Beware of easy money promised by work-at-home deals, BBB says

Beware of easy money promised by work-at-home deals, BBB saysThousands of inquiries about a Seattle business touting work-from-home jobs -- including stuffing envelopes -- has prompted the Better Business Bureau to issue a consumer alert to be wary of any business opportunity that promises quick, easy money.

Since August 2009, the BBB has logged 12,641 inquiries and 21 complaints about Pacific Publications. The complaints allege consumers paid cash for a work-at-home kit that would allow them to process mail, but some never got the kit. Of those who did, many complained that what they got was a guide, not an actual job. Other complaints involve alleged trouble contacting the company over concerns. Both a phone message and e-mail seeking comment from Pacific Publications, which touts on its web site that it's been in business 18 years, weren't returned. The website identifies the owner as Ron Harper.

The Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington BBB chapter says the company has worked to resolve those complaints, but that it gave the company an "F" rating because it provides too little information about itself, and because the industry is rife with advertised scams. "Rarely, if ever, are these ads an offer of legitimate employment," the organization warns.

With a tight economy and high unemployment, work-at-home opportunities may seem appealing. But the U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns that more likely than not, work-from-home ads are nothing more than a scam to get money out of consumers who can't afford to lose it. Medical billing, at-home assembly, rebate processing, mailers and online searches are all tried-and-true lures that usually result in profits only for the advertiser.

Before you send any money or sign up to get more information on a work-at-home deal, the FTC says, ask the following questions:
  • Who will pay me?
  • Where is the business located and how long have they been in business?
  • When and how will I get my first paycheck?
  • Will I be paid a salary or will the pay be on commission?
  • What will I have to do and what do I get for my money?
  • What is the total cost of the program?
  • Will I have to pay for supplies, postage or advertising?
You can also check with the local BBB chapter, the state's attorney general's office or consumer protection agency to help determine whether the offer is legitimate.
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