How to avoid work at home scams, Part 1: Do your research

February 12th, 2008

Photo by ToastyKen

Have you ever fallen for a work at home scam? I have. Or rather, my DH has. And I was right there over his shoulder. We didn’t lose huge sums of money because we cut our losses early. But when you have three little mouths to feed, every cent counts.

So when I decided to become a work at home Mom, I promised myself that I would be more careful. I joined several work at home forums and discovered that there are ways to protect ourselves from work at home scams. This is a synthesis of the advice and information I received from the lovely women in

Ask yourself three questions:

Is the company asking you to pay first to make money later?

Be wary of a company that requires payment in order to give you a job. An example is a company recruiting data encoders to work at home that requires you to pay a joining fee before giving you the job. Raw materials for assembling products, promotional materials, and even your training should be paid by the company, not you.

On the other hand, if you are considering a home business, then expect to make a small investment. Direct selling companies, for instance, typically require a small fee for membership or a starter kit. The fee can range anywhere from under US$20 to under $500. This is true even for large direct selling companies such as Avon, Shaklee, and Pampered Chef.

Is the company making outrageous claims?

Think twice before believing claims that are too good to be true, such as earning a six-figure income on one hour of work a week. Don’t expect to get something for nothing. Any successful business requires hard work, pure and simple. When you’re just starting a business, it will often require more work hours than a typical office job.

Is this a legitimate company or business?

Doing research on a company or person before joining their business is the most basic way to protect yourself from scams. In DH’s case, he jumped into an “internet business opportunity” because it was recommended by a trusted colleague. He went against his better judgment and dove in before finding out more. Don’t make the same mistake: investigate everything, even if your mother herself recommended it to you.

The Internet is filled with tools for researching a company or person (which I’ll refer to as “the company” for simplicity). Here are 10 websites you can use:

1. The company’s website – Begin by looking at the company website. Scammers can have very professional-looking websites; don’t let that fool you! Do use the information in the company’s website to check out the company’s claims and information. But don’t stop there….

2. – A simple search could bring up feedback about a company, such as in blogs or forums. You may also find cases filed against the company.

3. – Enables you to do a reverse search on a company’s address and telephone number. If these don’t match what is in the company’s website, then you should start getting suspicious.

4. – Gives information about a particular domain, such as who owns it, how long it has been in existence, and the owner’s address. On the other hand, if the domain’s owner signed up for domain privacy, then only the company’s web host information will be displayed.

5. – The Better Business Bureau gives a detailed report about its members, including how long it has been a member of BBB, the number and types of complaints that have been lodged against it, and whether the company has a satisfactory record.

7. – Not quite as informative as the BBB website, but worth checking out if you’re considering joining a direct selling company. Being a member of the Direct Selling Association means that a company has passed the DSA’s rigorous screening process.

8. – Has a “Wayback Machine” that shows you what a website looked like in the past. Think hard about joining a new or start-up company that might be relying on your investment for its seed capital.

9. – Allows you to see if other websites contain exact text from the company’s website. You might be surprised with what you see! You’ll have to decide, though, who is plagiarizing whom!

10. – Alerts you of various types of scams, including those annoying email scams. Type the company’s name in the search form to bring up reports about it, if any.

Coming soon: “How to avoid a work at home scam, Part 2: Use reliable work at home leads”

Meantime, check out these other resources:

Watch how Chris Durst of Rat Race Rebellion investigates a job lead and discovers massive “webnapping”:
For a step-by-step guide on how to use some of the tools discussed above, including a worksheet, download this free Ebook entitled, “How to Investigate Home Business Opportunities: The Consumer’s Guide to Avoiding Scams”.Also check out the Scambusters website for more information on specific scams.If you liked this article, I hope you will subscribe by providing your Email address in the form on the right.Also, please share this article by clicking on one of the buttons below. I would really appreciate it! Save This Page on

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11 Responses to “How to avoid work at home scams, Part 1: Do your research”

  1. itsy on February 13, 2008 8:07 am

    Yet another high quality post, Lolly is loving her ‘mini me’ desk from your previous post. Having all these tips in one place is a great resource and I will be linking to it as much as I can. Following on from ‘information overload’. How about a ‘how to organise your bookmarks, files and subscriptions article… If I put it on my to do list it will languish and my blog is suffering from lack of direction and needs a focus, something else for the list!
    Keep writing like this – It certainly shows that you are enjoying your change of life style.

  2. troy on February 13, 2008 11:48 pm

    Avery interesting and informative post. I am sure i will start to read this blog on a regular basis. I also subscribe to a research it first theory, but I also realize time is valuable and I don’t mind buying other people’s research if I need to. The first example is paying for the survey site listings…depends on the effort you put in as to whether its worth it or not. thanks for the listen

  3. Lexi on February 16, 2008 8:43 am

    @cait: thanks for stopping by again! i’m glad you liked the illustration from the previous post. and hey thanks for the article topic suggestion. i’ve included it in my list of topics.

    @troy: thanks for your comment and i hope you’ll subscribe to this blog! great idea about paid site listings. is there one that you use on personally?

  4. How to avoid work at home scams, Part 2: Use only legitimate job leads | My Life Shift: From Office Employee to Work at Home Mom on February 22, 2008 8:42 am

    […] Please note that, even though these sites claim to screen their job listings, you should still exercise due caution and do your own research. […]

  5. Karen on August 25, 2009 10:22 am

    there are lots of Work At Home programs out there. some programs are scam. I only stick to making blogs and monetizing it with Google Adsense.

  6. Lexi on September 13, 2009 3:05 am

    @Karen – Yes, there are plenty of scams are there. However, if you’re monetizing only through Google Adsense, then you’re missing out on other perfectly legitimate ways to make money from home. These include other affiliate programs, such as Amazon, Clickbank, Commission Junction and many more. Plus, of course, creating and marketing your own products.

    Besides, it’s not a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. I’ve heard of a number of Google publishers whose accounts were suspended for no apparent reason.

    I strongly advice you to try other monetization strategies. Let me know if I can help you with more details.

  7. Angelina on November 24, 2009 3:17 am

    i enjoy Working at Home by being in affiliate programs and earning money online. by working at home, i could have more time with my kids.

  8. Khris Miller on February 24, 2010 4:02 pm

    owning a couple of blogs and websites and monetizing them with adsense or adbrite is a good way to Work at home. you can also answer paid surveys but most of them are scam sites.

  9. Kai Collins on April 28, 2010 2:59 am

    Me and my girlfriend are into this Work At Home programs by selling affiliate products online, we also maintain an online store .

  10. Lexi on June 8, 2010 1:48 pm

    I find that Adsense and other advertising models aren’t enough to provide a significant income unless you have very large amounts of traffic going to your sites. Affiliate marketing and selling your own products give better ROI, in my experience.

  11. Luis Howard on July 3, 2010 4:47 am

    there are so many scams running on the internete so watch out-;”

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