Work-at-home job scams abound

Dear Working Wise: I have a good part-time job, but I’m looking for a way to help supplement my income. My options are limited due to family commitments and a lack of a car.

Dear Working Wise: I have a good part-time job, but I’m looking for a way to help supplement my income. My options are limited due to family commitments and a lack of a car.

I was thinking about applying for one of those online jobs I keep seeing, but many seem to require money up front or the need to create a website. How can I analyze how safe it is to get involved with one of these Internet jobs? — Cautious

Dear Cautious: You are right to be wary. The Internet is filled with work-from-home scams masquerading as real jobs and business opportunities.

Work-from-home offers were the second most common inquiry fielded by the Central and Edmonton Better Business Bureau in 2008.

Top 10 red flags to watch for:

• They want money up front;

• You don’t have a good feeling about it;

• Vague job title, duties and compensation;

• Job offer is a spam e-mail or a web-banner advertisement;

• You are required to repackage items sent to you and ship them abroad;

• Company is hard to identify, locate or contact via telephone and e-mail;

• They want your social insurance number or banking information right away;

• Unprofessional (poor grammar, spelling, web design, webmail e-mail address);

• You are required to transfer or wire money out of your personal bank account; or

• Too good to be true (guaranteed big money, no risk, no skill or experience needed);

Don’t buy yourself a job — Beware if they ask for money up front for things like application fees and mailing lists or to purchase instructions, materials or equipment.

Research the company — Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints. Try to talk to someone who used to work for the company and find out what it’s really like. Perform an Internet search for the company’s name or your recruiter’s name.

Avoid common job scams — May 9 to 15 was Crime Prevention Week. Avoid becoming a statistic by checking out the Council of Better Business Bureaus web page on the most common online work-from-home scams at http://www.bbb.org/us/article/work-at-home-schemes-408.

The Central and Edmonton Better Business Bureau also offers an article to help you decide if direct selling — a common online work-from-home job — is for you: http://edmonton.bbb.org/article/consumerbusiness-tip—five-questions-for-determining-if-direct-selling-is-for-you-12793

Create your own work-from-home job

Technological advances and potential cost savings are making more companies open to the idea of employees working from home. If you really want a second job where you can work from home, you might want to try applying for traditional jobs that you can do from home and then pitching the idea of telecommuting.

For more tips on preventing fraud at home or in your business, visit https://www.solgps.alberta.ca and click on Safe Communities. You can also check out the Central and Northern Alberta Better Business Bureau’s 10 Red Flags You Are Being Scammed at http://edmonton.bbb.org/article/10-red-flags-you-are-being-scammed-16627.

Good luck!

Working Wise is compiled by Charles Strachey of Alberta Employment and Immigration (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca) for general information.