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Work from home Internet scams and how to avoid them

Updated on November 26, 2016

There really are work-from home jobs out there. The problem is finding the the legitimate ones. Internet scams are rampant. What you see is not always what you get. Here are some of the more common work-from scams to watch out for.

Envelope stuffing job scam

The envelope stuffing scam has been around for a while. Once upon ago, you'd see these ads in the back of magazines or in crummy newspapers calling for people who wanted to work at home stuffing envelopes. These days, this fraud has gone high tech. The fraudster has his/her own electronic real estate in the form of a shabby website claiming that you can "make extra money by stuffing envelopes at home". Really?

Think of all the junk mail you get. Somebody had to put it in the envelopes. Here's the bad news. A machine did it, and there are no envelope stuffing jobs. Most of us use the Internet anyhow. Furthermore, if you are asked for a "small fee" to get started, then, run and don't walk. I'm always suspicious where someone asks you for a fee or asks you to "pay to work". In the envelope stuffing fraud, chances are the small fee will get you some instructions in how to place ads so other can fall for the envelope stuffing scheme too.

Assemble crafts at home rip off

Wouldn't it be nice to assemble crafts at home and not sit behind a desk? It sounds like a great opportunity, right? Before you crank up the sewing machine or plug in the hand tools, take a moment to read the small print. You might be stumbling head on into another work from home fraud courtesy of the Internet

Usually, those screaming headlines boldly proclaim you will be sent the material and be paid for the finished product. There is usually a catch, and that often comes in the form of an "investment" in some special equipment or supplies which are not included in the ‘free materials’ that you were promised in the larger print. You could find yourself out a few hundred dollars. In the end, your scammer is selling equipment and not a work-from-home opportunity.

Check to see if there is a return policy. There never is. In the ultra fine print, you might see another disclaimer. “All work must meet quality standards.” No work ever does. So, you will never get paid. Just to make things worse, you have no legal recourse because you did agree to buy the equipment or supplies and there was a ‘no return’ policy. Remember, you agreed to meet the standards (they weren't clear). Guess what? You've been scammed.

Online Medical billing and coding scam

Home medical billing is another popular work-from-home scam. Have you ever seen a screaming headline that reads “Job explosion in the Health Care Industry!!!!!!!” (Note the explanation marks!! That's one telltale sign of a scammer).

These ads then go on to explain how the medical profession needs you (yes you), and that you will be very well paid. You will even save the world by single-handedly helping to lower medical costs. Sounds like a plan right?

You're going to prevent inflation of health care costs....for all of us. All that is is needed to fix the problem is electronic claim processing, a brand new cutting edge technology ( so they say).

Just so you know, electronic billing has been around for the 80s and is done by a few well- established companies and doctors use them.

If you answer one of the ads, you may get a brochure, an application, some discs, a contract, some disclosure statements (in tiny print), and possibly some testimonial letters from people who will swear that this has changed their lives and made the wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. You may also have some instructions for setting up your own medical billing business. You will be required to get your own clients. Oh, and you will also be required to make a personal investment that will leave will leave you anywhere form one to ten thousand dollars lighter.

Data entry fraud

Another popular Internet rip off is the data entry job scam. All you do is input a few numbers in columns for a few hours a day from home and the money will just start rolling in, right? I've heard that there are legitimate jobs, but I've also heard there are a lot of slick ads that promise you a data entry job after you take a course but don't deliver. In many cases, you may be taught how to represent an affiliate program.

Once you pay, you may get a course (electronic or DVD) that will teach how to find affiliate programs that you can sign up for (information that is readily available for free on the Internet). So yes, that's data entry of a kind but not what was promised.What's worse is most of the information is available for free on the Internet.

Why are there so many scammers out there?

Anyone with a computer and an Internet account can set up a business. The Internet is like the wild west, with equal opportunity for legitimate hardworking people and fraudsters. Mind you, as long as there has been business, there have been scam artists. It is easy for these rascals to find their way onto your desktop or your email inbox. They promise to solve your problems (and lord knows, we all could use more cash these days), and often quite quickly.

These scammers also have the law on their side. They are extremely difficult to track down and prosecute. Many also don't "take" you for that much. They do a volume business. So,if you were taken for $40, it is harder to sell the case to a lawyer or get law enforcement involved.

"Legitimate" work at home jobs (not)

Five lines Internet scammers use

"You have been CHOSEN"

"You are SO SMART"

"You DESERVE our help!"

"You can be NUMBER ONE!"

"You can learn the SECRETS of Success!"

Why we fall for scammers

I have my theories about why people fall for fraud artists. I don't think there is any co-relation with the number of degrees a person might have or even their general life experience and their susceptibility to get taken. In a moment of weakness (that's all it takes), we're always prone to be enticed by a scammer. Needless to say, there are a lot of pressures these days that push us to the edge--the economy, the frustration of being in a dead end work situation, endless bills, credit card debt, long-term unemployment. Besides, who wouldn't want to wake up, roll out of bed and spend the day working at home in his/her pajamas rather than park themselves in an office cubicle in a toxic corporation.

How to protect yourself from online scams

Here's how to avoid internet scams before you're tempted by the next great offer.

1. What is the ‘cost’ of getting that great job you see advertised? Do you have to pay to work, purchase any equipment, or submit a special membership fee? Is the company going to send you clients/jobs or do you have to get those yourself. Legitimate work-at-home jobs do not require that you spend money and will be specific about what is required. They also pay YOU the money.

2. Ask what tasks you will actually have to perform. What are you actually going to get paid for. Every job has a job description of some kind.If your contact is vague, give this fabulous opportunity a pass. .

3. Will you be making a salary (probably you won't) Well, how then will you be paid? Hourly? On commission? Upon completion? Pay is always based upon something.

4. Who pays you and and when? That's legitimate. Will you be paid via PayPal or check?

5. How will you receive instructions? Who will you report to? The more vague your contact is, the more reason you have to be suspicious.

6. Where are they located? This is a question that only someone who is working from home would have to ask. If the outfit is operating in the U.S. and you think you've been scammed, you can always report them to the FTC.

7. While you're at it, check your local Better Business Bureau. Doing a Google search also can save you some grief. If you have a company name, there will be people talking on forums if there have been some fraudulent dealings.

8. Also, watch out for any outfit that starts pressuring you for a credit card number. You should not have to pay for anything. If they start doing that, ask what the cooling off period is (it's usually about 3 days). Before you even plunk down your credit card, tell them you want to "cool off" to think about it. Don't buy into any hype about "acting" now. If its legit, it will be there in three days.If you do plunk down your credit card, try to come to your senses quickly. You could always initiate a dispute if you suspect fraud (being sold goods and services that didn't deliver as promised). While you're at it, ask what "return policy" is (if you are buying equipment). If people are evasive, then you may be stumbling head on into a scam.


Submit a Comment
  • Rhonda_M profile imageAUTHOR

    Rhonda Malomet 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Due diligence. If enough people are talking about it (in the negative), if you check Yahoo answers, Ripoff report, do a basic Google search, and you see websites with line after line about the so-called opportunity in the negative, there's probably some truth to it. We are so much more vulnerable in the recession.

  • kschang profile image


    7 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

    Good intro to scam-spotting. I've identified the 4 stages of a scam which provides a bit more detail on your analysis

  • tryonlinework profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    Great tips on the hub. There are many other work at home scams that are online, but the only thing that is require is to use your brain and do research to find all the answers you need.


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