Honestly, I have a hard time with this as well. I tend to be skeptical at first of just about any opportunity such as this. Anything that offers fast wealth, instant success, or a large investment is one I would automatically ignore.
Beyond that, do a lot of homework. Do several web searches on the company name, and any variations of the company name you can find on their site. If you find NO results, this is a red flag - they are either too new, or have just changed their name to hide a disreputable history. If you find just a couple of bad results, dig further with the BBB and more searches. It could be a red flag, OR, it could be their competitors trying to drag them down.
Read your search results carefully as well. It's quite easy to get a lot of phony reviews written, so watch for things like duplicate reviews, glowing, scripted reviews that sound just a little too phony and polished, or a pattern in the way the reviews appear.
Read guarantees carefully as well. Some places offer a "money back guarantee" only to find that they will keep a $150 processing fee.
Also read up on common scams such as payment receiving services, in which companies find individuals to take payments for stolen (or nonexistent) merchandise.
In the end, if you are really interested in a company, pick up the phone or send them an email. If you can't find a real person to talk to, move on.
Question added to topic Starting a Business • August 21, 2007
How can I differentiate between the scams and the legitimate jobs?
A lot of career sites have job posts that boast home-based work. How can I differentiate between the scams and the legitimate jobs?
Wendy Piersall is known for her expertise as an online publisher and social media marketing authority. She has worked with brands such as Epson and Kmart to develop and implement strategic web 2.0 marketing campaigns to target women online as consumers and as business owners. She is also the founder of the Sparkplugging blog network and speaks frequently on the subjects of social media, entrepreneurship and the online publishing business.