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When considering working from home, avoid scams

The economic crisis and the upcoming holidays have everyone looking for more ways to save money.  As gas prices continue to fluctuate, some workplaces have gone to four-day work weeks as a way to save money on gas and electricity. But what about not commuting to work at all?  What about working from your home?

Whether it's the faltering economy or the urge to go green, more people are trying to ditch their commutes whenever possible.while 'work-at-home' propositions have been around for years, offers are now surging.  But, officials warn, so are complaints!  The good news? Experts say there are legitimate companies that'll have you working without ever walking out your door.

How do you sort through it all? Surgical Nurse Rhonda Lesher loved her job but hung up her scrubs when she got tired of dumping her paycheck into the gas tank.  Lesher, works at home, "the price of gas was just getting way too high to make it feasible." So, Rhonda scoured newspapers and the web for a job that would keep her at home.

There were a lot to choose from ...and she jumped at two offers. "Where they had you send in money and you were supposed to get a packet."  With everything needed to start on mailing jobs.  She says the packets were a waste ...and the jobs weren't what she expected.  While the problem isn't new...it's skyrocketing.

The Better Business Bureau reports complaints about at-home offers nearly doubled between the first and second quarter of this year, and the Bureau is warning about a new type of scheme where people pay up front to get information about rebate processing jobs.  What the individual is required then to do in most cases is sell ads to bring other people into the scheme," said Steve Cox with the BBB.

Despite the problems with some 'offers', there are legitimate jobs out there.

Robyn Freedman Spizman, co-author, "Will Work From Home-Earn the Cash Without the Commute,"" the opportunities are increasing at a rapid fire speed," she said.  Robyn Freedman Spizman is the co-author of a book on working from home.  She says there are many fields becoming popular, like virtual customer service representatives.

"You can take incoming calls for a large company or even a small company and help field those customer service concerns."  After getting burned initially, Rhonda did her homework and landed a customer service position with Alpine.  "I work from anywhere from 25 hours to 30 hours a week, and I get to choose my schedule."

If you are a skilled professional, Spizman says freelance sites like Elance and O'desk can match you up with clients who need your services.  "If you're a Graphic Designer, you are a PR pro, you're a talented designer or you're a website developer, of course, if you've got a fulltime gig, you can always try to take your work home with you, you just have to convince the boss." 

Spitzman's advice - "present a well researched proposal stating how you are going to be measured, what type of support can you offer from home, and what is the true benefit to the employer." Rhonda couldn't do that as a nurse, but is happy that she finally found a new job she loves with the perks she needs.  "The benefits have been great because I'm not spending money on gas, and i'm not having to commute anywhere."

The BBB says the majority of consumers they're hearing from in the rebate processing scheme haven't been getting their money back. The bureau says, when it comes to work-at-home offers , avoid any that ask you to pay up front, make promises of quick cash or use buzzwords like "free and easy" or "make money in your spare time.


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