Today’s work world is vastly different than when Labor Day was first celebrated more than 130 years ago.

Today, more and more people are working from home for companies halfway around the country or even the globe. But with this new flexibility comes a new risk of falling victim to scammers looking to take advantage of people wanting to work from home.

The scams can promise work on medical billing, data entry or starting an online business, but they all require paying something up front. Once you start paying, the requests for more money for training never stop. In return, you get a lot of useless information or requests to recruit more people into the scheme.

There are genuine work-from-home jobs out there. The trick is knowing how to spot the real opportunities in a sea of empty – and costly – promises.

Research other people’s experience. Try entering the company or promoter’s name with the words “complaint,” “reviews,” or “scam” into a search engine. Read what others have to say. After all, it’s your money on the line.

You also might try checking out a company with your local consumer protection agency, your state Attorney General, or the Better Business Bureau – not only where the company is located, but also where you live. These organizations can tell you whether they’ve gotten complaints about a particular work-at-home program. But remember: just because there aren’t complaints doesn’t mean the company is legitimate.

If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 for guidance and support. For information about other scams, sign up for the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud.

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