The Kansas City Star has compiled a list of work-at-home scams that seem to have grown exponentially in the Great Recession. Beware of any of the following:
- Job offers that ask you to purchase a start-up kit.
- Multilevel marketing pitches that require you to sell questionably priced or unneeded products. In Clark's experience, the worst situations are where the commissions come strictly from recruiting others into the organization -- rather than from actual sales.
- Appeals to earn money by filling out surveys, clicking on websites, doing data entry or setting up your own e-commerce business. The latter "business opportunity" typically comes with heavy fees and on-going maintenance charges for your website.
- Promises of easy access to government grants. Grants.gov is the only official government grant site.
- Access to a "hidden" job market for a fee. Clark recently read a disturbing story about recent college graduates who are paying thousands of dollars to get hooked up with an unpaid internship! That's the level of desperation out there among the young and unemployed.
- "Market research" that asks you to enter personal information; they might be identity thieves or they might be selling your contact information to other organizations.
Remember the most important rule that runs like a common thread through all these rip-offs: Legitimate jobs won't ask you for serious money upfront. Be wary and be careful out there. Someone recently came up to Clark and told him about a Craigslist job offer that wanted your Social Security number, mother's maiden and date of birth -- basically everything a crook would need for full-blown identity theft!