September 30th, 2011

Where Are the Legitimate Envelope Stuffing Jobs?

For one reason or another, envelope stuffing is one of those jobs that a lot of people look for when they want to work at home. Usually, they become quite discouraged by the lack of such jobs available. Aren’t there any legitimate envelope stuffing jobs out there?

Sorry to say, not really, at least not when you see them advertised. The usual “envelope stuffing job” you see out there is a scam. You put up ads around town, in the newspaper or online, then mail people instructions on how to do the same for a fee. It’s not a legitimate job and it can get you into trouble. Just take a look at this article on the FTC’s website about a promoter of an envelope stuffing opportunity and the legal trouble he got himself into.

Why Are Envelope Stuffing Opportunities Always Scams?

The reason why these opportunities are always scams is because machines stuff envelopes faster and cheaper than humans can. It’s simply not cost effective for businesses to regularly hire people to stuff envelopes for them.

If you think about it, the claim that you can make a few dollars per envelope stuffed doesn’t even make sense in terms of legitimate advertising. Just think about it. Does it really make sense for a business to pay $3 or so per envelope stuffed? Not even if you include postage for a standard letter. A machine can do it for far cheaper, and the business can probably get bulk rates on their mailings.

Don’t Believe the Testimonials

Just because an opportunity has testimonials from people who say they’ve earned good money through the opportunity doesn’t mean they have. Testimonials are easy to fake. They’re just words. Anyone willing to promote an envelope stuffing scam isn’t going to stress about the laws against using false testimonials.

Aren’t There Any Legitimate Ways to Stuff Envelopes for Pay at Home?

Once in a long while, you can find a business willing to hire an individual to do their mailings for them. The pay rate is naturally far less than what you see in an envelope stuffing scam.

If you want to earn money mailing out advertisements for other businesses, you’ll probably have to make your own opportunity. Contact small, local businesses and see if they’d like help in that area. You might find something. It won’t be as easy as the scams like to make it sound, as that’s a lot of work to just find someone to hire you, but it may not be impossible. Just don’t call it envelope stuffing when it’s really about helping a business advertise.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

June 21st, 2011

Can You Use the BBB to Find Work at Home Scams?

A lot of people think of the Better Business Bureau when they want to learn about a company. That’s why a lot of people go to their site when they aren’t sure if they’re looking at a work at home scam. The BBB has built up a lot of trust through the years as a resource for checking out any sort of business you might deal with. Shouldn’t they be a good choice to help you avoid being scammed when you’re looking for work?

Overall, I’d give them a “meh.”

It’s not that you can’t look up a company and find out they’re a scam there. You can. Sometimes. The problem is that they can’t keep up with all the scams, some scams use the names of legitimate companies, and not all complaints to the BBB mean that they’re a scam.

Scams Come, Scams Go

New work at home scams come all the time. Just as with any other resource you use for finding work at home scams, the BBB won’t know about it until they start getting complaints about it.

This is particularly true of online businesses. It takes very little to set up a website. Scams online can change names very easily with the simple switch of a domain name.

If a business is in a potentially questionable industry, the BBB may have a notation on their listing for that business when they do have a listing there. It doesn’t guarantee that it’s a scam, just that you should use caution.

Complaints Only Mean So Much

A complaint to the BBB about a business only means so much. I just checked a variety of Walmart listings there. A corporate listing had over 200 resolved complaints, while individual stores had anywhere from a few complaints to too little information for the BBB to even rate them. That’s a major company where each location does a lot of business.

You have to look at what the complaints are and see if you can determine their relevance. When it comes to working at home, some people will scream scam at the slightest provocation, such as not having success handed to them on a silver platter. Others will complain with real reason behind it. You have to figure out if there’s something you should be concerned about.

The Internet Offers a Wide Array of Resources to Check for Work at Home Scams

The other problem I have with relying on the BBB to determine if something is a work at home scam is that there’s such a wonderful range of places to check opportunities out. There are sites such as scam.com that are dedicated to discussing all kinds of scams. There are posts people make on their own sites and others when they realize they’ve been scammed, all available through a search. Focusing on one organization just isn’t enough.

Sometimes you can spot a scam just by pasting a part of your correspondence with them or a part of their ad into a search engine. Include the word “scam” and it can be very interesting what turns up. A lot of scams use the same text over and over again, and it’s not too uncommon for frustrated scam victims to post their correspondence online.

I absolutely don’t mean you should avoid checking with the BBB when you’re concerned about an online scam. They’re a resource – use them. Just remember that they aren’t your only resource.

You’re a Resource Too

Finally, remember that you are a great resource for spotting work at home scams yourself. If something feels wrong about an opportunity, think about why it feels wrong. You might just be on to something.

When you’re thinking about applying for or accepting a work at home job or joining a home business opportunity, review what you know about it and look for the signs of a scam. If you don’t get overexcited about the opportunity you can often spot the scams on your own. And when you’re still in doubt, start asking around. People on the internet will often share their opinions on the matter.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

March 10th, 2011

FTC Targets Employment Scams and Online Business Scams

They’ve been promising for a while that they’d be looking harder at online activities, and now the FTC has taken action against a number of scams as a part of “Operation Empty Promises.” These scams were damaging to a number of people who were trying to find work in this challenging economy.

To be specific, they’ve taken 90 actions against companies that falsely promised employment or successful businesses to job seekers. It’s good to see these things go down, as while I’d love for everyone to be able to spot a scam without help, desperate people don’t always think so clearly, and get taken for large amounts of money.

I do mean large. The article notes that with the scam through Ivy Capital, some people paid up to $20,000 for coaching that was supposed to help them start a business. I can scarcely imagine the pain of being desperate for an income and losing that much money. A part of the claim is that coaches weren’t competent, and other offerings were not as they seemed.

They started by getting victims contact information when they responded to work at home ads and online business opportunities. The ads were for companies such as Jennifer Johnson’s Home Job Placement Program and Brent Austin’s Automated Wealth System.

People responded to these ads, and received telemarketing calls that would do a hard sell on them to get them to sign up for services that they said would gain them a lot of money with little effort. You may know my opinion of such things, but if you don’t I think it’s ridiculous. Very few people make any sort of a living based on a few hours of work a week, never mind thousands of dollars.

Fake Sales Jobs

Another company, National Sales Group, is accused of making false claims about available sales jobs, claiming to recruit for Fortune 1000 companies, then charging excessive fees for background checks and adding in recurring fees without informing their victims. I suppose while you’re stealing someone’s money you aren’t going to be too anxious to let them know about it.

These first companies are just in the process of being taken down by the FTC, and there has not yet been an official ruling on them. Nevertheless, they have been court ordered to cease their practices and have had assets frozen.

Other Scams Shut Down

The FTC had a few victories in court cases against some other scams as well. A couple of these are practically classic examples of work at home scams. There was a home crafting scam, an envelope stuffing scam, and some job board scams. Good to see these gone.

How Do You Look Into Opportunities?

Whether you’re looking at a work at home job or a home business opportunity, you need to do your research before you pay anything or give them much information about yourself.

The first thing you need to be aware of is any expenses associated with the opportunity you’re considering. This should be easy to discover. If the offer is vague, that’s not a good sign of a legitimate opportunity. You should know what your upfront expenses are and if you’re likely to continue to have expenses.

If you’re talking about a job, there shouldn’t be any upfront expenses, aside from occasionally a very reasonable cost for a background check. Many employers do not charge applicants for the background check, so be a bit extra wary if they want you to pay for it.

Paying for access to job listings can be legitimate, but only occasionally is. If they’re claiming that you absolutely, positively will get a fantastic, high paying job, step back. They’re probably not honest about what you’ll get. No job board or other job resource can promise you that. It’s up to the employer.

You should also consider how fast they say you’re going to be successful. Scams always make it sound easy to succeed, but the reality of any business is that it takes a lot of work to earn a living. Starting a business online does not mean you’re going to earn massive sums of money. If it were that simple I wouldn’t have to write these kinds of warnings. We’d all be on a nice island vacation or something.

Business opportunities are supposed to disclose what the average results are with their program, not just what their top performers do. Scams usually don’t.

I have to admit, that one is a bit tricky. Given how many people want to start a home business, and buy information to help them do it but never take action, the average almost has to be close to zero. Even of those who take action, I don’t believe there’s any one program that will be right for every person who tries it.

You should also know exactly how you’ll be working on your business and earning money. Hands off is not realistic. A real business requires you to do something.

Even autoblogging, which many online marketers talk up as an easy form of business, takes work. You can’t just throw a bunch of articles on a site and make it work. You need to research to figure out how to get the best information to your site, and you have to build backlinks for it. Not my kind of business at all, as most are easily taken down by search engines for not providing useful information, but also not as easy as proponents claim.

The most important thing is to just be realistic about what you expect you can earn from home and what it will take to get there. It’s not all easy. There’s a lot of hard work involved, and if you think otherwise you’re setting yourself up to fall for someone else’s scam.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 14th, 2010

How Can You Tell If a Product Testimonial is Legitimate?

Most of us working online will at one point or another decide to buy an information product to help us build our online business. It’s the fastest way to get information on a particular topic, and a well written information product will teach you how to improve your business. They can be very much worth the money.

As with anything else having to do with working at home, they can also be scams.

Many products make outrageous claims and back them up with fake testimonials from “delighted” customers. The challenge to you is figuring out when the testimonial is real.

1. Check the photos.

Many product testimonials use photographs of the person they claim to be written by. It makes them look more legitimate.

However, there are many free and paid stock photo sites out there. Unscrupulous website owners can take a stock image and write a testimonial to go with the photo and false name. It looks great on the page.

Photos are easy to check out once you know how. Right click on the photo and find “View Image” in the menu that pops up. This will let you see where the image is.

Copy and paste this location into a reverse image finder such as TinEye. It will pull up any matching images it can find.

If the image is from a stock photo site, there may be plenty of places it is found.

Look at the places the image is found. See if the person’s name changes from site to site. If it does, you know the testimonial is not legitimate.

2. Read the testimonials.

Sometimes a photo will legitimately be used on a number of product testimonials. Many marketing “gurus” review a lot of products because they’re given a free review copy. You may see their face on many reviews for that reason.

If that’s the case, take a look at all their testimonials. Are they all rave reviews? Do they mention receiving a free review copy? When did they review the product?

The FTC has been working on policing online marketing, and testimonials is one of the areas they’ve looked at. A good testimonial should mention if a free product or other incentive was given. A date is a good idea as well.

Of course, only the good testimonials will be posted on a site anyhow, so rave reviews are to be expected. But sometimes they won’t quite ring true. It’s nothing you can necessarily define, but if it feels like a false review to you, don’t trust it.

3. Can the testimonial be verified?

Many testimonials don’t give you enough information to confirm that they’re legitimate. Who is J. Doe or John D. anyhow? You have no way of knowing.

Better testimonials have a way to contact the person who wrote it. If you’re talking online marketing stuff, there may be a link to that person’s site, or at least the name of their website. It gives their testimonial more authority if they’re someone big in their industry.

4. Search part of the testimonial text.

An easy way for a lazy writer to create a fake testimonial is to take parts of other testimonials. Much easier to take someone else’s testimonial and apply it to your own.

Obviously, you need to skip any parts with the product name in it, as that’s too specific. Pick a section of the testimonial and plug it into Google, and see what you find. The closer the match to testimonials on other sites, the more likely it’s fake.

Even with all of these tips, you can’t be certain you won’t be fooled by a faked testimonial. All you can do is cut down the odds. Make sure you don’t get rushed by sites claiming their special deal will end soon or sell out or whatever excuse they give for you to hurry up and buy.

There will always be another product you can buy to help your business. You probably don’t have the money to waste on junk. Take your time and only buy when you’re confident the product will help you take your business in the direction you want it to go.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 20th, 2010

8 Rules to Help You Avoid Work at Home Job Scams

The biggest problem with working at home is getting started. It’s tough! There are more scams than real opportunities out there, and lots of people get sucked in, not knowing any better. There has to be a way to spot a work at home scam, right?

Actually, there are several ways.

There’s no way to 100% guarantee you won’t fall for a scam, but many are so obvious that you can avoid them just by paying attention.

1. Ridiculously high pay.

If the pay is amazingly high for the amount of effort, it’s probably a scam. Thousands of dollars a month for easy, part time work – scam!

2. No resume required.

Real employers want to know about your past work experience. They are not going to hire every person who contacts them. They want the best person for the job, and your resume is a part of how they screen out the people they know they don’t want.

Scammers don’t much care about your resume. They don’t care about your past work experience. They want to suck you in quickly and get your personal information and/or money. Resumes are nothing to scammers.

3. Call for information.

Work at home positions don’t have people for you to call for more information. Real businesses are too busy with their business to deal with that many job seekers. When it’s a work at home job on the line, there will be a lot of people calling if there’s a number available, and employers know it.

Scammers want to talk to you. How else are they going to get you to bite? They want to appeal to your dreams of an easy work at home job with high pay. That’s easier to do with personal contact.

4. Ad says “work at home.”

For the most part, legitimate work at home positions are labeled as “telecommute” positions. It’s certainly not a featured part of the ad. Real employers want the best person for the job, not the one who first notices the chance to work at home and then the job requirements.

Scammers know people type things like “work at home” into job boards and search engines. Having that phrase feature prominently in the ad is one way to get your attention.

5. “No Experience Necessary.”

Sure, there are jobs out there that don’t require experience. There aren’t many of them in the work at home world, however. Working at home is demanding, and employers want to know that you have at least some sort of work experience, preferably in the industry you’re about to start working in. If experience isn’t an absolute necessity, they may something more along the lines of “entry level position.”

Scammers, once again, don’t care about your work experience. They count on your desperation to find some sort of work at home.

6. Vague job listing.

One of the great things about the internet is that employers can give details about what they’re looking for in an employee. It’s not like it was when job ads were usually in the newspaper, and space came at a premium.

These days you should expect to see specific skill and/or experience requirements in job ads. Employers don’t want tons of resumes from people who aren’t remotely qualified for the position. They want to hear from people who have as many of the skills listed as possible and a willingness to earn the rest.

Scammers don’t need to give a lot of information. They know the suckers are going to contact them anyway.

7. Pay to show your interest.

Scammers love to talk about how many people are interested in their opportunity. That’s why they need you to send them some money to show that you’re serious about the opportunity. It gets rid of all the people who aren’t serious about this fantastic opportunity you’re going to miss out on if you don’t send in your money.

When was the last time you heard about a company wanting people to pay to apply? Never sounds about right.

8.They want your bank account information.

Some scams will ask for your bank account information, saying they want to direct deposit your pay. Direct deposit is a wonderful thing, you get your money faster, but be careful in sharing your banking information with anyone.

If you want direct deposit for your pay, make absolutely certain the opportunity is legitimate first. You may have to work a while and receive paper paychecks for a time to be certain if the company is not well known. Even if you have researched the company, make sure you’re really dealing with who you think you’re dealing with, as some scams steal the names of legitimate companies to gain your trust.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.