Work-at-home scams advertise on flyers, signs and television, in newspapers and magazines, and over the Internet. What all of these scams have in common is that the company asks for an up-front fee before you can start working. The company may claim that the money is a registration fee, a deposit on materials, or payment for instructional books or computer disks. The truth is that most work-at-home schemes are too good to be true. If it were that easy to make money, then we’d all quit our jobs and work from home. Protect yourself by learning how to spot the most common types of work-at-home scams.
- Medical Billing Work: These scams claim that there is a growing market for you to prepare bills for doctors’ offices from your home computer. The company sells you software and training materials for hundreds or thousand dollars and promises to give you a list of clients. When you call these potential clients, you learn that the medical billing field is already dominated by large and well-established firms and you can’t find any work. Similar scams offer to set you up in debt collection or bad check recovery.
- Envelope Stuffing: This long-running scam offers to pay you for each envelope you address or stuff. You send the company money for a start-up kit and materials. In return, you get a list of companies that either do not exist or do not pay people to stuff envelopes.
- Starting a Home Business: You pay for instructions on how to place ads like the one you answered and get unsuspecting consumers to send you money.
- Sewing/Craft/Assembly Work: Some scams sell a list of companies they claim will pay you to make products at home. When you contact the companies, you find they will not pay for that kind of work. Other scams sell you the materials for producing the items but never pay you for the completed products.
How to Avoid Work-At-Home Rip-Offs
- Never pay for information about a work-at-home offer, or for any kind of start-up kit, instructional booklet or list of clients.
- Be skeptical about earnings claims that sound too good to be true.
- Use common sense. In these days of automation and high-speed printing and mailing equipment, it’s unlikely a company would pay several dollars for each envelope you stuff and mail.
- Keep in mind that just because an ad appears in a reputable newspaper or magazine doesn’t mean that it’s legitimate. Ask detailed questions about what exactly you will have to do to earn money with the program. Who will pay you? Will you be paid on commission? Will you be asked to buy supplies or pay for postage? Will they send you a contract that puts all of this in writing before you sign up?
- Think it over. It’s very hard to get your money back once you send it. After a few months, many work-at-home scammers simply change their company name and address and start all over.
- If you respond to a work-at-home advertisement, be prepared to get flooded with other suspect offers. The people who run these scams share names and addresses.
We Can Help
If you have a complaint about a work-at-home scam, contact us for help or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.