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Don’t Get Taken by ‘Work at Home’ Scams

Online scammers are getting better at duping victims with work-from-home schemes. They're building slick Web sites and checking grammar and spelling.

In this economy, their promises may seem irresistible. But you can steer clear of the scams. Just look for these warning signs.

Ridiculous claims

Few can resist the promise of easy money. Scammers often promise thousands of dollars weekly for little work. And they say experience doesn't matter.

Forget it. You won't earn an executive's salary stuffing envelopes. In the real world, machines do that.

Nor will inexperienced writers strike gold writing short articles. Even seasoned writers struggle to earn a paycheck.

Up-front investments

You shouldn't have to spend money to make money. Don't pay for information kits, lists or directories. You can get this information free elsewhere.

The same goes for product assembly kits. The company has little incentive to help you recoup your investment. It's made its profit from you.

There are exceptions. If you'll be selling products, you'll have to buy inventory. Some legitimate freelance sites require a membership. In these cases, you're basically starting a business.

Secret methods

Many sites hawk work-at-home opportunities. Someone purportedly made hundreds of thousands with a secret method. Now, apparently out of kindness, they're helping others. Details are vague.

Who would sell such a lucrative secret? And if they make so much, why do they need money from you? The answer is simple. Duping others is the moneymaking secret!

For your investment, you may get an information kit and a Web site. The information is worthless. And you can get a Web site for free.

These companies present glowing testimonials. Good luck verifying them. They're almost certainly fake.

Unsolicited offers

You don't have to look past your inbox for work-at-home scams. Many are for payment processors. You've been selected for a position without submitting a resume.

There are two ways this can work. You'll be either a mule or a fool. You're basically helping scammers steal from others. Or, the scammer will steal from you.

Legitimate companies interview potential hires. Most won't ask for personal information before the interview. If your potential job involves handling money, expect a thorough background check.

Multilevel marketing

Multilevel marketing can be a legitimate practice. That's when the focus is on selling products.

But many scammers use the technique. The focus is on recruiting new distributors, not selling products. Often, only the victims buy the products. They must sign up others to recover their costs.

The Federal Trade Commission considers some of these scams pyramid schemes. They can land you in legal trouble.

A grain of truth

Most convincing scams are based on partial truths or common misconceptions.

For example, scammers sell kits that promise help making money on Google. The kits capitalize on Google's name. Many believe Google is behind them.

The kits are offered for a few dollars. You'll soon discover that you've enrolled in a monthly subscription. No thanks! Google doesn't sell a work-at-home profit kit.

Research is the name of the game

Don't bank on guarantees to save you. A scammer's word means nothing.

Research any opportunity carefully. Do a Google search to see what others are saying. Remember that positive reviews are easily faked. You should also check the Better Business Bureau for complaints.

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