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Avoid Work at Home Scams

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While thinking about making money, it’s also important to note how to avoid losing it too. While there are many legitimate ways to make money at home, there are also plenty of scammers out there too. Christine Durst, author of The Rat Race Rebellion, says her research indicates the ratio of scams to legitimate opportunities is 42 to 1.


I responded to ads to stuff envelopes that boasted the ability to earn up to $1,500 a week with little effort. Though I was highly skeptical, I bought a dozen different starter kits for twenty to fifty dollars each, figuring one might work. Each instructed me to mail flyers aimed at recruiting other people to stuff envelopes. I wasn’t promoting a product or service—I was just told to get other people to stuff envelopes with the same offer. If they purchased the same kit, I’d receive a commission. I’m pretty resourceful, yet I couldn’t get this to pan out. Not a single cent. Recruiting people to stuff envelopes is the oldest work-from-home gimmick that fools people every day. Don’t be one of them.


That isn’t to say that all home-based opportunities that request money up front are rip-offs. Many legitimate direct sales companies and others that help you start your own business require a start-up fee to cover the cost of training manuals and supplies to get you going. But before mailing a check or submitting a credit card payment after reading hype on a website, consider this:


Never send money if you can’t talk to a person. No phone number on the Web site, but the person or company is promising you big bucks? Stay away. You may have to apply online before talking to someone, but you shouldn’t send money to someone you can’t talk to. Ask what specifically you’ll be required to do. Ask for the company to describe a typical work day to you. Find out what tasks you must perform or accomplish to get paid. Is pay by commission or salary? Ask about the realistic earning potential and about the obstacles and challenges too. If you wanted to become a consultant with Mary Kay or Avon, you’d have no trouble finding people willing to talk—not just email you—about how to get started. The same access to information and people should be your standard for any home-based work you consider.


If you are going to send money, ask first about a money-back guarantee. Specifically, find out how you’ll have to go about requesting a refund if you’re not satisfied and when you’ll receive it. This is especially important for Web sites that require a registration fee for access to listings or for sites that want to sell you an “information packet” or “starter kit.” Just because they request a fee doesn’t automatically mean it’s a scam, but you must do your due diligence to decide. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints about the company and try to verify the seller’s PayPal record. In addition, visit the FTC site for tips and numbers for registering complaints. (Similarly, if you have been scammed, be sure to report the nature of your complaint to these outlets as well.)


Do not reveal passwords or personal information. Once you’ve accepted a job and you opt for direct deposit, you’ll have to provide your bank account number. But this information isn’t relevant in the application process. Beyond that, you should never reveal passwords and PIN numbers for banking information or PayPal accounts, even though many online scams request these details. They claim they’re only requesting it to determine if you’re an honest applicant. Don’t fall for that nonsense.


Just because an ad or posting appears on a seemingly reputable website doesn’t mean the opportunity has been verified for legitimacy. The big job boards and a wide range of work-from-home websites are rich in resources. Yet they often feature ads and links that aren’t vetted for accuracy. With an abundance of opportunities out there, no single source can possibly verify the validity of every opportunity. You must do your own research, inject a big dose of common sense, and follow the advice here to avoid getting ripped off.


In the end, only you can decide if an opportunity is right for you. Do your own due diligence. I wouldn’t be willing to pay money in hopes of making money unless I could talk to someone about all of my questions and concerns. Remember that some people make thousands of dollars selling cosmetics and they’re rewarded with Pink Cadillacs. Even though Mary Kay is a very legitimate company with an honorable money-making opportunity, that doesn’t mean it is for everyone. The same holds true for all of the following resources and links. Only you can decide if it’ll work for you.


Even with all of these warnings, the reality is good, honest opportunities do exist. Good luck in your quest to make money from home!


Tory Johnson is the CEO of Women For Hire and the Workplace Contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America. She is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Will Work From Home: Earn the Cash Without the Commute.

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