How to Spot a Work from Home Scam


Work from home scam
SCAM modified threads © by acidpix

Technology provides us with a number of great opportunities. In fact, you can even have a successful career from the comfort of your home. I work from home, growing my business and earning a living for my family. It’s been a good gig for me, but it hasn’t always been easy.

Indeed, in the beginning, as I looked for clients on job boards, I constantly saw ads proclaiming “work from home” and “earn money online.” While there are plenty of legitimate ways for you to work from home and earn money with the help of the Internet, it’s important to note that there are also work from home scams, run by those intent on getting their hands on your hard-earned cash.

Before you sign up for a great work from home “opportunity,” consider these signs that it might be a work from home scam:

  • Easy: Work from home scammers promise that you will have an easy time of it. You can purchase a system, or do simple tasks, and bring in $500 a week, or $10,000 a month. Unfortunately, actually starting a home business, and making it successful, isn’t easy. It requires dedication and hard work.
  • Instant earnings: You are unlikely to see immediate results from your business efforts. Often, it takes time to build up a following and find clients. Creating a successful home business is not easy, and making money isn’t instant — nor is it guaranteed.
  • Pay a fee: In some cases, you might answer an ad for a company hiring homeworkers. They promise a regular salary and good benefits. There are companies that offer these types of jobs. However, the companies (like JetBlue) are few and far between. And you don’t usually have to pay an “application fee.” Watch out for any “opportunity” that requires that you pay a fee, buy a special system, or pay money to a third party for a background check. Indeed, one of the up and coming scams is that you answer an ad for a job, and you are told to use a specific link to get a background check. The scammer gets the commission from your background check, and you don’t ge the job.
  • Your personal accounts: Watch out if you are asked to put your personal reputation on the line. A company that has you sell eBay items for them, and collect payment, all the while promising to send what you’ve bought to the customer, is probably shady. You sell the item, collect the money (and send most of it on). The scammer, of course, keeps the money and never sends the item. But it’s your personal account on the line, and you’re the one in trouble with eBay — and stuck refunding the full amount.

Too Good To Be True

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. But watch out, too, for “opportunities” that dial back the expectations. Some scammers are getting smarter, toning down the rhetoric to reflect more realistic outcomes. You can check the Whois registry for red flags such as personal registration, a short time being registered, and a private listing. Be wary of sloppy web sites on free hosts. Legitimate companies can usually afford to pay for hosting — and pay for web design and editing. And, of course, pay attention to the contact information. If all you see is an email address, or an email contact form, and no phone number, physical address or other solid information, that could be another red flag.

What are your experiences with work from home scams?

23 thoughts on “How to Spot a Work from Home Scam

  1. Pingback: How to Spot a Work from Home Scam | Sustainable Personal Finance | Mystery Shopper l Mystery Shopping l Secret Shopper
  2. I have often operated under the assumption that if it is to good to be true it probably is. I personally think these work at home scams are as horrible as pay day loan companies etc. They just take advantage of desperate and vulnerable people. That is just wrong.

  3. Spot on! Thanks for the clear tips – these things are too many to count and so many people fall for it.

  4. There are definitely plenty of scams out there and it can be difficult to tell what’s for real. That said, in the past year or two virtual offices are becoming much more commonplace.

    I actually work with a small team and none of us go to an office. However, when we hire new people we try not to advertise the “work from home” aspect right away and offer it as a carrot later. Our focus is on finding qualified professionals and sometimes candidates might think it is a scam if we focus on that too much up front.

    If you’re serious about looking for a work at home gig, my tip is to look for small startup companies that need to provide flexibility to attract talent and also may not have the budget for an office. You don’t need to look for some gimmick job selling knives, there are plenty of real positions across industries that allow you to work from home.

    Also, there are ways to introduce working from home in many jobs these days…..just approach your employer for a day a week, prove yourself and start asking for more days over time.

  5. Yes, in my experience, it is pretty easy to spot a scam and you’ve mentioned the easiest way… you have to pay a fee. If they are really offering you a prime way to earn income, they should take a commission at most – not some upfront fee.

  6. Not only does it raise a red flag when I get asked to pay upfront, but it is also a red flag when they bring you into a seminar with a room full of others. They try to build up hype and get you buy in because of peer pressure.

    If I have to attend an event in order to land a job, count me out!

  7. Good advice! I have looked for work at home jobs and have looked into some of the scams you mentioned. They mostly look way to suspicious to seriously consider. As we all know, the Internet is a breeding ground for scams of all kinds. You have to cautious out there.

  8. Good tips here…..another thing to watch out for is the possibility of them approaching you! I had posted my resume on Monster.com when looking for work and actually had a company approach me about a job. When I went to look at their website, I noticed it was hosted on a free website (Big Red Flag!) and even though I emailed them to ask for more information about the job (before checking the website) they actually sent me some information to my home. Turned out it was one of the scams where they try to get you to process things for them and then send them the money you collect via Western Union. I did report them but never heard anything back. But believe it or not, I was approached again a few months later by a similar concept company. You definitely need to keep your eyes open these days.


  9. Thanks for stopping by, all! And thanks for the great insights. It’s true that there are increasing opportunities for home-based work. I work from home as a freelance writer, and, like Geoff, everyone I interact with in a professional manner is located elsewhere. However, you do have to be careful. With every success story of a legit opportunity to earn money while working from home, there are three or four scams.

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