Avoiding Work-at-Home Scams:

Highlights from the WashingtonPost.com’s live ‘Inside Job: Avoiding Work-at-Home Scams:’ Internet ScamBusters #203


This past Thursday we were the expert guests at a live session with WashingtonPost.com called “Inside Job: Avoiding Work-at-Home Scams.”

People asked us questions about how to earn money working at home, and how they can recognize and avoid work-at-home scams.

We thought you would enjoy the highlights of this session, so we have excerpted them (with permission) in this issue.

On to today’s highlights…


Avoiding Work-at-Home Scams: Edited Highlights


Question: I’m retired and looking into working out of my home, something to supplement my retirement. I have been trying to do paid surveys and have yet to earn any money. Recently I’ve signed up for eBay. My question is can you actually make the kind of money they advertise that you can or is it just another scam?

Answer: Paid surveys will most likely not lead to earning any decent money. You might earn a few dollars and get a few products, but that’s it.

You can earn money selling on eBay — tens of thousands of people do. However, you have to know what you’re doing. And, you do work — it’s not that you get money just popping up in your bank account.

Start small.

You can find some good advice by going to Ezine Articles and typing eBay into the article search.

Another legitimate way to earn money is to register with Upwork.com. It is basically a marketplace for people hiring freelance writers, graphic artists, consultants, programmers, you name it.

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Question: I’ve heard these “Secret Shopper” programs you can sign up for are fishy. Are they legit? Or, are some OK and others not reliable?

Answer: Secret or Mystery Shopping is a field filled with scams. However, we recently did a special issue of ScamBusters where we interviewed an expert on the topic, Cathy Stucker, and I was surprised to learn from Cathy how much was legitimate. Cathy explained in detail what the scams are and how to avoid them. You can find the mystery shopper article here.

We did an update on another secret shoppers scam in yesterday’s issue, which you can find here.

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Question: Are there clear “red flags” you can point me to so when I am presented with an opportunity I know to be wary of it?

Answer: First, if it comes from spam it is a scam.

Then check out: Top 10 Work At Home and Home Based Business Scams.

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Question: What kinds of opportunities are there for people who would prefer not to have their own small business to run from home, but still have professional-level skills?

Answer: We already mentioned eLance — and there is also Guru.com, rentacoder.com, etc.

Another option a friend recommended today that I hadn’t heard of before (but I trust his recommendations) is Ether.com. It allows you to set a price for phone consultations — by the minute or the session. You might look into that.

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Question: What online-based work-at-home businesses DO you recommend? Both in terms of legitimacy and pay out with regard to time required.

Answer: Here are a few options in addition to what we’ve already discussed:

– Create valuable websites and earn money with Google AdSense.

– Write an ebook on something you are passionate about. We’ve published 22 ebooks.

– Buy and sell on eBay (as we’ve discussed).

– Affiliate programs (many people earn a lot of money promoting affiliate products).

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Question: I recently got my MBA and after a few months in corporate America, I desperately want to get out. Any advice on how I can leverage my background to get out of the rat race and work from home?

Answer: Start to moonlight. Don’t quit the day job until you start earning enough money to live on over an extended period of time. Find some other entrepreneur to be your mentor as you get going. You’ll find him/her at your local civic club, church, etc. Not everyone has the temperament to be ‘self-unemployed.’

This is just an excerpt with some of the highlights. You can find the entire transcript of this work-at-home session here on the WashingtonPost.com site.

(If that doesn’t work, go to the WashingtonPost.com site and search for “work-at-home scams.”)

Time to close — we’re off to enjoy a walk. See you next week.