Ask Stacy: Is There Legitimate Work From Home?

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Here’s a question, varying versions of which I’ve gotten many times…

Hi Stacy.
I am drowning in debt. I am a single mother with 3 kids. I have a 9-5 but it only pays $10 an hour. Do you know any legitimate work from home opportunity? How can I find a legitimate work at home opportunity? I do not want to sacrifice quality time with my kids.
Please help!
– Mother who needs your advice.

First I’m going to answer the question Mother asked, then I’m going to add some additional unsolicited advice.

Is there legitimate work from home?

The short answer is yes, but it’s hard to find.

Even in pre-Internet days, work-at-home jobs were the mother lode of fraud. Simple way to avoid most rip-offs? Avoid any potential employer, work-at-home or otherwise, that asks you to pay them before they pay you.

Also be leery if a website suggests you can make big bucks for unskilled labor that usually warrants minimum wage. As the Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuard Online program puts it, “The FTC has yet to find anyone who has gotten rich stuffing envelopes or assembling magnets at home.”

Your best bet is to find online employers that have been mentioned as legitimate in the media. For example, this story from Good Morning America cites 10 companies that offer work from home.

But just because GMA says a company is legitimate doesn’t make it so – check yourself. At random, I picked one from their report –, which provides call center help – and searched the Better Business Bureau for complaints. The BBB gives an “A+,” a good sign.

Then I typed into Google, “liveops reviews” and found lots of pros …

“I avg. $15-20.00 per hour and work when I want to. Some may complain that do not get enough calls, but calls are routed to the agents with the best statistics first. This is a sales job folks … so if sales is not your thing … do not expect a ton of calls.”

… and lots of cons …

“Wrongly punished for lack of sales in some upsells which are ridiculously priced and deceiving to the customer. Scripting needs serious review by competent reviewers and re-written.”

As you can see, if you want to work from home part-time, it’s going to take some work just to figure out where to apply. And when you find a reputable site, check out the FTC’s “To Do” list, which includes all the questions you ‘ll need to ask your potential part-time employer – like “Will I be paid a salary or will my pay be based on commission?” and “What is this going to cost me, including supplies, equipment, and membership fees?”

Another tough part about legitimate work-from-home jobs: Because of their desirability and the number of people looking for them, the competition is fierce, especially among the jobs that require little or no experience.

That being said, here are some additional articles with other leads:

You might also try to find a work-at-home job from employers who don’t advertise working from home. One of my editor’s relatives works from home doing medical billing. She got the idea from the Web, but she got the job by approaching her employer and negotiating a work-from-home deal. She took a tad less money but makes up for it saving on the commute and clothing and lunches, and he gets to free up some cramped office space and save a little payroll.

So ask around – friends and family – about part-time work that’s available locally and see if you can do that from home in your spare time. It may take more leg-work than looking online, but you’re a lot less likely to get scammed.

If other Money Talks News readers have had good or bad experiences working from home, let everyone know on our Facebook page or by leaving a comment below.

Some additional advice for Mother…

Although I don’t know a thing about you, your background, eduction or experience, my advice is to do everything possible to make more than $10 an hour. Even with an additional work-at-home job, it’s going to be tough for you and your kids to survive, much less live without the fear of debt.

I know it’s easier to offer that advice than follow it, and I’m sure you’ve looked for jobs that pay more. But try these tips…

  • Ask for a raise. But never by pleading poverty: Show your boss exactly how your personal contributions benefit the bottom line. For more, see 3 Steps to Get the Raise You Deserve.
  • Start your own business: Twenty-two years ago, I started Money Talks on a card table in my living room. If I can do it, so can you. Most people have an idea or skill that could make them money on the side, or even form the basis of a new career. Think about what you’re good at, or even better, what you love doing. Find other people who have succeeded at it. If possible, talk to them and try to replicate their success. For more, check out Five Steps to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business.
  • ABL – Always Be Looking: Everyone has friends, or at least acquaintances, some of whom may know of jobs better than the one you’re working now. It costs you nothing to reach out to anyone and everyone around you and let them know you’re open to opportunity. And if your network isn’t large enough, expand it. Go to church. Join a club or two. Use Facebook, LinkedIn and other online tools. Do everything you can to expand your circle and your chances of finding a more rewarding career, both financially and emotionally. And read articles like 5 Traits That Get People Hired.

One last bit of advice, this time about debt. If you’ve got a debt problem, do something about it. There are agencies that can help and they don’t charge a dime. Check out Where Can I Go for Help With Debt?

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

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