COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a warning to Ohio senior citizens Wednesday to be cautious of job opportunity scams that could cost them thousands of dollars.
According to DeWine, consumers in their 70s, 80s, and 90s increasingly report entering into Internet business opportunities, such as operating a "web mall," selling credit card processing machines, or taking lessons to learn how to start a business. Sometimes they spend as much as $10,000 to $20,000 up front, but make nothing in return.
"In these tough economic times, offers to work from home can seem like a good way to earn money," said Attorney General Mike DeWine in a press release. "We want to warn Ohio's seniors to be on guard against scammers who want to take their money instead of providing a work-at-home opportunity."
Here's how a typical job opportunity scam works:
- You receive a telephone call or an email offering the opportunity to work from home or start a business.
- The salesperson tells you that a contract must be signed and credit card information must be given up front in order to get started.
- Once a credit card number is given, the company begins making charges. (Most folks do not realize that the contract's fine print authorizes excessive charges with some consumers reporting thousands of dollars of charges beyond those authorized in the fine print). Many also report that they never receive materials for the business, they can never reach the salesperson again, and they never receive a single check.
The Attorney General's office offers the following tips for what to do to protect yourself from job opportunity scammers:
- Be suspicious if a caller asks you for your credit card information up front or promises that you will "get rich quick."
- Research the company offering the job opportunity. Search for the company on the Internet, the Attorney General's website, and with the Better Business Bureau to see if other consumers have reported fraud.
- Carefully read every document the company sends to you to understand your obligations. Do not sign the contract unless you are confident that you want to agree to the document.
- Discuss the job opportunity with a family member or trusted friend to determine whether it is a good investment.
- Warn elderly relatives that they may receive phone calls or other solicitations from job opportunity scammers and instruct them to never give out credit card information over the phone to an unknown caller.
"Remember that if a job opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is," DeWine said.
If you think you have been a victim of a job opportunity scam, or any other fraudulent activity, contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. .