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Educational Consumer Tips

Work At Home Promotions

Author: Better Business Bureau

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a reliability report on any company, service or product.

Work from home ads are seen in newspapers, magazines, and online. These advertisements are not always clear on the conditions of the work involved and the money you must send for instructions or products before finding out how the offer works. Work at home con artists often prey upon senior citizens, the disabled, mothers who want to stay at home with their children, the unemployed, and people with low incomes.

Some of the most common work-at-home schemes include: Envelope Stuffing, Product Assembly, Reshipping, Medical Billing(without formal training), Internet Marketing or Mystery Shopping.

If you are thinking about getting involved in a work at home offer, look carefully and look for the following warning signs: 

* Exaggerated claims of potential earnings, profits, or part time earnings 
* Claims of "no experience necessary"
* Requirements of money for instructions or products before telling you how the plan works
* Claims of inside information
* Overstated claims of product effectiveness
* An offer that does not pay a regular salary
* Involves working for an overseas company
* A person or a company asking you for personal information, a legitimate employer doesn’t need your credit card number or your banking information!  

The Federal Trade Commission has approved changes to its Business Opportunity Rule that will ensure that consumers have the information they need when considering buying a work-at-home program or any other business opportunity. The changes simplify the disclosures that business opportunity sellers must provide to prospective buyers. The simplified disclosures will help prospective purchasers assess the risks of buying a business opportunity. In addition the Business Opportunity Rule applies to business opportunities previously covered under the Rule, as well as work-at-home offers such as envelope stuffing, craft assembly and other opportunities.

It requires business opportunity sellers to give consumers specific information to help them evaluate a business opportunity. At least seven days before prospective buyers sign a contract or pay any money for a business opportunity the company must provide a one-page Disclosure Document that lists five key pieces of information.

Sellers must disclose five key items of information in a simple, one-page document:

* the seller's identifying information;
* If the seller makes a claim about the purchaser's likely earnings, the company has to give the prospective buyer a separate document that says across the top “EARNINGS CLAIM STATEMENT REQUIRED BY LAW”;
* If the seller, its affiliates or key personnel have been involved in certain legal actions (and, if yes, a separate list of those actions);
*whether the seller has a cancellation or refund policy (and, if yes, a separate document stating the material terms of such policies); and
*a list of persons who bought the business opportunity within the previous three years.

Misrepresentations and omissions are prohibited under the Rule, and for sales conducted in languages other than English, all disclosures must be provided in the language in which the sale is conducted.

Consumers should use the disclosure document and supplementary information to fact-check sellers' sales pitches.

If you believe you have become a victim of a work at home scheme, contact the US Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455 if it is through the mail or Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357. 

For more advice you can trust from your local BBB on avoiding scams and fraud, go to

Updated 8/12