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How to avoid work from home scams

Working from Home may not generate the income that you expect.

Desk with papers, computer and printer with bed in background
Desk with papers, computer and printer with bed in background. | Photo by: flickr.com

What better way to earn extra income than to work from home? Some consumers believe that working from home will allow them to spend more time with their families and reduce the expense of commuting to work. Advertisements for ”Work from home” opportunities can be found everywhere from a posting in a supermarket to a posting on your computer. The promise of earning big bucks from your couch is tempting but consumers must do their research to find reputable companies.

Work from home scams are plentiful. Operators of these schemes make promises of prosperity. Some promise to return the consumer’s money if they are not satisfied. Many promises are made and few, if any, are kept. The con artists do not disclose details about the long hours involved and little money to be made. They may put unauthorized charges on the consumer’s credit card. It’s not uncommon for the victims of this fraudulent activity to lose thousands of dollars and waste time and energy.

The most popular scams are explained.

Envelope Stuffing - The consumer is charged a fee to receive materials about stuffing envelopes at home. Unfortunately, the consumer receives information explaining how to entice others to “buy” into the envelope stuffing business.

Assembly or Craft Work - Consumers purchase expensive tools and supplies to assemble products at home. The company refuses to pay for the products because they are ‘substandard’. The consumer is stuck with the product, tools and supplies.

Rebate Processing – Consumers pay a fee for training, certification and registration. They receive inferior training materials and no rebates to process.

Medical Billing – The consumer is charged an astronomical amount to receive computer software, customer leads and technical support. They receive nonworking software, out of date and fraudulent leads.

Some work-from-home opportunities are legitimate, but fraudulent work-from-home opportunities are one of the most prevalent scams today. Before committing to any work-from-home agreement, you must do your research. First, examine your talents and plan to capitalize on skills. Also, research different professions. For example, many realtors, graphic designers and computer programmers work from home.

Before signing any agreement to work from home, you should ask the following questions (via the Federal Trade Commission)

  • What tasks will I have to perform? (Ask the program sponsor to list every step of the job.)
  • Will I be paid a salary or will I be paid on commission?
  • What is the basis for your claims about my likely earnings? Do you survey everyone who purchased the program? What documents can you show me to prove your claims are true before I give you any money?
  • Who will pay me?
  • When will I get my first paycheck?
  • What is the total cost of this work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees? What will I get for my money?

Other actions to take are:

  • Contact the state Attorney General, Better Business Bureau, and the local consumer protection agency to see if there are any complaints against the company
  • Perform a computer search using the company’s name or other company information to check on complaints

Remember that a company that has no complaints may have operated, previously, under a different name.

Consumers who are victimized by fraudulent activities should file complaints against the responsible parties. Contact the Federal Trade Commission, your state’s Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, or the US Postal Service to file any complaints.

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