 years, I dealt with legal documents, and business laws in particular, for the businesses I represented in keeping them out of bankruptcy. There isn't much I don't know about how the legal system works for business.

So, you can believe me when I tell you the documents in AutoWebLaw Pro are TOP-NOTCH. And, I'll guarantee you - I wouldn't promote them for a single minute if they weren't!

It isn't just the current FTC new "guidelines." The AutoWebLaw Pro package is full of more legal advice than you can shake a stick at! All you have to do to gain that advice is READ all the documents.

Now, I know the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or a similar agency in other countries, isn't going gunning for every small business owner online. They don't have the staff for that.

But, let a couple of consumers report you for something, and see what happens! Once a red flag goes up, an investigation can start while you're blissfully drinking your coffee and counting your money.

You won't know anything about it until someone arrives on your door step with a subpoena!

“Well, (Boo-Hoo) it's only a guideline!”

“Yeah, Pal, it's a guideline today, but as soon as we take you to court, and win - which we will - it sets a precedent that makes it part of the LAW. We refine the “law” as we go along!”

The BASIC law simply says, “No deceptive advertising.” But, what constitutes deceptive advertising is determined by the courts!

You should also know - if you don't live in the USA and your payment processor IS in the USA, all U.S. FTC laws also apply to you. Refuse to comply and you can lose your payment processor!

Two Final Tips

  • Consumers are absolutely RIGHT to look for, and read, legal documents on a website. And, not lay down a single penny until they do!
  • Every online business owner is ALSO an online consumer. Legal documents apply to you from BOTH sides!

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* dr. jl scott is the Founder of Chamber of Commerce - on the Web™ - and also the publisher of the Online Business Trade Journal™ - the blog that keeps you up to date with online business coming of age. Visit:

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