We've all seen them, Work-at-home scams advertise in newspaper classified ads, on flyers, on cable television or over the Internet. What they all have in common is that the company will ask for an upfront fee before you can start working. The company may claim the fee is a registration fee, a deposit on materials, or payment for instructional books or computer disks. Here are three common scams:
Medical Billing Work - These scams advertise that there is a new and growing market for individuals to work on home computers preparing bills for doctor's offices. The company may offer to sell special software and training materials for anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars. It may promise that once you have ordered its software and learned to use it, it will provide you with clients. All too often, the buyers find that there are no ready clients and they are supposed to try to find their own clients. Other companies do tell buyers that they will have to find their own clients, but say that won't be difficult. However, the buyer usually can't find any doctor's office that will use his or her services. According to the FTC, the medical billing field is dominated by a number of large and well-established firms, and very few people who purchase a medical billing business opportunity are able to find clients or recover their investment.
Envelope Stuffing - This long-running scam offers to pay $3 or $4 per envelope you address or stuff. You send the company money for your start-up kit of instructions and some materials. They promise to send you a list of companies that want you to do the work. What you actually get is a list of companies that either do not exist or do not pay people to stuff envelopes. Or you receive instructions on how you can place ads like the one you answered and get unsuspecting consumers to send you money.
Home Based Typist, Data Entry Processor, or Word Processor - Typically, you must send in a (non-refundable) "application" or "signup" fee for more information on this "great" job. You will then receive a booklet, ebook, disk or CD with information telling you to place home typist ads like the one you replied to, and sell copies of the "information" to those who reply to you. This means you will be a scammer too. Sometimes, these companies enlist you in their affiliate program which you will end up marketing by typing ads, and your success will only depend on your own marketing knowledge.
Sewing/Craft/Assembly Work - These work-at-home scams may ask you to pay for a book or a list of companies that will pay you to do crafts such as sewing or frame-making in your home. You may have to send money to purchase the work materials. When you contact the companies on the list, you find they don't pay for that kind of work.