Last Updated May 14th, 2019

10 Rules To Help You Avoid Work At Home Job Scams

10 Rules To Help You Avoid Work At Home Job Scams

The biggest problem with working at home is getting started. It’s tough! There are more scams than real opportunities out there, and lots of people get sucked in, not knowing any better. There has to be a way to avoid work at home job scams, right?

Actually, there are several ways.

There’s no way to 100% guarantee you won’t fall for a scam, but many are so obvious that you can avoid them just by paying attention.

1. Ridiculously high pay.

If the pay is amazingly high for the amount of effort, it’s probably a scam. Thousands of dollars a month for easy, part time work – scam!

This is particularly common with the classic check cashing or shipping scams. No one is going to send you a check to mystery shop a place and have you send back the excess. That’s not how it’s done. That check is going to bounce hard, and you’ll be responsible. That part of the money you got to keep won’t compare to what you lose.

2. No resume required.

beware of work at home scams

Real employers want to know about your past work experience. They are not going to hire every person who contacts them. They want the best person for the job, and your resume is a part of how they screen out the people they know they don’t want.

Scammers don’t much care about your resume. They don’t care about your past work experience. They want to suck you in quickly and get your personal information and/or money. Resumes are nothing to scammers.

3. Call for information.

Work at home positions don’t have people for you to call for more information. Real businesses are too busy with their business to deal with that many job seekers. When it’s a work at home job on the line, there will be a lot of people calling if there’s a number available, and employers know it.

Scammers want to talk to you. How else are they going to get you to bite? They want to appeal to your dreams of an easy work at home job with high pay. That’s easier to do with personal contact.

A similar scam is on social media, when the company asks you to pm them for details. This happens a lot in groups for job seekers. Legitimate companies will tell you who they are. A request for a pm is either a scam or an opportunity that for one reason or another can’t be posted publicly. If you do respond to one of these, use caution.

4. Ad says “work at home.”

For the most part, legitimate work at home positions are labeled as “telecommute” or “remote” positions. It’s certainly not a featured part of the ad. Real employers want the best person for the job, not the one who first notices the chance to work at home and then the job requirements.

Scammers know people type things like “work at home” into job boards and search engines. Having that phrase feature prominently in the ad is one way to get your attention.

That said, some legitimate jobs will be listed as “work at home.” Consider this a caution sign, not an absolute dealbreaker.

5. “No Experience Necessary.”

scam warning signs

Sure, there are remote jobs out there that don’t require experience. They aren’t that common, however. Working at home is demanding, and employers want to know that you have at least some sort of work experience, preferably in the industry you’re about to start working in. If experience isn’t an absolute necessity, they may call it something more along the lines of “entry level position.”

Scammers, once again, don’t care about your work experience. They count on your desperation to find some sort of work at home.

6. Vague job listing.

One of the great things about the internet is that employers can give details about what they’re looking for in an employee. It’s not like it was when job ads were usually in the newspaper, and space came at a premium.

These days you should expect to see specific skill and/or experience requirements in job ads. Employers don’t want tons of resumes from people who aren’t remotely qualified for the position. They want to hear from people who have as many of the skills listed as possible and a willingness to earn the rest.

Scammers don’t need to give a lot of information. They know the suckers are going to contact them anyway.

7. Pay to show your interest.

Scammers love to talk about how many people are interested in their opportunity. That’s why they need you to send them some money to show that you’re serious about the opportunity. It gets rid of all the people who aren’t serious about this fantastic opportunity you’re going to miss out on if you don’t send in your money.

When was the last time you heard about a company wanting people to pay to apply? Never sounds about right.

8.They want your bank account information.

get out of work at home scams

Some scams will ask for your bank account information, saying they want to direct deposit your pay. Direct deposit is a wonderful thing, you get your money faster, but be careful in sharing your banking information with anyone.

If you want direct deposit for your pay, make absolutely certain the opportunity is legitimate first. You may have to work a while and receive paper paychecks for a time to be certain if the company is not well known. Even if you have researched the company, make sure you’re really dealing with who you think you’re dealing with, as some scams steal the names of legitimate companies to gain your trust.

9. The interview is through Google Hangouts.

I don’t know why it is, but many scam companies like to use Google Hangouts or other messaging apps to conduct “interviews.”

Online interviews are common enough, these days, but Hangouts isn’t where they usually take place. Video interviews or interviews over the phone are more common.

10. They use Gmail or other free email.

Legitimate companies use email addresses set up through their own domains, not Gmail. It’s a great service for individuals, but utterly unprofessional for real businesses.

Scammers, on the other hand, love how easy it is to set up free email addresses. They can often get a free email address with the name of a legitimate company as a part of their email address.

When in doubt, check with the company you think you’re in contact with another way. Go to their website and find a different way to contact them. Companies that hire people who work at home are generally well aware that scammers steal their good names to trick people. They should quickly be able to tell you if you’re really in contact with them.

Knowing how to avoid work at home scams is vital to your work at home job hunt. There are few things as frustrating as falling for a scam. It takes away from the time you could better spend on finding a legitimate work at home job. Do your best to avoid work at home job scams so you don’t waste your time.

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.

Last Updated November 19th, 2018

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

I’m seeing the secret sister gift exchange all over Facebook right now. I have a few friends who are participating, and it just makes me wince. Simply put, the secret sister gift exchange is a pyramid scheme, and illegal.

A lot of people don’t understand that. $10 seems like such a small risk, and it is. But the odds of receiving the promised 6 or 36 gifts is poor, especially since it depends not only on how well you recruit people into it, but how well your recruits bring people into the deal as well.

How Is The Secret Sister Gift Exchange Supposed To Work?

The basic premise is so simple. You send your gift to the person whose name appears at the top of the list you receive. When you send the list to your recruits, you remove the person you sent a gift to, and put the second person’s name at the top. Your name becomes the second name on the list.

There is often a push to do this quickly so that everyone gets their gifts in time for Christmas. Your six people send to the top of the list, and their people, now totaling 36 people, send gifts to you. It sounds wonderful.

Legally, however, this falls under the same laws as chain letters and lotteries. It’s not something you want to mess with. Not many people will get in legal trouble for doing the secret sister gift exchange, but why try your luck? It’s a federal crime, according to the Post Office. It also may be a crime by the laws in your state.

If you have any doubts, check out this notice on Facebook from the USPS. It explains things pretty well.

Do The Math

If you do the math on the secret sister gift exchange, you can quickly see why it will quickly run out, even if everyone finds enough people and everyone sends their gifts. Both of those are pretty iffy themselves.

Six people each finding six people means they need 36 people. Those 36 people need a total of 216 people, who need 1296 people. Keep this going for five more levels, and you need 10,077,696 people. That’s a difficult number, but not completely impossible. Highly unlikely, of course.

It only takes 13 levels to get beyond the entire population of the planet. Even assuming some people participate more than once, it’s not going to happen.

This means it won’t take long at all for people to have trouble finding someone to send gifts. Many people who try to join in won’t get anything in return. Most will simply fail to get a full six people sending gifts, and their people in return will have trouble finding enough people.

You might get a few gifts, but usually, that’s it. Between the number of people needed for everyone to get their gifts and the difficulty in recruiting people, it’s just not going to go that well.

There are also gift exchanges where the focus is on wine. It has the same problem as this one. Just don’t join in. The wine version also presents challenges in shipping it legally.

Talking Friends Out Of The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It can be hard to call this out as a scam. I’ve seen people call friends names for trying to explain why the secret sister gift exchange doesn’t work or is illegal.

I would imagine that most people have trouble admitting the problems with the gift exchange because they’re already invested in it. They’ve promised to send a gift to someone else, or have even sent it already.

It’s worth a try, even if the friend who posts the gift exchange won’t listen. Someone else might.

Be polite when you try to discourage friends from this. No one will respond well if they feel foolish. You should also remember that the people participating don’t mean to scam or cheat anyone. They’re trying to do something fun. No one in this means any harm by it.

That doesn’t change the legal issues. Or the fact that eventually there are people who won’t get anything in return.

Then there’s the risk in putting your personal information out there for random people. You may know all the people you recruit into the gift exchange, but it’s the people they recruit who will be sending you gifts, and they’ll get your name and address too. Are you comfortable with that?

Alternatives To The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It may be better to suggest setting up a basic secret Santa gift exchange, where everyone in a group draws a name and buys for one other person. No grand promises of dozens of gifts. Just a simple gift exchange among friends. It’s much simpler and legal when you avoid the chain letter aspects of the secret sister gift exchange. Best of all, you know that everyone gets a gift.

If you want something to feel good about, donate to a local cause. There are lots of wonderful causes out there, and even a $10 donation will be welcome. You won’t get a gift back, but you will have done something good.

As illegal actions go, this is a minor one, and I doubt many people ever get prosecuted for it. But why take the chance when a simpler gift exchange works just fine?

secret sister infographicClick for full size

The secret sister gift exchange isn’t the usual kind of scam I write about here, but it’s popular enough I consider it worth a mention. If you’d like to learn more about work at home scams, take a look at the ones I’ve covered on this site.

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.

Last Updated September 3rd, 2018

How Do You Know When Your Work At Home Job Interview Is A Scam?

How Do You Know When Your Work At Home Job Interview Is A Scam?

Have you ever had a work at home job interview which made you wonder if the job was a scam? That would be a terrible feeling, wouldn’t it? You’ve looked hard for a work at home job, found something you thought was worth applying for, and then boom! You realize that this work at home job interview is a scam, nothing more.

What a waste of time.

The problem is that it’s not always that obvious that they’re setting you up to be scammed. You have to be alert to the signs of a work at home scam anytime you go on a job interview. These scams can start with jobs you’ve found on otherwise legitimate job sites. You always have to be careful in your work at home job hunt.

Here are some of the red flags to consider:

Interview Is For A Job You Never Applied For

If a company contacts you to interview for a job you never applied for, don’t get too excited. It’s all too likely that it’s a scam.

A few legitimate companies will seek out the resumes of qualified people, but more scammers do this. If a company contacts you out of the blue for an interview, do your research before trusting them.

Most often, they will claim to have found your resume on a popular job site. This means the first thing you should consider is if your resume is even on that site.

But even if your resume is there, that’s not enough to trust the person contacting you. If your resume wasn’t on that site, however, you know it’s probably a scam.

They Want Your Personal Information Too Soon

When you’ve been hired by a company, there’s a lot of information you’ll need to share with them. They need your Social Security Number for tax purposes. They need your bank account information to do direct deposit of your pay. This is perfectly reasonable.

A legitimate employer will not, however, need this information right at the start of the interview process. They will need to confirm at some point that you are qualified to work for them, and that may include knowing where you live and that you’re a legal resident, but that only matters if they’re going to hire you.

Share your personal information only if you’re confident that the job is legitimate. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk of identity theft.

computer desk

They Ask For Money

There are very few exceptions to the rule that if a job asks you for money, it’s a scam. You should never have to pay to show interest in a job. But sometimes scammers are tricky. They can make it sound reasonable.

The challenge is that some legitimate employers have potential employees pay for a background check. This even happens with some outside the home jobs; it’s not restricted to work at home employers.

If a potential employer wants you to pay for a background check, get information on who will be doing the check and whether you will be paying the employer or the background check company. You can then do some research to find out if this is truly a normal practice for that company or if someone is pretending to be them.

A few other companies will hire you as a freelancer and you may have to pay for certain kinds of training. This should also be viewed with caution until you know that the offer is legitimate.

I have never seen any other legitimate reason for an employer to ask a potential employee for money. Businesses should make money from their clients or the products and services they sell, not from potential employees.

Legitimate companies will not ask you to give them money for the equipment to do your job. You don’t need to buy software from them. Legitimate employers will either provide these things to you or expect you to have them already.

They Want To Send You Money To Buy Equipment

Some legitimate work at home opportunities will give you the equipment you need to do your job. Some will give you a budget with which to buy your own equipment.

If they say they’re sending you a check or money order for this, be careful. It could be one of the classic scams.

In this scam, they’ll tell you to cash the check, use part for your needs, and send the extra back. The problem is that the check is not legitimate, and you will be on the hook for the entire amount of the check.

They may even tell you that the money is to be sent to someone in particular, who will then send you the equipment you need. If you stop to think about this, you’ll know that it makes no sense. If they have a company they regularly buy from, they could pay that company directly and have the equipment shipped to you.

Interview Is Done Entirely Online

It’s not uncommon for parts of a work at home job interview to be done online. It’s certainly more practical than trying to do interviews in person.

The most alarming is if they want to interview you only by email, Google Hangouts, or on a messaging app of any sort. Your typical employer wants to actually talk to potential employees, as that gives them a better idea as to how you present yourself.

Skype is sometimes used for job interviews, as are similar apps that allow you to talk to each other, rather than using only text or email.

If you cannot find a way to confirm that the person who is interviewing you is connected to the company, be careful.

Email addresses are an easy way to connect someone to a company. They should belong to the domain owned by the company you’re interviewing with. A Gmail address or other free address is far more likely to be a scam. An email address that is similar to, but not identical to the company’s domain should also be viewed with caution, although some companies have multiple domains.

They Don’t Care About Your Qualifications

Any legitimate employer is going to care that you’re qualified for the job. In an interview, they’ll want to know more about your qualifications and experience than what they saw in your resume. They will ask you questions to draw out the details that are important to them.

Someone who is running a scam wants to lure you in as fast as possible, so they can move on to the next victim.

On a related note, they may also be vague about the details of what you’ll be doing in the job. That’s because they’re either more interested in stealing your personal information or because they know you’ll catch on if they tell you too much too soon.

laptop scam

They Offer You The Job Almost Immediately

Very few jobs hire people during the first interview. Most employers go through a lot of interviews with applicants to find just the right employee for the job. Even if you have an excellent interview, employers usually have to review how all the interviews for that position went, and possibly conduct more rounds of interviews before deciding who to hire. This can take weeks or even months.

A scammer knows that they need to land you quickly or you’ll have more time to realize that it’s not legitimate. They also count on your need to earn money and desire to do so quickly and easily. If you’re so eager to find a way to work at home, you’re an easy target.

The Name Of The Company Isn’t Clear

While some scams will claim to be from legitimate companies, others won’t make it clear if they have a company name at all. Often enough, this is done by someone claiming that they are recruiting for another company. They’ll tell you that it’s so you don’t go to the company directly and that the recruiter wants to be paid for finding you.

It has more to do with the fact that if you contact the company, you’ll find out that there is no job.

If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a job, get as much information as you can about the company and the person you’re talking to. You can look them up on sites such as LinkedIn, and see if the information given matches up.

What Do You Do Next?

There are few things as frustrating as finding out that your work at home job interview is a scam. Your time has just been wasted. It’s a bump in the road of your work at home job hunt. You can’t help but worry about whatever information you shared in that interview.

But you may not be completely helpless. There are things you can do.

If you believe the job opportunity was a scam, you should consider reporting it. The services they used to contact you may be very interested in this information. They don’t want people pulling scams through their services, as it gives them a bad name too.

If the scammer was using the name of a legitimate company, you can contact them as well. They can’t do much to stop the scam, but they’re usually very interested in knowing. This is why some companies have a scam warning on their job pages.

Reporting a scam as best you can is how you can help slow them down. You won’t stop a determined scammer, and arrests are rare due to the difficulty of catching them, but you can make things a little more difficult for them. That’s not a bad thing at all.

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.

Last Updated April 9th, 2018

Work at Home Scam Bingo

Work at Home Scam Bingo

The hardest part of looking for a way to work from home is to dodge all the scams. Today I decided to let you have a little fun while doing so. I’ve set up a work at home scam bingo card for you to play with.

As you go through the various opportunities, see how many spaces you fill up, just as with regular bingo. Not every job that has one of these symptoms will be a scam, but they’re definitely at a higher risk.

B
I
N
G
O
Zero/No Effort Required
Cash a check/money order and forward the excess back to the sender
“As seen on…” without a link proving it
Pay for recruiting rather than making sales
Stuffing envelopes
Work at home job offer sent to you that you didn’t apply for
High pressure to sign up now
Pay $6 to the person at the top of the list…
“Buy our software to get started”
Payment processing
Email processing
Quotes IRS or postal codes to claim legitimacy
FREE
(it’ll cost you later)
“All these are scams, but this similar program isn’t”
“Just post ads”
Palm trees, expensive cars, mansions in ad
Typing at home
Reship a package
Vague job description until you pay
Pay an application fee to show you’re really interested in the job
Job claims to be from a legit company, but the email address is from elsewhere
Data entry by filling in online forms (often actually PPC ad forms)
$7000 a week working part time
Pyramid Scheme
Suspiciously high payback on investment

How do you win work at home scam bingo? By avoiding scams, of course!

Sadly, there are many more ways I could have filled these squares. But it’s not a bad way to get started.

More Tips To Avoid Work At Home Scams

Knowing the obvious signs of a work at home scam is the first step in avoiding them. It allows you to rule out a lot of things with relatively little effort. I’ve written a post with more details, The Work at Home Job Seeker’s Guide to Scams, which can help you learn more about many of the common work at home scams.

New work at home scams appear regularly. Some are new twists on old scams, while others are so tricky that they’re hard to spot.

Some email scams, for example, so closely mirror what you would expect to see in a legitimate offer that you might miss that the domain linked is entirely wrong. Gmail is pretty good at filtering these out, but some still sneak through, and other email providers may not filter them either.

I’ve shared some of the scam emails I’ve received through the years. If you have Gmail or another email provider that lets you look through your spam emails, you might find some amusing scams in there too. Be very careful of any links in these emails, even if it sounds good to you. They were filtered for a reason!

I like to have a bit of a sense of humor about scams. It’s frustrating that so many people lose money to them, but making a game of it, such as work at home scam bingo, makes finding them a lot more fun.

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.

Last Updated January 1st, 2018

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

I get to start this year off with a lovely new scam email I received. It’s pretty simple. It says I have been made a moderator of a YouTube channel. On mine, the channel is called “Have Win Apple iPhone X Get It From: – (link)” – isn’t that a lovely name??? I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that it was a YouTube Moderator scam email.

Here’s a screenshot of the email:

YouTube Moderator Scam Email

Yes, it really does seem that it comes from YouTube. These guys are starting a fake YouTube channel just so they can make people moderators of their channel and try to scam them.

The link in the channel name is the key to this scam. It shows up as a link in the email. When I checked things out in the Google Product Forums, some people had followed it and had even filled out the requested information. Don’t do that, folks. You should know better. Never share your information on sites you don’t trust.

There does not seem to be a way to keep people from making you a moderator on YouTube as of this writing. With this scam going around, I expect that Google/YouTube will be looking at things to find a way to control this scam.

One simple thing they could do is disallow domain names as usernames or in channel names. I don’t know that they would want to do that, however, as I’m sure many legitimate websites name their channels for their domain.

Better might be to say that you can only be made a moderator of a channel you already follow. This seems like a very simple thing to require to show that a potential moderator has already interacted with the channel in some way.

What To Do About The YouTube Moderator Scam Email

First of all, make sure you know the email is a legit one from YouTube before clicking any links in the email. I looked at this one very, very carefully before I reported it as spam and checked to see if the channel was still open so that I could report it. You don’t want to be tricked into logging in at a fake site. You also don’t want your name as moderator on a scam channel, even when it’s likely one of many, and utterly meaningless.

If you get this email, don’t overreact. I saw some people on the Google Product Forums who shut down their YouTube channels over this. I think that’s a huge overreaction. There is no indication that your channel has been compromised just because you got this email.

This scam email is really not a big deal. Hit the “report as spam” link in the email if you like, and go on with your life. YouTube wants to know about these channels quickly so that they can shut them down. They don’t like scams either. You can also go to the channel and flag it as spam if it hasn’t already been deactivated. The YouTube channel in mine had been shut down for violating the TOS. Surprise, surprise.

It amazes me that scams like this can work, but as I saw on the Google Product Forums, they apparently do, even on people who know enough to go to the product forums. Some ways that amazes me, but that’s just reality.

Be careful any time you get an email. Don’t trust it just because it comes from a trusted source. This one really did come through YouTube’s system because they found a way to get their fraudulent link in there. But it could just as easily been a phishing email from start to finish. Pay close attention to where a link really goes before you click one in an email… or anywhere.

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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