Check out your online “employer” before investing

Better Business Bureau

With the prevalence of counterfeit check and over-payment scams, be very cautious when answering online employment ads. Many online employment offers are really work-at-home schemes in disguise.

At best, you may end up investing more money than you make. At worst, you could end up re-shipping stolen merchandise or laundering money for your would-be employer. The top work-at-home schemes are:

  1. Assembly Work at-Home: Typical Ad — “Assembly work at home! Easy money assembling craft items. No experience necessary.”
  2. Chain Letter: Typical Ad — “Make copies of this letter and send them to people whose names we will provide. All you have to do is send us ten dollars for our mailing list and labels. Look at the chart below and see how you will automatically receive thousands in cash return!!!”
  3. Envelope Stuffing: Typical Ad — “$350 Weekly Guaranteed! Work two hours daily at home stuffing envelopes.”
  4. Pyramid Schemes disguised as Multi-Level Marketing: Typical Ad — “Our products make it possible for people like you to earn more than they ever have in their lives! Soon you can let others earn money for you while you and your family relax and enjoy your affluent lifestyle! No experience necessary.”
  5. Online Business: Typical Ad — “Turn your Home Computer into a Cash Machine! Get computer diskette FREE! Huge Selection of Jobs! No experience needed! Start earning money in days! Many companies want to expand, but don’t want to pay for office space. You save them money by working in the comfort of your home.”
  6. Processing Medical Insurance Claims: Typical Ad — “You can earn from $800 to $1000 weekly processing insurance claims on your home computer for health care professionals such as doctors, dentists chiropractors, and podiatrists. Over 80% of providers need your services. Learn how in one day!”

To avoid being scammed, it’s a good idea to ask your prospective work-at-home employer questions and do you research before making any commitment.

  • Interview and run background checks on all prospective employers the same way you would expect them to interview and run checks on you.
  • Look up the company at bbb.org or call 256-533-1640.
  • Search for additional information on the “employer” using Google or other search engines. You may find someone who has already been approached by a similar scam.
  • Be careful if you find yourself dealing with a company that only corresponds electronically and won’t provide a valid street address or contact information. These are red flags of a potential scam.
  • Know that if you are asked to cash checks and wire funds to anyone, whether it is someone you think has hired you, or a promoter of a sweepstakes offer, this is a scam.
  • Beware of any company that presses you to advance money out of your own bank account – the mere fact that your bank has released funds after 5 days does not mean it is good! Due to technology, these counterfeit checks look very real and it can take weeks before it is determined they are fake.
  • Inform your prospective employer that you will not forward any money until the check they sent you clears. The contact person likely will not respond and will not contact you again.

For more information on Work-at-Home Schemes, read Business Opportunity Scams at FTC.gov.

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to bbb.org.