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Beware of phony work-from-home offers

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April 22nd, 2014
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Retirement doesn’t always mean the end of a person’s working life. After retiring from a career, many people seek out part-time positions and work-from-home opportunities to earn extra money and keep themselves busy. While being your own boss sounds like a dream, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that there are scammers out there looking to turn your dream into a nightmare. 

“Earn thousands per month working from home!” Ads like this are everywhere and, all too often, they are bogus. Some of the more popular job opportunity schemes include stuffing envelopes, assembling crafts, medical billing, and rebate processing, all from the convenience of your own home. Scammers promise lucrative paychecks, but before you can get started, they want you to pay for kits, supplies, or certifications that are worthless.

Any job or opportunity that involves up-front fees or credit card information should make you suspicious. Even if you read the ad in a respected newspaper or trusted website, you must do research to protect yourself before getting involved. Ask specific questions like, “How will I be paid?” and “Will I receive a salary or a commission?” And most importantly, do your research before you give anyone your credit card information.

Resist the hard sell

“Scammers want to create an impression that if you don’t act immediately, you’re going to miss out on an important business opportunity,” says Daniel Hanks, an attorney with the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This is a classic sign of fraud. If someone is creating a high pressure atmosphere for you, you should walk away and do your research before you buy.”

Don’t rely on words like “money-back guarantee” or a return policy to recoup your investment because once a scammer has your credit card information, your money is as good as gone. “We hear over and over from consumers who tell us that mere minutes after they gave someone their credit card information, they did a simple Internet search and they found stories that made them break out in a cold sweat,” says Hanks. A simple Web search with the company name and the word “complaints” in the search engine might just uncover important facts you need to know. 

In other scam news... Ellen Newman, a resident of Ann’s Choice, an Erickson Living community in Warminster, Pa., wrote in to warn others about the perils of using off brands of printer ink. Newman says that she ordered printer ink from an online site because of their low prices. Instead of the name brand ink she expected, she received the website’s own brand of ink. Sorry to say, the ink was a disaster and Newman’s printer was at the repair shop when she wrote in. 

Tribune readers appreciate Newman’s warning and, hopefully, it was an easy and inexpensive repair. If you have any scam stories you’d like to share with readers, send them tomichele.harris@ericksontribune.com

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint, or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

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