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Educational Consumer Tips

Work at Home

Author: Better Business Bureau
Category: Scams

Work-at-home business opportunities are advertised via street corner signs, the internet, newspaper ads, job sites and unsolicited telemarketing calls. Whatever the source, these offers should be met with extreme caution. Companies often charge upfront fees and promise high income returns for work that requires little or no effort. Consumers should research a company’s reputation beforehand and be prepared for high pressure sales tactics when responding to such offers. These offers may also claim association with well-known brands; always confirm these relationships with the third party. BBB trends nationwide show earnings claims are often exaggerated, deliver little to no income, and any investments made are difficult to recover.

Typical work-at home opportunities involve the following kinds of work:

-mystery shopping 
-stuffing envelopes 
-promoting/marketing merchant credit card machines 
-medical billing
-training or tutorial services to build a website business
-setting up a website or a web mall to sell products or services
-setting up a website to then sell it for profit at an auction
-setting up a website under an affiliate of a well known brand  

After signing up with a company, there is a likely chance that you will be contacted by another company with a different name offering to sell you “leads” or advertising to assist you in your success.  Consumers have complained that they were charged anywhere from $50.00 to $60,000 for leads or advertising that did not produce results or was never run to begin with. BBB files show that companies engaging in this type of service are often unwilling to issue a refund. Work-at-Home companies often close down abruptly and may reopen under a different  name.  For this reason, before doing business with a Work-at-Home company, carefully consider the length of time the company has been operating in addition to the number and types of complaints reported.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

On a related note, consumers should be aware of re-loader scams. These scams involve offers to recover money after it has been lost to another scam. Consumers who lose money to a work-at-home scheme may later be contacted by companies offering to help them get their money back. For more information on this topic, click here.

The United States Postal Inspectors regularly investigate fraudulent work-at-home schemes. Consumers should be advised that they could face prosecution by postal or other law enforcement agencies if they become involved in one of these schemes.  

For consumers who have complaints, in addition to filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, they can contact their State Attorney General’s office, the United States Postal Inspector at (877) 876-2455 and the FTC (877) 382-4357. Consumers should also contact their bank or credit card company to see if they can dispute the charges. Some credit card companies will work with the consumer to dispute a charge for ‘services not rendered.’ Consumers should be familiar with their credit card dispute policies as not all charges are eligible.