Work-at-home classified ad draws scrutiny p.24

By: Dorothy Giobbe YOU KNEW IT was too good to be true.
"No Experience needed. Work at home a few hours and earn a lot of money. The work is simple and non stressful."
Surprise ? classified ads that make such claims rarely deliver on their promises.
But beyond that, they might be fraudulent. Over the last month, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in San Diego has received more than 283 consumer inquiries about just such an ad that recently ran nationwide.
The ad, placed by a company called Alliance Secretarial Staff, offered "big bucks" for a work-at-home clerical/typist position ? but in order to be considered for the job, applicants would first have to send in a $37 "processing" fee.
An 800 number that appears in the ad is answered by a machine in San Diego. According to the BBB, Alliance Secretarial Staff's address is a postal mail drop near San Diego State University.
The BBB tried to contact Alliance Secretarial Staff to verify the company's earnings claims.
Not being able to do so, the BBB then got in touch with the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the postal box was shut down.
"It's very common," said Lisa Curtis, president of the San Diego BBB. "The work-at-home ads generate the most inquiries from consumers to BBB offices."
Curtis said that newspapers should be on the lookout for ads that make "outrageous" claims. Also, ads that require up-front fees can be trouble, she added.
Other red flags might include misspelled words in the ad or promotional material, and an appeal for cash or money orders over checks.
The ad from Alliance Secretarial Staff warned that "personal checks will delay you in getting started by 14 days. Personal checks need two to three weeks to clear processing. Money orders are processed immediately."
"Whenever you receive a copy of an ad where people are earning money at home, you should try to find out if an up-front fee is required," Curtis said.
"Andif you're ever in doubt, you can call your local BBB."
She said that ads which advertise modeling positions can also be fradulent if there are up-front fees required to pay for portfolio and photo sessions.
"People are never required to pay an up-front fee for employment," Curtis said.
"These ads tend to prey on people who really do need the money."
Over the last month the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in San Diego has received more than 283 consumer inquiries about an ad that has been
running nationwide.


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