My father used to tell me “When something comes in like fireworks, run the other way”. His advice rings true (on so many levels!) but particularly when someone is looking for a legitimate home based business opportunity.

The internet, coupled with a sluggish economy have made home-based business opportunity seekers more vulnerable than ever to unscrupulous companies and individuals peddling work-at-home scams and get rich quick schemes. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom looking for a way to make money from home while raising your family, someone looking for a second income, a career changer or a retiree, I’m sure you’ve come across websites or business opportunities promising that you’ll make thousands of dollars each month with very little effort.

And, there’s a big difference between work-at-home opportunities vs. home-based businesses. When you launch a home based business, you are the owner and work for yourself. When someone offers you the opportunity to work from home, you work for them. And, as a rule of thumb, if you find a business opportunity, distributorship, licensee opportunity or franchise that offers you the opportunity to work-from-home for their company but they require that you pay money to them first, beware. These are generally scams.

Below is a short list of some of the most notorious online “work-from-home schemes”. If you’re searching for a home based business online and feel confident that one of these opportunities is the right fit for you, I advise you to do your research and ask questions!

• Envelope stuffing

• Craft/product assembly

• Rebate processing

• Claims processing

• Multi-level marketing companies where money is generated solely as a result of your recruitment of others

• Posting ads online

• Check cashing

• Contract typing where you pay for a lead list of potential clients

• Name and address collection services

• Mystery shoppers

The bottom line is that the rewards of operating your own home based business are tremendous but they require time and effort. If a company or website promises overnight riches consider it “fireworks” and run the other way.