Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra,

I would like to apply to some of the advertisements in newspapers and magazines advertising for stay at home workers but how do I know if they are legitimate ads or scam ads?

Looking for Extra Cash in SK

Dear Looking,

Yes, those advertisements sound promising don’t they? I looked through a few different magazines and my local newspaper to see advertisements enticing people to work at home assembling products (earrings, buttons, crafts), reading manuscripts or putting together mailing packages earning $25 per hour to $2500 weekly! That’s a lot of money just for doing low skill jobs at home that could easily be done by minimum wage workers or interns. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That’s not to say that there are not legitimate companies out there looking for stay at home workers. Keep a few things in mind when you reply to these advertisements that are a constant in the help wanted sections of newspapers, magazines, laundry mat bulletin boards and even telephone poles along the highway.

1. If the company asks you to send them a non-refundable deposit to prove that you are a serious at home worker you should never send them money. When you apply for regular jobs do you give a non-refundable deposit? These types of companies are only looking for people to open up their cheque-books, collecting fees from hundreds of people and moving on to another scam.

2. A lot of these companies advertise for stuffing envelopes or stapling booklets but really all they are doing is disguising elaborate pyramid schemes. For those of you who don’t know how a pyramid scheme works, it basically can be summed up as; the originator of the scam (the top of the pyramid) gets richer by scamming people who in turn are promised to get richer by scamming those below them.

3. Read between the lines. Why would companies pay people astronomical amounts to stuff envelopes or read manuscripts when they have interns to do it? These companies advertise for people to read manuscripts claiming they can earn up to$100-$500 just for reading a book, but in reality it is only a company selling a book or list to those who reply to the ad, listing addresses of publishing companies which are incorrect or were just pulled from the phonebook or internet without the companies’ approval.

4. Think of the times. Do you really believe that you can make $1000 a week making bead earrings or “dough darlings”? Who buys these products? These craft companies state that the products you make must adhere to strict manufacturing guidelines; they have no obligation to pay you for your finished product if the product does not meet their requirements. (Authors’ Note: I have made beaded earrings with my 7-year old daughters’ bead kit, it is not easy, believe me!)

So, how do you find legitimate companies offering at home employment?

1. Check with your local Better Business Bureau (or the BBB where the company is based) to see if there have been any complaints about the company in question.

2. Check references. Ask the company for contact information on 10-15 former or present participants. Contact as many as you can to get an accurate picture of the company.

3. Ask questions and get the answers in writing. What will I be required to do? What standards must my work meet? Are there any costs (membership fees, supplies or equipment costs)? Do I need to find my own customers? When, how much and by whom will I be paid?

Just keep your eyes, ears and mind open when applying for these types of jobs. Be on your guard and remember people who earn ten grand a month usually have extensive training and education and their services or products justify their income, they are rarely envelope stuffers or beaded earring makers.



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of