Did the perfect work-from-home opportunity suddenly appear as you were hoping to earn more cash for the holidays? Be careful, many of these jobs are scams. There’s a variety of ways we can be tricked into thinking that time in between laundry loads can actually be lucrative, but they all have one thing in common: cash up front for either materials, delivery fees, licenses or any other starter costs that are being concocted this very moment. In the end, though, you pay to play but don’t make a dime. Here are the most common ways you can work yourself out of money:

Think time in between laundry loads can be more lucrative? Look out for these work-from-home scams.

Think time in between laundry loads can be more lucrative? Look out for these work-from-home scams.

Medical Billing: This may sound like a great idea to us moms who are no strangers to medical bills. We know they’re real, we know they exist and darn it, we’d like to be on the receiving side of the action. Well, the promise of processing medical claims may kill your bank account. The sales rep says you’ll “invest” hundreds or thousands of dollars in exchange for everything you need to launch your own medical billing business, including software, client lists and technical support. But instead you get out-of-date lists that include doctors who haven’t asked for billing services. The software they send might not even work. And they don’t mention that competition in the medical billing market is fierce, leaving few to find clients or generate any income at all.

Mystery Shopping: Spending other people’s money for clothes or restaurant dinners is a dream come true. Ads for “mystery shoppers” promise that in exchange for your retail efforts, you report the experience in exchange for money. Most – most – of these are scams, particularly if you’re told to pay for certifications (they’re worthless,) directories, or job guarantees. Others ask you to deposit checks and wire some of the money back, before you and the bank find out the check is fake, and you’re responsible for paying it back. Do not – we repeat do not – pay to get into the mystery shopping business.

Assembly or Craft Work: Who doesn’t love craft work in exchange for cash? But if you have to invest hundreds of dollars for equipment or supplies — like a sewing or sign-making machine from the company, or materials to make aprons, baby shoes, or plastic signs – then consider this a hobby, not a job. Rest assured, your work will  not be “up to standard”  – no work ever is – and you’re left with equipment, supplies, and an empty wallet.

Make-Up or Luxe Sales: These are multi-level marketing companies and here’s the difference between real ones and scammers: legitimate companies pay you commissions for products you sell and for sales made by people you recruit. Those that survive on recruiting new participants are likely pyramid schemes, which are illegal because the vast majority of participants lose money. As for written information about how much money most people make AFTER deducting their expenses. And do not be distracted by claims of luxurious lifestyles and fantasies of quitting your job.