We've all seen them before, whether they're in the form of a flashing banner at the top of our favorite website or in a piece of junk email that somehow escapes the filter of our inbox. "Make money the easy way!" the ads proclaim. "Fill out surveys online and earn big bucks!"
And while most of us have dismissed the exclamatory promises of easy money along with the likes of Matthew Lesko, one of our patrons approached the Reference Desk and wanted to learn, for once and for all: are any of these companies -- or their offers -- legitimate?
After perusing a few helpful online articles devoted to consumer protection against Internet scams, our answer to the above question is: probably not. If it sounds too good to be true... well, you know the rest.
While we wish we had more encouraging news for our patron, we tried to accentuate the positive by directing them to helpful reports like "Get Paid to Read This Column!" from the Consumer Reports' WebWatch organization, "A Smart Job Search Is a Safe Job Search" by the folks at Monster.com, and "Internet Crime Prevention Tips" from the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Reading these articles won't guarantee you fast money, but taking a gander will increase your awareness about Internet scams, so they'll prove their value in the long run.
The economic climate seems impossible right now, we know. But try to keep the faith and look out for yourselves!