The Problem with Trust and the Internet
In a world where “catfishing,” (the act of pretending to be something one is not), became not only an online dating scam, but the basis of a popular television show, how can anyone actually be trusted on the Internet? Doing business with complete strangers, sometimes from across the globe, has become commonplace, but not because we’ve found better ways to verify people’s identities, but simply because websites and platforms have been developed that allow and encourage us to interact with people we don’t know anything about. The upside is that sites like Kickstarter let entrepreneurs raise money from people across the country to fund projects they may not otherwise be able to bring to life, and Airbnb lets people travel the world, explore new cultures, or just make some extra money. The darker side is that some people may have recently used these two sites in particular to take advantage of others.
Two men rented a condo using Airbnb from a woman in Southern California, stopped paying her after 30 days and refused to vacate her condo. They had lived in the condo long enough to gain renters’ rights under California law, and evicting them would have been a long, expensive process for the owner. The situation was resolved, but could have been much worse.
Another scam took place on Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding site, when two men raised $122,874 to create a board game called The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, but the game was never actually created and the funds were allegedly used for personal expenses. The Federal Trade Commission took legal action against the two men and a settlement was reached. It just goes to show, you may never know who’s really behind a photo, or a page, or an ad on the Internet.
Because of internet scams like these, some people may be wary of participating in things like crowdfunding campaigns, or with the recent changes around equity crowdfunding, in startup investing. Even businesses can be wary of working with others, and most will verify the credibility of a company before entering into contracts with them. But the advantages can far outweigh the costs when it comes to interacting online, and it can be in everyone’s best interest to have strong, accessible credibility. So how does one build credibility in the age of the Internet?
Building Credibility Online
Crowdfunding sites offer many different ways for entrepreneurs to show their credibility. In addition to posting links, videos and information about yourself and your campaign to your profile, there are a few other things you can do to help show that you’re trustworthy.
- Create a website or social profiles for your campaign
- Follow through on your promises
- Have testimonials and references
- Be active with your supporters throughout your campaign
By keeping your investors up-to-date and actually following through on the commitments you made to them, you can help establish credibility. If an investor donates money to your campaign but never sees an email from you and can’t find you on social media, they may think you’re not trustworthy. Being active online and with your investors can make those involved with your campaign feel more confident. You can also post references and testimonials from people who have worked with you on your project or on past projects, to help show your credibility. Being able to provide investors with names and faces of people who support you can help them feel at ease.
Building Credibility As A Business
It can be a little easier to build credibility as a business, as opposed to as an individual on a crowdfunding site, because there are companies like Dun & Bradstreet that collect data on businesses and help companies build and maintain their credit. Here’s how building business credit works:
- Businesses can submit trade references* to Dun & Bradstreet for approval
- Individuals can buy businesses’ credit reports to see how they pay their bills, what their PAYDEX score is, and more
- Big businesses can pull reports to see a company’s supplier score, before deciding to work with the company
By building and managing your business credit profile, you can help show others that your business is reliable, and being a reliable business can prove extremely beneficial in today’s world. For example …
Building Business Credit Can Help You:
- Get supplier contracts
- Improve your cash flow
- Find funding
- Get better terms on contracts and loans
- Gain wider distribution for your products and services
Many business owners are unaware that they need business credit, or how to start building it. But in a world where you can send money via apps and invest in startups online and rent your home to total strangers, having credibility can be the difference between a great business experience, or a horrible one.
Interested in a FREE business credit consultation with one of our Credit Advisors? Simply fill out this form or call 1-800-701-7168.
Photo Credit: Don Hankins, Flickr
*Trade References will be added subject to D&B® verification and acceptance. Please see http://www. dandb.com/glossary/trade-references/ for eligibility, process and other information regarding Trade References.