BBB Tip of the Week: Scams targeting work-at-home jobs

SUNDAY, AUG. 4, 2013

Work-at-home opportunities can be appealing to many looking for work or extra income. However, scams for these types of jobs are also prevalent.

The FBI has identified the following as the most common work-at-home scams:

• Advance-fee scam, requiring hundreds or thousands of dollars in inventory, setup and materials, which may not be worth anything.

• Counterfeit check “mystery shopper” scam, in which you are sent a large check, asked to deposit it and withdraw funds to shop and check out wire transfer companies by wiring money back to the employer.

• Pyramid schemes, in which you are a distributor but need to first pay for promotional materials and products that have very little value and then asked to recruit friends and family to sell as well.

• International middleman scam, in which criminals use you to receive and re-ship checks, merchandise and solicitations to other potential victims.

The FTC recently banned a business-opportunity marketer from selling work-at-home opportunities under the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule. The marketer falsely promised earnings of up to $1,000 per day for data-entry work, processing rebate and credit card applications.

Under the Business Opportunity Rule, sellers and marketers have to give you a one-page disclosure that includes the identity of the seller; a list of references; information about lawsuits or other legal actions involving the seller or its key personnel; and information about whether a cancellation or refund policy exists. If it does, then they also inform of the terms of that policy.

The disclosure also must include a statement about whether the seller is making an earnings claim. If so, then they must provide an earnings claim statement in addition to the disclosure.

Sellers and marketers also have to give you seven days to review and research their disclosure before signing a contract or paying any money.

If you are seeking work-at-home opportunities, research the company online and with the BBB.

Also beware of unsolicited offers. If you haven’t filled out an application, met with the business or had an interview, it is likely a scam. Two other red flags of a scam are when a marketer asks for you to pay up front or to wire money.

If you question the legitimacy of a home-based business opportunity, call the BBB at (509) 455-4200 or visit for assistance.

By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor

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