Business Law

How can I tell if a work-at-home internet site is a scam, or if it is legitimate?

We've all seen the cheesy websites: "Invest just $100 and Be a Millionaire in Two Weeks!" or "Make Big Cash Stuffing Envelopes!" Canadians lose millions to fraud every year and work-at-home scams top the lists a method for crooks.

First let's clear up the terminology. Work-at-home positions are for people who would like to telecommute or work for a company outside of the traditional office setting. You should never put down cash in order to begin working for a company. Home based business situations are different in that there will usually be some sort of initial investment to open up shop. Home based businesses can take the form of network marketing opportunities such as Avon or Bookwise or franchises such as Build-a-Bear or Stroller Strides. Beware of pyramid schemes taking the form of the aforementioned legitimate businesses. To protect yourself in either of these situations, run the name of the company you're interested in through the Better Business Bureau website ( The next step to staying safe is to research the company yourself. Google the name and try to determine if the company has a solid reputation. Who links to them? Investing in a brand new company that is "sure to take off", gives you the same odds as winning big in Vegas, don't bet on it.If you've determined that the company has a solid reputation, has been acknowledged by a major media outlet, and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling, it's time to deal with legalities. Scammers are quick to give you oral assurances, but don't fall for it. Make sure that you get the refund policy in writing. Last but not least, trust your instincts. If the website looks like it was designed by a fifth grader with a copy of HTML for Fools, move on. If they ask for your social insurance number, credit card number, and mother's maiden name, be afraid. And if the company makes outrageous -sound-to-good-to-be-true claims, keep walking. You're not going to make $10,000 your first week doing anything legal. But if you do, let us know!

Carla Young
Home-based Business

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