#242: Health Coaches Beware! Avoid These 5 Industry Scams

As the health coaching industry grows, so do the number of scam artists targeting our backs. One of the benefits of our community is being able to share these experiences – so others can avoid the same traps. Listen in for details and if YOU have experienced any type of scam, please share inside our free Facebook group: HealthCoachPowerCommunity.com

This episode is brought to you by Practice Better, my favorite client management tool. Save 30% off your first 3 months with code HCP30 at https://healthcoachpower.com/pb.

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Health Coaches Beware! Avoid These 5 Industry Scams

It happens all over the internet but, unfortunately, health coaches seem to be the target of more and more scams.

Why? We’re vulnerable. Coaches are so excited to get clients that we want to believe anyone who tells us they can help. Just remember, “help” doesn’t always have your best interest at heart.

This post will cover five different scams I’ve seen targeting health coaches – and help you avoid them.

Scam #1: Job postings from ghost companies

One of our Facebook group members recently recounted a very odd interview with a remote “company” she found on LinkedIn.

They asked some questions over text, did a very short phone interview, told her she was hired…and then started asking for lots of personal info for so-called payroll reasons: Passport. Driver’s License. Bank account. 

Something seemed off – the call was muffled and hard to understand. The documents looked amateurish. 

She searched for the company again on LinkedIn to learn more about them and the listing was no longer there. Yikes.

The moral of the story here is to listen to your gut. If it seems off, it IS off. 

(And no payroll service will ever require your passport number, by the way!)

Scam #2: Multi-level marketing schemes

Someone is looking for motivated coaches to join their team! They’re super excited to get you on board! It sounds exciting. . . and then they tell you how much you’ll need to invest.

They promise you’ll make money. It’ll be a great side hustle. And maybe that’s true. But more often? It will split your energy and eat into your finances. 

I’ve seen many coaches go down this road. They’re sucked into selling the products, and their health coaching business takes the back seat. 

The biggest problem here is that they’re not straightforward with you. You don’t find out what they’re asking right off the bat – they’re trying to get you committed before you know what you’re signing up for. Red. Flag.

Scam #3: Pay to play

You open your email and you see: We want you to write the next bestseller! Or, you’ve been chosen to be on our podcast! It’s a great opportunity! You’ll get so much exposure! We have an audience of millions!

But when the fine print comes through, YOU have to pay THEM (and it ain’t cheap.)

Here’s the thing: buying an audience doesn’t work. Who is this giant audience, anyway? Are they in your target market? Are their followers even real human beings? 

Remember, you can find your audience for free – and they’ll actually be potential clients, not bots and randoms.

Bottom line: if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Do your due diligence. 

Scam #4: Clients who mess around

One of our Facebook group members recounted an interaction with a client that just didn’t sit right. 

This client paid in full with her credit card…then kept asking for different refunds so she could split the payment up in different ways using different cards. She still hasn’t paid the full amount.

Could there be a legit reason? Maybe…but the client isn’t being straightforward. It feels off. 

Listen to your gut. This could be a total scam. But even if it’s not, is this a client you want to work with? If you don’t feel comfortable with the interaction, you can simply say “we’re not a good fit” and move on.

Scam #5: The six-figure promise

If a school, a business coach, or a social media consultant is promising you’ll make six figures as a health coach if you buy their program, RUN.

There are absolutely health coaches who make this kind of money. But the truth is, most don’t. And that’s ok. Maybe you don’t even need or want 6 figures. Is that your actual goal? Or did it just sound sexy?

You can build yourself a very profitable business as a health coach, but it takes time and hustle. Don’t fall for the hype. Focus on sustainable growth and from there anything is possible.

Let’s stick together!

Scams are out there, and they always will be.  But we can learn to avoid them. Listen to your gut. Lean on reputable, trusted resources for information. And stay plugged in to the health coach community! Sometimes having other coaches to bounce something off of is exactly the reality check you need. Join our free Facebook group now and get connected.

Full transcript:

All righty. Hello everybody. Welcome Health Coaches. Today we are talking about industry scams. I've been noticing more and more of this stuff coming up in our Facebook group, so I thought it was definitely time for us to talk about it.

If you're here live, please go ahead and say hello in the comments. Barbara, I see you there. Hello. I see some of you over on Instagram. It's always nice to do these together, and as we talk today, I would love to hear in the comments if you've had any experiences like this, or maybe you've had something else entirely because one of the benefits of us working together as a community is being able to share this information and keep other health coaches from falling into scams and traps and terrible things like that.

I first want to say, well, first I'm going to say that this episode is brought to you by my favorite client management tool practice better, and you can save 30% for your first three months at healthcoachpower.com/pb. And you want to use code HCP that stands for Health Coach Power HCP30.

What I was really going to say before that was some people think that health coaching in general is a scam. Have you guys ever just Googled that term, like health coaching scam? You're going to see tons of stuff. I know some people look at that and they never even enroll at a health coaching school because they get scared off. And I know when I was going to enroll or I was thinking about enrolling at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and now this is way back in the dark ages, I thought, is it a real thing? I should go back to a quote real school. I should get a real degree. And of course then I didn't want to learn what the RD programs were teaching, nor did I want to spend the kind of money to go back to college and get another degree.

You know, probably a lot of the same reasoning that many of you went through in your own minds when choosing to go to school to become a health coach. However, people think that the whole thing is a scam. So that's kind of funny. I can tell you that health coaching couldn't possibly be a scam because over the past 14 years that I've had my certification, I've worked with clients on six different continents. I've seen real people change their lives for the better and reach their health goals and have major life achievements as a result of working together. That's not a scam. That's real. That's real stuff. But not everybody believes that. They think you have to have, I don't know, a degree from Harvard on your wall before you can help anybody. So, I just want to say that first haters are going to hate, and that's not what I want to talk about today.

I want to talk about what happens once we are in the profession, but I just think this whole industry is fraught with trust issues you from the get go. Yeah, so as with anything in life, you want to listen to your gut. You want to trust people that you know want to lean on, trusted, reputable resources for information. There's a lot out there these days. So anyway, I'm hoping that just by airing some of the weird stuff that's been going on, we can avoid more of it from happening. So again, thank you. If you're here live for joining, tell me in the chat if you have experienced any type of what you would consider a scam so far in this industry. And I am going to tell you about five different situations that I see come up again and again. The first one actually was fairly recent.

This came from Susie. She posted inside our Facebook group and she said that she applied, I'm going to read it from her the way she wrote it. She said, I applied for a remote health coach job on LinkedIn that ended up being a total scam. They had a very strange interview process. The first step was text based where I had to answer specific health coach related questions. It felt like the questions were coming from a bot, not a person, but they were legitimate. The second step was a five minute phone interview with somebody I could barely understand, and the call was muffled. All he asked was how I rated the interview process from one to 10, how I rated myself and where I saw myself in five years. He told me I scored a nine to 10 on the phone interview, nothing about the role or the job at all, creepy and odd.

Next, I got an email saying that I'm hired, and the documents enclosed looked totally bogus with cut and pasted sections and logos and bad punctuation. They asked for passport information, bank information, driver's license information for their payroll. And this the page had a SpongeBob looking background. I can't even believe this as I am reading it. But anyway, this place was asking Susie for her passport info, her bank info, and her driver's license. Can you believe the audacity of people? Anyway, she said they advertised the remote health and wellness coach job from United Digestive Healthcare, and when I did a search for the role today on LinkedIn, it's no longer there. And this is not the only time I've heard about a scam like this happening on LinkedIn. So obviously, if anyone ever asks you for your passport information, your driver's license information, that is never part of payroll.

I have a whole payroll system. I pay a lot of people on including myself, and I'm going to tell you, we do not require anything like that. So just a big red flag that you never need to be giving out your personal information like that. But it sounds to me like Susie knew that this was weird right from the get-go, because who does an interview process via text and then to have a phone interview that she felt was creepy and odd? This is just going back to what I said a few minutes ago. Listen to your gut. We're operating in this online space, and this could just be anyone. I would guess that they're not just even targeting health coaches, but maybe other types of professions. But I do think, tell me what you think in the comments. Don't you think health coaches are a little more at risk or likely to be targeted by something like this?

Because there can be a certain desperation when you're starting your own thing, you know are looking for clients. We have a lot of health coaches that don't know anything about marketing, but we just want to help people and there can be this desperation to find clients, and that can be preyed upon. Sad, sad. The only silver lining I can see in this is that if health coaching has become targeting, targeted for these types of scams, we've made it in some sense because 14 years ago when I started out, nobody knew what a health coach was. There certainly were no scams targeting us because it was so new and so weird and different. So we must be gaining some ground that's maybe a small shred of hope. But anyway, careful with these interviewing processes. I mean, I'm not going to call it a scam, but the other thing that happens a lot are jobs that are available online.

And if you look into them, I mean, they're paying $15 an hour and you're going to work with a hundred clients, you're going to spend 10 minutes with each one. I don't know, I'm just repeating what I've heard back from lots of different health coaches who've taken various positions. So even though those might not be scams, they're still questionable. They're still probably not the work you want to be doing. So easy on the LinkedIn applications and everybody, that one hit me like, whoa, I can't believe that's the kind of thing the health coaches are receiving. And I know Susie and Susie is a very smart woman, and I know that she wouldn't go into something like this blind. Clearly, she had her brain working the whole time saying, this doesn't feel right. Let me see what the next step is. Look at how bogus this looks and has typos and there's punctuation errors.

I mean, those are definitely all signs that we're not dealing with something legit. Oh my goodness, I wish she was the only one who had been subject to that scam. But I have seen this posted in a couple different forums, so I know it's become a little bit common. Someone saying over here on Instagram, she says, I find those jobs do not pay much. Correct? They do not pay much. And do you want to be working so many hours every week to be not affecting lives very deeply because you're only working with them for a short period of time? You have so many clients and then the end, you're not even getting paid well, so not what we probably planned when we decided to become a health coach. Right? All right, let's talk about another one. Has this ever happened to you? Tell me in the comments if you've, this typically happens on social media, sometimes it happens through email.

I've been on the receiving end of this many times where someone is looking for motivated coaches to join their team, anything like that. Hey, I'm looking for coaches who want to change the world. I'm looking, they're trying to amp you up, make you feel really good, and get on board with them and what they're about to do. And ooh, you want to just find out more about that? What is it really anyone? It's an MLM like hands down every time. Every time. So someone's looking for motivated health coaches to join their team. And sometimes it's not even that explicit. Sometimes it's like, oh, I have this amazing way of getting client results. I'd love to share it with any health coaches that are interested. Well, guess what that's going to be? That's going to be some pill or shake or something that somebody's selling or whatever.

You know what I mean? So that comes up all the time. Barbara's saying, yep, been there. I know you guys could probably just open up your dms on Instagram or your inbox and you're getting this stuff all the time. I mean, it's too bad. I've never been involved with the MLM kind of on principle, but there are good products out there. It's just the way that this type of marketing works. Again, I feel like health coaches can fall prey to it because sometimes we're desperate to make money. We're desperate to find a way to move forward. Oh, this is someone who can help me. This is someone who could show me the way, oh, maybe I can do this. Even once you figure out what it is, well, maybe I can do this in addition to finding my own health coaching clients, maybe.

But typically it splits your energy, and everyone ends up putting a ton of energy into the MLM and their health coaching business does not take off. So, I'm just putting it out there. Cause that's what I have seen again and again and again. I know some of you are exceptions. Some of you have done very well working with MLMs. You're very happy with them. Many are... It's not working. It's not working well, and it just feels so icky to be approached like that. So, here's what I have appreciated. I've appreciated when I've been approached like this. Hey, Michelle, I'm working for fill in the blank company name. I thought you might be interested. Let me know. Or, Hey, Michelle, I know that you like such and such. Again, I'm working for, and they give you the company name right off the bat, very transparent. Would you like me to send some samples?

Would you like to talk about it? Would you like to an invitation that is just fully transparent. I still never say yes, but at least it's transparent. I don't get upset about it. So I wish that more of these MLM pitches were happening that way. But just go, just easy Does it? Anytime you're on social and somebody's offering you something that sounds too good to be true. It probably is. And I'm going to talk about another one next. This is the other thing that I see happening a lot. You've been selected, Ooh, I've been selected. You've been selected to be an author of a bestselling book, or you've been selected to appear on a podcast to an audience of millions. You've been selected. Oh my goodness. We looked at your website. They give you some spiel about how you're so special, you feel good about yourself, and then they invite you to author a book.

Wow, that's a great opportunity. Or be a guest on their show, et cetera. And coaches, I like when you guys come into our Facebook group and you ask about this stuff. You say, Hey, I've just got this email. Is this legit? Because it gives us an opportunity to be like, no, no, it is not. This is pretty common. And the scam here is that, yeah, you can be the author of a book, you're going to get a chapter in a book where other people are offering the other chapters, and you're going to have to pay to do it. Probably it's not $9 either. You know what I mean? It's going to be fairly expensive. Or you're going to pay to be a guest on that podcast, and maybe that podcast does reach a million people. You will never know if that's true or not. But even if it does, who are those people?

Are they your people? Are they people who are looking for a health coach? Are they bots? Are they, who knows who they are? And again, you're going to have to pay good money to be on that show, which is absolutely ridiculous because any one of you can be a guest on a podcast and on a podcast that's actually got legit listeners, and you can do it for free. I mean, this is something I teach. So if you're getting these opportunities again, that sound too good to be true, they're coming from someone you don't know and trust, look 'em up. Look at the u r who sent this to me. Go to that website. Is it a real website? It's pretty easy to tell. Like Susie was saying in her post about look for typos, look for punctuation errors, look for broken links. You know, can usually tell if something is a legit business or not.

And it's like, ask the questions. See what the response is. Is someone going to get back to you? Who's speaking English in plain terms? Or is it somebody who's copying and pasting stuff or like a robot? It's just copying, pasting, replies to you. So anyway, if you're giving offers to get exposure that you have to pay hundreds, thousands of dollars for, first of all, I think it's a bad marketing plan for you. But second of all, this is a scam. This is not going to help you in your business, and you can just hit delete, delete, delete, delete. Oh, add your stuff to our health coach database. Oh, if it's coming from a stranger and you've never heard of it before, just hit delete and get on with your day. There are so many better ways for you to be spending your energy than dealing with this nonsense.

Oh my goodness. Has any of this happened to you guys? Have you got the please author, a book thing? Have you got the be on the podcast thing? Just to find out? You're going to have to pay. Oh, it makes me mad. All right, I have a different one for you now. Different meaning usually we're talking about people who are trying to preying on health coaches because they know we are susceptible. We know we are. We might be desperate for work. We might be desperate to make money.

What about on the client side though? This I found very interesting, and I am still not sure if this is a full on scam yet or not. Tell me what you think. So, this is posted by Namita in our Facebook group. She said a client enrolled in my high ticket program. She paid in full using one credit card. Then she emails me the next day that she wants to split the payment between two cards instead, I offered her the courtesy of refunding 50% to the card she used and even absorbed the bank processing charge on my end, sent her a new payment link for the 50% so she could use her second card. And she said, perfect, but I take it that she didn't pay it. Okay, Namita went on. She said, today I get an email saying, hi, could we do a refund of the full amount? Two new transactions on the cards will be cleaner for me. Thanks. And she said, I've never heard this before. Does this make any sense? I feel she's just playing me to get a full refund back. Maybe she has cold feet. I mean, it's fine. But I don't appreciate the sneaky way in which this is happening. And I noticed there's no apology, no offer to absorb the processing charge. Nothing. It just feels wrong all around. Again, hard facts. I don't know. It's a woman who wants to use a different credit card. That could be legit. I don't know what the reason would be, but who knows. But in her interactions with this person, Namita is saying, this doesn't feel right. This isn't how a person would normally act. It's just actually my.... my stepfather is a cop. So I grew up in a house where the doors were always locked, and if I was going to go out at night, I got a lecture. If I was going to go into the city, I mean, he'd have me practice. If somebody grabs you like this, what do you do if somebody grabs you like that? What do you do? So anyway, what I learned from this is if something feels sketchy, if something feels off, it usually is, right?

So, I'm really glad that Namita posted this into our, because again, I have no idea what's going on with this client, but somebody actually commented that there are scams like this where maybe the first card, the payment never actually went through, but they ask you for a refund. So now you're paying them. I don't know. I'm not sure about that. But I thought, Ooh, now that's strange. That's very tricky. And you got to know, we have our websites out there. We're offering free consultation calls to anybody. They could book a call with you, say they want to be your client and run the scam on you. I don't know. So this speaks to two things. The first being follow your instinct. If something feels off, it is off. And even if this is not some sort of financial scam, this client is weird, this client is a pain in the butt already.

And I would just say, you know what? I don't think we're a good fit to work together. Actually, I'm going to just call it quits right now. And you can do that. If something feels off for any reason you feel uncomfortable with a client, you can fire the client and just cut it whenever it makes sense for you. So you don't have to feel bad about it. You don't have to say, oh, but they paid me it. I mean, in this case, just make sure you're not refunding money that never actually deposited in the account. So that is, gosh, I can't say it enough. When someone gives you like that, he bje B feeling like 9.9 times out of 10, it's correct. Just like if you're walking down the street of the city and you get a creepy feeling that somebody is following you, just listen to that instinct.

Just a very strange thing. Oh my goodness. All right, so we have to watch out on the client side as well. Oh, this is what I wanted to say. To avoid some of this, even just general client weirdness, in addition to any possible scams, it is helpful to have potential clients jump through a few hoops before you even get on the phone with them. Not to mention, offer them your program. So this speaks to not having a buy button on your website where someone can just click it and then you end up with who knows who this person is, who you now have to work with. It also speaks to making somebody go through enough steps that they're, they're not going to do it. If they're not serious, they're just going to move on to the next one, or they're going to just forget about it.

You only want clients that are serious and that are legit. So I teach an application process, and I do think that within that application process, you can kind of see, this person's strange, this, I'm getting a bad vibe from this person. And maybe you just never even have a call with that person. One time I had an application come in and it's always exciting, somebody wants to work with me. Yay. And I read the application and she was very rude and almost abusive in her language in the application. Not a scam, but certainly one of those times where I needed to listen to my gut and go, no, no thank you. We're not going to book a call with this one. Do you think you could do that? Do you think you could actually turn down a potential client because of what your gut is telling you?

I'll tell you what, if you don't do it once and you don't do it twice, you won't make the mistake a third time. It ends up being such a hassle for you in the long run. You start to sniff it out real early. That's been my experience through the years. You know, just get a whiff of something is off much, much earlier. And that's a good thing. That is growth, but I'm trying to give you a heads up. Alrighty, what other scams are happening out there? Here's the last one I want to talk about today. And I do again, want to invite you to share your stories in the comments in our Facebook group. If anything weird has ever happened to you, here's one that is happening all over the place. It's a little more obvious, but I need to call it out anyway.

So, anybody out there who is promising you six figures as a health coach, I'm talking about schools, maybe your school's promising you this when you sign up. I'm talking about business coaching programs. I'm talking about marketing experts, social media, people that you might hire, whoever, anyone who's promising you and continuously talking about six figures as a health coach. Run. I don't know how else to say this, right? Can you earn six figures as a health coach? Yeah, you can. Do health coaches earn six figures? Yeah, they do. Most don't, right? It's, it's not a given that if you do X, Y, Z, you're going to be able to break six figures every year. I mean, it just sounds good. It's just icky marketing, that kind of promise. You'll never hear me promise six figures to anybody. And frankly, not every health coach wants to earn six figures.

Some health coaches want to be working part-time, want to have one or two clients on the side, or, you know, want to earn a decent salary. But six, I don't know. It just sets the bar crazy high for what you can expect out of a profession that a, you're brand new to. You've never run a business like this before. I mean, what are the chances that you're going to hire someone or join a program and in the next six months or 12 months, you're going to be earning six figures? That is a very small chance. So I just want to set everybody's expectations. You stay in this industry two years, three years, five years, 10 years, you'll get there. You can get there, absolutely. But it is complete... I think it is wildly misleading to be promising anyone that right out of the gate, do you hear this all the time, right? It's like the drum that everyone beats, earns six figures as a coach, earns six figures as a coach. I mean, what if we just earned a really nice five figures? What about that? Or maybe for some of us this year, we're just going to earn four figures and we're going to pay back what we spent on our Health Coach certification program, and that's going to feel really good. Let's be reasonable. Let's be reasonable.

And so that just kind of takes me back to the beginning, this whole idea of listen to your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And with business, can you get better at it? Yes. Can you learn to sign more clients? Absolutely. I mean, we teach this day in and day out inside Healthy Profit University. If you want to learn how to earn a living doing the work you love, I do have a free training. It's at healthcoachpower.com/training. You will not once hear me talk about six figures, right? That would be disingenuous. So, that is what's going on in the industry these days, you guys. I hope it's been helpful just to get a little reality check, put a face, and maybe a voice to all this noise that happens in the online space. So just be careful out there and we are here for you. So, if anything doesn't feel good, come let us know what it is, and happy to give you a gut check anytime. Have a great week everybody. Thanks for joining today. I'll see you soon. Bye-Bye.