This blog is meant to help you determine which work at home job or program is for you. I am not making any determinations on whether or not a particular program is a scam. I am simply giving you the information to make that call for yourself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How to recognize a scam

Here's the headline from a neat little flyer in this morning's mail...

"You Can Make $1,734 Each Week Working Part Time From The Comfort Of Your Favorite Easy Chair!"

I found my mind lazily drifting to a familiar scene...

Ahhhhhh... the Yucatan Peninsula. Tiny droplets of water coalesced on the outside of my glass in the warm tropical breeze. They sparkled and cascaded in luscious streams of condensation down the sides of the glass before falling onto the brilliant white sand below.


The rum in my drink was cleverly concealed in the enticingly sweet mixture of coconut and kiwi. My mind was dreamily transcendent in the warm tropical air.

Though the alcohol in my drink was evasively masked, the roll of hundred dollar bills in my right pocket was becoming more uncomfortable with the passing of each blissful second. I would have to find a way to spend this burden before long. I considered scuba diving, or perhaps I should go ahead and buy that yacht and THEN scuba dive...

Do you see why these headlines work? Your favorite fantasy is skillfully evoked by the trickster behind the headline. The lure of easy money and playful days is hard to resist...

... unless you learn to see the scam behind the words!

The scam artist always goes straight for your wallet!

A legitimate work at home opportunity does not require any money up front before you will get more details regarding the opportunity.

It works like this... first the scammer will entice you with easy money, easy work, and tell you to imagine "what will you do first with all that money? Pay off bills, buy a new car, take a vacation?" Then, they ask for $49 "just to prove you are serious", or $29 for the "work-at-home kit" which includes "everything you need to get started."

Real work at home jobs leave nothing to the imagination.

Everything is up front. You know exactly what you're getting, how you get it, how to do it, use it, stretch it, stand on it, twirl it... well, you get the idea.

You can also reach someone with your questions, either by e-mail or phone.

Now let's dig a little deeper. Let's say, for example, you are looking for a typing job you can do at home. What can you expect from the employer?

They don't ask you for money.

They will ask for your qualifications. They will require proof you are qualified. This is done by looking at your resume, through references, phone interviews, by submitting examples of your work, and so on. Essentially, you will give up your time in the beginning, not your money.

The employer will qualify applicants. This means they will weed out the under-qualified by listing requirements for the jobs, such as typing speed, keying speed, certificates, and so on.

Generally, you should expect that a home employer seeking telecommuters will ask of you the same things he would ask any applicant that walks into his office.

Two Common Scams

These are two of the most common scams. The ones that fill your mailbox and tell you to call it a "cashbox."

1. Envelope Stuffing

Here is a common envelope stuffing scenario...

You read an ad or get a piece of junk mail claiming that "Aunt Edna" makes $1,845.00 every week by doing fun and easy work fight from her favorite armchair. They say you'll earn $1 or $2 or some other amount for every envelope you stuff.

They'll ask for an up front fee of $29.95 or more just to make sure "you're serious."

You pay the fee and send off for the package. After all, they guaranteed your satisfaction with their envelope stuffing starter package.

You pay the fee only to find out you earn your $1 or $2 by advertising the envelope stuffing program. You place an ad asking people to send you a dollar to find out about the envelope stuffing program. That's how you earn $1,845.00 every week. One dollar at a time.

Uh huh.

Or they might tell you to purchase a mailing list and send out a thousand or more of their "special sales letters." The letter you send out is the very same letter you received.

Now then, for a mailing of five thousand letters you'll need $1,650 worth of stamps and anywhere from $200 to $500 for printing and materials (Oh, didn't they mention that in the starter kit?). If you want a mailing house to fold and stuff the letters, that'll be extra. But wait, did I mention that you'll need to rent 5000 names? Oh, and don't forget...

Uh huh.

If a company says they will pay you $1 or $2 for every envelope you stuff, think about this...

A mailing house or printer can do this same job for less than 10 cents per piece. Even big jobs don't add up to more than 50 or 60 cents per piece. Does it really make sense to pay you $1 when the same job can be done for a tenth of that cost?

This is a big business. There are companies promoting these envelope stuffing programs making many thousands of dollars every year from people who send in those up front fees. Click here to learn more about this scam.

2. Assembly Work

This one appeals to many potential home workers. Crafting seems to have a feeling of "doing good work." Your craft will be appreciated and admired by someone out there.

The scam goes like this...

The assembly company sends you an information packet that really gets your blood pumping. All you have to do is send in your money (add $14.95 for express delivery!). They'll send you step-by-step instructions and all the materials.

Now, you're not allowed to buy the materials yourself. To insure quality and uniformity of the product, you must use the provided materials. OK, sounds reasonable you say. You send in your money.

You tear open the box when it arrives and find...

... barely legible instructions and materials far inferior to what you could have purchased on your own. But what the heck, you've gone this far, might as well build it.

You build it, you send it in, you wait.

You wait.

You wait.

You call.

No answer. Leave a message.

You wait.

You call. Leave a message.

You get a letter from the "company." Your assembled craft was rejected because of this, and this, and that. Now there are variations on this rejection scam, but the bottom line is they got your money.

Working independently from home... one of the most rewarding lifestyles you can have. However you won't find your opportunity in a letter where the dollar signs are wielded like candy on Halloween night.

So before you get that "I just licked a thousand envelopes and forgot to buy $370 worth of stamps" feeling, just do your research and use common sense when evaluating a money making opportunity.


Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. His site,, helps small businesses reach their fullest potential. He is also the publisher of Straight Talk, a fresh and original newsletter that offers a unique perspective on today's business issues.


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