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8/7/09 4:47 A

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Tell-tale signs of work-at-home job scams

(more internet wisdom from Kim Komando!)

Who wants some extra income? You do? Great! Just send me your personal, confidential information. Oh, and send some cash, too. Then, I’ll tell what the job is. And you’ll make hundreds of dollars a day. Or, maybe thousands. Really!

Does that sound like a job opportunity to you? Or does it sound sleazy? Hopefully, you picked the latter. Unfortunately, many people fall for scams like this.

Maybe you’ve lost your job. Maybe you’re desperate for supplemental income. In either case, work-at-home opportunities are attractive. But you have to be careful. Job scams abound in this category.

Spotting a job scam isn’t always easy. It wouldn’t be a very good scam if it were. But a few simple things should tip you off.

Outrageous claims

Ads that promise to pay ridiculous amounts of money are scams. These offers often accompany ridiculously simple tasks.

Think about it. How many jobs have you had in the real world like that? You’ve always had to work hard, right? And were your employers wildly generous? Ha-ha. So why would you expect to make $2,000 a week filling envelopes? That might be nice, but no.

Also avoid ads that offer high income for little or no experience. That just doesn’t make sense. Legitimate companies value experience. There is nothing wrong with taking an entry-level job. But it won’t come with a six-figure income.

Strange or vague information

Scam ads can contain flowery and impressive writing. But some of these ads don’t actually describe the job. Often, there is no list of requisite skills and experience.

No legitimate company would be this vague. Legitimate employers want the right person for the job. Their ads are specific.

Also, watch for strange contact information. Many companies handle job applications through e-mail. But avoid ads that use free accounts from services like Yahoo! and Gmail. Even small businesses can afford a domain name (such as and matching e-mail addresses.

Do research

Many scammers are lazy. And the above red flags should stand out. But some craft impressively convincing ads. They even use legitimate-looking Web sites and e-mail addresses.

You can search the Web for information on specific companies. Someone may have posted warnings about scammers. But the first place to look is the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

On the BBB site, click “Check out a business or charity.” Then search for the business in question.

Not every business will have BBB accreditation. That isn’t necessarily a red flag. Some legitimate businesses don’t feel the need to get accreditation. But check for a BBB report. It should list company details, as well as outstanding complaints.

Got a response

After applying for a position, vet the company’s response. A real company may offer an interview. Scammers will often ask for information.

This could include Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and other personal details. Legitimate employers may need that information eventually. But they’ll probably hire you first. And even then, it will be handled through a human resources department. Never send this information by e-mail.

Some scammers even ask for money. Now, unless you’re starting a business, you shouldn’t have to invest anything. Most companies want your time and skills, not your money. There are exceptions. Businesses dealing in direct sales may require you to buy products. But asking for cash is a huge red flag. Beware.

Help finding real work

Don’t be put off by these warnings. There really are legitimate work-at-home opportunities.

Earn money at home via the Internet


Search the Internet for work-at-home opportunities and the results are pages deep. It’s true that you can use the Internet to increase your income and do it from home. But proceed with caution. There are plenty of scammers who make their money by taking yours.

There’s no way to quick overnight Internet riches. To earn money, you need to provide some sort of service in return for pay. Like real life jobs, you may need to pass a test or a background check before getting hired. How much you can make depends on your skill and experience. But where possible, I’ve listed average pay rates.


If you have special talents, consider freelance work. Freelancing isn’t just for writers. Designers, programmers, business professionals, engineers and even administrative assistants will find opportunities.

Many small sites list freelance opportunities. Some let you bid on projects for free. For more opportunities, try or Expect to pay $100 or more for an annual membership.

As a freelancer, you won’t have the security of a full-time job. Projects could be sporadic. You may spend more time finding work than working when you start out. But you set your own hourly or per-project rates.

Customer service

If you’re experienced in customer service, you can do this virtually. In addition to your own computer and a landline, you need a quiet environment. You can pick your own hours. You’ll earn between $6 and $30 per hour. Try or

Virtual concierge

Virtual concierges handle errands and inquiries. You may be assigned mundane tasks like scheduling appointments. Or, you may get wacky requests, like locating clothing donned by a movie star.

You need strong customer service skills. Try Or, if you can sell yourself, start your own service. Compensation starts at $14 an hour.


Have strong typing skills and a good command of the English language? Consider transcription work. Experience is required, and you must type 75 words per minute. Visit and

Direct sales

If you’re good at selling, consider direct sales. Many companies have programs. And it isn’t just Tupperware or Avon. You can sell in person or via the Internet.

The Direct Selling Association will match companies to your interests. It also offers advice. Visit the individual companies’ sites for information on their programs.


If teaching is your passion, become an online tutor. You connect with students via online chat.

Be prepared to take a rigorous test. Teaching experience may be required. Start by visiting or Expect to make $10 per hour.

Help for the disabled

Telecommuting is particularly beneficial for some disabled people. The National Telecommuting Institute helps individuals with disabilities find work-from-home opportunities. You’ll find job listings and advice.

Watch out for scams

You’ll find plenty of scam artists when you look for work-at-home opportunities. Be wary of companies that promise extraordinary sums of money for little work.

Be wary of opportunities that require a substantial investment. In most cases, there shouldn’t be up-front fees for getting started. With direct sales, you may need to buy products. Don’t pay more than $500. And make sure the company will take back unsold stock.

Before you get involved with a company, do an online search. Type the company name, along with “scam” into a search engine. You’ll see if others have had bad experiences with a company. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints.

Co-Team Leader for All Health Pros, Binghamton Area Losers & Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams

Tell Me What Is It You Plan To Do With Your One Wild & Precious Life? ---Mary Oliver

Don't die with your music still in you. -- Dr. Wayne Dyer

"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." --- Carlos Castaneda

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." --- Buddha

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