Work-at-home scams prey on unemployed

August 23, 2010 4:39:31 AM PDT
Work-at-home scams rise and fall along with the economy. Unfortunately, with many people out of work, this type of activity is widespread and may take advantage of those least able to afford any loss of money. The Better Business Bureau offers those looking for new employment opportunities some tips so that they don't get burned in the job hunting process.

"Frustrated people anxious to earn some money must be carful about being taken advantage of by deceitful scam artists," warns Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "This type scam exists because it preys on the desperation of people, making it even more despicable."

Complaints to the BBB about work-at-home scams are averaging more than ten a month with an increase of 14% over last year.

Libna Perez, a complainant from Elgin, Ill. states, "I saw the ad and it looked like it was perfect for me. I have two kids and no one to watch them if I work. My husband's business closes down during part of the winter and money is tight. I sent in a check for $30 or $35 and was supposed to get a kit with envelopes and paperwork to stuff in the envelope. They said that this would be my own business and that each envelope that they sent me would have $5 inside. It was supposed to take ten days to get the kit after my check cleared and I complained to the Better Business Bureau after it took three weeks. They company had not been returning my calls. The president actually called and yelled at me after I filed a second complaint with the Better Business Bureau but they sent me my refund?"

To avoid falling victim of work-at-home scams, the BBB recommends the following warning signs

:

* Overstated claims of product effectiveness
* Exaggerated claims of potential earnings, profits, or part-time earnings
* Claims of "inside" information
* Requirements of money for instructions or products before telling you how the plan works
* Claims of "no experience necessary."

The BBB also notes that when most people respond to an advertisement for working at home, such as stuffing envelopes, they will generally receive - for a fee - instructions as to how to place similar ads in other publications, also offering work at home opportunities. Allegedly, they will get paid for each response you receive and send back to the original company.

Many work-at-home schemes have been put out of business by the postal authorities. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service advises that envelope stuffing is a highly mechanized process, virtually eliminating any possibility of working at home.

"Other work at home promotions may involve assembling crafts or pillows," Bernas explained. "Be aware that advance fees for the necessary materials are often required, that the crafts may take longer to assemble than represented, and that the company will pay only for finished products it deems acceptable."

For more information on this and other scams, visit www.bbb.org

ABOUT THE BBB:

As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.


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