Being scammed when you just want to earn a living by working at home sucks. It goes beyond annoying. You lose both money and time, plus you have to listen to all of the people who say “I told you so” when they claimed that all work at home opportunities are scams.

Is there anything you can do?

Be Careful

If you’re going to expose a scam, first and foremost be certain it was a scam, not just something that didn’t work out for you. I can’t tell you how often people run to forums complaining that some home business opportunity is nothing but a scam when it was really just a mismatch to their skills or they really didn’t try hard with it.

Be certain you have your facts straight. Call an opportunity a scam publicly when it’s not can lead to legal troubles. Sometimes scams will threaten legal action even when you’re precisely right about what happened, to get the information taken down. Most times it’s not going to happen, but be aware of the possibilities.

You need to be able to point to specific information showing that the opportunity was a scam. This could include a saved and/or printed copy of their sales page and any correspondence between you and the scammer.

Report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center

You can report online scams to the FBI through the IC3 website if either you or the scammer are in the United States. They’ll send it on to appropriate law enforcement, who may or may not act on your complaint. According to their FAQ, you can complain about “advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or employment/business opportunity schemes” as well as other crimes committed online.

Better have your facts straight. If an investigation is opened, you will want your evidence to be available. But also know that not all complaints will be acted upon.

Report to the Affiliate Who Referred You

If you went through an affiliate’s link to a scam, let them know why you think it was a scam. Some are very helpful and may be able to help you get a resolution on the matter. Other times they can’t, but if an affiliate values their relationship with newsletter subscribers or website visitors, they’ll at least apologize, and may even remove the offer from their site.

Report to the Site Advertising the Scam

If a site is more generally advertising a scam, let them know. You might be able to get the ad taken down.

If the ad was on Craigslist, flag it to report the scam. If the scam is a Google ad, check to see if it violates any AdWords policies, and report it if so. Google doesn’t allow the advertising of data entry affiliate programs or programs with unclear billing practices, for example.

Post on Forums

This can be a risky one, but really handy if the scam has been discussed on a forum you already frequent. Others will want to know your experience.

Stick to the facts and don’t exaggerate. Don’t get personal if people disagree with you. It takes more time for some people to see through a scam, and denial plays a big part. Otherwise most pyramid schemes wouldn’t last as long as they usually do.

There are also forums dedicated to unveiling scams. It may not hurt to post your experiences on one of them.

Keep Being Careful

It bears repeating. Just because an opportunity didn’t work out for you doesn’t automatically make it a scam. Really think before you start spreading word that it was a scam.