scam.jpgA while back I did a blog post on the growing number of work-at-home scams on Twitter and I included a list of job opportunities provided by RetirementJobs.com that the website had vetted as legitimate.

Recently I’ve gotten several emails from individuals telling me one of the firms on the list is a scam. The company owner claims they’re disgruntled employees.

This situation shows how dicey the whole work-at-home phenomenon has become.

I don’t endorse any firms or products in this blog, but I do mention many. I caution people to do as much homework on any company before they agree to use a service or to work for any employer. But even then, you may not end up with what you expect.

The company in question is TeleReach, a business-to-business telemarketing company.

The emails I’ve received from former employees of the firm claim they were never given the promised training and not paid what they were owed.

This from a former TeleReach employee, Bob Guilda:

I am yet another victim in the ongoing hiring scam perpetuated at Telereach.
First we were hired as “appointment setters”. Well, did not sound bad at the advertised rate of $12-28/hr. Extensive training was also promised.
We were required to be on IM daily from 8:30 to 5:00. On the phone all day and reporting numbers every 2 hours. All requirements.
However, the pay was then determined to be $7.55 for “meeting time”, which was not inclusive of all meeting time. And we only got paid for appts set.
My first week I got paid $125 for 40 hrs. My check for my last 2 weeks was less than $240 total. Then I was fired for lack of appts set while they kept 2 people from my training class with less than 1/3 of my production.
So, in essence, they are not hiring appt setters but short term data scrubbers, which are scrubbing their data for free. Then this data is passed to the tenured appt setters for them to reap the rewards. Quite nefarious, isn’t it?

I called the owner of the company, Tracie Chancellor, and she denied the company was a scam.

“We are not able to comment on details of someone’s employment termination. The method of pay has stood the test of time since 1996. It is quite difficult to work from home and cold calling is a really tough job. We are not a match for everyone. There are however, many people at TeleReach who enjoy the performance based pay and support their families and children through long term employment with TeleReach.”

It’s difficult in these situations to know what really went on. Guilda and other former employees wrote me in an email that they plan to sue the company. They also threatened me with legal action given that I would not remove TeleReach from the list on this post from July.

I don’t compromise my journalistic integrity because of threats. I’m all for advocating for workers, but I have to be balanced in my reporting.

I went back to RetirementJobs.com to ask them about the firms on the list and TeleReach.

A spokesman there, Patrick Rafter emailed me the following:

Back in 2009 when we issued RetirementJobs.com’s Work At Home Guide, that company was listed
as a company that met our criteria as a legitimate work at home employer. While we have made a diligent, good faith effort to verify only those organizations we believe to offer legitimate earning opportunities, we cannot and do not guarantee their legitimacy and legality. You are still responsible for performing your own due diligence research and RetirementJobs.com accepts no responsibility for losses related to your affiliation with any of these organizations. That said, we believe we have eliminated the worst frauds and scams being offered today.

I also checked out the Better Business Bureau’s rating on TeleReach and as of today the company has a A+ rating, the highest possible rating.

Unfortunately BBB ratings, company endorsements and even information from individuals who work at a company or run a company may not always tell the whole story.

Scams and schemes of all sorts in the job-hunting realm, especially work-at-home opportunities are rampant. Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission announced a host of suits against job placement and work-at-home firms.

This from the New York Times:

The commission announced seven civil suits as part of a crackdown on such schemes, which officials said deceive job seekers by falsely promising work as federal employees, movie extras or assemblers of Christmas ornaments, among other positions.

David C. Vladeck, director of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the schemes “take advantage of consumers in times of economic misfortune.”

Since last spring, the commission has brought 11 cases against illicit job placement operators, including the seven announced on Wednesday.

I’ve been writing about scams like this for a while now. This from a column I wrote for MSNBC.com in 2008 about Internet work-at-home offers:

I get e-mails from readers on a weekly basis looking for the perfect home-work opportunity.

I’m here to tell you folks, the majority of the Internet offers you get in your e-mail box and ones you see in ads in periodicals and jobs boards offering you fast cash opportunities right from the comfort of your living room are bogus, bunk, bamboozles.

“Work-at-home scams are the number one thing consumers write in to ask about,” says Beau Brendler, director of Consumer Reports WebWatch, who estimates ten out of ten e-mails he gets about such offers are not legitimate.

And the scammers prey on people who are desperate for money but can’t leave home for work, he notes, like those who are disabled, or stay-at-home moms or dads who’d like to help their spouses make ends meet.

So the lesson here is to be on the look out and be skeptical.

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