Avoiding Work at Home Scams

Avoiding Work at Home Scams

With gas prices soaring and job security a fading memory more and more workers are looking for a way to work from home by starting their own home-based business. While it is true that starting your own business can be very rewarding both personally and professionally, it is also true that there are many unscrupulous individuals and companies just waiting to take advantage of these dreams. Being successful means learning to spot those scams and avoid them. At best responding to fraudulent work at home offers will cause you to waste a great deal of time. At worst those fraudulent offers will cause you to waste a great deal of money as well.

Fortunately for would-be work at home business owners the most common scams have a lot in common with one another. Whether the offer is for a medical transcription service or a worm farm, there are some definite red flags to look out for. If you see any of those red flags waving, it is time to walk away and move on.

If It Sounds Too Good to be True – You Know the Drill

The basic rule of all job offers, and all opportunities for that matter, is if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Be especially wary of work at home arrangements that promise vast amounts of wealth for little time and effort on your part. These types of offers abound, and their promises of easy riches and no work are certainly appealing. Before you jump in, however, take a step back and think things through.

Look at the deal from the perspective of the employer. Why would they agree to pay an employee or another business owner lots of money for little work? Why would they not simply hire a local worker to get the job done for a fraction of the price? What is in it for the employer? If there is no discernable benefit from the employer's point of view chances are good the whole thing is a scam.

Watch Out for Vague Job Descriptions

Any legitimate work at home job opportunity or business should clearly spell out the job responsibilities or the nature of the business. Watch out for offers that seem vague or unclear. If you cannot clearly describe to another person what you would be doing chances are that a scam is afoot.

Also watch for business opportunities that are described as "the next big thing". Scam artists will often ply their trade by pretending that their business model is so great it must be kept secret to prevent copycats. The fact that patent and copyright laws already provide protection without secrecy is of course never discussed. If you are offered an "exclusive opportunity" to "get in on the ground floor" be prepared to walk (or run) away. At best you will find yourself immersed in a pyramid scheme; at worst you will find yourself neck deep in a scam.

Trust Your Gut

Intuition is a powerful force. It helps to protect us in a dangerous world, and our intuition can serve us well in the world of business as well. If a deal seems shady or quasi-legal to you chances are it is. There are lots of scams running around out there, and getting caught up in an illegal one could cost you more than just your money. Some of the most popular current scams include:

Processing rebates

most retailers hire large companies to process their rebates, and those large companies in turn hire workers to do the grunt work. Beware of anyone who promises easy money processing rebates at home.

Mystery shopping scams

while mystery shopping is a legitimate business opportunity, and a great way to make some extra income, beware of those who promise big money for little work. Filling out the required forms can be quite time consuming, and in most cases the compensation will be quite modest. Also watch out for companies that claim you will be allowed to purchase and keep high end merchandise – this is far from the norm in the world of mystery shopping.

Processing orders for overseas companies

there are many scams in this arena, many of them revolving around eBay and other online auction sites. In many cases the scam artists will send the victim a cashier's check as payment, with instructions to keep 10% and wire the rest to a foreign location. By the time the victim discovers that the cashier's check is a fake the scam artist (and the money) is gone. The victim is then on the hook for the missing funds. Beware of companies that offer to pay in this manner, especially if the work seems too easy.

Education and Employment All Under One Roof

Many legitimate work at home opportunities require some sort of training, and most legitimate organizations who allow employees to work from home will carefully check references and training as part of the hiring process. Some unscrupulous businesses take advantage of the need for specialized training to steal money from unwitting victims.

Watch out for any training that comes with a guarantee of employment, especially if the positions are very high paying. No legitimate college or university would claim that every graduate lands a lucrative job as soon they get their degree, and the same holds true for the work at home world.

Also watch out for companies that offer both training and employment. In the real world educators do not generally hire all their graduates – ask yourself if it makes sense for the "school" you are attending to hire you after you have paid your tuition. Again, let your gut be your guide, and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Use What You Know

For many people the best work at home opportunities will be those for which little additional training is needed. Many skills, from customer service and secretarial skills to specialized skills like computer repair and advertising copywriting, translate quite well to the work at home arena. Instead of looking for a whole new direction, consider ways to use your current skill set in new and interesting ways.

For instance, your existing secretarial skills could make you an outstanding virtual assistant for a busy executive across the country – or across the globe. Your customer service skills could land you a great work at home job for a catalog company, a radio station or even an airline. Your knowledge of medical terminology may make you an outstanding provider of medical transcription services. Your creativity and dedication could make you an outstanding writer of advertising copy. Learning to think outside the box and looking for new ways to use your skills can help you avoid the scams and land a great paying job you can do from the comfort of your own home.

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