Business owners beware of "business program" scams

With two of these solicitations within a week of each other, it seems now is the time of year that small business owners like myself are being targeted with this "business program" scam.

The phone calls I received went like this: The caller is a "producer" for a generic-sounding business television show (or so they make it seem) with a celebrity host. They're looking for "guests" to be on a show about [insert your industry], and wonder if you'd be interested in participating.

I call this stuff a scam for several reasons. The "show" isn't really a show at all. It's really just a commercial that ranges in length from three to ten minutes. You're told that the "show" is used as filler material in between the major programming at cable networks, and so they get lots of viewers. In my world, filler material is what's commonly known as commercials.

You learn about all the fancy production that will be done to make your "show" fabulous, and all the millions of viewers who will see it. Of course, such things are worth far more than any advertising you could buy. This is where you get suspicious because you realize they're going to ask for money. And sure enough... The "producer" asks for a fee of $10,000 to $20,000 to cover "production costs," and this fee is (of course) quite a bargain for you! Want to sign up?