Why look for just another job, when you can embark upon a whole new career? Learn about the latest developments in careers for military spouses. With your mobile lifestyle, there are certain portable careers that can offer you and your family stability and future growth. If you have any topics that you would like to see us write about, feel free to email the editor:
Work from home – sometimes it’s too good to be true!

It’s 10 a.m. Your kids are at school, your spouse is at work and you are bored. You want something to do, and your family could use a financial boost.

You needa job.

But you don’t want to deal with afterschool childcare, or work holidays or lose your spouse’s block leave. You want your own schedule, flexibility and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to take your job with you when you PCS.

In other words, you want to work from home.

But while doing so might seem like the perfect solution, work-from-home jobs are not necessarily easy jobs. Nor are they easy-to-find jobs.

The first place many of us turn when we are looking for anything – be it employment, a new car or parenting advice – is, of course, the Internet. Google “work at home” and you get 73,100,000 search results in 21 seconds.  How do you know which are legitimate and which are scams?

“I think military spouses probably in particular are targeted by both legitimate and illegitimate businesses,” said Katherine Hutt, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau. Hutt said that’s because the scammers know military spouses might be vulnerable due to deployments, moving and the other stresses of military life. The BBB has a special “Military Line” to assist military families with any type of complaint against a business, including work-at-home scams.

There are many different types of legitimate home-based employment, ranging from direct sales to starting your own business. And then there are those that promise big pay for little work.

Hutt pointed out that most in that latter category are rip-offs and most of them reel in “employees” on the Internet. “They change their name so often that we can’t keep up with who is operating them,” she said.

Work-at-home companies are one of the BBB’s highest-ranking categories when it comes to complaints. The bureau received 5,582 formal complaints about work-from-home jobs in 2009. The next year, more than 900,000 queries were made to the BBB about companies that offer such opportunities, meaning that many people typed in the name of a company to see if the bureau had any information on file.

Red flags include companies that ask for money up front with nothing in return, or ones that say they need your personal information such as a social security number to run a credit check. One common work-from-home scam, Hutt said, is “reshipping.” A company tells you they need you to open a box and test the product inside, then send it on to a buyer. Often the goods are stolen.

Another example, Hutt said, is the “mystery shopper” scheme. A company sends you a check for, say, $1,000 and asks you to spend $800 at a certain store or on certain products. The extra $200 is for you to keep – but the check bounces.

There are, of course, many legitimate ways to work from home and many people find success doing so.

Army spouse Leigh Timmerman was lucky enough to find the perfect fit for her lifestyle. She coordinates Army Strong Bonds training – usually weekend retreats for couples or single soldiers - for Army units across the country. Timmerman’s role is to attend to every detail from transportation to food to training curriculum. She applied for the job after she saw it listed in a message sent out through a spouse’s group. And since Timmerman’s employer is a government contractor based in Virginia, the “local office” is her own home in Kansas.“I don't have to spend a lot of money on a work wardrobe,” she said. “I can work in my pajamas and nobody will know. If one of my kids is sick, I don't have to take time off of work. I can multitask and do the dishes while I am on the phone with a client, or fold the laundry during a conference call.”

Of course there are drawbacks, too.

“I don't have a staff that can take my calls if I am not in, so I feel like I have to be home from 9-5 each day, or tethered to my cell phone,” Timmerman said. “It is also difficult to get a feel for how your performance is being evaluated when you only communicate with management on an infrequent basis.”

As nice as it is to be home for her family while she’s working, that’s sometimes also an issue.

“Maintaining a professional atmosphere on the phone can be difficult when you have doorbells ringing and dogs barking in the background,” she said.

The Federal Trade Commission is another agency to check for work-from-home scams.  The FTC’s website has information on the latest scams being circulated on the Internet and elsewhere, and also has a section for filing complaints. Hutt said it’s understandable when people fall prey to these types of scammers.“The folks who sell these things are usually really good,” with professional looking websites and a slick sales pitch, she said. “We want people to be very wary.” Her advice is the simple age-old adage we all know but occasionally forget:  “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

Wondering whether a business is a scam, or want to file a complaint? Need tips on identifying scammers or assistance with any other consumer or business issue? Check out these resources:

Federal Trade Commission

Better Business Bureau Military Line

BBB/DSEF tips on direct selling

To check out a business or charity

To find a BBB near you

To file a complaint

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Weekly Poll

Do you have a LinkedIn profile?