Want to work from home? We've all seen the hype:
Earn full-time salary with only part-time hours!
Have more time for your children!
Work your business around your busy schedule!
This perfect job for moms.
It's hard not to be lured in. But those of us who have taken the bait only to find ourselves quickly sucked into a scam have some wisdom to share.
"As easy as it is to see through these come-ons, sadly, bad guys rope more than three million consumers into bogus distributorships, work-at-home plans, franchises, pyramid schemes, and business opportunity scams each year," writes Jeff Blyskal, author of the article Work-At-Home Schemes Don't Pay published in the online edition of Consumer Reports.
With economic uncertainties only increasing, many moms are looking for extra income and being duped in the process.
Unfortunately, she speaks the truth. Many of the "opportunities" being presented in today's market place are not legitimate pathways to steady earnings.
Scams on the Rise
In fact, there are more scams than ever.
In a 2008 Business Week article, author Karen E. Klein interviewed Christine Durst, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Staffcentrix, a training and development company providing career services to the U.S. State Department and various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
"When you're sending jobs leads to the (U.S.) State Department, you do not want to inadvertently send scams," she stated in the article Scanning for Scammers Before You Buy In. "So we developed a kind of sixth sense about what opportunities are legitimate and which are not."
Durst said that in 2005, her company found a 30-to-1 scam ratio among the job listings they gathered. Just three years later in 2008, that ratio had increased to 48-to-1.
1. Don't Pay to Play
Luckily, several Circle of Moms members have developed and shared their expertise in sorting out the real deals from the rip-offs.
Many opportunities require that you front startup costs. "Everything else (that seems legit) seems to cost money to start, which is hard to do when you don't have it," laments Misty J. in the Twins community. And yet there's always a new round of takers:
"I tried one about processing rebates from home," writes Molly J. on the Circle of Moms Welcome Page. "It was around $300. RIP OFF. They send you a bunch of emails and offer support to keep you on the hook, but it's really a scam."
She said the work-at-home offer she selected in the end really had "nothing to do with processing rebates, but it's all about advertising crap on the web and getting people to buy it."
Buying "it" was exactly what Tresie S. ended up doing.
"While you are conducting your search, you have to be careful about scams. In 2003, when I began my search for work from home, I got scammed out of over $500. You name it, I've probably done it," she posts in the Work At Home Moms community.
Tresie S.'s experience points to the first warning sign of a likely rip-off, say consumer advocates.
"If someone wants you to make an advance payment to 'get in' on the ground floor of a new business opportunity, this is a big red flag. Don't do it," is the advice from the Better Business Bureau in a staff-written blog post (10 Ways to Spot Work at Home Scams).
2. Avoid Certain Types of Businesses
Katherine C. is the moderator for the Work At Home Moms community. She posted a thread Important Information For Starting Out in which she lists work-at-home jobs to avoid. Her list includes assembly work, envelope stuffing, home typing, setting appointments, online (only) businesses, and processing medical claims.
She also suggests not buying lists of companies that "hire home workers."
"The simple reality is that these lists are often just compiled from the telephone book and many of the companies on them don't even know they're on such a list," Katherine C. advises. "And, the real kicker: Most of these companies don't even hire home-based workers."
Rather, she suggests, "settle on a product or service that you can get passionate about."
3. Do a Background Check
Then, do some time-consuming research. Compare compensation plans, learn the company history, and verify that it has a clean business record, she says.
"Read the policies and procedures manual," she encourages. "I know this sounds super boring but generally if it's a good manual, it should be in layman's terms. If it's a bunch of legal jargon, then my guess is the company is betting on people not reading it."
Legitimate companies are forthcoming with information regarding their activities and histories.
"Usually scam companies do not talk about their credentials," writes Sherry M. in the Work At Home Moms community. "They should have a verifiable story with years of service and features in publications such as the Wall Street Journal for example. There should be several organizations that will proudly back them up."
A legitimate at-home job also realistic in its estimates of the income you can earn.
"If someone is promising large sums of money for little to no work, or better yet, something quite simplistic, then avoid it," advises Shahala V. in the Money Saving Tips community. "If this were true, most of us would be millionaires by now."
Have any tips to add? Weigh in below.
(For more tips on how to avoid scams, check out the following articles at the Federal Trade Commission's website: Looking to Earn Extra Income? Here's How to Avoid Bogus Business Opportunity Offers and Facts for Consumers: Work-at-home Schemes. The Ripoff Report is another excellent online source for the consumer point of view on various companies.)
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.