No one wants to be the victim of a scam. But avoiding work-at-home scams is more than just about protecting your money or identity. It will also keep you out of legal hassle. Some scams involve the victim perpetuating the scam. In other words, the victim unwittingly becomes the scammer, which means he can be arrested. Ignorance is no defense to getting hoodwinked into a scam, as many victims have discovered.
To protect your money, identity, work-at-home dream, and to stay out of legal trouble, do all you can to learn about scams and how to avoid them. Below are eight common scams found online and off.
1. Envelope Stuffing – This scam has been around and debunked for a long time. I’m actually surprised that people still get caught up in envelope stuffy scams. It just goes to show how clever scammers can be in making you think they’ve got a real opportunity. But consider yourself warned: envelope stuffing is always a scam. It would cost businesses more to send you materials and envelopes to stuff and pay $1 or more envelope, than to do it in-house. It’s cheaper to get a minimum wage worker or better yet, a machine to do it. You’ll notice in theses scams you’re always asked for money. Sometimes it’s as low as $25, and then you’re sent information on how to advertise and perpetuate the scam. Other times, you’re asked to pay $99 to $399. Remember, you never have to pay for employment.
2. Assembly Work – I’ve never run into anyone making money with assembly work programs, at least not over the long term. These scams make their money selling you kits. The company may accept and pay for your first batch of assembled items as a way to get you to buy more, but then after that you work is considered not good enough and refused.
3. Data Entry and Typing – On occasion I find legitimate data entry and typing jobs, but it’s so rare that I feel comfortable warning you away from them. Most data entry and typing “jobs” are deceptive educational resources teaching affiliate marketing, which is legit, but has very little to do with typing and data entry. If you’re looking for employment, you’ll know these types of jobs are scams because they charge money. Legitimate typing and data entry work will ask for skills, experience, and a typing speed.
4. Pyramid Schemes – Many erroneously think MLM and network marketing are pyramid scams, but that’s not true. It’s not the shape or the act of recruiting alone that defines a pyramid. A pyramid scheme promises monetary gain without a quality product or service. Legitimate MLMs pay you based on what you sell. You can recruit others, but you aren’t paid per recruit. Instead you receive a percentage of what that recruit sells. So legitimate programs are always focused on selling a product or service. Illegal pyramids pay for the act of recruiting (i.e. $50 for each person you bring in…with no other income such as sales). Another example of this scan is gifting programs and bogus investment opportunities (ponzi schemes) where you’re told to invest $2000 and in a few weeks, when you find 5 other members, you’ll have $10,000. Those are illegal.
5. Email Processing – Some clever scammer figured out how to bring envelope stuffing online. In email processing, you pay a fee to join and then are sent information on how to perpetuate the scam (email others, charge $25 for information on how to email others to charge $25…etc).
6. Fake Check Scams – This scam is popping up everywhere, not just in work at home schemes. Further, it doesn’t seem to target one job type. I’ve seen fake check scams advertise for payment processors, mystery shoppers and helpers (i.e. “drive my mom around” or “help my mom move”). The trick to knowing this is a scam is if the “employer” asks you to use your personal bank account to help it do business. Anytime a stranger wants to send you send thousands of dollars, you should be suspicious. This is especially true if you’re asked to deposit the money, and send a portion of it somewhere else. If you think about it, who in their right mind would send a stranger tons of money and expect them send it back?
7. Pay to Play Jobs – Any work-at-home opportunity that says it’s a job, as in employment, shouldn’t charge you money to get hired. That’s not to say all work-at-home opportunities that charge money are scams. What I am saying is any JOB that charges money is a scam or at the very least isn’t a job. Employers never charge to hire you. The only time it’s okay to spend money on a job is help in creating a resume, access to a quality telecommuting data base like Flexjobs, a background check and on equipment you may need to do the job (this equipment shouldn’t be sold by the employer). Further, many companies are asking potential employees to pay for background checks. Any other fee they charge should be suspect.
8. Bogus Business Opportunities – There are many great home business opportunities out there, but you need to do your due diligence to research them. The classic example is the medical billing program that will teach you how to do it and provide the software, but when you set out find clients you discover none of the prospects use that software. This program is all about making selling you a program, not actually helping get work. This is not to say all medical billing programs are scams. It is saying that you need to research any business opportunity you’re interested in carefully.
Tips to Staying Safe from Scams
Scammers are clever, often tweaking old scams or creating new ones. The basic rules of staying safe are:
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. There is no regular income for nothing work!
- It’s always best to sleep on it. Don’t make quick decisions. Any good opportunitie will stick around, so don’t fall for the get-in-now-hype.
- Jobs never charge to hire you. It’s okay to pay for help in finding or getting a job (i.e. coach, job database, resume services), and many jobs now pass the cost of a background check to applicants, but other than that, you shouldn’t spend any money on a job.
- Business opportunities should have a quality product or service, and an easy to activate refund policy.
- NEVER use your personal bank account to help a company do business.
You shouldn’t let the fear of scams stop you from pursuing a home-based career; however, you do need to study work at home and research any job or opportunity you’re tempted to try. Too often, emotions cloud judgement (which is what scammers hope for), so don’t let excitement and hope keep you from doing your due diligence. Remember, there’s lots of good information here at WAHS to help you navigate the work-at-home road.
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Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
Note: Work-At-Home Success contains advertising as well as screened work-at-home jobs and resources. Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you register or buy using the link. Occasionally, WAHS publishes "Supporting Contributor" posts or paid reviews for which compensation is paid. These posts are marked as such. All opinions are my own. Click here for full details and disclosures.