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Standard fact sheet.

Business opportunity advertisements 

Guidelines for media advertising staff

Publishers of advertisements for employment and home-based business opportunities have certain obligations under the law. False or misleading representations in advertisements for these types of business opportunities are prohibited by the Australian Consumer Law. The law applies to both print and online advertising.

Advertising checklist

Check that advertisements:

  • clearly identify the advertiser, by providing the name of the business or contact person, the full street address and phone number
  • clearly state the true nature of the business opportunity including a description of position in clear simple terms
  • clearly state the product, service or industry involved
  • state if a cash investment is required, and if so, the dollar amount.

Do not accept advertisements which include:

  • only a PO Box number
  • exaggerated earnings or projected incomes
  • undisclosed costs for calls to 1900, 015 or 0055 numbers
  • no details of the product, service or industry involved.

Advertisers’ details

Publishers should ensure that they have adequate systems in place to identify who placed a specific advertisement including:

  • company/business name
  • full name and phone number of the contact person
  • complete street address.

This enables law enforcement agencies to follow up concerns about misleading, deceptive advertisements.

False and misleading advertisements

Misleading or deceptive business opportunity advertisements are often promoted on the basis of offering ‘work from home’. They usually share the same warning signs or characteristics. These include requests for:

  • up-front payment for goods that do not work
  • up-front payment for goods that do not match the description or sample provided
  • recruitment of other people to a scheme (these may be pyramid selling schemes)
  • payment for a ‘system’ to make money which may not work as it is supposed to.

Check advertisements that:

  • fail to provide enough information
  • fail to identify the nature of the opportunity
  • target people who are disadvantaged such as people with limited employment history or poor language skills
  • request bank account or credit card details
  • make claims of guaranteed income with little effort or risk
  • require payment of an up-front fee for business plans, start-up materials or software
  • are advertised under a misleading category, for example, an advertisement in the positions vacant section that is actually promoting training courses.

Below are two examples of unacceptable business opportunity advertisements.

Would you like to earn $1,000 per week? Simple, pleasant work you can do at home. Send self-addressed envelope to Fred Smith, PO Box 000 Smith Town NSW 1234.

How would you like to be paid every time someone pays their phone bill? Call 0412 345 678.

Note: The Australian Consumer Law requires that suppliers making pricing representations must not state a price that is only a part of the cost (ie a component) unless the single price is also clearly stated.

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