Business Columns & Blogs

Action Line: Learning the difference between a job offer and a fee-based membership

A reader: My husband responded to an ad on Craig’s List for a job with Home Inspectors of America. They are located in Denver. It sounds like a good deal but after my husband responded to the job offer, the guy asked for my husband’s credit card. Is this a legitimate offer?

Action Line: You are right to question any job offer where the company wants you to pay to get a job. It is really easy for scammers to list employment offers online where they try to get personal and financial information. You did the right thing coming to BBB to check on the offer before you gave them your credit card information.

With the information that you gave me I was able to identify the company as Home Inspectors of America, or Home Inspectors of Colorado. The company has an A- rating with BBB. The company is registered with the State of Colorado as an LLC and began business in 2008. The BBB of Denver has a full report.

According to the company’s information you were sent in an email, the company is not offering employment, but rather they are offering fee-based membership. The offer is to become a member of a home inspection organization. In exchange for your fees, they will provide “training, certification and insurance.” They also state they will provide “proprietary checklists, inspection agreements, marketing and training materials that you will use to perform inspections.”

Here are tips to keep in mind for any membership offer:

  • Assess the benefits to see if the membership best fits your needs and provides the value you are looking for.
  • As a rule, never sign anything or make a commitment before you get everything in writing. Then read it and make sure you understand it, before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Find out what the rules are for cancellation in the event you find the offer is not for you or you simply change your mind.
  • Find out what the requirements of membership are. You may be required to have specific training, continued education or other requirements to join.
  • If you are looking at a company that you haven’t done business with in the past, contact your BBB to check them out.
  • Also, licensing for home inspectors varies from state to state. California does not require licensing.

The state of California established regulations in 1996 covering home inspectors that define terms related to paid home inspections and establish a standard of care for home inspectors, among other things.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or