April 6, 2009
The recession's top work-at-home scams
More than any other question, "How do I find a legit work-from-home job?" is the one I'm asked most.
Last fall I wrote a post about how to avoid work from home scams and another listing a couple of legit work-from-home opportunities for customer service reps. Because scamming folks out of their hard-earned time and money never seems to go out of style (if anything, scams increase when times are tough), I thought the topic warranted another visit.
Staffcentrix, an East Coast training firm that teaches people how to work from home, recently put out a list of the top work-at-home scams for 2009. The common thread among all these scams? You have to send money to get the job (or the get-rich-quick secret). And often, once you have, the work isn't anything close to the job described in the ad you answered.
Take those rebate processing and auction-listing processing jobs you can do from home. You may think you're applying for a data entry gig. But once you've forked over $100, $200, or however much they've convinced you to part with, you discover that you've just signed up for a sales job that pays in commission only.
Then there are package forwarding or product reshipping jobs, which the FBI says are on the rise. Basically you're "hired" to receive and repackage electronics and other goods, with the hiring company either reimbursing your postal fees with a bogus check or stiffing you altogether. To make matters worse, the goods may very well be stolen, meaning that on top of being scammed out of your own cash you could find yourself in legal hot water.
The FBI cites mystery shopping as another popular work-from-home scam. In this illegit gig, the "employer" sends you a bogus check to use for your shopping and asks you to wire the remainder of the funds back. And voila -- you're bilked again!
Moral of the story: You shouldn't have to pay or front a potential employer money. When it comes to work from home jobs on the Web, most are bogus. In fact, Staffcentrix says 54 out of 55 of them are.
For free, pre-screened, scam-free work-from-home job listings, see Rat Race Rebellion. Note that you get what you pay for; not all jobs on this site pay wonderfully, though I do know a few people who found home-based, short-term projects on this site that they were happy with. Also, disregard the ads on the site; those aren't necessarily scam-free.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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