From the E-mail Bag:
Dear Rat Race Rebellion: My husband and I are retired, and my background is in bookkeeping. I’d like to supplement our retirement income, but I’m not looking for a full-time work-at-home job. I just need something to help pay the bills at the end of the month.
A friend of mine recommended data entry jobs. But when I search for them online, I don’t have much confidence in the results. They look like scams. Can you help? — Carla, Chicago
Dear Carla: We get many queries about data entry jobs; it’s one of the most sought-after types of home-based work. The scam artists, who track job-seeker preferences more closely than economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, know this. They also know how scarce data entry jobs are, so they design their scams accordingly.
We screen 4,500 to 5,000 work-at-home job leads weekly for RatRaceRebellion.com, and currently only one out of 62 is legitimate. As bad as that “scam ratio” is, it’s even worse among data entry leads. You are right to be cautious.
Most data entry work goes offshore to India, the Philippines and other locations where labor is cheaper. The best way to find data entry work is to approach smaller companies directly. Look for newer companies that are growing rapidly. These are more likely going to need administrative help. Start with local or regional companies, where you can actually visit and introduce yourself before taking work home.
Start by putting up a basic website with your credentials and a photo — GoDaddy.com offers simple and inexpensive options with fill-in-the-blank templates.
Get a professional e-mail address. Then identify decision makers, e-mail them a short “bio” (a brief summary of your qualifications), and follow up with a phone call. As an independent contractor rather than an employee, you’ll also have an edge, as recession-wary companies currently favor “contingent” workers.