Be part of one of
America's Fastest Growing Industries!
Earn thousand of dollars a
month - from your home - Processing Medical Billing
You can find ads
like this everywhere - from the street light and telephone pole on
your corner to your newspaper and PC. While you may find these ads
appealing, especially if you can't work outside your home, proceed
with caution. Not all work-at-home opportunities deliver on their
Many ads omit the fact that you may have
to work many hours without pay. Or they don't disclose all the costs
you will have to pay. Countless work-at-home schemes require you to
spend your own money to place newspaper ads; make photocopies; or
buy the envelopes, paper, stamps, and other supplies or equipment
you need to do the job. The companies sponsoring the ads also may
demand that you pay for instructions or "tutorial" software.
Consumers deceived by these ads have lost thousands of dollars, in
addition to their time and energy.
Classic Work-at-Home Schemes
Several types of offers are classic work-at-home
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 $2,000 to $8,000, a
promoter will promise software, training and technical support.
And the company will encourage you to call its references. Make
sure you get many names from which to chose. 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 mislead by shills and also to get a better sense of how the
Few consumers who purchase a medical
billing business opportunity are able to find clients, start a
business and generate revenues - let alone recover their
investment and earn a substantial income. Competition in the
medical billing market is fierce and revolves around a number of
large and well-established firms.
Envelope stuffing. Promoters usually advertise that, for a "small" fee, they
will tell you how to earn money stuffing envelopes at home. 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
Unfortunately, no work is ever "up to
standard," leaving workers with relatively expensive equipment and
supplies - and no income. To sell their goods, these workers must
find their own customers.
Questions to Ask
work-at-home program sponsors should tell you - in writing - what's
involved in the program they are selling. Here are some questions
you might ask a promoter:
- What tasks will I have to perform?
(Ask the program sponsor to list every step of the job.)
- Will I be paid a salary or will my pay
be based on commission?
- Who will pay me?
- When will I get my first
- What is the total cost of the
work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment and membership
fees? What will I get for my money?
The answers to these questions may help
you determine whether a work-at-home program is appropriate for your
circumstances, and whether it is legitimate.
You also might want to check out the
company with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney
General and the Better Business Bureau, not only where the company
is located, but also where you live. These organizations can tell
you whether they have received complaints about the work-at-home
program that interests you. But be wary: the absence of complaints
doesn't necessarily mean the company is legitimate. Unscrupulous
companies may settle complaints, change their names or move to avoid
Where to Complain
If you have
spent money and time on a work-at-home program and now believe the
program may not be legitimate, contact the company and ask for a
refund. Let company representatives know that you plan to notify
officials about your experience. If you can't resolve the dispute
with the company, file a complaint with these organizations:
- The Federal Trade Commission works for
the consumer to prevent fraud and deception. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP
(1-877-382-4357) or log on to www.ftc.gov.
- The Attorney General's office in your
state or the state where the company is located. The office will
be able to tell you whether you're protected by any state law that
may regulate work-at-home programs.
- Your local consumer protection
- Your local Better Business
- Your local postmaster. The U.S. Postal
Service investigates fraudulent mail practices.
- The advertising manager of the
publication that ran the ad. The manager may be interested to
learn about the problems you've had with the company.
For More Information
|The FTC works for the
consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business
practices in the marketplace and to provide information to
help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a
complaint or to
get free information on consumer
issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357);
TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing,
identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available
to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in
the U.S. and abroad.|
The Lowdown on Chain
Everybody's received them
- chain letters or email messages that promise a big return on a
small investment. The promises include unprecedented good luck,
mountains of recipes, or worse, huge financial rewards for sending
as little as $5 to someone on a list or making a telephone call. The
simplest chain letters contain a list of names and addresses, with
instructions to send something - usually a small sum of money - to
the person at the top of the list, remove that name from the list,
and add your own name to the bottom of the list. Then, the
instructions call for you to mail or email copies of the letter to a
certain number of other people, along with the directions of how
they should "continue the chain." The theory behind chain letters is
that by the time your name gets to the top of the list, so many
people will be involved that you'll be inundated with whatever the
chain promises to deliver. One recently circulated email chain
letter promised earnings of "$50,000 or more within in the next 90
days of sending email." Whether you receive a chain letter by
regular mail or email - especially one that involves money - the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reminds you that:
- Chain letters that involve money or
valuable items and promise big returns are illegal. If you start
one or send one on, you are breaking the law.
- Chances are you will receive little or
no money back on your "investment." Despite the claims, a chain
letter will never make you rich.
- Some chain letters try to win your
confidence by claiming that they're legal, and even that they're
endorsed by the government. Nothing is further from the truth.
- If you've been a target of a chain
email scam, contact your Internet Service Provider and forward the
email to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Postal
Inspection Service offers information about chain letters at
www.framed.usps.com/postalinspectors/chainlet.htm. Or you can call the
Postal Inspection Service toll-free,
The "Nigerian" Scam: Costly Compassion
Nigerian advance-fee fraud
has been around for decades, but now seems to have reached epidemic
proportions: Some consumers have told the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) they are receiving dozens of offers a day from supposed
Nigerians politely promising big profits in exchange for help moving
large sums of money out of their country. And apparently, many
compassionate consumers are continuing to fall for the convincing
sob stories, the unfailingly polite language, and the unequivocal
promises of money. These advance-fee solicitations are scams. And
according to the FTC, the scam artists are playing each and every
consumer for a fool. Here's the play book:
Claiming to be Nigerian
officials, businesspeople or the surviving spouses of former
government honchos, con artists offer to transfer millions of
dollars into your bank account in exchange for a small fee. If you
respond to the initial offer, you may receive "official looking"
documents. Typically, you're then asked to provide blank letterhead
and your bank account numbers, as well as some money to cover
transaction and transfer costs and attorney's fees.
You may even be encouraged
to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete the
transaction. Sometimes, the fraudsters will produce trunks of dyed
or stamped money to verify their claims. Inevitably, though,
emergencies come up, requiring more of your money and delaying the
"transfer" of funds to your account; in the end, there aren't any
profits for you to share, and the scam artist has vanished with your
If You Receive an
If you're tempted to
respond to an offer, the FTC suggests you stop and ask yourself two
important questions: Why would a perfect stranger pick you - also a
perfect stranger - to share a fortune with, and why would you share
your personal or business information, including your bank account
numbers or your company letterhead, with someone you don't know? And
the U.S. Department of State cautions against traveling to the
destination mentioned in the letters. According to State Department
reports, people who have responded to these "advance-fee"
solicitations have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion,
and in some cases, murdered.
If you receive an offer
via email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out
of Nigeria - or any other country, for that matter - forward it to
the FTC at email@example.com.
If you have lost money to
one of these schemes, call your local Secret Service field office.
You also can call 202-406-5572 for information.
More information about
Nigerian Advance-Fee Loan scams is available from the Department of
Justice (www.justiceonline.org/consum/nigerian.html), or www.state.gov/www/regions/africa/naffpub.pdf).
How To Spot a Scam a
Mile off By Elena
|Received the following forwarded
email from a subscriber|
"I am an
Executive Director with the Nigerian National
Corporation (NNPC) and a member of the
Committee (CAC). I am seeking your
assistance to enable me
transfer the sum of
$26,500,000 (Twenty Six Million, Five
United States Dollars) into your
Carole told me she has
received "3 or 4 of these in the last
week, I think from
different people. I deleted the others. It makes
nervous. Sounds like a dangerous scam. "
what it is, of course. Maybe you're reading this
"I can't believe people are still falling for the
scam after all this time". On the other hand, maybe
reading this thinking, "Wow, I might have responded
to that. How
am I supposed to know what's a scam and what's
The reality is that there are hundreds of
thousands of people
coming online, for the first time, each
year. Many of these
people have simply not been exposed to
scams like the ones
that are constantly touted on the
Internet before. Many of these
people come online to try
and find a way to make money with their
they're looking for ideas for making money
The fact that they may not recognize scams off
the bat doesn't
mean they're naive or stupid, it just means
that they haven't been
in an environment where this sort of
stuff came their way before
now. And don't the scammers
Like vultures circling overhead, they await
their prey. They know
they have only a narrow window of
opportunity because it doesn't
take newbies long to catch
on so they have to be quick about it. And
how do they do
that? They hang out where newbies hang out so
they can get
them while they're still young and fresh and
They're nothing but predators looking to pick
off the easiest game.
Wouldn't want to have to engage in
any real work, after all.
In this article we look at
several main scams and how to recognize
Nigerian Advance Fee Scheme
The gist of this worldwide
scheme is that small to medium-size
businesses receive a
letter from someone who purports to be
an official of the
Nigerian government or major utility or similar
to transfer some huge amount of money out of the
The money typically is an overpayment by the government
a procurement contract. The object of the exercise is to
you to provide your bank account details (for the
wire transferring the money of course). Surprise
a transfer all right but not INTO your
=> The FTC "Dirty Dozen"
the top 12 scams that have been identified by the
Federal Trade Commission as the most likely to arrive
1. Business Opportunities - often pyramid
schemes (see below)
thinly disguised as legitimate
opportunities to earn money.
What to look for: high returns
with little or no effort or cash outlay
Bulk Email - offers of lists of thousands of email
all of whom, of course, are just dying to receive
What to look for: "Bulk Email
Works! 10,000 addresses for $9.99."
3. Chain Letters -
send $5 to the next name on the list then
cross the bottom
name off the list, replace it with your own, then
the letter to 500 of your nearest and dearest.
What to look
for: A jail cell. This is a pyramid scheme and is
The letter goes to great pains to say that it is not
4. Envelope Stuffing - think you're going to
be paid for stuffing
envelopes? Think again. You get a kit
that you can turn around
to recruit others to an envelope
stuffing scam of your very own!
Watch out for craft
assembly work as well. You'll probably find
all of your
hard work is not up to their exacting "quality
and therefore you won't get paid for your
5. Health and Diet Scams - magic pills that
eradicate the need
to eat fewer calories than you expend in
order to lose weight.
They don't work.
Income - no such thing. As the FTC says, if they
everyone would be doing it.
7. Free Goods - you're told
you'll get a free computer. You have
to pay a fee to join a
club and then told you have to recruit other
get paid in computers. They're nothing but
8. Investment Opportunities - look
for outrageously high rates
of return with no
9. Cable Descrambler Kits - they probably won't
work and even
if they do, you're stealing a service from a
cable company and
committing a crime.
Loans or Credit - pay a fee and you're
given a list of
lenders, all of whom turn you down. Credit cards
11. Credit Repair - no matter how bad your
credit, pay these
people and they'll fix it. They generally
just advise you how to lie
on future credit applications -
how to commit fraud in other words.
12. Vacation Prize
Promotions - your accommodations will be so
bad you'll want
to pay for an upgrade. You'll probably have to pay
schedule a vacation at the time you want as well.
Make money by recruiting members into
the program without giving
anything of equal value in
exchange for membership fees. Contrast
marketing schemes). These are not pyramid
they involve the sale of products and services
Prepackaged businesses requiring an investment
of $2,000 to
$8,000. Few people who purchase one of these
are able to find clients, start a business and
Competition in this area is fierce and
concentrated around a
few big, well-entrenched
=> Your In Box
Finally, go to your
in-box now. You'll find no end of scams sitting
there. Here's one that just arrived in mine
"Subject: How to make $1,000,000 in 20 weeks
Newcomers on the Net"
Like all the rest,
it gets the one-finger salute - index finger
to the delete
key. Works beautifully every time.
Where to go for more
information on internet scams:
|Elena Fawkner is editor of A
Home-Based Business Online ...|
practical home business
ideas for the