Caveat Emptor


Scams continue to do the rounds with the most recent being a quite sophisticated scam by a user of You don’t need me to tell you, purchasing online carries inherent risks and caveat emptor applies there as anywhere else – perhaps even more so. So what about people who legitimately practice online – whose businesses rely on it? Like virtual assistants? How can you be sure the VA you partner with is legitimate?

Partnering with a VA requires a certain amount of due diligence on the part of the client particularly now with the trend to outsourcing to offshore providers – necessitating in some cases a similar amount of homework as you’d do if you were employing someone. Rarely will a client partner with a VA ‘sight unseen’ – but will have checked out the VA a little bit more before signing on the dotted line.

Here are a few tips for ensuring your potential VA partner is legit:

  1. Check their website. Does it look professional? Does it have easy-to-find contact information?
  2. Check testimonials. Are there any included on the website? If so, these should include contact information for the person providing the testimonial (either a link to their site or email or phone contact) so you can talk with them directly about their experiences with the VA.
  3. Are they credentialed? Does the VA have any industry certifications?
  4. Do they belong to any other industry- or business-related organisations? This shows a level of commitment to their business which will set them apart from the ‘players’.
  5. Google them to see what references the internet contains to them and their business.
  6. Ask around – your business colleagues or your own social or online networks. Has anyone heard anything negative about them? Anything positive?

How do you find this information out? It should either be included on the VA’s website or … ask them!

In this day and age, anyone can say anything online and indeed some people aren’t above simply telling you what you want to hear. So you will still need to apply the same level of diligence to your selection of a VA as you would an employee and do some research. You could also use a network site like to source your VA partner. This organisation pre-qualifies and checks all members for authenticity and professionalism before they can join.

©Lyn Prowse-Bishop,

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