Work-from-home opportunities, particularly at a time of rampant unemployment, are a common scam, and the folks at the Council of Better Business Bureaus are warning consumers looking for some extra cash about one of the latest schemes: rebate processing.
The offers promise job hunters earnings of up to a thousand dollars a day without leaving home. In reality, the BBB has received hundreds of complaints from victims who never earned a dime and were, in fact, ripped off for hundreds of dollars in upfront fees.
According to complaints on file and research conducted by the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau and the BBB serving Central, Coastal, and Southwest Texas, the larger offenders — which have racked up hundreds of complaints from consumers nationwide — operate under such names as Angel Stevens and Cindy Dalton with Web addresses including www.processathome.com and www.rebateprocessorjobs.com, according to BBB spokesman Steve Cox. While the names might be different, the scam remains the same.
Victims reported paying upfront fees of $40 to over $500 for a trial program earning money by processing rebates from home for 11,000 companies. Because many of the companies mentioned have well-known names such as HP and Home Depot, the victims say they were duped into believing that the offers were legitimate.
Instead of guidance and a starter kit on processing rebates, victims told the BBB that they actually received instructions on how to make money by sending e-mails, blogging, and paying for ads on the Internet in order to sell various products. The products being sold are marketed with a rebate and the victim allegedly makes money by receiving a percentage of sales for any products sold as a result of the ads they placed.
The marketing language on “rebate processing” Web sites makes the offer sound risk-free and usually advertises a "90-day money back guarantee" or “100% Satisfaction Guarantee,” but victims say that the companies failed to honor the guarantee. If they respond to requests for refunds at all, it’s usually with an excuse for not making the refund, Cox said.
To avoid being taken by work-at-home scams, the BBB offers the following advice:
• Beware of offers that sound too good to be true, including the promise of big bucks for little work or no experience.
• Always check out a company’s BBB Reliability Report for free to see if the company has received a passing grade from the organization.
• Never give your credit card or checking account information to an individual or business that promises employment. Legitimate employers never charge fees to prospective employees.