Sure as the desire to work from home while earning a good living hits new workers every year, scam artists will find all kinds of clever ways to trick people out of their money and time with unrealistic work-from-home job promises.
As the Better Business Bureau notes, the Internet may be changing how scammers get ads and messages before a wide audience fast, but their targets have not changed. "Work-at-home con artists have always preyed most heavily upon senior citizens, the disabled, mothers who want to stay at home with their children, people with low income and few job skills, and people who just want to get rich quick," the BBB warns.
The too-good-to-be-true offers seem to be everywhere, even in the comments on Shine. So to separate true work-from-home opportunities from scams, follow your instincts and this advice:
Know the signs of a scam. This is where your instincts come in. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That said, there are some distinct signs of a work-at-home scam, starting with overstated claims of what you'll be able to earn, of a product's effectiveness.
You may be asked to send money before for training, instructions, or a product, particularly before you are fully informed of the opportunity and definitely before the chance to earn money, according to the Better Business Bureau. A safe rule of thumb to follow is if you're asked to pay money up front, forget about it. There's a good chance you'll lose money and never earn what you expected. Claims of "no experience necessary" are another red flag.
Know common work-at-home scams. Some of the more prevalent scams include at-home assembly jobs, such as craft kits. I interviewed a woman years ago who shelled out $40 for "glamour hair bows" and found the assembly tedious and the return on her investment and time very disappointing. Next, she answered an ad for cleaning "natural fibers," which turned out to be horse hair, which made her house smell and for which she paid $30 to have delivered to her home. Think about it: Have you ever had to pay an out-of-the-home employer money before you are paid a salary or commission? (Excluding franchises, that is.)
Other common scams involve envelope-stuffing jobs, chain letters and "online business" opportunities that, again, ask you to send money for a disk, which often turn out to be poor business leads that you have to pursue on your own. The Federal Trade Commission warns that these offers rarely involve stuffing envelopes
but typically do involve fraud. Multi-level marketing, also known as pyramid schemes, are another work-at-home scam to avoid. Multi-level marketing can work when real products are sold through at-home parties, for example. But many just rely on people recruiting other people to pay into the scheme with few or no products sold. Stay away. The FTC has several good articles on at work-at-home schemes
on its site worth a read.