October 1, 2004
Q: I was ripped off by a work-at-home business, but when I tried to return the package, it was refused. So I put it in a new box and mailed it again at my expense. I filed a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the BBB, but neither has been able to help me. The company was hiding behind a post office box and did not give me a real contact phone number or address. Is there any way I can get my money back without shelling out more cash?
–K. Utley, Via the Internet
Q: Before we go into how to get your money back, let’s talk a little about work-at-home operations. Although there are many legitimate work-at-home jobs, it’s a good idea to ask the following questions before committing:
What tasks will I have to perform?
How will I get paid?
Will I be paid a salary or a commission?
When can I expect my first paycheck?
Is there a long-term obligation that I should know about?
What will I get for my money?
In addition, investigate the company by requesting written materials by mail, including product and service information or info about the organization itself. If there is an investment or purchase involved, have that information sent to your lawyer, accountant, or financial adviser for review.
You may file a complaint with the FTC (877-382-4357; www.ftc.gov), your local consumer protection offices, and the advertising manager of the publication that ran the ad. Also read Work-at-Home Directory by Barbara Becker (Prime Pub Inc.; $3.95) and read “Don’t Let Scam Artists Trap You,” (February 2003).