Unfortunately, there is no shortage of fraudsters trying to take advantage of the trusting nature of you honest, decent people who want to work from your home. The fraudsters make a quick buck, but you do not. What is the best way to beat these scams? By being aware of them. With that in mind, following are some of the most popular ways scammers prey on you who want to work from your home:
You are Asked for Money to Get a Job
While you may have to pay start-up fees to participate in a business opportunity, you should never have to pay for employment. If you are asked for money to get a job, step away.
Ridiculous Income Claims
Exorbitant income claims are a red flag. No one can promise specific earnings and high earning results are untypical. Stay safe and avoid companies that promise you will make a lot of money.
If you receive an unsolicited email and it includes information about an earning opportunity, just delete it. Scam artists frequently use spam to find victims.
Strange Emails from Friends
If you receive an email from a friend about an earning opportunity, confirm that they actually sent it. Scam artists often use email addresses to make you think a friend is sending them.
Beware of opportunities that ask you to call a 900-number. You could be in for some high telephone bill charges. And never provide your credit card number.
If you are going to take a telecommuting position or join a business opportunity, thoroughly research the company first. Ask questions, check the Better Business Bureau, speak to others who work for the company and more.
Scammers use Legitimate Job Sites Also
Even if you are using a legitimate job site such as Monster or CareerBuilder, realize that they are not immune to scammers. Always do your homework.
Requests for Your Personal Information
When giving out identifying or sensitive information (SSN, driver's license , etc.) as you are applying for jobs, check to make sure you are on a secure site. You can usually tell if a site is secure in two ways:
- Check the web page URL. Normally, when browsing the web, the URLs (web page addresses) begin with the letters "http". However, over a secure connection the address displayed should begin with "https" (note the "s" at the end).
- Check for the "Lock" icon. There is a de facto standard among web browsers to display a "lock" icon somewhere in the window of the browser (NOT in the web page display area!) For example, Microsoft Internet Explorer displays the lock icon in the lower-right of the browser window:
Pyramid and Ponzi Schemes
People often mistake multi-level marketing (MLM) for pyramid schemes; however, they are not necessarily the same thing. A pyramid scheme is where people earn money by recruiting others and there is no real product for sale. They are illegal.
Ponzis are marketed as investment opportunities with high payouts; however, the payouts are made to earlier members by the contributions of later members and funds will eventually run out. They are also illegal.
This is Too Good to Be True
When it comes to any money-making opportunity, the old adage rings true. If it is too good to be true, it probably isn't true. Do not waste your time or money.
Desperation Attracts Scammers
If you are out of work and are in great need of money, do not broadcast this online or to people trying to share an opportunity. Scam artists feed off desperation and by showing yours, you are asking them to target you.
Ignorance is Not a Legal Excuse
You can get in trouble even if you don't know you are involved in a scam. Ignoring red flags about an opportunity you are involved with means you are just as guilty in the eyes of the law as anyone else.
Mystery Shopping is a legitimate business; however, there are scammers taking advantage. Scammers send fraudulent checks by mail and ask you to mystery shop money wire transfer businesses (which sends a certain amount of the check back to the scammer). Your bank will hold you liable for the entire amount of the fraudulent check.
A company asks you to repackage and ship packages for them. The problem is, they are usually goods purchased using a stolen credit card; therefore, you are shopping stolen goods.
Auto-surf programs that are promoted as investment opportunities that pay you for viewing websites (i.e. "surfing" the web) are ones you should stay away from. These programs promise you a very high return on your investment, which puts them in the "too good to be true" category. These types of opportunities are Ponzi schemes because they use the investments made by new members to pay the promised returns to older members.
You may see an opportunity to assemble products or crafts. These companies typically reject the items when you ship them back. The company not only refuses to pay you for your work, but you are also out the money you paid for supplies and shipping.
By now, most of us have heard of the Nigerian or 419 Scam, but many people are still falling for it every day. I wonder why they are always from Nigeria? The story is usually a persecuted wealthy foreigner who needs to get their money out of the country and they need your help. People get roped into the promise of riches by parting with money they often do not have themselves.
Foreign Craigslist Buyer
If you are selling an item online and someone tells you they want to buy, but they are out of town, approach with caution. The scammers will tell you will send you extra money to pay a shipping agent. You pay the agent, send the product and then you find out the funds were fraudulent and you are on the hook.
They may also tell you that they have sent the funds by PayPal. You receive an email that looks like it is from PayPal, stating the funds are being held until the item is shipped. The email is fake and PayPal never holds funds until they are shipped.
If it's too good to be true, more than likely it is. Just walk away. Something better and legitimate will come along for you.