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Common Online Scams and Their Real Counterparts

“Get paid to take surveys!”

“Make millions from your living room!”

These and other phrases are common in the world of Internet work, and you may find yourself wondering if they are true. And perhaps you are a little tempted to try them out. Here are 3 of the most common online scams and the real jobs behind some of them.

Online Surveys
According to companies selling lists of online survey companies, you can sit home and fill out a couple of surveys a day to make money. Is that true?

Technically it is. You can fill out surveys, though you should Google “survey company” rather than pay for a list. You can sometimes make money from them.
After my son was born, I took a 2-minute survey once a month for $10 a month
about his breastfeeding habits. You also often win prizes rather than money. The downside is that making more than pocket change from surveys takes hours and hours and usually amounts to barely minimum wage.

Product Sales
Back a generation when multi-level marketing wasn’t the craze it is today, the “Mary Kay lady” represented something unique. She was a businesswoman – an anomaly for those times – and she could make good money. Now, the market is full of MLM companies hawking everything from organic face cream to pizza stones, and the newest trend is to encourage “online stores.” You don’t have to walk the street. Your friends can “attend” your parties any time over a 2-week period. You can just sit back and relax.

The situation is real, but the profits are often exaggerated. For starters, new research from The Pyramid Scheme Alert shows several studies indicating that all but the very top tier of every MLM makes no or little profit. Second, part of the reason home parties work is that they get people to buy out of peer pressure. That doesn’t happen when you’re online, making sales even tougher.

Medical Transcription
This job is real, but ads often make it sound much simpler than it is. Medical transcription requires significant training, usually 18-24 months of full-time study, and then many transcriptionists find they must work in an office for a while before they can work flexibly from home. The ads make it sounds as if one can jump into transcription tomorrow and make a great living. That’s not true, and the ads typically are from companies that train people to do transcription work. The training comes at a steep price – usually several thousand dollars – and is intensive. If you think transcription sounds good, by all means research it, but don’t think it’s a quick fix.

The older I get the more I accept the idea that “if it sounds too good to be true” is a great phrase to live by in most situations. Working from home on your computer can happen. I do it for a living, and I have plenty of friends who make full-time incomes online from a home office. The common thread to their stories is that they put in the time and effort to make it happen. There’s no “get rich quick,” even online.

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