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Work At Home Parents

How to Avoid Work-at-Home Scams
by Liz Fretz
There are many opportunities on the Internet, published in magazines, and many other places to find work - both work outside the home and work at home. However, while there are many legitimate web sites and services, there are even more scams and rip-off artists! Before you are tempted by an appealing ad - check it out and protect yourself. People are losing money every day to work at home scams. Here are some ways to protect yourself. Don't become a victim!

Read the ad carefully. In many cases, the ad itself will tip you of that is really a scam. Some things you should watch out for:

  • The ad states you can make hundreds of dollars a week working from home.

  • You don't need any experience.

  • Working just a few hours a week will still rake in tons of money.

  • The ad uses a lot of CAPITALIZATION and exclamation marks!!!!!! If the opportunity is really that good, the words will speak for themselves.

  • If the ad is very vague and you're not really sure what the business is about or what you'll have to do BUT you're be making lots of money . . . be careful!

  • If you have to call a "for profit" phone number (e.g., a 900 number) or you're asked to spend money to get the information, it's a scam.

  • If a company asks for a fee to set you up with businesses looking for workers - it's a scam. Legitimate companies seeking new employees pay for recruiting services. Legitimate recruiting services never ask for money from the candidates they are trying to place.

  • Anytime a company uses hard sale techniques, pressures you to make a decision quickly, makes you feel stupid if you want to think it over or if you say no, or isn't willing to give you the information you need to make good decision - it's a scam!
In addition, the Federal Trade Commission asked email users to forward their unsolicited commercial email to the agency so they could study the types of bulk emails that were being sent. FTC staff found most bulk email offers appeared to be fraudulent. They believe that if consumers were to pursue most of the offers they receive they would be ripped-off. The FTC estimated that this type of fraud is costing consumers billions of dollars. Learn more from the FTC's Work at Home Schemes information sheet.

The scammer makes it sound easy to start a business that will bring lots of income without much work or cash outlay. The solicitations make unbelievable earnings claims of $140 a day, $1,000 a day, or more, and claim that the business doesn't involve selling, meetings, or personal contact with others, or that someone else will do all the work. Many business opportunity solicitations claim to offer a way to make money in an Internet-related business. These emails almost always lack details. There is often a telephone number to call for more information. In many cases, you'll be told to leave your name and telephone number so that a salesperson can call you back with the sales pitch. In most cases, these offers turn out to be sort of illegal pyramid scheme.

Another type of scam is bulk email solicitations. In this case they offer to sell you lists of email addresses, by the millions, to which you can send your own bulk solicitations. Some offer software that automates the sending of email messages to thousands or millions of recipients. Others offer the service of sending bulk email solicitations on your behalf. Some of these offers say, or imply, that you can make a lot of money using this marketing method.

But, there are problems with this. First, sending bulk email violates the terms of service of most Internet service providers. If you use one of the automated email programs, your ISP may shut you down. In addition, inserting a false return address into your solicitations, as some of the automated programs allow you to do, may land you in legal hot water with the owner of the address's domain name. Several states have laws regulating the sending of unsolicited commercial email, which you may unwittingly violate by sending bulk email. Few legitimate businesses, if any, engage in bulk email marketing for fear of offending potential customers.

The FTC also warns about work-at-home schemes that involve envelope-stuffing or other craft assembly work. These solicitations promise steady income for minimal labor-for example, you'll earn $2 each time you fold a brochure and seal it in an envelope. Craft assembly work schemes often require an investment of hundreds of dollars in equipment or supplies, and many hours of your time producing goods for a company that has promised to buy them.

Unfortunately, with these scams, you'll pay a small fee to get the business started, only to find out there never was any real employment offer. Instead, you'll get instructions on how to send the same envelope-stuffing ad in your own bulk emailings. If you earn any money, it will be from others who fall for the scheme you're perpetuating. And after spending the money and putting in the time on the craft assembly work, you are likely to find promoters who refuse to pay you, claiming that your work isn't up to their "quality standards."

The FTC also warns about all of the trendy get-rich-quick schemes. They offer unlimited profits exchanging money on world currency markets; newsletters describing a variety of easy-money opportunities; the perfect sales letter; and the secret to making $4,000 in one day. But as the FTC points our, "If these systems worked, wouldn't everyone be using them? The thought of easy money may be appealing, but success generally requires hard work."

But don't despair. There are some legitimate opportunities to work at home. But it's up to you to do the homework to find the legitimate companies. Once you are considering working with a company, it is important to check them out. This is always good advice, but it is especially true if you will be investing a large sum of money (e.g., purchasing a franchise or carrying a large inventory.) Before you sign any contracts or hand over any money - make sure you know about the company you are dealing with.

  • Consider hiring a lawyer. This may seem like a waste of money, but in the long run it could really save you some financial heartache. If there are any contracts involved, it would be wise to have professional review them before you sign. It's up to you to protect your own interests.

  • Call the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if there have been any complaints against the company. You should check with your local BBB as well as the office that is located in the state where the company resides.

  • Ask for references - be sure to get more than once reference, too. Specifically you should ask to speak to people who are presently doing whatever it is that you are considering. For example, if you are going to buy a franchise ask to speak to several people who currently own and operate the franchise you want to buy. Keep in mind that scammers have been know to give out phony references, so listen carefully to the people you speak with. You should ask the reference to tell you about any difficulties they had and how those difficulties were resolved. If no one had any problems, that might be a warning sign. Remember starting and setting up a business never goes completely as planned - there are always snags. What you want to know is: 1) How serious were the problems that occurred and 2) How much support does the company provide you in overcoming and working around the problems.

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If you've been careful, but you still find yourself the victim of a scam artist there are some things you can do. First you need to write the company and try to resolve the differences. It is possible that there was a misunderstanding. If the company is legitimate, they will work with you to resolve the problem. But, if it's clear they are not working with you then it's time to write them that you feel you have been ripped off, ask for all your money back, and tell them you plan to notify the officials. The following people should be notified:
  • If you read about this work-at-home scheme in a magazine or on a web site, let the editor or web-master know these people have ripped you off and you are unhappy that this company advertised in their magazine or on their web site. Legitimate magazines and web sites don't want to be associated with scams. They may not be able to help you resolve you problem, but they may pull the advertising in the future.

  • Report the company to the Attorney General's Office in your state or in the state where the company is located.

  • Call the National Fraud Information Center if you feel you are a victim of a "get-rich-quick" or an "easy money" scheme. There phone number is 1-800-876-7060. You can also check out their web site at http://www.fraud.org for daily alerts or new scams.

  • Call your local Consumer Protection Offices.

  • Call your local BBB and the BBB in the state of the scammer. You can also reach the BBB on their web site at http://www.bbbonline.org/

  • Notify the Postmaster if you received the information through the mail.

  • Report them to the Federal Trade Commission. While the FTC cannot resolve individual disputes, the agency can take action if there is evidence of a pattern of deceptive or unfair practices. To register a complaint, write to: Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580. You can also use their online complaint form at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

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