More and more women (and some men!) are opting to get out of the corporate rat race and work from home. It saves on gas, mileage, clothing expenses, lunches and all the other costs associated with working outside the home.
Many parents want to work from home in order to save on exorbitant childcare costs and in order to spend more time with their kids. But at the same time they need to pay bills and keep working. It's a very tiring combination but can be a win-win situation all round if done successfully.
ABC ran a show last night that talked about parents working from home. There are jobs out there that enable one to work from home (the practice is usually called telecommuting) but far many more are scams that target women, especially at-home mothers. It's hard to believe that rip-off artists would take advantage of people desperate for work in these troubled times, but that's exactly why - and when - they strike.
One might think that common sense would prevail but desperate times have caused many women to believe that their problems will be solved if they take that envelope-stuffing job that offers up to $50 an hour. Upon reflection, it makes no sense that a person would make $50 an hour from stuffing envelopes when a machine can do it for a penny and at a hundred times the speed. But when the sales talk is passionate and the company seems legitimate, people (not just women) fall for these schemes every day.
How do we know which schemes are scams? There are huge red flags. A website that has no street address, contact phone numbers or employer/employees listed is a warning that something is afoot. Start-up kits are another hint. While some legitimate companies many require start-up kits (well known make-up, beauty and lifestyle companies for example) most are simply in the business of selling you the kit. Selling you the kit IS what these companies do - there is no further money to be made and certainly not from your standpoint. A company should never charge you money to work for them. If a hundred dollar "process" or "application" fee is requested, don't hand over your money. And don't hand over your credit card information or bank account information. Unless you are optioning for direct deposit for your paychecks, there should be no need for your company to have your banking details!
The more eager a pitch person from a scam company is, the more you need to slow down. They can fast-talk around anything. I nearly got scammed a very long time ago when I responded to an ad in the paper promising airline jobs. I called up and what I was really offered was a list of airlines currently employing. I could have gotten that by myself and the company was trying to charge me $100 for a cheap print-out that simply listed their names! I ultimately responded directly to an ad by a major airline and was hired as a flight attendant. I didn't take the job in the end but it made me realize what a scam it was to pay for information that is otherwise readily available.
Rebate processing and data entry are also words to look for in terms of scams - because most of them are. And websites that show glowingly happy people driving Ferrari's and living in mansions (all gained from processing rebates or stuffing envelopes) are glaring signs of scams. Most will want a large "start-up" fee that they often call a "small investment in your future" and once enough people pay these hundreds of dollars each, the company will close up shop and reappear as someone and something else.
Mystery Shopping is legitimate but many of the companies offering work are not. A person is sent a check for several thousand dollars and told to shop at a check cashing or money wiring department at a well known store. They are told to cash the check in their own checking accounts and then return most of it by using the money wiring service and writing up a report on the service's customer service skills. The check from the company ultimately bounces but the money order you wired is good and the scammers take it and run. Even if YOUR bank says the original check from them is valid, you need to check with the COMPANY'S bank - that bank is the only department that can validate a check. And the victim will be held liable for passing a bad check and can face jail time as well as huge fees and a bad credit score. Not only that but stress, depression and ill-health can be a direct result of being scammed.
And lastly - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Using common sense and checking out the background of the company offering jobs is vital. No money should be handed over and checking or saving accounts should remain private.
Working from home while raising your kids is hard work and a very noble way to contribute to your family. But make sure you are lining your own pockets with your hard work and not a scam artists.
To check on a company, you can click to the Better Business Bureau here : www.bbb.org
Have you (or someone you know) fallen victim to a work from home scam? What advice do you have?
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