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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


They have been around for years, and have improved in the sophistication of their approach, but the newest twist is frightening. I am talking about the work-at-home schemes that lure people into thinking they have found a way to make easy money at home. It’s not possible, and I can tell you that from 35 years as a junk mail list/data broker that all of the services these scams are selling you to do at home are done by machines in large facilities run by people trained for the jobs. There are ways to supplement your income, but this isn’t one of them. Actually, I am surprised that after all the bad press on this subject over the years, there are still so many who bite. However, these are days of desperation, and the crooks know it. Unfortunately, the bad guys have found a new way to pull off the fraud that just adds to their total take. In an MSNBC article, work-at-home scams are documented about real people who have suffered real losses. One actually landed a guy in jail because he was accepting and forwarding stolen merchandise. Another is the ploy to deposit the firm’s check as a mystery shopper, and send a portion back to the company. Of course their check is no good, and you are out the amount you sent. As the MSNBC piece indicates, the criminals are often from Soviet Bloc nations who use services such as Western Union to forward payments. In the current scam, you are asked for your bank account number they allegedly need to send you a direct deposit; instead they clean out your account and you never hear from them again. And this is where your identity can be compromised. It is only a matter of time until the ID theft underground connects work-at-home to the art of stealing your identity, both real and synthetic. That will come when they begin to ask you for, in addition to your bank account number, your credit card numbers, driver’s license number and your Social Security number. Of course the crooks will still attempt to make you pay up front for materials necessary to complete the work-at-home jobs as in the past, which you might do by using your credit card or a direct deposit from your bank. There is always a purpose to their madness. In the heat of the moment, you are focused on that extra income you are being promised, and you don’t weigh the circumstances in which you are giving out all this private information. But the old saying still applies: When it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I have a plan that won’t put a lot of extra money in your pocket now, but could provide help in the future. If you had control over your name and personal data, and if you were compensated when it is sold, many of you could add an average of $607 a month to your retirement income. And you don’t even have to work at home to do it. You can read more about this concept in an earlier post from June 28, 2005.

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