– Solid Plan or Total Scam?

This is our objective, independent review of Income At Home. See full disclaimer below for more information on how is not associated in any way with Income At Home.

You may have heard about various work-from-home business opportunities on the radio or on television., in particular, has been endorsed by Dr. Laura, Mike Gallagher, and Sean Hannity. It's usually advertised with the URL: IncomeAtHome[number].com.

But what exactly is Income At Home? Is it a legitimate business opportunity, or just a scam?

I signed up to receive the information package, and here’s what I found out:

Signing Up with Income at Home

The welcome package for the program costs a cool $39.95, plus $9.95 in shipping and handling. However, to initially sign up, you only have to pay the shipping fee. If you decide the system is not for you within two weeks, you can send the package back and avoid the additional $40 fee—although you do have to pay for the return shipment yourself.

I also noted that the two-week turnaround time started from the date you sign up, and not from the date you receive the package. Since it took five days to receive my information in the mail, it meant I had to hustle to get it back to Online Business Systems (the other name for Income at Home) and avoid the additional fee.

After I requested the information package in the mail, I started receiving emails and phone calls from my assigned coach, T. This gentleman wanted to talk to me about my goals through the program and answer any questions I had.

The Income at Home Decision Package

The decision package consisted of a booklet of information, including testimonials from successful Income at Home / Online Business Systems participants, plus a DVD and an audio CD.

I probably should not have been surprised to see that the booklet did not include any concrete information about what you would be selling through the program. Instead, it talked about how this program leverages the power of the internet and the importance of aging Baby Boomers to the economy.

In addition, every page included a smiling picture of a successful business owner along with their story of leaving behind a day job and making amounts as high as $6,000 per month. Undercutting these statements somewhat was the following disclaimer found on each page:

“While real and verified, the earnings of the individuals depicted are not representative of the income, if any, that you can or will earn through your participation in this method. Some individuals worked in the system part-time while others worked full-time. The incomes depicted are representative of some of the most successful participants and the majority of individuals earn less. These figures should not be considered as guarantees or projections of your actual earnings or profits. While most participants do not generate a profit, leaders (the top 25% of participants) were paid an average compensation of $2,900 in 2011. Your success in this method results only from successful sales efforts, which require hard work, desire, diligence, leadership and personal talent.”

Income at Home DVD Information

The Income at Home Internet Business Starter Pack, Image courtesy of[/caption]At this point, I decided to watch the 20-minute DVD to see if it gave any more illumination into what exactly a participant would do.

Over the 20 minutes of the program, approximately 18 were spent highlighting just how wonderful it would be for me (and was for the successful participants) to work from home.

When the DVD program’s host finally got around to describing the system, it was still couched in very vague terms.

Apparently, the system leverages three emerging global trends: Health and Wellness, Home Based Businesses, and the Internet. There was a brief mention of health products and how they helped some of the participants/users to lose weight and gain energy. But the name of these products was not provided.

Other than stating that you would not have to sell these products to friends or family, there was no clear indication of how sales would take place. Because of the frequent mentions of royalties and the fact that your program could be working for you 24 hours a day, I began to suspect that this was a multi-level marketing scheme.

Calling the Income at Home Coach

I finally returned T’s calls, only to find out that he couldn’t talk because he was home nursing a sick baby. As a stay-at-home-parent myself (who had only found time to talk when my toddler took a nap), I found myself unwillingly identifying with T. He said he’d call me back when he could.

Less than 10 minutes later, my phone rang. It was T’s coach, who wanted to make sure I had my questions answered. She told me that she had been working at doing this for several years and had more than replaced her former income as a nurse. She also let slip that T had only been in the business for less than a month. All of this together made it clear to me that success in this system comes from leveraging some sort of multi-level marketing.

Sales and Numbers from Income at Home (IAH)

T’s coach played an audio clip for me that explained in more detail what to expect from the program. It finally spelled out what product IAH participants are selling: Herbalife.

In some ways, hearing this name was a bit of a relief. It was a real company I had heard of. However, that is likely playing on psychology. I had heard of Herbalife, but only because I’d seen infomercials for it. And the build-up of not knowing what company it was made the name recognition seem that much more important to me.

The audio clip went over some of the same information I had already seen and read in the information packet. But it also finally spelled out what I would have to do in order to take part. There are two options available:

  1. The first is to become a basic Herbalife distributor. For $59.95 (which T’s coach later said was $70), I would receive all the necessary tools to do direct sales of Herbalife. Just like a Tupperware or Party Lite consultant, I would need to find people who want to purchase the product through friends and family.
  2. The second option is the internet package. For $399, I would receive a package within 2 days that would allow me to sell solely over the internet, without having to bother people I know. The details were a little hazy, but I was assured that there was a turnkey internet system that means anyone could use the internet to make money on these products. A training manual would be included with the package that would take me step-by-step through the process of becoming a stay-at-home entrepreneur.

The Bottom Line on Income at Home

I am extremely uncomfortable with any business model that does not make its practices clear from the very beginning. Income at Home (or Online Business Systems) is set up in such a way that it is difficult to say no, which is part of the reason why you are assigned a coach and not given any specifics until you are on the phone with them. I have no doubt that some individuals can make a good living off of a program like this. These are the same savvy salespeople who can do so well with Mary Kay and other multi-level business programs.

However, for most of us, there are much better options for work-from-home businesses that do not require a $400 outlay and somewhat sketchy practices. Just as an example, I personally have managed to start a career as a blogger so that I could stay at home with my son.

It’s taken me two years to get to the point where I am making about the same that could earn in a full-time job, but I have entirely based my career on something I am passionate about. And starting my work-at-home business didn’t cost me a penny.

My guess is that two years after plunking down $450 to become an Income at Home / Online Business Systems participant, most people will still be working the jobs that they hate and have a IAH decision package gathering dust somewhere in their home office.

To be fair, Income at Home / Online Business Systems stated that it was not a get-rich-quick scheme every step of the way. But it is still trying to tempt individuals into a sales position they may have zero aptitude for. A better bet is to find something you are passionate about and do what you can to make it pay. It might take time for it to become a career, but it’s time worth spending.

Editor's note: I love this type of research. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Kudos to Emily for going the extra mile with this one.

Do you have experience with the Income at Home program? Are you a successful Herbalife salesperson? What do you think about the Income at Home marketing methodology? Smart or deceptive?

Legal Disclaimer:

Income At Home is a registered “trademark” of Centurion Media Group, Inc. a Barbados Corporation. is strictly a blog and review site and is in no way affiliated with Centurion Media Group Inc., Income at home,, Online Business Systems, or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates nor does incomeathome sponsor or endorse any statements made on the blog and review website or any blog posts to this site. Statements made on the homepage of website and all blog posts are solely the opinions expressed by the owner and not those of

About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher and respected personal finance blogger. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her engineer husband and two high-energy little boys. She has written four books: The Five Years Before You Retire, Choose Your Retirement, Making Social Security Work For You, and End Financial Stress Now. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.


  1. MelanieRogerHillam says:

    Even though I had sworn off MLM businesses, I gave this one a try because they had a lead generation system.  I suspect most of the money being made had nothing to do with Herbal Life products being sold, but by the system owners selling the leads and marketing system.
    The IncomeAtHome crew has “parted ways” with Herbal Life and now are doing the same thing with another company – Vemma.

  2. moneymatters says:

    I’ve heard the radio commercials for these folks for years, and have often wondered what they actually were. I assumed they were something pretty scammy or a MLM type thing, but never looked into it. Now I’m glad I didn’t.
    Like someone else right after I graduated college i was looking for work and got suckered into an “interview” for a job, which turned out to be more of a pitch for MLM type thing. I got out of there quick and never went  back. Not my cup of tea.

  3. Wow. A MLM “business” built on top of another MLM “business.” I only saw the commercial recently on a major television stations sub-channels. Very deceptive.
    I hope people who are tempted to call and pay for the information do some vetting and run across this article. I never thought that the scheme would lead back to Herbalife. I thought it would be some kind of link-baiting website building pyramid.

  4. NealFrankle says:

    This is a great piece that exposes this business and I would conclude it IS a scam.  Anytime you have to work that hard to figure out what you are selling, it’s a scam in y book.  If the product is great, they’d be loud and proud.

  5. Lazy Man and Money says:

    This article made Mary Kay seem legit, but there’s a lot of analysis showing that Mary Kay destroys half a million women each year: and (a great article, but subscription only).
    As for HerbaLife, I looked at it a bit earlier this year and they couldn’t say whether they were legit when asked by Wall Street: Pyramid Scheme Questions Cause Herbalife to Lose 3 Billion Dollars –
    I found later that a U.S. Court ruled that HLF appears to be an endless chain scheme (which is similar to a pyramid scheme and similarly illegal) in 2009.  Problem is that no one has really brought this case before any court.  There’s really no money in it for anyone except the lawyers and HLF has some pretty high-up lawyers.  CNBC also covered this in good detail:
    Finally some 99.42% of people lose money in HerbaLife:
    As for this IncomeAtHome thing, it’s a scam on top of a scam.  It sounds like they’ve charged you money just to introduce to a terrible business opportunity in HerbaLife.  They had to be sneaky and not mention HerbaLife up front, because if they did, you’d sign up directly and not pay for their sales pitch about health care, the Internet, etc.  Then they want to charge you $399 for tools to be successful.  It’s like selling shovels to gold prospectors knowing that the gold is already gone (to the people at the top of the pyramid).
    If you are looking for legit Work from Home, stick with the stuff that Clark Howard suggests here:

  6. Nunzio_Bruno says:

    I thought this was a great post because I had to do something similar to talk my brother out of one of these types of “businesses”. He was being courted and fed material through a company that promoted health and fitness products and that he knew a few of his friends were also getting on board. Talk about market saturation lol. Nice investigation and I’m with you on companies needing to be upfront with their practices, expectations, and even missions.

  7. AverageJoeMoney says:

    It’s interesting. A friend is talking to me right now about a product that sounds really interesting. What’s keeping me from it? The product is sold through MLM channels….which just about throws out all the good stuff. If Herbalife is a great product, how come it takes so many interactions before you even know what it is? I know zippo about Herbalife–it might be awesome–but just the long approach before you even know the product makes me weary.

  8. GaelicWench says:

    It takes a special kind of personality to make a business such as this to work, since it involves sales and knowing how to sell by convincing your potential distributor.
    I sold Shaklee shortly after my son was born 28 years ago. I know that the couple who talked us into getting involved was always on our backs about staying on track, inviting us to meetings to learn of ways to present the products, etc. There was a lot of pressure.
    I believed in the products themselves, truly! But they were and still are fairly expensive. They have to be in order for the distributors to get their share of money as well as those above him or her. That’s where the multi-level scheme happens. But no matter how much they talked to me of the potential for a free trip, a company car that was mine to lease, the amount of profit potential, I was not convinced.
    IMO, I felt that the amount of work output always exceeded the amount of money coming in. Like I said, it takes a special kind of personality…..I don’t have it. My strengths are elsewhere for which I use daily at my place of employment.

  9. Every time I’ve ever looked into something like this a red flag goes up in my head when they won’t tell me at the outset how one generates income, what is being sold, etc.  Great post.

  10. This was a great piece.  Thanks for sharing!  I once got suckered into attending an Amway Global meeting by someone who knew I was a recent grad looking for full time work and it gave me the creeps.  This sounds like a similar process, but then again, all multi-level marketing is pretty much the same.

  11. I agree with the editor.  I have no interest in what income at home is and would never participate in something like this but the research and information provided here made this interesting enough to read on until the end.

    • Philip Taylor says:

      @ahathaway Thanks for your comment. I want to do more of these pieces here on PT Money. Even though, like you, I would never buy into one of these deals, I always am intrigued by them…what’s really behind them, you know? Emily did a great job of exposing this thing.