People who are eager to start a home business are often new to the Internet and filled with hope. Unfortunately, that can make them easy prey for con artists. The lure of easy money can serve as a difficult lesson for those who fall for it. If you are looking at job opportunities online, it’s important to watch out for scams and get-rich-quick schemes. Many scams are cleverly packaged, making it hard to determine the legitimate work opportunities from the fraudulent ones.
"If you are looking at employment or business opportunities online, watch out for scams," Tamsevicius says. "Many get-rich-quick schemes are cleverly packaged, making it hard to sift legitimate work opportunities from the swindles." Common cons include Nigerian letter schemes asking for money, pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes, and "work at home" offers that involve stuffing envelopes or assembling crafts.
Here are some tips for sidestepping scams:
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Any offer that promises to make you rich overnight with a business that works while you sleep is a rip-off. Watch out if a company promises large profits for little or no work, or claims no experience is necessary. If anyone can do it, why should you pay to learn about it?
For that reason, multilevel marketing (MLM) has gotten a bad rap. Granted, there may be some legitimate money-making programs out there, but there are also a large number of overhyped, overpromising, underdelivering scams too.
2. Be especially wary of any company that requires an initial investment to get involved.
3. Be leery of anyone who uses hard-sell tactics or pushes you to sign up right away. Take your time to think about opportunities. If you do find a program that intrigues you, do yourself a favor and check it out first.
4. Double-check the reputation of a company before signing up for its program. Get at least three references from people who are currently involved in the program to get the real story. Find out what strings are attached, how much money it will take to get started, and what the “fine print” says. Also find out how long they have been in business. Ask what their experience has been working with them. How long have they been in business? What kind of training will the company provide? Do they have a good support system for their sales representatives?
5. Read the fine print before you sign anything. If you don't understand an agreement, have a lawyer or an accountant review it before signing.
6. Make sure there is an out. Before you sign ANYTHING, find out what the procedure is to withdraw if you change your mind and what, if anything, it will cost you. If you have to pay startup fees, pay with a credit card rather than cash or check. That way if things go awry you can cancel payment or dispute your credit card charges.
How to check out a scam or potential “business” opportunity:
1) Contact your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). The national BBB web site is www.bbb.org/. There you will find a link to locate the BBB for your area and information on work-at-home scams and how to file a complaint.
2) Check the Scambusters
3) Go to WorldWideScam, offers a funny insight into some of the more outrageous scams in circulation.
4) Visit the MLM Survivor Site. Here you can check out any potential MLM opportunities to see how reputable they are.
5) The United States Postal Inspection Service offers several pages on its web site about scams, including work-at-home schemes, multi-level-marketing schemes, distributorship and franchise fraud, and how to file a mail fraud complaint.
6) The Federal Trade Commission offers information on work-at-home schemes, medical billing, business opportunity schemes, the top 10 Dot Cons, and how to file a complaint.
7) The National Consumer League’s National Fraud Information Center offers information on pyramid schemes, MLM, and how to report a fraud.
HAVE YOU BEEN VICTIMIZED BY SCAM?
If you fall victim to a scam let others know so that you can protect them from falling prey too! Here’s how to report a fraudulent business:
1) Contact the attorney general in your local state.
2) File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in the fraudulent business’ native state. You can find contact information for that individual state at the BBB web site at .
3) Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Call them at 1-800-876-7060 or visit their web site at www.ftc.gov/ to file a complaint.
4) List them with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www. ifccfbi.gov
5) Take action by reporting any spam emailers to www.Spamcop.net and www.abuse.net