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 September 11th, 2018

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

Most of the time when you look at a work at home job opportunity, you only have to worry about whether the job is legitimate. If the company is real, and they pay you, most of the time you’re in good shape. But there are a few cases where you may need to consider whether the work you’re doing is illegal or unethical.

It may seem strange that this is possible, but it is. Just because the company treats you well doesn’t mean they’re behaving properly to everyone.

Some issues are a matter of location. Laws may vary from state to state, so what is legal where you are may not be legal elsewhere. It’s entirely possible that it may come back to bite you even if you are somewhere where the work you’re doing is legal if you provide services to someone in a place where it is not.

essay writing

College Essay Writing Services

College essay writing services are one of those special cases where you should really think about what you’re doing. Writing for pay as such is legal, but in some states writing college essays for pay for someone is illegal. Consider California Education Code Section 66400:

“66400. No person shall prepare, offer to prepare, cause to be prepared, sell, or otherwise distribute any term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material for another person, for a fee or other compensation, with the knowledge, or under circumstances in which he should reasonably have known, that such term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material is to be submitted by any other person for academic credit at any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher learning in this state.”

Or Florida Statutes Section 877.17:

“It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to sell, offer to sell, or advertise for sale any term paper, thesis, dissertation, essay, or report or any written, recorded, pictorial, artistic, or other assignment which the seller or advertiser knew or reasonably should have known was intended for submission by a student, unaltered to any substantial degree, in fulfillment of the requirements for a degree, diploma, certificate, or course of study at a university, college, academy, school, or other educational institution in the state.”

It’s a second degree misdemeanor in Florida.

Essay writing services try to get around these by saying that the papers are for use as guidelines, or for use in citations. You should decide how much you’re willing to trust these disclaimers before accepting such work.

Illegal or not, you should also consider the ethics of the matter. Are you comfortable with what your work would be used for? How would you feel about someone who had used essay writing services to make it through college, rather than graduating entirely on their own merits? Then there’s the risk to the student if the college catches them using a service. No college allows students to buy papers – all work must be your own.

legal or illegal

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing opportunities can be legal or illegal, depending on how they’re done. There are plenty of legitimate companies which focus on making sales rather than recruiting. But there are too many companies which are pyramid schemes and are illegal.

The difference is in the focus. Is the company more interested in how many people you recruit or how much you sell? Some recruiting is necessary for any multi-level marketing program, but it shouldn’t be the main thing. Too much focus on recruiting is one of the signs of a pyramid scheme.

Also look at the claims made about the products you’re selling. Companies, as well as individual recruiters, can make inappropriate claims about the products they sell, and if you make those claims, you may be liable for it.

You especially see this in any products related to health. Any claim about curing, treating, mitigating or preventing actual diseases has to be proven. Don’t make health claims that aren’t backed up by studies. There’s a fine line between stating your own experience with a product and making a health claim that might get you in trouble. If you’re looking at joining a company that makes any such claims about their products, find out how they back it up. Not only are such claims illegal, they’re as unethical as can be when they’re wrong.

Beware of making income claims too. Overstated income claims are all too common, and can get people and companies into trouble. There’s a huge difference between what top earners make in an opportunity and what the average person makes. The FTC expects income claims to be what someone can actually expect to make. Appropriate disclosures must be made before a new distributor can join.

The Business You Start Might Be Illegal

Illegal work at home opportunities aren’t only scams that you fall for. Sometimes people start a home business and don’t realize that they’re breaking the law in doing so.

The first thing you need to do to ensure that your home business stays legal is check the zoning in your area. Check your lease agreement as well if you’re renting.

If your home business is completely online, you’ll be just fine in many places. Not everywhere, so you still need to check.

If you’re seeing clients in your home or if you have products stored in your home, the rules are often more strict. Anything that impacts the traffic in your area is more likely to be an issue.

Most city websites will give some information about how to run a legal home business. They’re common enough, after all. But if you can’t find the information online, you have to go to the appropriate offices to ask.

While you can run a home business a long time in many cases without getting caught, it’s a risk you shouldn’t take. Getting caught can result in fines and you may have to shut your business down until you can make it legal again.

boxes

What About Other Illegal Work At Home Jobs?

Most other illegal work at home jobs I already list in the scams section. Often enough, the illegal part hits victims fast enough that they won’t make money – they’ll be out money.

Take the reshipping scam, for example. You receive goods at your home and send them off to someone else. It turns out that the goods were paid for with a stolen credit card or counterfeit check, and you have now helped them in that crime and can be in legal trouble yourself. They might even pay you with a counterfeit check or money order. It’s just a nasty business all around.

Then there are the classic envelope stuffing or email processing scams. They’re pretty much the same thing – when you respond to the ad, you get instructions on how to place the same ad and have people pay you for the instructions. You might make some money, but the method you’re using is illegal. There are several variations on this theme, but they all amount to the same thing.  Just don’t.

I haven’t names every illegal job you could do at home. If you have your doubts about a work at home job or home business opportunity, investigate it and make sure it’s neither a scam nor illegal, and that you’re comfortable ethically with what you’re doing.

What To Do If A Work At Home Job Is Illegal Or Unethical

Deciding what to do when you realize that a possible work at home job may be illegal or unethical can be hard to do. It may not be easy to figure out how to report it.

You can find some good advice on recognizing scams and frauds and how to report them on the USA.gov site. Most often, you can report to either the FTC or the ICC.

If the legality depends on location, there may be little you can do. Certainly you can try to report it locally, but there will be only so much local law enforcement can do.

Of course, none of what I’m saying here is legal advice. If you’re concerned about any of these issues, take a careful look at what concerns you and decide if advice from an attorney is necessary. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you keep aware of the law.

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 February 26th, 2018

How Safe Are Work At Home Jobs?

How Safe Are Work At Home Jobs?

Being scammed is one of the big fears of every work at home job seekers. If you’ve done any research at all about working at home, you know that it’s a real concern. But the question is, how concerned should you be? How can you find safe work at home jobs?

In part, this depends on how you look for a work at home job. If you use the right resources, it’s fairly safe. The wrong ones, pretty risky. No matter how you look for a work at home job, there are things you can do to make your work at home job search safer.

Know The Signs Of A Work At Home Scam

The most important thing you need to know when looking for a work at home job is what the signs of a scam are. Knowing this will help you avoid them.

This will help you even if a scammer is using the name of a legitimate company to fool you. It happens – in fact, some companies that offer work at home jobs have warnings about this on their sites because it’s such a problem.

Your classic work at home scam will offer too much money for too little work. That’s the essential basis for scams such as the check cashing scam. They send you a check or money order for hundreds or thousands of dollars, tell you to keep a couple hundred for yourself and wire the rest back to them. It works on some people because they get greedy. The idea that you can earn hundreds for a half hour’s work, including driving, is pretty appealing to many people.

Poor grammar and lots of typos are often indicative of scams. Many come from people who do not speak English as their native language, so when they try to scam someone who speaks English, it’s not written the same way a native speaker would write it. It may also help to weed out those who are too aware, as the ones who dismiss the scam due to how it’s written may be too likely to see through it. Scams prey on the unwary.

I’ve written quite a bit about work at home scam on other occasions. Read these for more detailed information.

The Work at Home Job Seeker’s Guide to Scams
How to Spot a Work at Home Scam
4 Work at Home Scam Emails
What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?
The Check Cashing Scam Is Still Around

Know The Kind Of Work At Home Job You’re Looking For

It’s much easier to fall for a work at home scam if you have no idea what kind of work you’re looking for. This is because generic terms such as “work at home” are used to attract you even when you don’t have a type of job in mind.

I see so many people do this. They ask for help to find a work at home job, with no information beyond that because they haven’t thought that far. They want the advantages of working at home but haven’t truly considered it beyond that.

Know what you’re looking for. Are you open to a home business, starting a blog, etc., or do you only want a work at home job? What kind of job do you want? Do you have work experience? What skills, even if you haven’t used them in a job?

Being specific allows you to narrow down your search quickly. That’s vital for a safe work at home job hunt. It won’t guarantee that you avoid all the scams, but it helps.

Use Trusted Resources

Perhaps the best way to have a safe work at home job hunt is to use trusted resources to find a work at home job. I aim to have this blog and my remote job board be that kind of a resource.

If you aren’t certain about the kind of jobs you’re looking to do at home, for example, you can try my list of entry level remote jobs or my list of remote jobs with benefits. Either will give you a good number of places to start your search.

Even trusted resources can fail you. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone through my list of companies to find out that one or another has gone out of business since I last checked. That puts the company’s domain at risk for being used by scammers. Things change fast on the internet sometimes, and it’s not always for the better. This is why you must always use caution in your job hunt.

Use Caution With Your Personal Information

Always be careful when sharing your personal information online, especially your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank information.

Some legitimate companies have been known to ask for your Social Security number during the application process. I recommend trying not to share that until you’ve been offered a job – they don’t need that information until then.

Some companies will ask for credit card information to pay for a background check. I’ve never liked the notion of potential employees paying for a background check, but that’s how some companies do it. Be very, very certain that they’re legitimate before taking a chance on this.

Companies shouldn’t need any banking information until they’re paying you, and so that should never be shared in an application.

Anyone who is too eager to get your personal information too quickly should be eyed with caution. It might be normal for their particular business, but it’s not a good idea for you to go along with it too easily.

Places You Shouldn’t Look For A Work At Home Job

There are some places that are very high risk in your work at home job hunt. I would recommend avoiding these in general.

Street Signs & Public Bulletin Boards – You’ve probably seen the signs on the street or on bulletin boards advertising work at home or easy money opportunities. These are almost certainly scams. You may get the occasional person trying to recruit their downline for a network marketing company (a risk of a different sort), but many others are flat out scams.

Newspapers – Job offerings in newspapers can be legit, but how many people actually look in newspapers for jobs anymore? The scams that get posted in newspaper ads are looking for people who aren’t that savvy. You’re better off using your trusted online sources so that you can do research on the jobs you find during your search.

Newspapers are also too localized to be much good for work at home jobs. You might find one or two, but you can find so many more if you search online.

Comment Spam – How often have you seen spam comments on blog posts, forums, and social media advertising easy money earned from home? They aren’t honest. Usually, they just tell you to post ads of the same sort and make money on commissions. That’s not an honest model.

Craigslist – There are legitimate work at home jobs posted on Craigslist, but there are also scams. The community can flag the postings to shut them down, but they may still be up for a while. You’ll also find business opportunities claiming to be job opportunities. I’ve always hated that sort of deception, but people use it.

Can The Better Business Bureau Help You Find Safe Work At Home Jobs?

Many people will tell you to check with the Better Business Bureau when looking for work at home jobs. I’ve done so in the past, but these days I think there are better ways to figure out if a work at home job opportunity is, in fact, a scam.

Many people don’t realize that the Better Business Bureau is not a government agency. They are themselves a business. Companies pay to be members.

That said, sometimes you can use them to spot a scam. Just don’t use them as your only source, because they can’t tell you if someone is using the good name of a real company to scam you. They’re only helpful if scamming potential employees is all the business seems to do.

Know The Risks Of Home Business Opportunities

If you decide that your work at home job hunt is going to end with a home business opportunity of whatever sort, know what the risks are before you join.

Network marketing opportunities, for examples, are highly appealing to people who desperately need to earn money from home. Promoters can always point to the people who have earned a ton of money from the opportunity. You can usually check out the product before you join so that you know it’s something you’d like to do.

What often gets swept under the carpet is how many people lose money on these opportunities. Some people will lose thousands of dollars trying to keep up a good supply of products to sell. Most people who join even the best of the network marketing opportunities do not thrive at it. Others do very well, but it’s a risk you must be willing to take.

The same goes for blogging, much as I love it. You always hear about the people making five figures or more a month blogging. It sounds wonderful.

From what I’ve heard, most bloggers earn less than $100 a month. Is that a chance you’re willing to take?

The great part about blogging is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything. If you decide you want to blog, I recommend spending a little on it, as good hosting and domain name aren’t free, but they are cheap. The risk is pretty low, and you don’t have to spend more until you’re ready to take that chance. Choose the right topic, and blogging is fun, regardless of the money made. I strongly recommend trying to earn money from your blog, just because it’s so awesome when it works, so long as you don’t overspend trying to make it happen.

Be careful of blogging courses and such. Many high income bloggers have them, and income from selling their courses may be a significant part of their income. Taking their course doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do equally well. The right course might just be a wise investment. The wrong one will be a waste.

The same goes for any other home business opportunity. Know the risks before you risk too much money. There are times when spending money is the best path to improving your home business. Other times it’s no better than a scam aimed at home business owners.

Safe Work At Home Jobs Can Be Found

If you give your job hunt time and don’t give in to desperation, safe work at home jobs can be found. Take the time to look over every opportunity carefully so that you know what you’re getting into before you share your personal information or spend any money. Do it right, and you’ll avoid most scams with ease.

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 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.

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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.