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Originally published Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Work-at-home job deals often are just a scam

You've seen the enticements: "Work from Home: Earn $$$." "Guaranteed: $92/Hour ... No Experience Needed." They pop up on your computer, litter your mailbox, shout from your TV screen. And in this job-jittery economy, they sound awfully tempting. But beware.

McClatchy Newspapers

You've seen the enticements: "Work from Home: Earn $$$." "Guaranteed: $92/Hour ... No Experience Needed."

They pop up on your computer, litter your mailbox, shout from your TV screen.

And in this job-jittery economy, they sound awfully tempting.

"People are more vulnerable to these because job opportunities aren't as plentiful. They're looking at anything," said Terri Carpenter, spokeswoman for Sacramento Works, a government-funded agency in California that screens online ads for its 12 employment and training centers.

And the come-ons keep coming. Search for "Work from Home" on Google and you'll get 20.2 million hits.

"The Web is full of 'em," says Kate Lister, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based co-author of "Undress for Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money At Home."

And after two years of research, Lister concludes that "99 out of 100 are junk, either scams or dead ends."

Tom Harnish, co-author of "Undress for Success," said phony online job offers come in many forms, such as charging $20.99 for a jobs database full of "worthless links" to nonexistent jobs.

Others try to get you to sell something.

"There's an awful lot of them that are for health food, herbal products, jewelry or cosmetics ... but when you drill down, it's just multilevel marketing," Harnish said.

In other words, your income depends on bringing in new salespeople.

How to avoid getting snared by a scam?

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"The ones with the most capital letters or exclamation points are the ones you want to run from," Harnish said.

Another warning sign, many experts say, is companies that require you to pay upfront for fees, memberships, inventory or sales kits.

"When anyone asks you to pay for something to get a job, you have to be skeptical," Lister says.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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