Many people make mistakes when they’re trying to find a work at home job. There are so many wild promises out there, it’s easy to do. But if you know what you should and should not do you can keep yourself out of much of the possible trouble.

Do:

Do know the difference between a work at home job and a home business.

Also know the which one you’re really searching for. Knowing whether you want a job or want to start your own business can really help you to focus on the right kinds of opportunities and help you to avoid a lot of scams. For the rest of this article, I’ll be assuming that it’s jobs you’re looking for.

Do have your resume ready.

Just as with any other job, potential employers may be interested in your work history. You’ll probably want to customize it a little depending on the particular job you’re applying for, but having a basic one ready is a big help.

Do your due diligence.

Don’t forget to be careful about what you do apply for. If you got the company name and contact information from a trusted source it’s probably okay, but sometimes companies or websites do change hands. Pay attention to what they’re asking, and when in doubt ask for opinions from other people. People on work at home message boards can be very helpful.

Do consider whether paying for access to a work at home job database works for you.

This is very, very different from paying to show interest in a job, paying for a job, etc. The payment is for resources and links to work at home jobs you probably won’t find elsewhere. It’s not for everyone and you may be able to land a job without buying a membership to a database.

If you do buy, make sure it’s a reputable one. There are more bad databases than good ones. Home Job Stop has an excellent reputation as a good, regularly updated resource.

Do know what common work at home scams look like.

There are some basic signs of work at home scams, many of which I’ll be covering in the “Don’t” section. Reading up on work at home scams in general can be a big help in weeding out the false leads you will almost certainly encounter.

Don’t:

Don’t pay to show you’re serious.

Somehow this very basic scam works, probably because it’s generally a fairly low payment. But you wouldn’t pay to show you were serious about an outside the home job, would you? Same principle, and legitimate employers won’t ask you to do this.

Don’t trust jobs that promise oddly large pay for easy work.

It’s not true. If working at home were as wildly profitable as some claim, we’d all be rich. That’s especially true when you’re looking at jobs rather than home businesses.

Don’t assume websites have screened all of their ads.

Even huge websites often don’t have full control of the ads on their sites. It can be problematic, but it’s true. If you find a bad ad it doesn’t hurt to let the website owner know about it so they can do what they can to get rid of it.

Don’t give out your checking account information too easily.

Direct deposit is a wonderful way to get paid. It saves so much trouble. But don’t share anything as personal as your checking account information until you know that this is an employer you can trust.

Similarly, think before sharing your social security number. Legitimate employers will need it for tax purposes. But if the application asks for it and you aren’t 100% certain you trust the employer, just fill it in as zeroes. If you can, indicate that you will fill out the proper form when necessary. This may make it a touch harder to get the job if the potential employer doesn’t like having to get the information later, but it’s a small detail if you’re really qualified.

A little caution goes a long way when you’re working for a work at home job. Be smart, ignore the hype, do your research and you can cut your odds of falling for a scam way down.