“Many families are looking for ways to earn extra money for the holidays and Web sites touting the huge money-making potential of working from home often seem like an answer to prayer,” said Mechele Agbayani, President & CEO of BBB Central East Texas. “Unfortunately, most work-at-home opportunities don’t deliver on what they promise and victims find that instead of making a few extra dollars, they lose hundreds.”
Two Web sites, Google Treasure Chest and Google Money Tree, quickly racked up 523 and 782 BBB complaints respectively before being called out by the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General for misleading consumers. The Web sites have been taken down, however, BBB has received complaints about many other work-at-home schemes using similar tactics, including Google Biz Kit, Google Cash, Google Money Profits, and Google Success Kit.
While the schemes go by many different names and are found on many different Web sites, the complaints to BBB tell a similar story. Complainants state that they signed up online to receive a free trial of a CD or access to information that would show them how to make money from home using Google. Consumers had to provide a credit or debit card number to cover shipping — which is typically only a few dollars.
Complainants to BBB state that they were billed before their trial ended — or never even received the CD — and continued to be billed after they had cancelled their order. Complainants also found mystery charges from several other businesses for services they didn’t realize they were signing up for with their “free” trial. One Georgia complainant’s bank account was debited $433 by various entities including Grant Finder, Web Training, Powersale, Safelock, Google Chest, Search Chest, A1Member and Auction Support.
Before signing up for any work-at-home opportunity, BBB advises job hunters to:
* Review the business’s BBB Reliability Report® at bbb.org to see if BBB reports complaints or other concerns you need to consider.
* Beware of any offer that guarantees a lot of money for little effort and no experience.
* Thoroughly read the Web site’s terms and conditions, keeping in mind that a free trial could cost you in the end.
* Be wary of work-at-home offers that use logos from Google, Twitter or other prominent online businesses. Just because Google is in the name, it doesn’t mean the business is affiliated with Google.
* Research the Web site with Whois.net or a similar site for determining domain name ownership. If the site is anonymous or individually registered, beware.
For more advice on evaluating work-at-home companies and schemes, visit www.bbb.org.