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Work at Home Scams: Which Ones are the Worst

Jul 24, 2008
The dream of thousands of people is to be free to work at home. The ads are enticing. Be your own boss. Make as much money as you need. There are so many opportunities it seems impossible that you could fail. But the sad truth is that many, if not most of these opportunities, are scams. Some are worse than others. Here are some of the absolute worst.

Paid Surveys
This is one of the fastest growing scams on the internet. You will find a site that claims big corporations want to pay you just to answer questions about their products. And the best thing, they pay you for your opinion. PLEASE! Think about it. Large companies have big marketing departments and reputable advertising agencies working for them. If they need a survey taken, they have professionals to do this.

Part of the enticement of this scheme is to promise you may take part in focus groups and earn even more money. If large corporations need a focus group their marketing people will arrange for it. They are not going to select random people on the internet. Focus groups need to be focused. The views sought may be age, sex or geographically specific. They are held in a controlled environments which ensures the data is credible.

The worst thing about these programs is that they tell you joining is FREE or a very nominal amount. You sign up, FREE and within minutes your email is jammed with offers to take a survey. So you start the survey. And then you find out that to complete the survey, you have to buy the products of two or more of the advertisers. Of course, you only have to look at a FREE sample and pay just the shipping charges, usually less than $5. But, if you read the fine print, you will find out that you actually have signed up for a monthly supply of that product. The cost of the monthly supply will be very high, usually over $50. And remember you have to select at least two FREE samples.

There are dozens and dozens of sites claiming to teach you how to get paid to take online surveys and make from $5 to $75 each. Perhaps they promise that you will get paid to participate in focus groups and make up to $150 an hour.

The site will tell you that you can get paid to take phone surveys and you can earn as much as $120 an hour. For the shopper in all of us, they will tell you that you will get paid to try new products (and keep the free products too)

As far as I can find, absolutely none of them can deliver any kind of opportunity that would allow you to make any serious money at all. Stay away from all the Paid Survey sites with their extravagant and unrealistic promises.

On Line Data Entry Jobs
The really insidious thing about these sites is that if you search for "online scams", 9 out of 10 times a splash page opens that is actually a portal to a site trying to sell you their program.

I opened one site recently that was advertised as "Date Entry Job Site Scams Exposed." You might reasonably expect to get an expiation about the Data Entry scams. You should expect that you would get information on how the scam works. But NO! This site, actually opened, not one, but 3 different splash pages (advertisements) encouraging you to join their opportunity. All three sites made vague claims as to what your would do and for whom you would do it.

According to one of the splash pages there are tens of thousands of companies out sourcing their Data Entry Positions. It sounds so easy and so legitimate.
But most of these so-called companies are simply affiliate marketers who in turn will entice you to join their team, which has a wonderful "can't miss" program for making money. By the time you are six levels in, you have bought so many programs, you can't remember where you started, you've spent a lot more money then you expected and you still don't have a real business.

All these programs promise training and support which is minimal or non-existent. Don't believe the glorious testimonials. You'll pay anywhere from $49 to $99 to join the opportunity. Perhaps you will pay this at several levels. The probability that you will succeed to even make your money back is less than 5%.

Envelope Stuffing Opportunities
I fell for this scheme years ago when I first got out of college. At that time they were advertised mostly in print media. Often found in the classified ad sections in the back of glossy magazines or tabloids, they appeared to be a quick and easy way to make a reasonable extra income. Now the scheme has moved onto the internet and it still getting thousands and thousands of people to sign up. It seems an easier opportunity for people who are afraid to commit to an online business. The offer of $5 per envelope stuffed is not big, but most people think if you stuff enough, you can have some extra income.

How does it work? No, you don't get hundreds of pre-paid envelopes from the company. No you don't get hundreds of names on nicely addressed and stamped envelopes. What you get for the "fee" you paid to join this opportunity is a flimsy brochure. You also get a letter instructing you how to to place small classified ads in newspapers or magazines. More aggressive companies encourage you to place ads online. Then you have to buy the envelopes, at your cost.

The ad you place offers a person information if they will send a self addressed stamped envelope to you with $5. You get the response with the $5 and you put the flyer from the company into the envelope and mail it. See, you're getting paid $5 for stuffing envelopes. But the truth is, how many people are going to send you $5 for information they could easily get elsewhere for free. Would you send someone $5 just to get information. I don't think so.

The most unfortunate part is that these schemes continue to operate and offer bigger and bigger rewards. Just today I went online and searched for "Envelope Stuffing Jobs." The top three sites were from three different "opportunities" One promised you could earn $12 an hour, one promised $50 to $75 dollars an hour and one even promised $1,576 a week stuffing envelopes at $5. In several cases the fee to join is now almost $50. Stay away from any of these.

Processing Medical Claims
You've seen the ads on line. You've probably seen an infomercial on TV. It looks wonderful doesn't it? Such a legitimate occupation. According to the ads and infomercials you can earn from $800 to $1000 a week simply processing medical claims on your home computer for health care professionals. Often these en rollers will invite you to a trade show at a local hotel.

There you will be urged to buy software programs and even computers. You may purchase a software program which might cost you under $70 at a computer store for several thousands of dollars. One popular system only charges a set-up fee of $249 plus a small monthly subscription fee of $89. This allows you access to their applications and other services. These services include lists of doctor's office that might need your services. But just a few lines later you are advised that local yellow pages, the internet and medical listings are your best source of business.

It's possible that some small medical offices do not have a claims processing staff or service but that is very rare. A high estimate says that 20% of health care professionals do not have their own computerized systems. Think of your own doctor's office. Ask them who processes their claims. You'll find very few opportunities.

Even if you do get a few clients, you will have to invest in a good computer system, make sure that you work coordinates with insurance companies who actually process the claims. The service you buy may offer you the option to submit claims electronically through a national clearing house. Of course, there is an additional charge for that but don't worry, you can just charge your client more to make up for the extra cost.

You could start your own medical billing business at home without the "aid" of any of the online advertised programs. You would then have to market your product. This is definitely not an easy thing to do. You will have to approach your prospective clients face-to-face. Your financial investment to start up a real business like this is huge. You will have to invest substantial money in marketing and computer costs so you may not make that money back for a long time, if ever.

There is one legitimate way to make money processing medical claims at home. First get a job processing medical claims at a hospital, group practice or clinic. After you've worked for them for a reasonable time, usually 1 -2 years, you can then request that they set you up at home to process the claims. But what does this mean? It means that you are en employee and you are simply telecommuting. And that wasn't really your goal, was it?

The number of scams on line is almost infinite. Do your homework and check out any offer that seems too good or too easy. They probably just want your money and you will never have a real business of your own.
About the Author
Sheila Guilloton is a market researcher who advises people on how find legitimate online opportunities and avoid the scams. Find out which internet business opportunities are real at http://www.prestigewealthplanners.com
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