Working From Home Can Be Tempting, but Many Job Opportunities to Work From Home Are Scams

If you're promised thousands of dollars every week with no experience necessary, it's probably a scam

Keep an Eye Out: How to Identify and Avoid Five Popular Work-From-Home Scams
Image: NCCC
June 13, 2019

Most people would jump at the chance to work from home. The temptation to save money and stay in pajamas is great, and it only becomes greater when the job promises to pay thousands of dollars each week, even to those with little or no experience. Sound too good to be true? It probably is. If you see an offer like this, you should know the keys signs of a scam before you quit your day job.

Most Scammers Reach Out Via Email

Many of the scams work by posting a help wanted ad or sending emails to unsuspecting recipients asking them to apply for new positions. These scammers use real company names or real government agency names very often, which makes them look at first to be legitimate. However, many times they are not real. It can sometimes be difficult to spot these types of scams.

Beware of Rapid Replies

Many of these 'companies' give you quick responses, sometimes in as little as an hour. Most companies don't work this quickly. What's more, the 'hiring managers' that respond to you will often offer you a job without even having you sit for any kind of interview. That's your first sign of a scam. No reputable company will give you a job without at least conducting a basic interview. You should always be careful when the procedure for getting a job it seems a little suspicious. You may be a great person, but companies aren't likely to hire you on the spot and especially without an interview.

Don't Pay Any Money

If a company tries to charge you for anything as part of the employment process, stop dealing with them immediately. Legitimate companies won't charge you for background checks, direct deposit authorizations, or other services supposedly related to the job. This is usually just a way for the scammer to get a quick pay day, leaving you high and dry.

A company that is hiring you won't ask you for money upfront, even if they promise to reimburse it later as a sign that you are genuinely interested in the job. What's more, a company will not send you a check, which they later claim was for too large of an amount, before asking you to send the difference back. In these situations, the check that you are sent will eventually bounce, leaving you out the money you sent back.

All Government Jobs are Public

If you are looking at a job through a government agency, find the website for that agency and search for job postings. Those job postings are always publicly available. If you don't see one of the job postings on that website, you are probably dealing with a scammer. But that doesn't mean that the scammer can't mimic a government website or even advertise a legitimate government job. If you are interested in a government job, apply directly with the government agency, not with someone who solicits you or through a third-party website. In those cases, you are likely dealing with scammers.

Some 'Jobs' Are More Likely to be Scams

Unfortunately, scammers know how desperate most people are for quick and easy money that allows total flexibility for our modern lives. Consequently, some job openings are more likely to be scams than others. These positions include survey takers, secret shoppers, and many of the work at home jobs. Many jobs with generic descriptions for the title, such as administrative assistant, are all targets of scammers. Certain positions that don't require training or licensing and can appeal to a wide range of people are also heavily targeted. In any case, try to check out the real company's job listings.

Five Popular Work-From-Home Scams

  1. Pyramid Schemes
  2. Pyramid schemes often seem like legitimate opportunities for entrepreneurs. They recruit people to sell products that have no value. They charge some kind of entrance fee for membership, training, or inventory, and this fee is redistributed as income for the people at the top of the pyramid. The number of people who actually make money from the schemes is tiny. Those who earn the most use groupthink and shady sales practices to convince the sellers on lower levels that they can make large amounts of money by recruiting others. In reality, however, these schemes are against the law, and very few people actually earn any money.

    Related to the pyramid scheme is multi-level marketing (MLM), which is legal. The difference is that MLM sellers receive commissions from selling real products, such as makeup or diet supplements.

  3. Mystery Shopping and Survey-Taking
  4. There are legitimate mystery shopping and survey-taking opportunities. However, sometimes people find an angle on them that lets them scam people out of money. You can find these opportunities online for free, so you should not have to pay for access to them. If membership sites guarantee that you will make a full-time income from these opportunities, you should probably look elsewhere.

  5. Online Business
  6. Online businesses are popular. Successful owners of such ventures can earn incomes of over four of five figures every month using affiliate marketing and other products. Who wouldn't jump at such an opportunity?

    Like mystery shopping and survey-taking, some products for helping you launch an online business are worthwhile and others are not. Any system that promises fast results is unrealistic, especially if you have to buy into the scheme to find out how you will actually make the money. It is not possible to make money quickly online (or anywhere else). Even if you know someone who runs an online business successfully, he or she has probably been running that business for a long time. Again, look for unbiased reviews before you buy anything.

  7. Data Entry or Medical Billing
  8. Sites hosting work-from-home data entry scams will guarantee to get you hired and paid well by legitimate companies. You have to pay for membership with the site, and in return you will receive access to training, support, and exclusive job listings. If you see a site like this, stop and think about it from the point of view of a company hiring a remote worker. If you ran such a company, would you work with a site including a pool of inexperienced workers? Instead of partnering with companies, such sites simply post jobs and other resources that you could find online yourself with some digging.

    Medical billing is another popular work-from-home scam. These ask you to invest in your own equipment, training, and industry connections in order to launch your own billing business, but as with the other schemes, it is hard to earn your money back.

  9. Stuffing Envelopes and Assembling Crafts
  10. The envelope scam has been around for a long time. These ads claim to pay consumers hundreds of dollars every day for stuffing envelopes at home. To sign up, you have to provide personal information. If this were a legitimate opportunity, the company's budget for envelope-stuffing would be massive. These scammers have an ulterior motive in getting you to sign up.

    There is a similar scam in which a company sends consumers craft parts and pays them to assemble the crafts. Don't fall for this one either. Real companies have more efficient methods to assemble products than sending parts to remote workers.