What to do so you don't get taken by common work at home job scams: Internet ScamBusters #62
Today we'll focus on Part 2 of our series on home-based business scams and work-at-home scams. If you missed Part 1 in last month's issue on the Top 10 scams of this type, visit:
OK, let's get going...
10 Tips on Avoiding Work At Home and
Home Based Business Scams
1. Never, NEVER pay for the chance to work!
This is the cardinal rule. You should treat working at home just like you would treat working for an employer at their place of business.
If you were going for a job interview in the 'real world,' how would you react if the interviewer asked you to pay $50 or $100 to land the job, for starter materials, or for a 'good faith' payment to make sure you were serious about the business?
You'd think it was absurd. No legitimate company charges employees a fee for a job.
Whenever you're asked to pay for the chance at a job, or information about work-from-home jobs, you know it's a scam.
Home-based businesses, on the other hand, may require start-up costs to cover investments, materials, franchises, or other items. As we state in the next step, check things out before you pay anything.
2. Check out the business before you pay anything.
Have you heard of the business that's soliciting your money?
If not, check them out carefully. Make sure they have a physical address and a phone number. Call to see if it's a real phone number. Do a search on http://www.Google.com to see if you can find any positive or negative comments. Check references carefully.
Some warning signs of scammer companies:
- They use free Web hosting services (such as Tripod or Geocities).
- They use free Web email services (such as Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail).
- They use Post Office boxes for mailings and don't disclose their real addresses.
- They won't give you a telephone number where you can contact them.
3. Use your credit card to make purchases.
This sounds counter-intuitive, but if you are going to buy a starter kit or make some investment relating to a home-based business, purchase using your credit card.
That way, if you don't receive the items, or if things go wrong, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company. If you're unsure how to do this, speak to your credit card company *before* you make the purchase.
4. Research the market for the proposed business/work.
Every scammer will promise unlimited wealth and easy work. With a little virtual footwork, you can see whether you can make money doing this kind of business or work.
If you're thinking of starting a medical billing practice, for example, call a few doctors and hospitals in your city or town and ask if there would be a market for your services. As we mentioned in the last issue, you may be surprised to discover just how limited the market really is.
5. Beware of vagueness and incredible claims.
Companies that don't state their names, costs, or other important information in their ads usually have a good reason to do so -- they're scammers. As well, be wary of claims that you can"make up to $1,000 a week" doing just a few hours' worth of unskilled work.
Don't be blinded by greed.
6. Put yourself in the employer's/client's shoes.
If you were an honest employer (or client, if you're looking to work from home), think about whether you would make the same kind of offer you're being pitched.
For example, you've read an ad where you can earn $1-2 per piece stuffing envelopes. But companies nowadays have access to sophisticated mailing equipment that can stuff thousands of envelopes an hour -- why would they pay you so much more?
7. Consider starting your own home-based business.
If you're really interested in working for yourself, starting your own home-based business can be a great idea. It also involves a lot of work, and much of the time, some investment.
This is not a decision to make lightly, nor should you start a business just because you can't find a job.
Having said that, starting your own business -- if you're willing to do your homework and do what's necessary to make it a success -- may well become one of the best decisions you ever made.
There are lots of great resources on starting a legitimate home business. (But remember, you won't receive them via spam.)
8. Don't come across as desperate.
You may be in dire straits financially, but it's worth your while to act calmly and professionally -- just like you would in a real-world job search.
Posting messages on forums saying that you are in financial trouble, or desperate to find work from home is a bad idea. Desperation is like blood to sharks -- it'll bring all of the scammers out of the woodwork, and you'll be inundated with phony offers.
9. Be patient.
If you're looking to start a home-based business, or looking for telecommuting work you can do at home, you may have a considerable search ahead of you. There are a *lot* of people in the same boat, many of whom are falling prey to scams every day.
Don't let scammers use high-pressure tactics to sucker you in. If you're given a time-limited offer, there's usually a reason why -- scammers know that pressure brings in people!
Even if you're in dire straits, it pays to be patient... so that you don't lose money to schemes that never materialize.
10. And most important, NEVER reply to spam.
Fraudulent offers for home-based businesses or work-at-home opportunities almost always arrive as spam. The better it sounds, the less likely that it's legitimate.
Scammers aren't planning to deliver anyway, so what does it matter to them what they promise? Delete and move on.
As we say -- if it's spam, it's a scam!
That's it for now. Have a scam-free month.