Through Tweets, email and websites, job hunters are being told that they can make lots of money from the comfort of home using Twitter and Google. Better Business Bureau warns that the large print for such offers may promise big returns but the fine print can cost them every month.
“Websites often use the Twitter or the Google name and prominently display their iconic logos in their marketing,” says Lynda Pasacreta, BBB President and CEO. “Consumers often assume they are getting a job with Google when in fact they are getting taken in by yet another work-at-home scheme.”
Work-at-home schemes have often preyed on unsuspecting job hunters and now social media is being used as a way to convince cash-strapped individuals that they can make quick and easy money. RCMP reports that email, internet and text messaging are the top ways fraudsters are targeting Canadians.
Job schemes rank number six overall in the number of Canadian fraud victims according to Phonebusters, the RCMP call centre. In BC alone, there were 169 consumers who fell for schemes like Google Success Kits in 2009.
Google Success Kits, which marketed itself under the website earncashfastwithgoogle.com, is based in New York and has an F rating. One consumer in Burnaby paid $1.24 as per online agreement to receive a kit by mail. Later, Google Success Kits charged a $39.19 membership fee that the consumer reportedly did not consent to. Upon contacting the company the consumer was told that the kits were out of stock, and not given a refund of the money already charged.
EasyTweetProfits.com is a company based in Surrey, England. EasyTweetProfits.com claims you can make $250-$873 a day working at home with Twitter. The website offers a seven-day free trial of their instructional CD-ROM for $1.95 to cover shipping. Buried in the lengthy terms and conditions are the details that the trial begins on the day the CD is ordered—not when it is received—and if the consumer doesn’t cancel within seven days of signing up, they’ll be charged $47 every month.
“Work-at-home schemes are like a game of whack-a-mole and new websites crop up practically every day,” says Pasacreta. “The key for consumers is to research and read the fine print before you click your money away.”
BBB wants job hunters to be aware of the following red flags when searching for a work-at-home job online:
• The “job” is actually a money-making scheme and doesn’t provide actual employment.
• The work-at-home scheme claims that you can make lots of money with little effort and no experience.
• You have to pay money upfront in order to be considered for the job or receive more information.
• The exact same tweet touting the program is posted by many different Twitterers. The links in such tweets could lead you to scam sites or install malware onto your computer.
• Be wary of work-at-home offers that use logos from Google, Twitter or other prominent online businesses. Just because Google is in the name, it doesn’t mean the business is affiliated with Google.
• Don’t trust blogs that claim to be testimonials to the success of Twitter-money-making programs.
What to do before you click and sign up:
• Review the business’s BBB Reliability Report® at mbc.bbb.org to see if BBB reports complaints or other concerns you need to consider.
• Thoroughly read the website’s terms and conditions, keeping in mind that a free trial could cost you in the end.
• Research the website with Whois.net or a similar site for determining domain name ownership. If the site is anonymous or individually registered, beware.
For more advice on evaluating work-at-home companies and schemes, join us on March 27, 2010 at Metropolis at Metrotown Mall from 1130am to 1pm, as the Better Business Bureau and BC Securities Commission present Smart Shoppers, a one day event that brings celebrity money group, the Smart Cookies, who will provide a fabulous multimedia presentation about consumer protection. Ask an expert: Representatives from BBB, BC Securities Commission, Consumer Protection BC, and other fraud prevention experts will also take your questions. For more: www.smartshoppersbc.org