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Work-at-home scams: 7 important questions to ask


Teleworking 1. How much money do you have to spend in order to begin the program?

This includes any fees, equipment and materials. Get an itemized list that shows a total required expenditure. Beware of plans that require you to shell out significant amounts of money for specialized equipment, materials or permits.

2. What exact duties must you fulfill in order to get paid?

Get specific requirements in writing, from materials acquisition through submitting finished work through passing quality-assurance testing. In addition, find out whether you will be paid by salary, per completed units of work, or by commission.

3. Who pays you, how is your pay delivered, and how often will you be paid?

Make sure these answers are solid. For example, is the company that cuts your check different from the one supplying you with materials? Why? Do you have a phone number and address for the payroll department? Do they check out?

4. Is the product useful, and the profit logical?

Search the Internet for articles, information and bulletin boards that discuss the product. Ask yourself: Is there much demand for this product? Would you ever buy it? Would anyone pay enough for it to warrant the profit the company is promising you?

5. Is this a pyramid scheme?

Does someone besides the company get a cut of the profits you create by your work? Does your pay depend on your getting others to join the work-at-home plan? If so, be extremely cautious: Your financial success will depend on your persuading others to follow you into the scheme, and you’ll always have to fork over a portion of your earnings to the person who brought you into the plan. In addition, pyramid schemes are illegal in many places.

6. Do you actually want to do the work?

Do you really want to raise mice for research laboratories? Make “cold” sales calls to people's homes? If your reaction is "bleah," don’t waste your money. Find a different work-at-home plan, a job-retraining program at the local community college, or finish your university degree.

7. What is the company's standing with the Better Business Bureau?

Don’t trust the company. Find out yourself from your local BBB chapter.