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By: Sylvie Fortin

Are you a scamaholic? Do you find yourself seduced by those ads in the paper and on the ‘net that promise huge incomes with very little effort on your part? You know what I'm talking about; those ads that entice you with “part-time” jobs with big pay offs, from the “comfort of your own home,” and with little to no work on your part. I've even seen ads that say you can make money while sleeping, watching TV, or having sex. Can that even be legal?

If you've been sucked into any of these work-at-home scams, don't worry. There is help. The first step truly is making yourself aware that there are people out there who will scam you for your very last dime. It's your responsibility to learn how to spot these scammers and stay far, far away from their traps.

To help you avoid these scammers, let's review some of the most common and successful scams out there today.

  1. Envelope stuffing. Envelope stuffing is one of the most popular scams. You won't be stuffing envelopes. What you'll be asked to do is place the same ad (at your own expense) that you responded to, in order to scam other people.
  2. Email Processors. Email processing is the e-version of envelope stuffing. Typically, you pay person 1 a fee of between $5-30 and then person 1 sends you your ‘information kit'. This typically tells you how to take the exact same ad you replied to and send it out by email or on newsletters to convince others to send you the same fee you sent Person 1.
  3. Home Typists (also Order Taker/Application Taker). There are lots of home typist positions that are perfectly legitimate, but these never ask you for a fee and they are also rarely advertised online. Don't get suckered by ads that promise home typing work that require a fee. They are all variations on the email processing scam
  4. Craft/Electronic Assembly. There are perfectly legitimate craft/assembly companies that do pay their home-based workers. Unfortunately, they are very hard to find. With most scams, you will be asked to pay anywhere from $10 to $200 for a test “kit.” You will then be sent something to assemble that, no matter how brilliantly done, will never meet their so-called quality standards.

    This scam works to make the originating company a great deal of money in two ways. The first way they make money is by selling you the kit and materials. Then, they actually sell your carefully assembled products at discount prices to retailers. Believe me, they are selling your assembled products, but they just aren't paying you for it.

  5. Lists of companies that hire home-based workers. Many people get scammed into buying lists that promise hundreds of “sure bet” companies that are just waiting to hire you to work from home. The simple reality is that these lists are often just compiled from the telephone book and many of the companies on them, if the companies exist at all, don't know they're on such a list. And, the real kicker: Most of these companies don't even hire home-based workers. There are legitimate lists online, but they are totally free for you to review.
  6. Reading books for pay. A variation on the job's list is the “Make Money Reading Books” list. This list names publishers who pay to have individuals review their manuscripts. As with the lists in #5, you can find this information for free on the Web yourself. And, while it is true that some publishing companies pay people to review manuscripts, they will advertise these positions carefully. They are not typically happy about receiving unsolicited resumes.
  7. $6 Chain Letter. If you've ever seen the $6 Chain Letter in your Inbox, you've experienced a pyramid scheme up close and personal. For only $6, you can make thousands or so promises the letter. A simple rule of thumb: Avoid all chain letters, especially when money is being requested. This is one letter you'll want to avoid like the plague because not only is it totally illegal and it doesn't work!

A real company offering a position — whether it be work at home or in an office — will ask to see your resume, probably want references, maybe want to see samples of your work, and might want to communicate by phone. If they don't ask for any of these things, be careful! And, if they ask for money, beware! A legitimate company will NEVER ask you for money to work for them!

Remember these tips and you'll never be a scamaholic again.