Are you searching for a way to make an income to support your family by working from home? Maybe you had a medical emergency or unexpected car repair that quickly depleted your hard-earned savings, so you’re looking for a way to replenish your bank account. It’s also possible you've decided working from home is the best plan moving forward for yourself and your family, for whatever reason.
We know making ends meet is often stressful. Fortunately, there are many entry-level side gigs and part-time positions that can be performed remotely and independently to best fit your schedule and availability.
Yet, like many jobs and positions, not every advertised remote job posting is legitimate. In this article, you’ll learn to spot the difference between a good opportunity for remote work and a fake job posting designed to rob you of your cash and, sometimes, your identity.
There are hundreds of great reasons people choose to work from home, and when you first start looking, it can seem like the wild, wild west of opportunities. But it doesn’t take long to figure out that many of those shiny jobs are scams.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands have been looking for WFH opportunities, creating the perfect environment for scammers to cash in.
Work-from-home job scams usually sound too good to be true, with exceptional pay and/or benefits. Another scam warning is when you’re offered a job even though you lack the qualifications needed to perform the work.
If they offer to hire you even though you haven’t completed the typical steps to obtain a job — interviewing, submitting your resume, or making sure you’re set up with the equipment necessary to do the work — it could be a scam.
But don’t expect scammers to always wave these red flags. When it comes to looking credible, scammers have become very savvy and will create elaborate fronts to entice victims by conducting professional interviews and sending official-sounding offers of employment.
It’s up to you, the job seeker, to act as a detective, so you can separate a legitimate company from scammers. Once you know the telling signs, you can easily sort through scammers to find an actual company to work for.
It should come as no surprise that, as human beings, we like to feel good. What's something that makes us quickly feel happy and hopeful? The prospect of landing a work-from-home job that pays well, includes benefits, and requires little to no effort on our part. Yes, we love to feel happy, but we can be pretty lazy when it comes to making it happen.
So when the opportunity for such great fortune crosses our paths, we're quick to react with hope and eagerness.
Scammers know how eager we are to find a good job, especially one where we can work from the comfort and convenience of home. When we show our desperation, they know we’re on the hook, and all they have to do is reel us in. Unfortunately, the pandemic made us even easier to target.
With so many people forced to stay home, either based on their own health conditions or the circumstances of loved ones, the number of people looking for remote work has skyrocketed over the past several years. This creates opportunities for scammers to target people looking to get back into the workforce.
Sometimes our gut will warn us of a work-from-home scam, but we find our hearts wrestling with our better judgment because we want what the scammers are promising. Trust your gut until you can prove it wrong.
Here’s a list of obvious warning signs:
Never give anyone your personal information like a social security number, address, credit card info, or bank information until you know for certain they are legitimate. If you agree to work with them, it’s acceptable to ask for payment through a third party like PayPal or Stripe until you feel comfortable doing business with them.
Not to be a downer, but companies typically have hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants for each position. If you applied but obviously didn’t meet their hiring criteria, and they quickly offered you the job, take a step back and do some digging. This is a highly unusual practice for any company unless you have a contact within the business who gave their recommendation to hire you.
If it sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s probably a scam.
Companies never give away money for nothing in return. If they say they do, they’re probably not legit.
Remember the adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If the only information you find online is what they’ve provided to you, be wary. Very few companies can operate successfully without an online profile, standard business email addresses, reviews, or news of some kind.
If your questions go unanswered or get lost in a flurry of responses – don’t let it go. Keep asking until you get a satisfactory answer.
This is another way scammers avoid too many questions. They play hard to get, so when you do hear from them, you assume that’s all you’ll get and won’t expect better communication.
Never agree to pay a business to hire you or train you. If they offer to send you money without any work from you in return, do not accept! Sometimes, scammers will send you a check or a wire transfer and ask you to send them money in return, but the original payment they sent bounces and doesn’t clear, leaving your account depleted.
Companies usually have people they pay to write professional-sounding job listings. If the description sounds unprofessional or is poorly written, it might be a scam.
Here are five steps you can take to avoid falling for work-from-home job scams:
You can also search for the contact person you’re working with. Look them up on LinkedIn, too. Most professionals have a social media footprint.
Enter the company name or a contact’s email address into a search engine and add “scam” or “complaint” to find reports of bad business practices.
If they provide a website, click the links throughout the site to make sure they function — they may have a great-looking site, but none of the links work. Even if the links do work, it’s not hard to create a professional-looking website. There are online tools available to discover the age of a website which helps identify scam sites.
Search the Better Business Bureau site and use their BBB ScamTracker. Use the name of the company and any contacts within the company. Scammers often get busted using one name, and a new name pops up with the same scam.
Don’t click unknown links sent to you through email or via text for work-from-home opportunities, especially if you didn’t request information.
Here are four potential actions you can take if you are a victim of a work-from-home job scam:
If you’ve given away any financial account information, call your financial institution immediately and let them know what happened. They may be able to cancel charges to your account, or they may have to close your account and open a new one.
Contact local law enforcement to report the crime if you've given them money. Even if you didn’t lose money, you should alert the proper authorities.
Notify the credit bureaus so they can freeze your credit report.
Notify the BBB and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Even though the job-hunting landscape seems riddled with WFH scams, there are still thousands of real opportunities and legitimate employers hiring remote workers.
You can protect yourself while looking through job opportunities by taking a step back and not letting your hopes and dreams of the ultimate online job carry you away. Think realistically. You’re looking for work, not gifts from strangers. Before you start looking online, network with friends, acquaintances, and family to learn about legitimate work-from-home jobs.
If you do look online for WFH jobs, start by looking for work on reputable job boards. Job boards will help screen out scammers and will often provide ratings and reviews for the company you’re researching.
Research companies before applying. You won’t fall for scammy opportunities when you know as much as possible about a legitimate employer. Enter the hiring process with caution, and make sure it follows expected procedures. Don’t be too eager to enter into an offer of employment without doing a little digging to learn about the company.
Never give anyone your personal or financial information until you are certain they are a legitimate company. While it’s possible to undo the damage this causes, it’s typically not quick or easy.
Avoid scams and start looking for real opportunities and work-from-home jobs right now with Jobcase.