Unfortunately, the internet can be a scary place. There you are, minding your own business, and out of nowhere a creepy guy in a trench coat offers to pay you $97/hr to stuff envelopes.
Most work-from-home scams are obvious, but scammers are getting smarter. While I do my best to vet all of the opportunities on At Home Earning, I’m a one-woman show. It’s ultimately up to you to make sure any opportunity you apply for is legit and above board. Here are some basic guidelines to minimize your risk.
First let’s get the obvious out of the way
- Data entry – there are very very few legitimate data entry jobs online
- Envelope stuffing
- Handling money for wealthy Nigerian princes
- Gift wrapping
- “Processing” anything – money, packages, envelopes, payments, etc
- Anyone claiming to let your keep a portion of money they send you to deposit in your account.
- Offers to send you money for no work, or anyone that asks you for money
- Any job that asks for personal information up front. An exception would be new hire paperwork like IRS info. But even here, make sure it passes the rest of the scam check first.
- Anything else that just doesn’t feel right.
Use trusted sources
- Make sure you only find opportunities on legitimate job sites. Stay away from sites that allow just anyone to post to it (I’m looking at you, Craigslist).
- If you find jobs on work at home blogs, make sure the blog itself seems legit. Look for poor grammar, spelling errors, and anything else that just seems ‘off’. Some scammers make sites that talk about ‘legitimate’ jobs only to funnel visitors to scams.
- Don’t trust any unsolicited job offer. Be extremely wary of emails offering you a job you didn’t apply for.
Scrutinize the listing
- Avoid any listing that seems too good to be true. If it’s offering ridiculous money in return for very little effort or experience, run.
- Any job that has a low barrier to entry or uses pushy sales tactics should throw up a red flag.
“Taking 5 people in the next 12hrs to make 100/hr. Don’t miss this opportunity!”
Yeah, that sounds reasonable.
Research the company
- Make sure the job is actually being listed by the company. Scammers can hide under similar web design and logos to appear legitimate. If you are interested in a job, go to the company website directly and search for it there.
- Check out the contact information. If you can’t find a physical address or phone number for a major company, that’s a huge red flag.
- If any email address is @aol, @yahoo, @gmail etc, that’s also a no-go. While it’s not a fool-proof sign of legitimacy, a company should have email addresses that reflects its domain name.
- Check Glassdoor, Kununu, and the BBB for information.
- Check for reviews on trusted work-from-home blogs.
- Do a google search with [the company name] + “scam” or “complaint”. Keep in mind, angry reviews are not necessarily a red flag. Plenty of legitimate companies have angry ex-employees. However, any reference to non-payment, no communication, or criminal complaints should be a deal breaker.
Check for known scams
If you’re already a victim of a scam
Even a job that passes the scam test is not always without risk. (I’m still waiting on $500 for work I did a year ago for a completely legitimate transcription company.)
If you find yourself a victim of a scam, or just a victim of a crappy company, you can file a complaint. You might also consult an attorney to see if you have legal recourse.
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
- Federal Trade Commission
- The Better Business Bureau
- Google Safe Browsing