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BBB: Use wisdom when joining 'Wisdom Circles'

The Better Business Bureau is warning women in eastern Idaho to be cautious when joining support groups. 

"Wisdom circles" are popping up in the area. The groups are advertised as a way for likeminded women to support each other. Robb Hicken with the BBB said some of these circles are truly supportive in nature, but others have ulterior motives.

Here is how it works: A woman is invited to join, but she must gift up to $5,000 as a show of support. The gift also shows willingness to invite others into the circle of wisdom. The longer a woman is in the group, the better chance she has to move to a "receiver position" and be the promised recipient of thousands of dollars.

Technically these groups are legal because they are not asking for a fee, but a gift.

In a press release, the BBB encourages you to ask these questions before you join a wisdom circle:

  • Talk to group members. and ask if they satisfied? Ask if they have experienced any problems?
  • Interview the founder or a group moderator. Ask yourself if she is friendly and helpful. Ask her about qualifications, certification and education. Plus, ask how she got involved.
  • Review any contract or materials. Walk away from groups that pressure you to sign on the spot. Make sure everything that the inviter promised in the contract. Check if there is a monthly fee and if any extra fees are hidden. See what the total cost and payment schedule is, including enrollment fees and finance charges.
  • Take a look at the membership details. Ask how long do you have to be a circle member. Ask if you can you go month-to-month. Plus, is it required to attend a percentage of meetings?
  • Know the cancellation or withdrawal policy. Ask what your cancellation rights are if you move, have a life-changing incident, are injured, or wisdom group folds. Ask if the unused portion of your gift will be refunded.

The BBB advises everything should be in a contract.

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