You’re excited. A company has just contacted you with an offer for a work at home job, and you’ve been searching for weeks or even months. Finally all your hard work seems to be paying off.

There’s just one problem. They want you to pay for a background check, and you aren’t quite sure you remember the company name. Or maybe you do kind of remember them, but you can’t find any good information about them online or anywhere else.

What do you do?

It’s a sad fact that there are many work at home scams out there, and a popular one is to get people to pay for a background check for a job that doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, a very few legitimate companies also make potential employees pay for background checks, making it very difficult to know for certain what you should do when asked.

Your very first step is to start asking around if someone else knows of the company.  Many work at home message boards have very knowledgeable members who can help you figure out if you should consider taking the chance.

They’ll probably tell you no unless the company is well known.

There’s a simple reason for such skepticism. Most often such offers are scams.

Sure, the cost of a background check doesn’t seem like much. It’s not hundreds and hundreds of dollars, after all.

But that’s what they count on when they send you the job offer. They’re trying to get past your “I can’t afford to lose that much money” radar and give you the feeling that you can afford to risk a small amount if it means you’ll finally be working at home.

When you’re looking for a work at home job, no matter how frustrated you get with the difficulty of the entire process, it’s vital that you not let your guard down. Don’t suddenly start trusting an offer just because you really, really need the job. You have to be a skeptic. It’s the best protection you have.

Your best bets are to always stick to reputable companies that are known for hiring at home employees and resources that provide screened opportunities. If you go beyond these resources in your search, increase your skepticism.

There are legitimate work at home jobs listed even on sites such as Craigslist where anyone can place an ad. But the lack of screening means that scams do get through.

You should be wary if they ask for any money at all. You should be wary if they want your bank account information, even if they say it’s for direct deposit, doubly so if you haven’t actually received any pay at all yet. You should be wary if the pay is oddly high for the work you’ll be doing.

You just plain need to be careful if there’s no proof that you’ve found a legitimate company.

Sadly, a healthy mistrust of unproven opportunities is a good thing when you’re job hunting at home. It can save you a lot of money and heartache.