You’ve seen the ads:
I always assumed such things were scams, and ignored them. Then an acquaintance got sucked in, and I decided to do a little research. Are any of these offers legitimate? Can you really make money stuffing envelopes, typing, or commenting on blogs? Thankfully, several well-known sites have done the research on these claims, so I didn’t have to. Here’s what they found.
A number of sites offer to “Turn your computer into a money-making machine.” How does that work?
“Although not a full blown scam, this scheme works as follows: You send someone money for instructions on where to go and what to download and install on your computer to turn it into a money-making machine… for spammers.” That’s a nice career goal. Read more on this at About.com.
How about leaving comments on blogs? A banner showed up on WeatherBug.com: Colorado Mom Makes $77/hr Online! That sounded interesting, so I clicked on the link. Sure enough, there was a nice photo of a pretty lady who was making thousands a month from her computer. The banner proclaimed:
Click on the next link, and you too can learn how to make this kind of money online. For a fee. “You get everything for a small one-time registration fee of just $97.00. Simply click here and you’ll be taken to my totally secure ‘Risk Free Request Form.’” Investigate a bit more, and you find that you can get paid to leave comments on blogs. However… if you want your time to be worth more than pennies an hour, you don’t have time to read all those posts. You simply visit a blog, leave a comment containing an advertising link, and move on. Again, you are a spammer.
(I get lots of these comments on my own blogs. In fact, one came in as I was writing this. Usually, Spam Karma does a good job of filtering them out, so you don’t see them here. I figure that if you want to have six-pack abs, get a low interest rate loan, or order prescriptions drugs [wink, wink] online, you can manage to do that on your own.)The next ad screams: “Earn $500.00 a week Typing At Home!” While that always sounded too good to be true, I admit to being curious. How does this work? Are they really offering me a job? One intrepid writer decided to find out. Read his article about his own experience with one of these companies.
Just filling out an online job application can get you into trouble. What better way for thieves to steal your identity? Be extremely cautious about any site that asks for personal information such as your social security number or bank account number. Likewise, they shouldn’t charge you to work for them. (It’s supposed to be the other way around!) Yes, some business opportunities call for an investment. In that case, you own the business or franchise. Of course, you should do a ton of research before getting involved in anything like that.
Some online job offers are just plain illegal. You may see ads recruiting you as a “package reshipper.” They send you some merchandise, you ship it overseas, and they reimburse you for your shipping expenses, along with a paycheck for your time. Sounds lovely. Unfortunately, another name for this position is “Stolen Goods Launderer.” Not only are you putting hot merchandise into the mail (paid for with stolen credit cards), but the reimbursement/salary check you receive will be made of rubber. Even worse, if you give them your bank account information (so they can directly deposit your “paycheck”), you might find yourself inadvertently paying for the next round of products to be shipped!
Ads proclaiming instant financial success are the ones that should really raise a red flag. If the person offering you this “get rich quick” scheme is following his own advice, why is he bothering to sell anything at all? People don’t share their profitable secrets just to be nice. I have a suspicion that their “financial secret” involves placing ads for learning their financial secret.
How do you know if a job offer is valid? Ehow.com has an excellent list of points to consider. For example, “Does the compensation seem appropriate for the job? If you’re being promised thousands of dollars a month to stuff envelopes or read e-mails, there is probably something wrong.” If the job described really is that easy, and really pays that well, they should have more applicants than they can handle, and they shouldn’t be anxious to hire you as well.
Ehow also recommends checking with some impartial websites such as the Better Business Bureau. Even if the company is legitimate, they may have some major issues that would discourage you from working for them. Find out who the domain name is registered to. One good site to do this is WhoIs.com. Then do a search on the name of the site owner—and any other businesses or website they own. A bit of paranoia can be a good thing.
In general, there is no easy way to make a lot of money. No one is holding out on you—there isn’t some conspiracy to protect any specialized, arcane financial knowledge. Pop-up windows seldom advertise legitimate job offers. Stuffing envelopes won’t make you rich. You didn’t just win the lottery, no one in Nigeria is handout out free money, and your bank doesn’t need you to verify your private financial information.
If you want more money, it’s best to just get it the old fashioned way. Work for it.