New work-at-home regulations offer consumers more protections
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SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Effective today, March 1, amendments to the Federal Trade Commission’s Business Opportunity Rule go into effect. The changes implement new disclosures that work-at-home businesses must provide to ensure consumers have the appropriate information they need when considering a work-at-home program.
For decades, Better Business Bureau has heard from consumers scammed out of money by work-at-home programs. Since January, BBB has given out more than 1,200 business reports to local consumers interested in these opportunities. And in the past 36 months, more than 10,000 complaints have been filed with BBB’s nationwide.
To help consumers make informed decisions about work-at-home programs, there are five key items work-at-home businesses must now disclose using the FTC approved disclosure form:
1. Its identifying information (i.e. the name, business address, and telephone number)
2. If earning claims are made, the basis for that claim
3. Whether the company, its affiliates or key personnel have been involved in certain legal actions
4. Whether the company has a cancellation or refund policy
5. A list of people who bought this business opportunity within the previous three years
While these new regulations will help consumers better understand these work-at-home programs, consumers still need to be vigilant and cautious. Here are common red flags to watch for that could indicate a work-at-home scam:
1. Non-compliance with the FTC’s new regulations. If a company is not willing to provide you all the information now required, walk away and report them to your BBB and the Federal Trade Commission.
2. Big bucks for simple tasks. Watch out if they promise to pay you a lot of money for jobs that don’t seem to require much effort or skill.
3. You are asked to invest money up-front. If someone asks you to make an advance payment -- especially if it’s a big investment, or you don’t have much information about the deal -- this is a red flag. Or, if they expect you to make a major purchase of equipment, software or inventory in order to get started, be careful. Often these are the most persuasive kinds of scams.
4. They ask you to wire money. If you wire a payment to somebody, it’s gone forever. Scam artists often ask you to wire payments because they know you won’t be able to get your money back.
5. High pressure to do it now. Don’t be in a hurry to accept an unsolicited offer of work, or to make a business investment, particularly if the other party is asking you to spend your money on the deal. Take your time.
If you feel you have been a victim of a work-at-home scam, file a complaint with your local BBB at www.bbb.org or with the FTC at www.ftc.gov.
To check the reliability of a company, visit bbb.org.