There are a lot of people who suddenly have no money coming into the home. A big part of that is the loss of unemployment benefits and Congress refusing to pass through emergency payments; Un-Merry Christmas from your elected officials.

So now you’re scrambling to find ways to make money, and of course you head to the internet because you have a computer. You find all these ways of making money that you never knew existed. And some of them look really easy to do, and say you can make lots of money. Who-hoo!

Hold on; put on the brakes. The internet is known for some of the best scams you’ve never heard of, at least until now. There are scams that tell you that you can make money stuffing envelopes. There are scams that tell you that you can make a lot of money reviewing products. There are even scams telling you about all those government jobs that are available, just waiting for you to apply for them.

There are a few ways to know that you’re being scammed. Some might take a day or two to find out, but most you know right up front. Here they are:

1. If you have to pay someone money to get the information, it’s a scam. There are plenty of job sites that say jobs are waiting for you if you’ll only pay $XX.XX. Don’t do it, ever. Reputable employment firms never charge you for them finding you work.

2. If the dollar amount you can make seems to grossly outweigh the amount of work you’re purported to do, it’s a scam. One of the most popular is the envelope stuffing scam; you pay for them to tell you how to create ads telling other people about stuffing envelopes. By the way, this one isn’t only on the internet; you’ve probably seen the fliers posted on poles somewhere near you; same scam.

3. If any offer you get involves you doing something for another country in some fashion, it’s most probably a scam. I don’t want to say it can’t happen, especially if you’re in a technical field, but if you see that it’s going to cost you something then it’s most probably a scam.

Now, I do have to temper this by saying there are sites you can join that aren’t scams, where there are projects listed that you can bid on. Most don’t cost a lot of money to join. The way you can tell the difference is that these sites also have a free component so you can test drive it to see if it’s the type of thing you want to be associated with. Although I personally wasn’t impressed, there are some people who like sites like Guru and eLance.

Overall, if it looks suspicious, listen to your inner voice and go in a different direction. There are other opportunities for you that will be much safer.