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BBB Scam of the Week: Envelope-stuffing scam

Published: Mar. 25, 2019 at 8:05 AM CDT
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Work at Home Letter received by a Bastrop Resident says these things

"In order to get you started we must require a one-time computer processing and materials fee"

"Earn $1000 to $5000 weekly-$10 for each letter stuffed and returned to us"

Free Supplies... "Just send $99 and we send you 99 letters, envelopes and customer mailing labels"

"You will not have to pay for postage stamps. All postage cost is reimbursable…That means it's free."

"Along with every paycheck, we send you fresh mailing supplies."

Sound familiar? Ads for envelope-stuffing "opportunities" can be anywhere — from your mailbox to your inbox, in the newspaper or on an online search.

Promoters usually advertise that for a "small" fee, they'll tell you how to earn big money stuffing envelopes at home. They may say you will earn money for each envelope stuffed, making it possible for you to earn hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars each week.

But when it comes to offers promising quick and easy income stuffing envelopes at home, be skeptical — and check it out.

The ads may sound appealing, especially if you're looking for a home-based business. But according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, ads like these don't tell the whole story — namely, that the promoters aren't really offering a job.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENS?

Here's what happens: once you send your money, you're likely to get a letter telling you to get other people, even your friends and relatives, to buy the same envelope-stuffing "opportunity" or another product. The only way you can earn money is if people respond to your solicitations the same way you responded. The promoters rarely pay anyone.

Promises of big earnings through an envelope-stuffing scheme are false. But if you are tempted to send any money or sign up to receive more information, ask the promoter:

• Who will pay me?

• Where is your business located?

• How long have you been in business?

• How and when will I get my first paycheck?

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

• What will I have to do?

• What is the total cost of the envelope-stuffing program?

• What will I get for my money?

• Will I have to pay for supplies, ads or postage?

The answers to these questions may help you determine whether an envelope-stuffing opportunity is appropriate for your circumstances.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CHECK OUT COMPANU NAMES?

It also may help to check out the company with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau in your community and the community where the company is located, which you can find at bbb.org. You can find out whether they've received complaints about the promotion that interests you, but remember — just because there aren't complaints doesn't mean the promotion is legitimate. Unscrupulous promoters may settle complaints, change their names or move to avoid getting caught. In addition, consider other people's experience by entering the company or promoter's name with the word complaints into a search engine. Read what others have to say. After all, you are making a decision that involves spending your money.

WHAT IF SOMEONE HAS LOST MONEY ALREADY?

If you've spent money and time on a work-at-home program and now believe it may be a scam, contact the company and ask for a refund.

Let company representatives know that you plan to notify officials about your experience.

If you can't resolve the dispute with the company, file a complaint with the following organizations:

• The Federal Trade Commission. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraud and deception. Visit ftc.gov/complaint or call

1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

• Your local postal inspector. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigates fraudulent mail practices. Visit postalinspectors.uspis.gov.

• The Attorney General's office in your state or the state where the company is located. Find yours at naag.org; the office will be able to tell you whether you're protected by any state law that may regulate work-at-home programs.

• Your local consumer protection offices.

• Your local Better Business Bureau, which you can find at bbb.org.

• The advertising manager of the publication that ran the ad. The manager may be interested to learn about the problems you've had with the company.