The Plague: How to Avoid “Work from Home” Scams

scam

What I was surprised to learn was that work from home scams are pretty common – even today.

Why?

Well, remote jobs are easier to find than ever these days. There are plenty of remote job boards available with real, legitimate companies listing actual positions.

Long-gone are the days of the low-paid, “grunt work”-type telecommute jobs. Programmers and customer service workers tend to have the most choice but digital marketing, HR, finance and management professionals are also beginning to see more remote-friendly jobs available in their field.

So why, then, are work from home scams still a thing?

Well, first all remember this:

There will always be scammers and con artists. They will always try to prey on those of us who need something. If anything, the more desperate you are the more susceptible you will be to a scam.

I’m not knocking desperation here, either. We’ve all been there. Sometimes, we see an offer that is too good to be true and hope, just hope, that maybe it is the answer to our prayers.

Up until recently, I did digital marketing for online dating sites. Part of the job was researching and creating content about online dating scams. Many of these dating scammers followed similar principles to job scammers. The only difference is that job scammers aren’t playing off your need for affection. Rather, they’re playing off your need for an income.

PLEASE NOTE: Job scams exist in the “real world” too. Although remote jobs have a higher level of legitimacy these days, it is much easier to get away with a scam on the Internet.

That’s why when you’re looking for a job online (which, let’s face it, is the main method most people use these days), you need to be all the more vigilant.

What makes telecommuting a particularly “lucrative” industry to scammers, however, is the fact that getting a remote job is competitive business. The good news is that many remote job boards do a pretty good job of vetting potential employers and cleaning up job advertisements.

However, as a job seeker you still need to should some of the responsibility and…

…you should still be able to recognize a work from home scam yourself!

That means looking for certain signs. As a general rule, I would recommend remaining suspicious if anything seems fishy. And I mean really fishy, not that they just took forever to respond because, quite frankly, that’s the sad state of recruitment these days.

Evaluating a Work from Home Scam: What you should look for

There are a couple of points which immediately scream “scam!” in your face when you encounter them. As a general rule of them, I would maintain that if something is too good to be true, then it’s a lie. However, consider the following points…

  • If it looks like a “get rich quick scheme”, then it most certainly is. For the scammer, that it is. For you, it means you’ll simply lose a lot of money. Get rich quick and pyramid schemes naturally predate the Internet, however the digital world has become a very viable medium for scammers to carry out their work (hey, it’s great! Even scammers can work remotely these days!).
  • If they want you to part with ANY amount of money, then get out fast. Some jobs in the real world do require you to pay upfront for certain materials (uniform, etc.). However, this generally shouldn’t be a necessary. It is you who are selling your services to a company, not the other way around. If they want to train you then they should pay for it. The same can be said for any software or hardware they provide you – and if they want to train you. You should never have to pay out of your own pocket for any of that… Ever.

Think of it this way: the main thing a scammer wants to do is extort money from you. It is as simple as that. If the “employer” on the other end consistently insists on getting cash from you, then you know you’re dealing with a bullshit merchant. Forget about what they promise you because it’s not true.

Let me repeat that again in more clear, concise language. Just so those of you at the back can hear me clearly…

NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE MONEY TO A RANDOM STRANGER ON THE INTERNET. EVER.

Are we clear on that? Good.

In addition to the “employer” wanting money from you, there are a few other signs which should spark your suspicions. Consider if…

  • …the job ad itself is written clearly and concisely. Now, I have seen real, legitimate job listings which were terribly So bad, in fact, I wondered how the person behind it even had a job in the first place. HR is in a sad state these days so I can understand that a lot of legitimate listings may seem “scammy” at the start. Which why you should also…
  • …check the job ad’s credentials. By credentials I mean telephone, email and web address as well as other social media. How big is their web presence? How consistent is their branding (and check URLs!). You’ll usually know pretty quickly whether or not it is legitimate.

Remote “jobs” that are usually scams

There are certain “jobs” that are indeed complete bogus. Generally speaking, the easiest jobs with the highest promise of income are out and out scams. Data-entry positions, for example, should be avoided if they offer you something along the lines of US$50.00 an hour.

Below, however, are a few “jobs” you are probably better off avoiding:

The Assembly “Job”

I hadn’t even heard of these until I actually did some research on job scams…  This type of “job” seems particularly mean (and depressing). The “employees” are sent starter kits to assemble craft supplies… And the products are then sold on by the company. Of course, the assembler gets paid… Not. It’s pretty obvious off the bat that this is a scam because… guess what? We’ve got machines to do that nowadays.

It’s simply not a valid business model. Forget it!

The Data Entry Job

Unlike assembly jobs, data entry is actually a valid type of work… And yes, a lot of people do it. You can actually find valid data entry gigs online which will pay you a couple of dollars. Honestly though, a full-time data entry is not only a) rare to come across and b) doesn’t pay very well. That’s because it’s quite literally grunt work. It’s the digital equivalent of stacking shelves.

Data entry is part of a host of other jobs. From VAs, secretaries to online marketers and programmers. All at different pay scales.

You’ll know that this job is a scam when you’re promised even a liveable salary.

Nope, forget it. These are usually bullshit as well.

So then what is the best way to get a remote job (without being scammed)?

There’s no magic formula to finding a remote job. It’s just like finding any other kind of positions. You need to have the qualifications and/or experience for the role you want. And during your job search, make sure you’re aware of the most common types of work from home scams. As well as any other kind of job scam.

Just being a little savvy will help you separate the wheat from the chaff… and get you the job you want.

Author: Liam

Liam is a digital strategist and copywriter, passionate about the fast-paced world of digital media and remote working. See his portfolio at liamhennessy.co

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