Online and offline scams. How to avoid them!

by Tal Fighel

Be part of one of America's Fastest Growing Industries! Earn thousand of dollars a month - from your home - Processing Medical Billing Claims.

You can find ads like this everywhere - online, the telephone pole on your street corner, and your local newspaper. While you may find these ads appealing, especially if you can't work outside your home, you must proceed with caution. Not all work-at-home opportunities deliver on their promises. You may even find this on the internet. While a few online/offline business opportunities actually work and are legitimate, many are not.

Here are some typical online and offline scams that you may go through.

Medical billing- Ads for pre-packaged businesses - known as billing centers - are in newspapers, on television and on the Internet. If you respond, you'll get a sales pitch that may sound something like this: "There's 'a crisis' in the health care system, due partly to the overwhelming task of processing paper claims. The solution is electronic claim processing. Because only a small percentage of claims are transmitted electronically, the market for billing centers is wide open."

The promoter also may tell you that many doctors who process claims electronically want to "outsource" or contract out their billing services to save money. Promoters will promise that you can earn a substantial income working full or part time, providing services like billing, accounts receivable, electronic insurance claim processing and practice management to doctors and dentists.

They also may assure you that no experience is required, that they will provide clients eager to buy your services or that their qualified salespeople will find clients for you. The reality: you will have to sell. These promoters rarely provide experienced sales staff or contacts within the medical community.

The promoter will follow up by sending you materials that typically include a brochure, application, sample diskettes, a contract (licensing agreement), disclosure document, and in some cases, testimonial letters, videocassettes and reference lists. For your investment of $1,000 to $10,000, a promoter will promise software, training and technical support. The company will encourage you to call its references.

If only one or two names are given, they may be "shills" - people hired to give favorable testimonials. It's best to interview people in person, preferably where the business operates, to reduce your risk of being misled by shills and also to get a better sense of how the business works.

Envelope stuffing- Promoters usually advertise that, for a "small" fee, they will tell you how you can earn money at home by simply stuffing envelopes. Later - when it's too late - you find out that the promoter never had any employment to offer. Instead, for your fee, you're likely to get a letter telling you to place the same "envelope-stuffing" ad in newspapers or magazines, or to send the ad to friends and relatives. The only way you'll earn money is if people respond to your work-at-home ad.

Assembly or craft work- These programs often require you to invest hundreds of dollars in equipment or supplies. Or they require you to spend many hours producing goods for a company that has promised to buy them.

For example, you might have to buy a sewing or sign-making machine from the company, or materials to make items like aprons, baby shoes or plastic signs. However, after you've purchased the supplies or equipment and performed the work, fraudulent operators don't pay you. In fact, many consumers have had companies refuse to pay for their work because it didn't meet "quality standards."

Online/offline chain letters - Chain letters are either e-mails or real letters, which promise a phenomenal return on a small effort.

A chain letter is a "get rich quick" scheme that promises that your mailbox will soon be stuffed full of cash if you decide to participate. They make you believe that you can make thousands of dollars every month if you follow the detailed instructions in the letter.

The simplest form of a chain letter contains a list of x people. You are supposed to send the letter to the top person on the list. You then need to remove the top person on the list, sliding the second person into the top position, and adding yourself in the bottom position.

You then are required to make x copies of the letter, and mail them to as many people as you know or you may mail them to people that you don't even know.

If it is online, you are required to buy a hugh list of leads and send this to them without their permission. The promise is that you will eventually receive something in return.

The main thing to remember is that a chain letter is simply a bad investment and is illegal. You certainly won't get rich. You will receive little or no money. The few dollars you may get will probably not be as much as you spend making and mailing copies of the chain letter.

The Online Nigerian Scam - This scam is about someone who claims to be from the Nigerian Central Bank or a Nigerian Government official requesting your bank account details under the impression that they have a huge amount of money in Nigeria and need to "salt it away" in foreign bank accounts.

They will deposit the money into your account and come back for it later. You get to keep either the interest accrued, or a percentage of the deposit.

Once they have you interested in the venture, they announce unforeseen fees or taxes, which you need to pay before the money can be released. Each fees/tax is said to be the "last" one, but never is.

By this method they empty your bank account. Despite many warnings, this scam continues to draw in many victims. In fact, the Financial Crimes Division of the Secret Service receives approximately 100 telephone calls from victims/ potential victims and 300-500 pieces of related correspondence per day about this scam!

Unfortunately, there are many online and offline scams out there like the ones above. People are still looking to get rich quick despite warning from local or national officials of an ongoing chain of scams. Don't become a victim. Do your own research. If it's too good to be true, then it probably is.

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About the Author

Tal Fighel is the editor and publisher of Home Business Tips Newsletter: Complete Money Making Site Setup Free.

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