You see them all over the place on Craigslist, email spam, and even text messages (most recently for me). Claiming you can get rich by staying at home and doing very little. It goes back to the old saying if it seems too good do be true, it probably is. The low down is that many of these companies want you to first invest in a start up kit or give a franchise fee before you can start making money on your own. This should be your first indication of a SCAM. Or if not a full scam then a very shady way of doing business. On of the worst things about these scams is that they are preying on people who are already down on there luck and are searching for legitimate jobs. Let us not give them are emails, flag them on Craigslist, and make sure we unsubscribe any chance we get.
We have all seen the signs on the side of the road or received an annoying email telling you you can “be your own boss” or “earn six figures from home”. We would all love to make a lot of money fast and easily but it is just not reality. Many of these SCAMS are pyramid schemes where a percent of what you make goes to the person who signed you up and you get a percentage of any one you signed up. Although you can make money with these you have to be willing to be a little pushy and possibly buy products from a specific company at no real discount. Other programs offer to help you get started as a medical transcription or a bill collector(usually called by a different name), but you have to give them an up front fee. Especially watch out for any scheme that could get you in trouble with you state licensing agencies, you can get sued or fined heavily. Here are some examples to watch out for:
- Signs or emails claiming to give you a way to get rich quick and easy.
- Programs that ask for a fee up front.
- Any schooling that can be done in a few weeks or even months from schools you have never heard of.
- People posing as a common business or Internet company you have heard of(Google, Amazon, ebay), it is easy to make an email look like an official business email.
- Know that people wont go out of their way to show you the secrets of their success without there being something in it for them. These businesses need you much more than you might need them.
Finally do your research, the Internet is a great way to find out about possible scam business opportunities. Do a Google search of the companies name and a search on that particular business(i.e. medical transcription, medical coding). Also feel free to send us an email and we can do some research for you. If you are interested in finding some legitimate ways to work from home check out a list from about.com and some tips to starting a home based business from entrepreneur.com.
Scams targeting your account information are getting more frequent. The ones I have seen are in the forms of emails, phone calls, or text messages informing the recipient that their account has been suspended and they will need to call a customer service number. Once they have you on the line they will want you to verify all your account information so they know it is you. Unfortunately on the other end is a scam artist probably in some apartment half way across the country with all your private information. They will say they are from a local bank in your area, in my case Bank of the Cascades and will just start contacting anyone in the area. In my case I don’t even bank at the Bank of the Cascades but they figure if they send it to 10 people they will catch 2. Here is a recent text I received:
“Bank of the Cascades alert: your card has been DEACTIVATED. Please contact us at 541-647-1133 to REACTIVATE your card.”
The only thing we can do is to alert your local police department and the bank you have received the text about. Some people can lose a lot of money before they can be shut down so pass it on to everyone you know.
Telemarketing Cheat Sheat
Ask yourself these questions
· Is this a solicitation? Yes___ No___
· Do I know this person? Yes___ No___
· Are they trying to get information? Yes___ No___
· Are they rushing me? Yes___ No___
· Are they offering Freebies? Yes___ No___
· Is this a now or never offer? Yes___ No___
· Is there a big reward with no risk? Yes___ No___
· Are they from outside the US? Yes___ No___
· Refuse to send you information? Yes___ No___
Questions to ask the telemarketer
· Who do you work for?
· Can you send me information?
· What licenses and Insurance do you have?
· What are the risks?
· What’s your Better Business Bureau number?
· Can my family be involved?
Red flag phrases:
You are an instant winner, you must act now, we need to reset your passwords, I can clean up your credit problems, you can make lots of money working from home, you have unclaimed money, Your son or daughter wanted me to call, you requested information, you have a lien on your house, you owe back taxes, can you support our charity
I ran across an article on msn about how a teenager was able to scam thousands and thousands of dollars from trusting Ebay members. There is no real trick to it just sell a product boasting of high quality or top of the line features, and delivering a product worth fractions of the selling price. In this particular article the boy was selling laptops he purchased in bulk that were obsolete, then made some small changes to them and sold them as high end computers. Sometimes even with pictures of real top of the line computers. This type of scam is also done on many legitimate looking websites. I had a friend who was about to Moneygram money to a company in China, when he looked up the web address using google. Close call because what he found is that this scam had been done to other consumers. When spending lots of money to buy a product that you have never seen you need to do a little research, and until you have proof that it is a legitimate transaction don’t exchange money. You can also check out or page with known scam websites. I received a message saying that I had posted the name of a website, and that it was in error. I asked the sender to send me proof and that I would also do more research on the site. I never heard from him again and I found more sites he authored that had ripped consumers off.
Ponzi Scheme is false returns on an investment in order to get the confidence of an investor. A scam artist may pay money out of their own pockets in order to convince an investor to give them more access to their portfolio. This particular scam relies on your natural desire to make easy money. This particular scam is named after Charles Ponzi who all though was not the first, was possibly the worst. At the beginning of the century he swindled around $500,000 from investors, and was eventually caught and spent three and a half years in prison. The scam has many variations and may look very different, here is some things to look for:
- Any promise of a return higher than 0.1% return per day.
- A request for a much higher investment after an initial successful campaign.
- You have never heard of the investment company
The bottom line with investing and letting anyone have access to your portfolio is do your research. Scam artists are very clever and charming and can fool even savvy investors.