Consumer Alert: Work at Home Scams
MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A Hartselle woman recently lost thousands of dollars to what she calls a bogus job opportunity. Michelle Simpson says it all started with a pop up ad while she was looking at a Publisher’s Clearing House email.
The online ad claimed a woman named Kim Swartz was working from home making an upwards of $8,000 per month with a company called Work At Home EDU.
Simpson was a newly divorced mom and just wanted to make some supplemental income to support her child.
“$7,000 a month — if I made $300 per week that would be just great, that’s not reaching for the stars,” she said.
But after several deep investments, Simpson said she realized she’d been duped.
“That two-hour conversation led me to give them my debit card number, and spending a couple thousand dollars that night,” Simpson said.
The Better Business Bureau says beware of “jobs” or “business opportunities” that seem to offer high pay for work you can do at home. Often these programs are bogus.
Common scams involve package forwarding, Internet searches or advertising, envelope stuffing, medical billing, discount or coupon programs, rebate processing, distributorships, sales, or the purchase of special equipment or software to start businesses.
Many people lose large sums of money through work at home scams. Some versions of these scams – like package forwarding – might also involve the victim in crimes such as identity theft and handling of stolen merchandise.
BBB President Elizabeth Garcia says legitimate companies won’t use those high pressure sales tactics.
“They will give you the opportunity to request all the information in writing, and an opportunity to consider the proposition before you make a final decision,” said Garcia.
Here are some tip-offs that the “opportunity” could be a scam:
Big bucks for simple tasks. Watch out if they promise to pay you a lot of money for jobs that don’t seem to require much effort or skill.
Job offers out of nowhere from strangers. If they offer you a job without getting an application from you first, meeting you, or doing an interview, it’s probably a scam. Don’t hand your personal employment information to these people (especially your Social Security number!). That could quickly lead to identity theft.
Requests for up-front payments. If someone wants you to make an advance payment to “get in” on the ground floor of a new business opportunity – especially if it’s a big investment, or you don’t have much information about the deal – this is a big red flag. Don’t do it. “Advance fee scams” are very common and they come in many varieties.
They ask you to wire the money. If you wire a payment to somebody, it’s gone forever. Wire transfers of money are a convenient and perfectly legitimate service. But scam artists often ask you to wire payments that they are requesting (especially to destinations in other countries!) because they know you won’t be able to get your money back.
High pressure to do it now. Don’t be in a hurry to accept an unsolicited offer of work, or to make a business investment, particularly if the other party is asking you to spend your money on the deal.
Take your time. If somebody tries to convince you that this is a “limited time” offer and you have to act now, just tell them to forget it. Ignore anybody who pushes you to agree. High pressure is a big sign that something’s wrong.