Can you tell the real opportunities from the cons? We’ll show you how to dodge the scammers.

Want to earn some extra money for simple tasks like stuffing envelopes, assembling products or processing insurance claims? How would you like to earn hundreds of dollars per week — or even a six-figure income per year — from the comfort of your own home?

There’s a reason offers like these sound too good to be true. Work-at-home scams are a pervasive subset of employment scams, and money and time aren’t the only things you could lose. According to the Better Business Bureau, you could hurt your reputation by selling sub-standard (or non-existent) products and services to others. You could also become a victim of identity theft if you’ve given out personal or financial information. Worse yet, you could face legal action for perpetuating a fraud or being involved in an illegal pyramid scheme.

There are legitimate opportunities out there, but to protect yourself you need to spot the scams. Here’s what you need to watch out for:

Known scams. There are certain opportunities you should automatically be suspicious of because they’re known scams (or scams imitating real opportunities). Typical cons include assembling products, addressing or stuffing envelopes, mailing out marketing materials, chain letters, processing medical or insurance claims, forwarding cash or goods and data entry. In more recent years, other ploys like paid survey sites and freelance opportunities that don’t deliver have joined the mix — and they’re harder to spot because they mimic legitimate services.

“Work from home” is the title. According to experts, scams target people for whom a work-at-home arrangement would be convenient — such as seniors, people with disabilities and stay-at-home moms. Fraudulent ads often focus on the convenience factor but are short on essential details like what the position is, what tasks are involved and for whom you will be working.

“No experience necessary”. Another favourite target is people who think they don’t have the skills or experience to get a good job. A job that requires no skills or previous experience is therefore appealing. However, legitimate postings will list required skills and qualifications — and you’ll have to submit a resume.

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Copyright 2014 ZoomerMedia Limited

Elizabeth Rogers