Money for nothing

    Times are hard and everyone is looking for ways to make a little extra money, but watch out for quick-cash scams.





    Times are hard and everyone is looking for ways to make a little extra money, but it’s still important to watch out for quick-cash scams.

    Earning money isn’t as easy as those non-descript ads on telephone poles, in the newspaper and even your e-mail inbox would have you believe. The promise of a big pay off for little work is really just bait. Now, the FBI has released a list of tips to follow to make sure you don’t get hooked.

    Ask around: Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if the company checks out.  Also, call the office to ask about the specifics of the job they’re advertising. Legitimate companies will have some solid answers for you.

    Google them: Research established work-at-home opportunities using library resources like the Work-at-Home Sourcebook.

    Go incognito: Don’t give potential employers any personal information on first contact because many schemes can also lead to identity theft. What’s worse is that you could also unwittingly become involved in illegal activity through some of those stay-at-home jobs.

    Watch your wallet: Be cautious when job opportunities require you to pay money up front. Think about it: When was the last time you had to pay for a job interview? Many of these start-ups turn out to be pyramid schemes that ask you to shell out money for near-worthless materials. Also be suspicious of any company sending you a check up front, especially if you have to pay back any of it.  Mystery-shopper scams often use this to reel people in; the problem is that the checks are often counterfeit, which could get you into some big trouble with your bank.

    Be smart: Of course, the best thing you can do to protect yourself (and your money) is to just not fall for the scams that seem too good to be true. Remember, legitimate money-making opportunities shouldn’t just come to you.

    If you think you’ve fallen victim to a cash-for-nothing scheme, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

    — Sonya Eskridge


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