Working from home offers: Too good to be true?

Work-from-home jobs seem great for a multitude of reasons. Who wouldn’t want to work in their pajamas every day? It’s an offer millions of Americans consider every year due to the ease it seems to provide. However, if a job seems too good to be true, it could be a scam.

Last year, consumers inquired over 50,000 times to the Better Business Bureau regarding employment services in the Miami Valley Area alone. Employment scams, including work-from-home scams, were the fifth most reported scam to BBB’s Scam Tracker in 2016.

According to the FBI, the most common work-from-home scams are:

Advance-fee: Involve starting a home-based business by investing in inventory, set-up, and training material.

Mystery shopping involving counterfeit checks: Involve depositing checks into your bank account, withdrawing funds to shop and mailing or wiring the rest to your “employer.”

Pyramid schemes: you’re hired as a distributer and shell out money for promotional materials and product inventories, as well as instructed to recruit more distributors.

Unknowing involvement in criminal activity: Criminals use victims to advance their operations, steal and launder money, and maintain anonymity.

It can be hard to distinguish a real job offer from a scam. BBB offers these tips to keep in mind if you’re considering a work-from-home offer:

• Ask questions. (What tasks will you have to perform? Will you be paid a salary or will your pay be based on commissions? Who will be paying you? When will you get your first paycheck?)

• Get all details, including earnings claims and cancellations and refund policies in writing.

• Get references from at least ten people who have been successful.

• Don’t feel pressured to make any immediate decisions.

• Beware if you’re asked for money upfront. Legitimate companies won’t charge an employee to work. Once money is sent, you get little, if anything, in return.

• Look out for overstated claims of effectiveness, exaggerated claims of potential earnings and claims of inside information and no experience necessary.

• Don’t send money to any organization without thoroughly checking it out. Know where it is physically based and possibly try contacting it by phone. Look it up on social media and do an internet search for reviews.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Report work-from-home scams to BBB’s Scam Tracker and the Federal Trade Commission. For more information on employers and job opportunities, go online to or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. BBB can provide lists of BBB Accredited Businesses in specific industries and Business Profiles on ones you’re considering.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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