Personal Finance 

Work At Home Scams

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With so many people out of work, “Work at Home” type of scams are probably on the rise as people scramble to replace incomes they lost when their companies downsized. The basic premise of working at home isn’t itself a scam, plenty of people are outsourced for clerical work and various back office tasks, but like mystery shopping, it’s an area where the unsuspecting can be caught in an outright theft of their money.

With any work at home offer, look it over for the same signs I bring up about fraudulent mystery shopping companies. If you ever have to pay anything, walk away. No legitimate job should ever ask you to pay something out of your pocket before you start work. Companies may require you to take tests, whether it be a classroom exam or a drug test, but you shouldn’t have to pay for it out of your own pocket (at worst, it should be deducted from your first paycheck).

As with any job, check the company’s references and talk it over with your friends. If it sounds too good to be true, approach it with care. Any company that promises you riches, whether it’s the housewife in [your home town] making $20,000 a month or the stay at home dad driving a Ferrari, it’s just not possible (unless you’re running the scam).

Common Work at Home Scams

The basic idea because a work at home scam is to get you to send them money before you get paid. So anything where you buy supplies from the company, from stuffing envelopes to simple arts and crafts type of work, is a big red flag.

Multiple level marketing schemes are also red flags in the work at home space. Not all MLM programs are scams but many of them work off the same idea – people getting their friends to buy stuff from the company. The MLM programs that are legitimate aren’t work at home programs, they’re full time jobs.

Finally, there is always the classic stuffing envelopes work at home job. This would be a pretty decent job if you can get it, but all companies have machines that stuff envelopes for them… and certainly for less than $3-4 an envelope.

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “Work At Home Scams”

  1. Alex says:

    When I was a student a couple of years ago I stuffed envelopes for my department for 2c per envelope. I wish I could do it for 3-4$ per envelope. I only worked for two days and hated it very much.

  2. Will says:

    Beware of mystery shopper programs. I am a criminal defense lawyer who once had a client who was charged with forgery after cashing a bogus paycheck from a mystery shopper service. They also had him pay money upfront.

  3. MB says:

    I recently read about a water cooler company that was at a job fair. The company required their sales reps to buy and use their expensive water cooler as a condition of employment. I think you also had to buy the cooler from them and sell it yourself. So scams even appear at job fairs.

  4. Under the Weather says:

    Isn’t professional blogging the biggest work-at-home scam? 🙂

  5. Mike Whaley says:

    Was wondering if you could do a good work at home bolg. Even part time work would be great.

  6. Ninja says:

    Wait, you mean I can’t make $10,000 a month doing nothing but watching soap operas and eating ice cream! Dang it!

    Haha, it’s definitely important to be speculative when anything appears “too good to be true”

  7. Brian says:

    Another common scam is the make tons of money filling out surveys which is also not true and unlikely. I personally know several people whom have paid the $20+ to be included in the group on people to get paid for surveys and shockingly they did not make a dime. Sad that they were duped

    • cubiclegeoff says:

      Most survey companies I wouldn’t call scams. you just won’t get rich and if they promise that you can make a lot, it’s a lie. But you can make some money.

  8. Wilma says:

    Loving scam week . Going to direct a few people to this site to read up. Thanks for taking the time.

  9. Daniel says:

    I wish I read this article ten years ago, when I eagerly sent my $50 deposit in to a company which offered the ability to work from home. A week or so after the $50 payment, a catalog arrived with a dozen or so different projects for me to choose from (each of which required me sending in MORE cash to various other companies for the actual supplies). At that point I figured I’d cut my losses, but only after repeated phone calls to the original company, desperately attempting to get a refund of my $50 investment. Shockingly, I had no luck there.

    A $50 lesson learned.

  10. live green says:

    It’s so tempting to get involved in these types of scams when you are in high school or college. They just seem so promising when you are making little to no money.

  11. Orca17 says:

    My wife signed up with one of these companies several years ago. Like many work-at-home opportunities, it was a front for Herbalife. The Herbalife products themselves are not a scam. The problem is that there are so many registered dealers that no one can make any money at it (save for the handful of people who got in at the very beginning). The red flag (or it should have been, had we not been so naive) was that you paid $3,500 to be a “supervisor” which was “where the real money is” according to the company. They also told her that she wouldn’t have to sell anything – then the cases of merchandise started arriving at the house. The sad thing is that we checked this company out and all signs pointed to them being legitimate – then we found out that they were later prosecuted by the Canadian government for fraud and a number of other illegal business practices. We never saw a dime of the money that “no one has ever failed to make back within 90 days”. Boiled down to its essence, the business consisted of selling Herbalife and convincing other people to make the same mistake you did in order to get your original investment back.

  12. fairydust says:

    I do mystery shopping and I fill out surveys, and they are both legit ways of making a little extra money. Diligent mystery shoppers can make more, but it becomes very much an almost-full-time job and requires a lot of flexibility and often travel, so it’s not for me. I like both avenues as ways to make a little extra money on the side (and who doesn’t want to get paid to eat good take out!).

  13. jsbrendog says:

    mechanicalturk is a good nonscammy way to make a little side cash.

    this also makes me think of pyramid schemes. hey buy all this magic juice form me at cost and then sell it to other people and if you get other people to buy your juice and sel it you get some of their profits too!! (i have a friend who legitimately did this. sigh)

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