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Innovative Internet technology makes working at home more of an option for some people searching for opportunities in a down economy. But some opportunities are nothing but a scam.
Victoria Murray sits at her computer and answers up to 60 calls a day for LiveOps. It’s an Internet based virtual call center company. About 20 thousand call agents across the country, like Murray, answer calls from customers for pizza orders, infomercial products and insurance policies.
“You have to have your insurance license in your residential state, so I was already licensed by the state of Ohio. I had to have a telephone interview and that’s just they wanted to hear you speak to make sure that you did not have a real thick, thick accent, because you’re speaking to people all over the country,” said Murray.
Murray says since she already had a computer and home telephone she spent about $80 for a police background check and $100 to upgrade her security system on her computer before getting the call center job.
While other businesses have cut back on positions, LiveOps is expanding. Its headquarters are in Santa Clara, California, but agents are spread throughout the country. Vice President of Community Operations, Tim Whipple.
“They generally start out in a shared call center environment where they might take calls from a particular infomercial that just aired on a cable network then they might take a call for a radio ad that ran during morning drive time,” explained Whipple.
Whipple says the company uses a technology called “cloud computing”, so that computer programs can be shared among users. It enables the company to link its program with call agents across the country.
“The technology we use is the platform we use that is uniquely enables us to take phone calls from anywhere and distribute those to agents who are set up have been certified and have the attributes to take a specific call,” said Whipple.
Agents who are certified for insurance products earn more money per call. LiveOps worker Victoria Murray says she can earn about 600 dollars a week before taxes when she works 20 to 40 hours. Less skilled agents earn minimum wage up to 15 dollars an hour.
Columbus Better Business Bureau vice president, Joan Coughlin, had not heard of Live Ops before our interview. She has since discovered the call center operation is BBB certified in California and Florida. Coughlin says more companies are advertising for Internet-related jobs, but there are many phony businesses on-line.
“We now are seeing scams coming in so many different forms. Individuals being targeted on the Internet through job-posting boards, Monster.com, different job boards where they’re advertising to work from home, get rich-quick opportunities,” explained Coughlin.
Coughlin says the number of calls inquiring about home-based Internet businesses increased by close to 50% over the past 2 years. That’s when the economy tanked and many people found themselves out of work.
20 year old West side resident Michelle Holiday wishes she had known about phony job offers. Last fall, she thought she had a job as a mystery shopper for Minto Marketing in Canada. She received a check for $2125 to work an assignment. She was told to deposit the check and send back all but $300 to the company. But then she realized the check was bad.
Sb “So it was a very upsetting yet awful experience probably for being 20 years old and just starting out with a family and trying to get back on your feet to take care of your family. I really regret it now,” said Holiday.
Holiday is at home right now taking care of her 5 month old son and waiting to start Cosmetology school. She and her boyfriend are repaying the bank in monthly installments.
BBB spokeswoman, Joan Coughlin says job hunters need do their own investigations.
“There are some legitimate options out there, but you really have to do your research you know as consumers it’s really up to us to make sure you have everything in writing,” said Coughlin.