The Telecommuting Temp Agency

by Rosalind Mays

Last week, I received another e-mail asking me to please research a company offering telecommuting work. I research offers like these -- on the side and for free -- in hopes that those suspicious of walking into the "hot seat" of a scam will stop before they shell out any money and get an objective opinion before losing their shirt.

This woman had signed up to be an employee of an online temporary agency that specialized in filling telecommuting jobs. So, I went to the website to investigate. At first glance everything looked on the up and up. The income offered was reasonable -- $10-18 an hour. The website looked professional and explained everything clearly. But as I analyzed the content line-per-line and began accessing my considerable knowledge on how temporary agency work, I realized that this was a new scam. Telecommuters beware; this one is good, because it's very professional, unassuming and believable. The reason I want you to be alerted to these flaws is because I'm sure that there are legitimate employment agencies or search agencies that focus on telecommuting jobs. I don't want you to shun real folks actually legitimately finding work for seekers.

Firstly, when you encounter agencies be mindful of how "commuter" or "non-virtual" temporary and employment agencies work.

1. Real agencies don't charge you to register with them. And there is a good reason for this; they want to keep their roles of qualified workers full. A large list of qualified, ready-to-work-at-a-moment's-notice roster is the most effect method of gaining clients (companies) to use their services. Making registers pay a $10 or $25 fee would greatly hamper their list of qualified workers.

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Let's examine a real life situation. Suppose you owned this agency. You had a client that needs someone with medical transcription skills. This client is willing to pay your agency $30 an hour for this temp. You quickly assess that any work-at-home mom would be happy with $15.00 an hour. But you must find a temp right now to satisfy the new client! All the people that paid the $20 register fee do not have medical terminology knowledge. But someone calls that day with the required skill but does not have the $25.00 fee. Or perhaps, several people have come across your website in the past weeks and they have the needed medical terminology knowledge but could not pay the $25.00 fee so they did not apply. Do you see how a fee would hamper an agency's profits? That's why employment agencies and temp agencies don't charge in the real world! If they charged such a fee, they would have to legally guarantee that they could find work for each worker. No one can viably do that.

2. The registration fee for paperwork and such. Administrative costs. My answer to this is - that's a bogus line. All businesses have administrative cots. The charges they put on the employer should cover administrative costs. Actually it's covered when the agency charges $18 an hour for a temp that is being paid $10 an hour. So actually, they are double charging you; if they actually get you work.

Also, this is a way of getting around the guarantee issue. They can't charge you to register without the guarantee to find you work, so they say send $15 or $25 for "administrative" costs. Well have you ever filled out an employee form for an agency? They have you fill out about 10 pieces of paper and put it in a folder. They then place your name in a database. That's about a half hour (if it takes that long) of work. You're willing to pay someone $15.00 to put some forms in a folder?

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3. Did they ask for a resume? I don't know about your experiences, but whenever I visited an employment agency they asked for my resume. Went over my work experience line by line. Tested me quite extensively and made sure I was qualified to meet their client's needs before even registering me.

If the agency asks for the administrative fee before examining your resume or interviewing your skills, then that's what you get . . . someone who takes your money. You won't get a job. Agencies are very interested in qualified people because the real money is in the on-going income from the client.

Think about it, if they had the potential to "make" $5-10 an hour just by placing a worker, do you think they'd even care about your measly $15-$25 one-time bucks? Nope!

One the client side of this agencies' website, there was a notice that for companies to register; they had to send a $100 retainer. That's when I knew that this was not what it seemed. A company would never do this! They don't pay until they are provided with a service, an employee. How do they know this person will actually send them qualified people? Do you know what temp agencies do when companies call looking for a temporary employee?

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1. They do a credit check/business check

2. They sign a contract with the company and open an account

3. When they place an employee, they bill the company for the time

4. If the company does not pay, they pull the employee, begin collections and ultimately sue.

So now you are acquainted with the true signs of an agency scam . . .

1. You don't pay to register

2. You don't pay for administrative costs (it's tax deductible for the agency)

3. You offer your resume, references and subject yourself to tests and that's it!

4. Check out how they handle client accounts

5. Ask them if they can you with a list of clients?

I can sleep easy now -- another scam bites the dust.

Happy Hunting!

Rosalind Mays is the author of Telecommuting Millionaire?"

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