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PostHeaderIcon Horror Stories of Affiliate Marketers Who Broke the Law and Faced the Consequences

Affiliate marketers often get too caught up in their quest to make money. More than anything, they want to increase sales and meet their own personal quotas. Unfortunately, they sometimes break the law, perhaps without even realizing it.

If you are serious about being an affiliate marketer then you better make damn sure you know the laws. More than one affiliate marketer has gone to jail for their mistakes. Some of them were shady, while others just didn’t know what they were doing. Make sure you know these laws so you don’t join them.

Laws You Need to Know

Ignorance of the law will not protect you in court. Whatever jurisdiction you live in, your first priority should be learning the laws. Better to be broke than busted.

Here is the checklist you need to ask yourself before you start marketing:

  1. State your motives.¬†According to the FTC, you must let your visitors know that you are receiving compensation for your reviews and posts. It’s okay to promote your affiliate product (obviously that’s what you are getting paid to do). However, you need to make sure your readers know that you are a marketer, not a blogger sharing unbiased advice. Many bloggers participated in the Google Money product and failed to disclose that they were receiving affiliate commissions for the reviews they posted. The FTC has considered going after the marketers of these programs along with the scumbags who ran them, because they failed to disclose that they had a biased interest in promoting the product.
  2. Participate in legitimate programs. Working with unscrupulous companies will do more than damage your reputation. It can also get you in serious legal problems. In one case, a group of affiliate marketers were sending visitors to free trial programs. These programs required customers to enter their credit cards and started billing them shortly after the free trial ended. The FTC filed lawsuits against the marketers as well as the people running the scam.
  3. Write honest reviews. Do you think you can be intentionally misleading towards your customers? So did many of the affiliate marketers for the Acai Berry thought so too. These marketers pretended to present an objective, journalistic viewpoint. At the end of the article, you could see that they were anything but. These marketers were ordered to stop using these practices and their “news” sites were shut down.
  4. Follow terms of service. If you are using a social networking site, you need to abide by the TOS. In 2009, one woman was charged because she used a fake picture on her Myspace profile. Read the terms of service if you want to promote through any forums or social networking sites. These site typically require you to use your own information and pictures when you are creating a profile.
According to a post on ReveNews, making any of these mistakes can be a violation of any of the following laws:
  • Violation of CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
  • Violation of the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act
  • Fraud
  • Tortious Interference With Contract
  • Breach Of Contract
  • Federal Trademark Dilution
  • False Designation Of Origin
Trust me, you don’t ¬†want to be in trouble with the FTC or any governing body in the country you live in. These mistakes can cost you your affiliate marketing career, your savings or your freedom. I am not a lawyer and can’t give you any legal advice. You may want to consider speaking with one before you start your affiliate marketing business.

Photo Credit

Kalen Smith is the Founder of Online Rookies and Engineer-a-Business. He holds degrees in mechanical engineering and an MBA. However, his true passion has always been IT and Internet marketing. You can find him on Twitter at Engineerbiz.

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