Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (680 words)

Work From Home - Legit or Scam?

Self-employment is a dream for many workers, and now maybe even more than ever after public disillusionment with the job market. A quick online search for self-employment will lead to endless work-at-home opportunities. But for the vast majority of these offers, the advertiser has indeed found a way to make thousands or even millions of dollars from home - by ripping off unsuspecting people desperate to make a better life for themselves.

It could be a never-heard-of “news source” touting a work-at-home opportunity that claims a lady in your town makes $5000 to $6000 a month - while working only 13 or so hours a week.

Or it could be a “referral service” or enrollment in a paid subscription to learn their “secrets” to making big bucks on the web.

Or maybe they are selling literature on how to be a “secret shopper” - a way to appeal to those who wish they could get paid to do their favorite past-time. They scam wannabe shoppers by charging for a list of merchants who supposedly use secret shoppers. But in reality, very few merchants actually do this. For the legitimately employed secret shoppers, not enough money can really be made to pay the bills, but they may get some free merchandise once in a while.

Another scam promises that workers can put together products at home and the company will buy the finished work. But to qualify for participation the worker has to buy the raw materials from the company to make the finished product and then submit it to quality-control for approval. The catch comes after the worker has paid for all the materials, diligently put together the items as directed, and then submitted the items for approval. No matter how perfectly the product is assembled, the final work is denied for not being up to standard.

Even worse, the only way to make money at the scheme is by participating in the ripping-off of others. For example, the “stuffing envelopes at home” scheme does just that. These ads are worded so that respondents think they can get a job putting together commercial advertising mailers, but they must pay a fee to find out how. The literature they receive explains that to make money they need to put out their own ad just like the one they responded to. When others who want to work-at-home send their fee, the envelope stuffer gets paid to stuff an envelope filled with the same kind of garbage they originally received. The cycle perpetuates; no one is buying or selling anything except a made-up product with the sole purpose of ripping off others.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind about work-from-home scams:
  • Real employers do not charge their employees a fee before they can be hired.
  • If they want you to pay for information, a subscription, or referrals to jobs - then be on guard.
  • “A free trial” or “try it for $1.99” that requires your credit card number often means that your card will be charged if you don’t cancel within the time-frame allowed, sometimes large amounts for months on end. Some “free” trials to these scams are as short as 24 hours or even less.
  • Read the fine print and realize that even these supposed “contracts” are intentionally worded to be confusing ordaunting to thoroughly read. The actual terms and fees are likely to be buried among the jabber.
  • Many scammers intentionally make their business name sound like a well-known company or even a government entity, to cause confusion and foster trust. Their website is also likely to look like an official or trusted site.
  • Do a web search with the company name and add “scam.” You may be surprised to find a forum with people describing how they were ripped off by the company you're considering doing business with.
  • Many ads for fraudulent companies like to clearly state they are not a scam, and you know,it’s usually liars who say, “I’m not lying.”
  • And never forget the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
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Monday, 22 April 2024

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