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It seems that everywhere you look-on the Internet, on coffee shop bulletin boards, in classified ads, and in the mail there are advertisements for work-at-home opportunities. Many of these solicitations are geared specifically to those individuals who are desperate to make money from home: stay-at home mothers, the disabled, and the elderly. Scam artists use this desperation to scam innocent people.
While there are some legitimate work at home companies, there are plenty of fakes out there too. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 2.5 million Americans will fall for some kind of work at home scam this year. Here are a few ways to identify those scams.
Do your homework before you invest any time or money in a work at home opportunity. Check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General’s office, and Better Business Bureau. Be sure to check the area the company is located in and the area that you reside in. Remember, just because a company does not have any complaints against them, does not make them legitimate.
Use the Internet to search for complaints made by other unsuspecting victims. Type the companies name with the word “complaint” attached to it. Look over the results carefully.
Visit the Better Business Bureau website. Here you can find a list of local BBB companies. You can also search for complaints using the business name, type of business, phone, URL, or email address.
Beware of the good old bait and switch scam. Here companies lure their victims in with big promises. They require advance payment for start-up materials and client lists. According to the FDC, in most circumstances materials are never received, outdated, or are worthless. It does not matter if the supplies are for stuffing envelopes, craft assembly, data entry, medical billing, online searches, mentoring, or rebate processing — anytime you have to send money upfront think twice.
The check forwarding scam involves the victim receiving a phony check for work that has been completed or is soon to be completed. The company then requests that a portion of the check amount be wired back to the company. The victim becomes responsible for the bounced counterfeit check and any money wired. Be suspicious when paychecks coincide with Western Union (or other) wire transfers.
The reshipping scam has become a popular one. Here the work advertisements ask for U.S. citizens to ship items overseas. Victims receive merchandise at their home to be reshipped out of the country. What they fail to mention is the goods are stolen and you could be held accountable.
Company Address and Phone Number
According to the Better Business Bureau, phony work at home companies will use mail drop addresses and list phone numbers that only reach a recorded message. These fakes will also advertise in states other than where they are located to avoid prosecution. Take the time to closely look at a companies address and phone number. If it seems fishy, it probably is.
Get the Details in Writing
Legitimate work-at-home companies should answer all of your questions in writing, and give you time to think it over. If a company fails to give you all of the job details in writing, or pushes you to make a decision fast be skeptical.
If a work-at-home opportunity has caught your eye take the time to fully investigate the company before you send an upfront payment or divulge credit card information. Read about common scams, take your time deciding, and get all of the job details in writing.
More from this contributor:
How to Prevent Email Fraud
How to Identify Counterfeit Checks
Identifying Counterfeit Money