The opportunity to work from home is an increasingly popular option, particularly with the sharp rise in unemployment over the last couple of years. The increased number of people seeking work from home opportunities has resulted in a significant increase in work from home scams. Recently the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, released its 2009 annual report about fraudulent activity on the internet. The report showed an increase in online crime and fraud complaints of over 22 percent from 2008. The total loss to individuals from online fraud was $559.7 million, up from $265 million in 2008.
The IC3 has received many complaints about work from home scams. The fraud or scam usually involves the payment of an advance fee for registration, equipment, information or training or the victim is lured into providing personal information, including banking and credit card details to the online company. Advance Fee fraud was the second biggest internet scam reported in 2009.
Various consumer watchdog sites responded to the report by offering advice to people seeking home based business opportunities. Primarily people are urged to do their homework and investigate the online company or business. The following organizations can be contacted to find out whether they have received any complaints regarding the business opportunity.
- The Federal Trade Commission operates on behalf of the consumer to prevent scams and fraud
- The Attorney General’s office in the state where the company is located
- The local Better Business Bureau
- The local Chamber of Commerce
- The National Fraud Information Center
If the business opportunity sounds too good to be true it probably is. In addition to investigating the company the following steps can be taken to avoid work from home scams:
- Get references from other people doing the work. A legitimate company will be happy to supply you with the names and contact details of other employees or contractors.
- Check out the business address and contact numbers to ensure the company actually exists as a physical entity
These are some of the most common work from home scams currently on the internet. Some opportunities may be legitimate but consider it a red flag to do some research on the company before committing yourself to anything.
- Data entry jobs that require you to purchase a starting package or ask a fee for training manuals and software
- Offers to start your own online business and get rich quickly. Usually the victim ends up paying for a guide to working at home which provides information readily available for free on the web
- Lists of companies that provide “legitimate” work at home opportunities. Many people get scammed into purchasing these lists that offer guaranteed work at home jobs. They are often just a list compiled out of the phonebook and many of the companies, if they do actually exist, have no idea they are a potential employer.
You can avoid internet based work from home scams and still enjoy the benefits of working at home by developing a home based business that is independent of any online company or organization. There are a number of possible home business opportunities using your home computer. With internet access and basic computer skills it is possible to start a successful Work from Home Computer Business that is both rewarding and profitable. Budding entrepreneurs can avoid getting caught up in the growing web of work at home scams by establishing their own successful home based business.
Julia Derby has many years experience working in small business development. Her free website My Home Business Ideas provides practical guidelines for starting a home based business from finding the right home business idea to planning, setting up and marketing your business.