January 23rd, 2017

The Check Cashing Scam Is Still Around

One of the scams I’ve seen here and there for years is the check cashing scam. It’s still around, but now the FBI says it’s targeting college students. That makes now a good time to review that scam so that you won’t fall for it and you might be able to help others avoid it as well.

The scam is pretty simple. You answer a job ad, and your supposed employer sends you counterfeit checks. You deposit it in your account, keep part and send the balance back to someone as a wire transfer. In this particular version, they may claim you’re sending the money to a vendor to buy equipment or other supplies for the job. You won’t know that the check is bad until it’s too late.

When you look at it, the scam ought to be easy to spot. This doesn’t keep people from falling for it, of course. Legitimate employers do not send you payment before you’ve even started to work, for starters. They also don’t generally send you a check and tell you to go through their vendor to buy the supplies you need for the job. You certainly don’t normally wire money to a vendor to pay them.

A legitimate employer will either expect you to buy what you need on your own or send the equipment and supplies to you themselves. I occasionally see job listings that say you will be allowed a certain amount of money to buy equipment, but that’s not likely to be mixed in with your regular pay… especially when you haven’t actually started yet.

This kind of scam can make your life very difficult for a time. Your bank account could be closed due to the fraudulent activity. You will have to pay bank back for all the money. You may have shared personal information that will make it easier for your identity to be stolen.

Scams like this are why you should always be careful when applying for work. That means here on this website, on your college job board, or any other job board. If something sounds wrong, check into it more carefully before sending in your personal information. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak and financial trouble by avoiding work at home scams.

As a general rule, if you see a job opportunity of any sort, but something seems off about it, be careful. Scammers are often not native English speakers, and this may show in the job ad. Misspellings, strange capitalizations and poor grammar are clues that something might be wrong. Too much money for too little work is another clue.

If you are scammed online, you can report it to the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/. You can also report it to the police. Local police may be limited in what they can do about an online crime, but it can be helpful for them to know what’s going around.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 28th, 2016

Home With The Kids Top Posts For 2016

2016 was quite a year for many people. I know some who are ready to bid “good riddance” to 2016. I’d rather look back at the positives, as the year was far from all bad. Right now I’d like to take a look at the posts that did well here.

One of the most popular ways to market an online business these days is through social media. It’s not always easy to get started or keep going, so I wrote 16 Vital Tips to Get Your Social Media Marketing on Track. Hopefully people continue to find it useful.

Amazingly enough, work at home scams are no longer in the FTC’s top 10 complaints. I know I’ve received plenty of calls from people claiming to be from Windows support and even one claiming to be from the IRS. All scams, and important to be aware of, but when you want to work at home, you need to know the scams. I like to think that The Work at Home Job Seeker’s Guide to Scams is informative in that way.

One of the big things I got done this year was the setup of my home office. It took a lot of planning, but generated some good blog posts. I started out writing about how to set up a productive home office in late 2015, and when my office was finally complete in July this year, I wrote My New Home Office Is Up And Running! SmartDesk Review. In case you’re wondering, I still adore my sit-stand desk. It was well worth the price. I don’t stand as often as I should, but when I remember to do so, it’s there.

Later in the year, I had to deal with the other use of my home office space, that of a guest room. I wrote What To Do When Your Home Office Is The Guest Room about the options you have to keep working at home when your office space is not available to you for a period of time. So many home offices also function as guest rooms that it’s important to have a plan for those times that a guest needs the space.

It was a shock to many people when Amazon Banned Outside Incentivized Reviews. Most who use Amazon as regular shoppers were really happy that they would no longer see outside incentivized review there. On the other hand, websites that connected products to people willing to review them on Amazon had to rework their Terms of Service to comply. Some still send codes for free or discounted products to participants, but there is no longer an obligation to review them on Amazon.

I started the Home With The Kids Work At Home Job Board a while before I got around to posting How to Use the Home With the Kids Online Job Board. The job board is pretty easy to use and I intend to keep improving it as a resource for job seekers and employers.

I’ve seen a fair number of medical coding jobs at home, and so I created How to Get Into Medical Coding at Home. Spoiler: It’s not necessarily easy, you will need to pay for training, and you will probably need experience before you can work at home.

I wrote Your Work at Home Job Hunt – Are You Prepared? early in 2016, and no doubt it will continue to be useful for job seekers into the new year.

Some of the posts I put up featuring employers who were hiring at the time were quite popular as well, but I won’t link to them here, as I don’t know if any of them are still hiring. I’ll feature more currently hiring employers in the new year, to keep that going.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

November 1st, 2016

What Is the Worst Work at Home Advice You’ve Ever Received?

What Is the Worst Work at Home Advice You've Ever Received?

There’s a lot of advice about working at home out there, some good, some bad. Recently, I decided to find out what the worst work at home advice people have ever gotten is. Trouble is, after contacting several sources, I only got two responses, both through HelpaReporter.com. I liked them, and so I will share them now.

The first comes from Samuel Wheeler of SD Equity Partners. It’s a real estate equity firm in San Diego that has several remote employees. They were given this advice at a networking event!

“What your employer doesn’t know, won’t hurt them. Leave out non-important details that may make you look bad.”

I cannot stress how wrong this is. A good employer wants to help every employee succeed. Without a transparent flow of information companies cannot help their employees grow. Companies succeed by collecting data, analyzing the data, and creating new policies to help both the staff and the business succeed.

Telecommuters that leave out details, especially negative ones, are hurting themselves in the long run because their company will not know or be able to help due to lack of information. People make mistakes from time to time and good companies will not hold mistakes against their employees.

I have to agree that failing to tell your employer about things just because you’re worried about looking bad is a really bad idea. Good communication between employer and employee is vital, and all the more so when you aren’t in an office together.

This doesn’t mean you need to tell your boss everything that happens in your work day, but if it has to do with your job performance, they generally need to know. You might be surprised at what they can do to help you. It might not be right away, but the only way things will get better is if your employer knows! Swallow your pride and admit it when there’s a problem.

The next response came from Max Robinson of Ace Work Gear. It has to do with working late at night.

I’ve worked from home for the past 7 years of my life, and although I was excited to start with I was very nervous as well, so I asked a friend of mine who worked from home for advice. She said that the best thing about working from home is that you don’t have to stick to a 9-5 schedule, and that she tends to do most of her work late at night. I tried this for a week and found it to be terrible advice. It takes me far longer to get work done at night as my brain tends to shut off after 9pm, so I had a very unproductive week! I much prefer to get up early and get as much work done as I can in the morning, so I can relax during the evenings and get a good sleep.

This is a more personal preference, but there’s a very good point to be made here. What was good advice to his friend was terrible advice to him. She loves working late at night, while he doesn’t function at all at night, and prefers to get things done early.

What you should take away from this example is that you need to set your work hours by when you are most productive whenever you can. Don’t assume that you have to be a night owl or an early bird to be productive at home. Work when it’s best for you, not when someone else says is best.

I can think of other examples of bad work at home advice, such as “work at your kitchen table.” It’s necessary for some people, but if you have alternatives, it’s not ideal at all. It’s too noisy, and it’s hard to make a good setup that won’t be disrupted regularly. The same goes for working on the couch or in your bedroom. You’re better off if you can dedicate a small home office space with a door you can close. Not everyone can do that, but it’s the ideal.

Then there’s keeping your kids around while you work. I’ve been able to get away with that the entire time I’ve worked at home, but it is not a good idea for everyone. Some jobs require your full attention or a quiet room, and if you have children underfoot, that isn’t going to happen. Be realistic about how much of a distraction your children are when you need to work, and figure out a babysitting exchange, have local family members help if they’re willing, get your spouse involved during the hours they’re home… find a way to handle the distraction that comes from kids and watch your productivity soar.

So much work at home advice is bad because it shows that many people don’t take working at home seriously. They treat it more as a hobby than a job or business. If you want to succeed, that’s not a good idea.

I’d love to hear from any readers about bad work at home advice they’ve received. It’s fine if it’s bad due to your personal preferences rather than advice that’s bad for everyone. Just share advice that hasn’t worked for you personally.

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 14th, 2016

The Work at Home Job Seeker’s Guide to Scams

The Work at Home Job Seeker's Guide to Scams

You don’t hear as much about work at home scams as you used to, but they’re still out there. It’s just that they’re no longer in the FTC’s top 10 complaints. Other type of scams are currently more common. But if you want to work at home, you want to know how to avoid the ones that are likely to be a problem during your search.

FTC complaints

Here are some ways to recognize that someone might be trying to scam you as you look for a work at home job.

They Really Want Your Bank Account Information

It’s reasonable to share your bank account information when you’re signing up for direct deposit of your paycheck with your new job. Direct deposit makes getting paid so much easier, especially when you work at home. Otherwise you have to wait for your check to come through the mail. But an employer who is too interested in your bank account information is more likely to be a problem. If they’re more interested in your bank account information than your qualifications for the job, it’s probably a scam.

Don’t share your bank information until you are confident that the job is the real thing. This isn’t always easy to figure out, but pay attention to what your potential employer is saying and doing to figure out if they’re real.

Email Address Isn’t From the Company Domain

fake work at home job leadsMany popular work at home companies now have warnings on their websites about scammers pretending to be with them. One of the simplest ways to recognize this scam is when they use an email address from someplace other than that company’s domain name. Usually it’s a free email service such as Yahoo or Gmail. Others will register a similar domain and try to fool you with emails from that server.

If you think you’re in contact with a company about a job, but you aren’t certain, check the email address you’re communicating to them with. If it’s not clear that they’re legitimate, contact the company on your own, through a source you know is legitimate. A contact link or form on their website would be a good choice once you know you have the right website. These companies whose names are falsely associated with scams due to these people would rather you contact them and ask, right or wrong. Both of you will be happier knowing that you aren’t going to be scammed and blame the wrong people because the scammers fooled you.

Pay Is Too High For the Work

Being overpaid sounds so nice, but it doesn’t happen for most of us, especially for the kinds of jobs offered in “easy work at home” scams. They’re often oddly simple sounding jobs claiming to pay thousands of dollars a month, or hundreds for a basic task.

It’s just not realistic. No matter how desperate you are to earn money from home, be realistic, especially about earnings. It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Any time a job offer or business opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If the work is too easy and/or the pay is too high, be careful. There’s likely a reason you feel that way.

The use of all capital letters or lots of dollar signs or exclamation points are indicators of a scam as well. Real job listings don’t need them.

They Want You to Pay

Be extra careful any time a potential employer wants you to pay for anything as a part of applying for that job. Sometimes it’s legitimate. There are employers who expect you to pay for a background check and are legitimate.

Others are just a scam. They’ll claim to have an application fee or something along those lines. An employer should pay you, and the costs associated with finding new employees should be on them, not on applicants.

Common Types of Work at Home Scams

Work at home scams go beyond fraudulent job listings. These are some common scams you can learn to recognize without contacting them for more information.

High Priced Training for Business Opportunity

Starting a business isn’t always easy, so it sounds nice when they offer training to help you get started. The problem is that sometimes the training is expensive, not that helpful, and the money people earn from referring others to training may be the main way they earn from that business opportunity.

Check Cashing/Money Orders

Check cashing and money order scams prey on your greed. Sometimes the check or money order arrives unsolicited, with instructions to do a “mystery shop” with it, cashing the check, keeping part, and wiring the rest to the company scammer.

The catch here is that the check or money order is fraudulent, and suddenly you are on the hook for the entire amount. You may even be in legal trouble if there is any indication you knew it was fraudulent.

Don’t let greed beat out common sense. There is no place that it makes sense for someone to send you possibly thousands of dollars as a money order to cash, have you keep a couple hundred and wire the rest back to them. If they really needed to mystery shop a place that way, a much smaller amount would do, and they’d work with a standard mystery shopping company.

If you receive one of these checks or money orders, do not cash it. Take it to your bank or the police and explain your concerns. Sometimes even banks will be fooled for a short time, but if you cash it, you’re liable for it. You don’t need that trouble in your life. It’s much better to give it to the professionals who can use it for evidence against those who tried to fool you.

Typing/Data Entry Scamsdata entry scams

Doing data entry from home sounds so easy, and sometimes you’ll see an ad promising great pay for it. The problem is that it’s too easy. Most times I see real data entry jobs, they’re in an office, not at home. After all, if it were already in the computer, they wouldn’t need you to type it in, would they?

If you want to type from home, learn how to do transcription – there are more jobs in that area, although you will be competing with voice recognition software. The software isn’t good enough yet to entirely beat humans out, so there are still jobs out there.

Most often, these opportunities are some sort of ad posting. You don’t have a job; rather, you’re trying to earn affiliate commissions by placing ads on websites. You’ll have to pay to find that part out, of course.

Job Boards With a Fee

Many online job boards, such as the one I run here, are free for job seekers to use. Others charge a fee. There can be very good reasons to pay a fee, but make sure you know what you’re getting into. Some of them don’t give you anything worthwhile. Do your research before paying for any job board. You want to know what their refund policy is in case you aren’t satisfied even if it looked good from the outside.

Reshipping

The reshipping scam has been around for a while. Basically, they tell you that you will receive packages from sellers that need to be repackaged correctly to be shipped elsewhere.

What’s really happening is that they’re paying with stolen credit cards and such. When the fraudulent payments are discovered, it’s your address investigators will come to. That’s not something you want to get mixed up in, as it can mean jail time.

Envelope Stuffing

Here’s a scam that predates the internet. Someone advertises that you can make money stuffing envelopes, just send them a few bucks and they’ll tell you how.

Want to know how? You do the same to the next suckers down the line. No product, just tell people how to advertise this exact same opportunity. It’s not legal.

Email Processing

Email processing is essentially the same as envelope stuffing, just done online. You place ads telling people they can make money online, just buy your system. You send them the instructions on how to do the same thing you’re doing. Just as with envelope stuffing, this is not legal.

At Home Assembly

When you love to do crafts, assembling items at home can sound appealing. 99 times out of 100, it’s a scam. You’d probably be better off taking a chance on starting a business selling things you made yourself than trying to assemble things at home for someone else.

Usually you’re expected to pay for supplies, then get paid when your work is up to their standards. It won’t happen.

Pyramid Schemes

Pyramid schemes have been around for a long time. They come in many forms, and not all of them involve money directly. Most recently, I saw one that was about sending books to each other – each person would send books to those above, and recruit others to send books to them, who would recruit others, on down the line. It doesn’t matter what is being sent through the pyramid; the point is that pyramid schemes are illegal.

Sometimes these are hard to spot, and you will always see participants claiming that their version is legal. If it’s a pyramid scheme, it isn’t legal.

Job Offer Out of the Blue

Some companies will contact people completely out of the blue with an apparent job offer. This one often goes with a check cashing or money order scam, but may be something else as well.

Seriously, unless you have some serious skills for one job or another, companies aren’t likely to seek you out. That’s especially true for jobs such as mystery shopping, where they can find candidates with relative ease because the basic requirements are low. If you aren’t doing the kind of work where companies use headhunters to find new employees, it’s extremely unlikely that a potential employer has picked you out of nowhere. Be wary.

That doesn’t mean you’re immune if you have better skills. It’s easy for scammers to imitate any kind of a job offer. Know who you’re really dealing with when you get a job offer so you have a good chance of getting paid.

Medical Coding and BillingMedical Billing Scams

Medical coding and billing is one of those tricky ones. There are legitimate ways to learn medical coding and billing from home – Career Step (aff) is one of them. It’s not cheap to learn from legitimate sources, which can make scams look appealing.

Medical billing scams will claim to offer you training and resources to help you, and may give you a list of doctors who might need your services. The problem here is that most doctors and hospitals have their billing and coding done through a service. If you’re highly experienced, you might be able to find clients on your own. But training on your own with poor quality resources? No.

Even if you go through a good quality training program, most times you won’t be able to do medical billing and coding at home until you have a least 2-5 years experience in an office. It’s not that easy a job, and you’re usually best off learning it with more experienced people around you so you can ask questions.

Many billing and coding jobs also expect you to have accreditation from AHIMA or AAPC. Anyone who tries to tell you that you can do their course and find clients just like that once you’re done probably isn’t legitimate. AHIMA has a list of coding programs they approve of, and I would suggest you look there. As of this writing, Career Step is on there. I expect them to remain there.

Turnkey Websites

If a business opportunity comes to your attention claiming to offer you a turnkey website, be very aware of the chances of a scam. It’s very difficult to make money off a turnkey website – they’re competing against other identical sites, and so don’t tend to get natural traffic. Income potential is often greatly exaggerated.

There are times when a company website makes sense. It’s not uncommon for network marketing opportunities to include a website, but you’re sending people to it through your own marketing efforts, which are often more local. If they’ve been at all honest with you, you should know what you can and cannot expect from your company website.

They Don’t Care About Your Qualifications

Any job that doesn’t care about your qualifications is likely to be a scam. Even jobs that don’t need experience want to know if you have had other jobs, if you’ve volunteered, what your education is and so forth. They want to know what kind of an employee you might be.

You should also expect an interview where they’re very interested in your answers to some challenging questions. Anyone who has worked an entry level job can tell you that they want to talk to you for a while first. The job offer does not come just based on your resume. Employers want to know something about the person they might hire by interacting with them. It may be only a phone call for a home based job, but there should be some kind of serious interview.

Ask Around

When in doubt about any work at home opportunity, ask around about it. Don’t rely on the people you heard about it from, find other people to talk to. This can be as simple as asking a family member what they think or talking to a friend.

You can also discuss the opportunity on a work at home website. Many are good at spotting scams or at least telling you if it looks a little iffy.

Google can be useful, but it won’t always give useful answers. There are people who promote opportunities by targeting the name of the opportunity plus the word “review” or “scam.” It’s not always easy to sort out legitimate reviews from reviews done by people who have a financial stake in it and no problem with lying. I do not mean that all affiliate reviews or sponsored reviews are bad. It’s just that some people aren’t all that concerned with keeping a reputation for honesty and will be positive about anything.

Even though work at home scams are plentiful, there are real jobs and home business opportunities out there for you to consider. Use caution and don’t share your most important personal information until you are certain it’s safe. This includes your social security number and bank account information. Any other information you can protect is good, but those two are the most important.

Know Your Keywords

The right keywords are vital to any job search. “Work at home” is not an ideal keyword. While many legitimate jobs use it, it’s commonly used by scams as well.

I find “remote” to be an often useful keyword, although it can mean something other than a job you can do at home. Some companies use it to mean you won’t be in their main office, but you may be in a smaller one. I’ve also seen it used for jobs where you would be sent to work in another country. Remote indeed!

“Telecommute” and “telework” are also useful. Sometimes these mean that you will work in the office part of the time, but many are fully at home. Freelance can be good if you don’t mind taking on projects rather than getting a regular job with an employer. With any job search keyword, beware of scams, as they can hide anywhere.

Narrow your results down by including the kind of job title you’re looking for or a skill you have. The more specific you are, the better your search results will be. I have far too many people email me asking how to get a work at home job who have no idea what kind of job they want. It’s hard to give advice to someone who hasn’t thought their search through even that much. It also won’t impress a potential employer if you apply to jobs you aren’t remotely qualified for.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

August 16th, 2016

How to Use the Home With the Kids Online Job Board

Home With the Kids Online Job Board

One of my favorite resources I offer here on Home With the Kids is the work at home/online job board. I share work at home and online job leads there – mostly imported from Indeed, but also jobs employers post, as well as other resources. For both job seekers and employers, it should be quite easy to use.

For Job Seekers

Your use of the Home With the Kids Job Board is completely free. You do not have to create an account or share your resume to use it. You can just pick a category and browse the work at home job leads. Most will have you apply either through Indeed or on the employer’s job site, not here.

If you create an account, you can post your resume, keep track of applications submitted through this job board (but not through Indeed or employers) and bookmark job listings. I review all resumes before approving them – spammers sometimes make accounts and try to get backlinks, and no one wants to see that garbage here.

I can’t promise that any employers will notice your resume here – that’s up to them. Most will get plenty of applicants without seeking you out on their own. You do not need to post a picture of yourself with your resume, although you can. If you’re working at home, how you look shouldn’t be a part of the hiring decision making process. Leaving off the picture is one way to limit the chances that it will matter.

You can use a link to your LinkedIn account rather than a resume for your account. I think it makes a lot of sense to minimize the places you need to update as you get new jobs. I would not depend on a LinkedIn account instead of a resume when you are actually applying for a particular job, however. Make it as easy as possible for potential employers to learn what you have to offer.

You can set your resume to public or private. A private resume will not show when employers search the job board. Your email address, phone number and website (whichever of these you enter) will only show to registered employers in any case.

Take advantage of the formatting tools to make the most of your resume if you do post one. You want to look as professional as possible, and a neatly formatted resume is a part of that.

You can select a category for your resume. I would suggest you pick the category of job you are searching for.

I would also recommend customizing your resume for each job you apply for. Use keywords from the job ad. Many employers have resumes scanned for keywords before a person even looks at the resume. You don’t want to have yours dismissed offhand because you didn’t take the time to customize it.

Have Scams Ever Made It Onto the Job Board?

Sadly (hangs head), I have to say yes, they have. I try to avoid scams, but they can be very hard to spot. I remove them as soon as possible once I know, and review what happened to avoid that mistake again.

Some key features to look for include improbable income promises, too easy work for the money, and email addresses that don’t match the company’s domain name. I’ve seen people try to post jobs here using Gmail, Yandex and other free email services. Those are some of the things that makes me look more carefully. Those are free and too easy to make look like the real thing… aside from the domain name.

You may also know it’s a scam if they try to hard to get your bank account information. Direct deposit is a wonderful convenience real jobs often offer, but it’s not information you should give up lightly. Same goes for your Social Security number. Employers don’t need that until you’re hired.

Charging for a background check is not necessarily a sign of a scam. It does mean you should look even more closely at whether or not the job is legitimate. Some good companies do expect applicants to pay for background checks, but other times it’s just a scam.

I’ve written elsewhere on how to spot work at home scams if you need more information on them.

For Employers

Most features of the Home With the Kids Online Job Board are free for you as well as employees. The only pay option as of this writing (subject to change in the future) is to get a featured listing so that your job stays at the top of the list.

You can refer job seekers to your website or have them fill out an application here, and it will be emailed to you, as well as be available when you sign into the job board.

Jobs must be home based. I will accept jobs with small amounts of travel, but the focus here is on parents who want to work at home.

You can upload a company logo if you like, and the interface allows you to format your job description. You can choose the type of job you are posting – part time, full time, freelance, even internships, although I will only accept paid internships. You can also tell people to visit your company website for job openings. I mostly use this for long term listings where the company may not be hiring all of the time. The Imported from Indeed job type is only for jobs I import from that website, not for employer-created listings.

You can also select a category for your job, so that people looking for that type of work have a better chance of finding it. If you don’t see an appropriate category, select “Other.”

I do not post home business opportunities here, including multi level marketing opportunities. You cannot require a financial investment. If you charge for a background check, I will be looking closely at whether or not I want to include your listing.

If I have any doubts as to whether or not the person posting a job for you company is really who they say they are, I may look for alternative ways to confirm who they are and that the listing is legitimate. This may delay the approval of your listing. I personally review all job postings, whether free or paid, so it may take a while for a job to be approved.

Jobs stay active for 30 days unless you or I take them down sooner. It is possible for me to change how long a job posting stays up. If you need an extension, you can either post the job over again or ask me to change the dates.

I usually tweet out the categories with new jobs daily. Featured jobs will get their own tweet and may get a Facebook post as well.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.