Work-at-home offers may be scams


Last updated 1/3/2008 at Noon

The old saying “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” unfortunately seems to be ringing true for many work-at-home job opportunities.

Many of these so-called businesses are, in fact, predators, preying on adults who yearn to make an income while being a stay-at-home parent and on seniors with fixed incomes who are looking to make an extra dollar.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there,” said Noelle Nachtsheim, Director of Law Enforcement Services for the National Consumers League Fraud Center.

The newspaper classified advertisements and online classifieds are flooded with false offers.

“These scam companies prey on some of the more vulnerable people who are out of work and need work; they can’t afford to be ripped off,” said Nachtsheim.

Are there red flags to help people avoid being swindled? Absolutely; something is always awry when a company asks for money up front and/or for a registration fee. “Usually you will never hear back from them,” explained Nachtsheim.

What about those jobs stuffing envelopes and doing assembly that promise thousands of dollars?

“Sometimes they will actually send you materials for assembly work or to do crafts at home, but when you send in a finished product, they will reject them and never pay,” said Nachtsheim. “In other cases, they will ask you for money and then send you a booklet telling you how to scam people the same way.”

Nachtsheim educates people by letting them know that a legitimate company that hires people to work from home will not ask a potential worker for money.

Another warning bell should go off in your head, explained Nachtsheim, when a company is eager to hire someone without meeting them, reviewing a resume or requesting additional information about the applicant.

“If someone is willing to hire you sight unseen, for an amount of money that does not match the type of work they are offering, you really need to be wary,” she said.

The advent of cyberspace has brought its fair share of Internet job scams. One popular sting is when a company offers to set up online retail packages and shopping carts galore. This online store doesn’t make money for a lot of reasons.

“You usually don’t make a lot of money because all of these hits you are supposed to get on your site don’t arrive or people are not buying the items for sale,” explained Nachtsheim.

“Very often, the people who set up these sites try to add on very expensive options, milking you out of more and more money.”

These online business scams can be ruthless and money stolen from unsuspecting people every day.

In checking the legitimacy for a work-at-home opportunity, Nachtsheim recommends that people contact the Attorney General’s Office in the state where the company is located to see if there are any legal issues on the horizon.

Double-checking on a business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and State Board of Equalization is also advisable. “We like to advise people to stick with businesses in their own area.”

Nachtsheim cannot reiterate the work-at-home scams warning signs enough to the public. “Never pay for anything or divulge any personal information which could harm you or cause identity theft.”

Work-at-home scams are currently at an epidemic both nationally and internationally, said Nachtsheim. “It’s a minefield out there and you really have to watch out.”


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