5 Work from Home Scams You Should Avoid

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work from home scams

There was no shortage of candidates for the Most Annoying Person Award that I was mentally planning to bestow. At the top of the short list was the guy who screams at us in TV ads to buy wrenches, foot powder and cleaning products.

But he had stiff competition from Stephanie, a young woman who had shattered the silence on the airport bus one Friday evening, by dialing up a series of friends to plan her weekend. Oblivious to the weary travelers around her, she babbled on and on.

When the calls finally ended, it was all I could do to keep from yelling, “Thank goodness Stephanie’s run out of friends!” She certainly had not made any new ones on the bus, but she had become a strong contender for my award.

They both dropped lower on the list when I rushed to answer the telephone only to be greeted by a disembodied voice which said, “Hello, we are canvassing your neighborhood to find people who want to work at home.”

…buying into a scheme is certainly not my idea of being joyfully jobless…

I hung up before the recording finished, but a few hours later I knew who the winner of my award would be and it’s not a single person at all. I call them the Work at Home Opportunistas and they are on the prowl. In fact, these folks seemed to be causing an inescapable epidemic.

When I go to check my email, a flashing banner screams, “Earn $10,000/month working from home!” My spam folder is full of moneymaking offers every day. Driving around town, I see posters stapled to utility poles with similar come hither messages.

After weeks of avoiding this avalanche of opportunity, I happened to see travel guru Peter Greenberg talking about going on a “free” cruise – another popular offer. The cruise ended up costing $1400 and was dreadful from beginning to end.

Maybe I should follow his lead and check out the home business offers, I decided.

Posing as an eager opportunity seeker, I began responding to every ad that crossed my path. I did a Google search using “work at home” as my keyword and was astonished to see pages of offers. It would have taken me days to check out every listing on Google, so I only went for the most intriguing.

What I discovered was a pattern or system to all these offers that was soon familiar. Maybe there’s a Scam School where they teach this stuff, I mused. Answer an ad and here’s what you’ll find:

  • The emphasis is on the big money you can earn. Very often the actual business is just alluded to. Breathing seems to be the only required skill. The focus is on opportunity with a capital O. Request the free information offered and you probably will get a brochure offering to sell you the real scoop.
  • Especially popular are offers you can pass along over the Internet. From the comfort of your own home, you can reach millions around the world and rake it in.
  • Another familiar offer is listings (either a booklet you can purchase or on a web site you must pay to enter) of work at home opportunities. These are particularly terrific for anyone interested in earning pennies for tediously stuffing envelopes. You are not told that you have to acquire the names and addresses that will go on the envelopes.
  • The offer that most amused me is the one that trains you to track down deadbeat parents and collect unpaid child support. Now doesn’t that sound like something anyone could do?
  • And what’s this repeated promise of a monthly income? Jobs have predictable incomes; businesses fluctuate.

Besides the fact that few people ever profit from such plans, buying into a scheme is certainly not my idea of being joyfully jobless.

With all the possibilities for creative self-employment, these plans do little more than give working at home a shady reputation. Hook up with one of these Opportunistas and you’ll spend both cash and confidence—with nothing but a sad, hard lesson in return.

Although Barbara J. Winter has been working from home for three decades, you will never see a picture of her standing next to a Ferrari with palm trees in the background.