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.

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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.

Last Updated 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.

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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.