It’s important to know who you’re working with, so taking a moment to research work-at-home opportunities and businesses will pay off in the long run. Don’t assume that fantastic claims equate to legitimate work-at-home opportunities. Many moms, desperate to work at home and take care of their children, are taken over by unscrupulous people who offer work-at-home jobs. There are legitimate work-at-home opportunities in three. You just need to find them.

Here are some tips for evaluating opportunities and checking resources to determine legitimacy.

1. The legitimate work-at-home company is hard to find with a simple internet search, but it’s a good place to start. Check the company name with to see if any complaints have been filed.

2. Conduct a national and local search through the Better Business Bureau.

3. Contact your state Attorney General’s office and local consumer protection agency to file complaints. But be warned, the absence of complaints doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a legitimate work-at-home company. Unscrupulous companies may resolve complaints, change their name, or move to avoid detection.

4. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair trade practices in the marketplace. The FTC also provides information to help consumers detect, stop, and avoid fraud. Find the FTC to file a complaint or get free information on any of 150 consumer topics.

5. You can also Google the word “forum” and the company name or product name.

6. Many moms use a variety of tools to communicate. You can find other information about the company in question or the home business on a forum site. Be sure to visit the forum page of the sites you visit.

7. A legitimate work-at-home job provided by a company usually does not involve a down payment or investment on your part.

Here are some suggestions for searching online.

o Visit general employment sites and work in home employment directories.

o If there is a phone number or email address, try it. You should find a person who is willing to talk to you. They should be professional and answer all your questions. If they’re vague or the answers seem confusing, it’s probably too good to be true.

o The website on which the work at home job opportunity is listed should be easy to navigate with clear information and the links should work. For example, if the link to email follow-up questions isn’t working, do more research.

o Income from particular job functions must be realistic. Check industry standards by researching your online or print version of area newspapers for similar positions. Also use a salary data website. If your research reveals that the actual salaries being paid are very different from the promises made in a pitch, beware. Do more research.

Questions to ask the employer

o What tasks am I going to do? (Ask the program sponsor to list each step of the job.)

o Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission?

or Who will pay me?

o When will I get my first paycheck?

o What is the total cost of the work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment, and membership dues? What would I get for my money?

o Late in the interview process, ask to speak to an employee. This is your chance to ask questions about that employee’s experiences at work and with the company in general. (Some data taken from the FTC)

Final note: There should be a letter of commitment or offer letter when you start work. Items addressed in the interview should be documented in the letter.