For three years I've reported on work-from-home opportunities. My new book, "Fired to Hired," has extensive information devoted to this topic, as does a comprehensive section on my Women For Hire Web site.
Given my dedication to this subject, not a day goes by that I don't receive an e-mail asking about the legitimacy of an ad that touts a way to make money without leaving home.
More times than not, the ad or e-mail I'm shown is a scam. And even though the person asking for advice knows it's probably too good to be true, too often a sense of helplessness leads to hope. They're so eager to find a way to make some money from home, that they're hoping – praying -- the opportunity is legit.
Don't let your guard down. Before buying into an opportunity, review these tips on how to spot, and avoid, a rip-off.
1) Don't assume the ad is legit just because it's on a reputable Web site.
Web sites -- even legitimate news sites, big job boards, your favorite blogs and more -- don't endorse the ads that appear on their sites, nor, more importantly, do they review those ads before they appear online. Look for the fine print that says "sponsored link" or "advertisement." Just because you trust the Web site, doesn't mean you can trust the ads that appear on it.
2) Don't trust the use of logos from news organizations.
Work from home ads often feature logos from trusted news organizations such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and more. Anyone can find those logos on the Web and slap them onto any Web site. Don't assume the offer is legit just because those logos appear. It's likely that the logos are being used without permission.
3) Don't buy into "act now for fast, easy money."
There's no such thing as "fast, easy money" or I'd be doing it every day. Every legitimate opportunity I know requires hard work for reasonable compensation. If you sense any tinge of "get rich quick," don't bite.
4) Don't be tricked by huge hourly, weekly or monthly wages.
Ads that boast an outrageous wage -- such as the ability to earn $38 an hour, up to $2,000 a week, or thousands per month -- are usually not valid. Those figures are designed to lure desperate people who've only dreamed of raking in such big bucks. Any genuine way to make that kind of money would be much more discreet in its offering and it would not be plastered all over the Web.
5) Don't accept "no skill required."
Is there really any job in America that doesn't require some kind of skill? Of course not, so steer clear of ads that brag about not needing any kind of skill to get started.
6) Don't get suckered by "check availability."
Many sites tell you to provide your mailing address and e-mail address to check to see if a slot is available. That's designed to make you think it's oh-so-selective with very limited opportunities. Yet you'll find that no matter what you enter, a slot is always available. It's hardly your lucky day. Furthermore, a real opportunity doesn't put a number on the number of positions left.