It can happen to anyone. One day, you fill out an online form for a work-from-home job, or you sign up for a contest at a mall. The next thing you know, someone is calling you to pitch a product or inform you that you have to pay a fee for additional services. A few days later, you realize you’ve been scammed.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a handy list of red flags to watch out for:
You get a call that you’ve won a free gift of prize: The catch is you have to pay for shipping and handling or some other vague fee. These free prize offers are often made when you enter a mall contest. To be on the safe side, it’s best not to enter these contests at all. You could unknowingly set yourself up for fraud.
You’re told that you don’t need to research the company. If you ask for more information about the company, but you’re told it isn’t necessary, don’t believe it. Work-at-home scammers are known for telling lies like this. Always research a company you’ll be doing business with. If you keep pressing for information, the scammer might tell you to look them up on the Better Business Bureau website. Some scammers constantly change their name, so when you look up the business it will most likely have an “A” rating.
When researching work-at-home companies online, type the name of the company, followed by the word “scam” into your search engine’s browser. This search will bring up any complaints that might have appeared on consumer complaint websites.
You’re pressured to make a decision right away or “act now.” This tactic will be pushed on you before you’ve had a chance to do your research. If you’re being pressured to make a decision or purchase a product right away, you’re most likely being lured into a trap. Any decision that involves parting with your hard-earned cash should not be taken lightly.
The caller says the opportunity is a high-profit, no-risk offer. Like the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. High profit and no risk? Keep dreaming.
The FBI offers these tips for protecting yourself:
Research unfamiliar companies. You can gather more information from your local consumer protection agency, the Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other consumer protection groups.
Ask for and wait until you receive written information about an offer or charity. If you receive brochures about investments, seek advice from a financial expert.
Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number. Sometimes thieves will give fake names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Make sure to verify the accuracy of this information.
Do your research. Before giving money to a charity or making an investment, find out what percentage goes toward commissions and what percentage goes to the charity or investment.
Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay for services only after they are delivered. Be cautious of companies who insist on sending a messenger to your home to pick up money. They are actually attempting to avoid leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be contacted.
Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If you’re told that the payment is for taxes, the caller is violating federal law.