How to Avoid Work at Home Scams

Just as with any investment, where there is potential gain, there is also potential risk.  So, while working from home may be a great investment in yourself, be sure to stay alert for potential scams.  With internet fraud lurking around every corner, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

Be vigilant in researching the job and the company.
You wouldn’t hand in a resume if you had to meet a guy on the corner to do so.  Internet jobs are the same way. 

Check out their storefront, a.k.a. -- the website:

Do they have one?  Unless you’re being hired to make one for them, move on.

Does it look legit?  If you try to exit and get a pop-up saying “Hey wait!  Before you go… To receive your last minute discount, hit CANCEL below” or some similar scam, they don’t want to hire you, they want you to pay them.

Contact them from the company website.
Until you’ve become a little more seasoned in being able to visually sense a legit job offer from a scam, always contact the company.  If the representative you’ve been speaking with has not told you the company’s name, ask (then go back to step one).  Next, from the “contact” page on the website (they have one right?), send an email regarding the specific job offer, whom you heard about the job offer from, and then simply inquire a little more about the position.  For instance, is it long-term or short-term?  How many hours a week do they need from you?  Just ask a genuine question that should illicit a genuine (not automated) response.  If you get no response back, you probably just pulled your hand out of a bear trap.  Move on.

Ask for references.
Working online means no opportunity to go in and scope out the happiness of current employees (or other contractors).  So, ask for company references.  Legitimate companies will have no problem handing over a list of references.  They may even be really impressed that you are asking.  Then, call and actually speak with the references.

Never pay money to get a job.
You wouldn’t pay your boss to give you a task list now, so why would you online?  Never pay for “more information” or to “find out how to get started.”  If you have to pay for a work at home directory, you’re being scammed.  Don’t give out your money.  If you’re being hired for a work at home position, the only one getting paid should be you.  Memberships are a different (iFreelance.com or elance.com for example), but still, as Roosevelt would say, walk softly and carry a big stick.  You never know when you’ll run into another snake in the grass.

Check online job scam lists.
There are many websites, such as Scam.com, that are dedicated solely to “out” work at home scams.  If you can’t find the job on the scam list, do an Internet search on the job (or the email connected to the job offer), and see if there is anyone else posting questions about its legitimacy. 

Use common sense.
If it sounds too good to be true, it is.  After all, you’ll still be working—just from home.  You’re not going to get rich quick, and if someone tells you that’s the case, tell that person to get his or her head examined.  You can make a legitimate income working from home, possibly even more than you make now, but you’ll still be working.

Stay tuned as we continue this "Make Working From Home Work for You Series!"

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Anonymous's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Thu, 12/02/2010 - 13:13 Comment #: 1

With the economy where it is, more and more people are getting scammed. Fly-by-night operators operate quite freely since the feds won't get involved unless it is worth their time (publicity or lots-of-money involved). Timely post Jessica. Always Google the company name. If it is a fraudulent company, chances are someone's posted something about it.

As you mention, if you have to pay money upfront, walk away. That's never a good sign.

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Thu, 12/02/2010 - 14:26 Comment #: 2

Who needs regulators when we have common sense? Ha-ha! ;)

Anonymous's picture

MoneyCone wrote:

Thu, 12/02/2010 - 14:59 Comment #: 3

:) Very true!

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Thu, 12/02/2010 - 15:39 Comment #: 4

@MoneyCone: Short, simple, to the point... I like it! ;)

Anonymous's picture

Invest It Wisely wrote:

Thu, 12/02/2010 - 18:10 Comment #: 5

One rule of thumb I use is that if it really is THAT good... why are you trying to sell it to me? Why aren't you taking advantage of it yourself to get rich? Maybe the whole work at home thing is about convincing OTHERS to work at home, so YOU can work at home selling them dreams and lies. :P

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Thu, 12/02/2010 - 18:20 Comment #: 6

:P to you, too! Hehe. I agree with you, though. If someone is trying to sell you ways to work at home, they're more than likely working from home selling that idea. If you want to work from home, you should come up with the "how" and "doing what" by yourself.

Anonymous's picture

Shaun wrote:

Thu, 12/02/2010 - 22:30 Comment #: 7

Great advice!

I agree with @MoneyCone and @Invest it Wisely. Never pay for a job, and always ask for references (more than one). There are just too many people looking for a quick fix and an even larger number looking to take advantage of this!

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Fri, 12/03/2010 - 00:52 Comment #: 8

Thanks, Shaun. I'm glad you liked it, and I definitely agree with all of you, too.

Anonymous's picture

Money Reasons wrote:

Fri, 12/03/2010 - 02:08 Comment #: 9

I had a buddy that jumped employer ships because of a higher pay at one company. Then after 1 year the company folded! I guess they were banking on him to be the white knight that saves them... Apparently he wasn't ready for that :)

Anonymous's picture

Ken @ Spruce Up Your Finances wrote:

Fri, 12/03/2010 - 03:54 Comment #: 10

People really need to be careful when selecting home-based businesses or investments. I know a couple of people who have lost money on ponzi schemes. It's amazing that there are still a lot of people who are always ready to prey on the innocent consumers.

As the old adage goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Anonymous's picture

Aloysa wrote:

Sat, 12/04/2010 - 02:49 Comment #: 11

Definitely beware of jobs where you have to pay to get it. I always wonder if it is too good to be true... and the Internet is such a good source of finding out information on scams. I am so paranoid about scams... I see scam in everything. Not a very good attitude but I am really suspicious about everything. LOL

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Sat, 12/04/2010 - 04:13 Comment #: 12

@Money Reasons: That's too bad. I remember the reason I left my very first job during college was to get better pay, and I always regretted it. I went back to my previous employer and learned a very valuable lesson--sometimes happiness pays greater dividends than financial wealth. :)

@Ken: I agree with you. The very core of home-based means no one between you and the scam artist. We all have to be careful when we allow a stranger into our home, and that doesn't matter whether that stranger is a guest or a customer.

@Aloysa: I am the exact same way. With people only getting more crafty at their ways of posting scams, it's hard to trust anyone on the Internet. Sometimes I think it's a curse to be so creative that you can deduce both bad and good out of any given situation. Alas, that's what allows us to be creative enough to imagine and logical enough to understand.

Anonymous's picture

Aloysa’s Reading Picks » Aloysa&#03 wrote:

Mon, 12/06/2010 - 13:18 Comment #: 13

[...] Want to get a job but don’t want to work in an office? Be careful and know How to Avoid Work At Home Scams @MomVesting [...]

Anonymous's picture

Black Coffee: Celebrating Two Years of Len Penzo dot Com wrote:

Sat, 12/11/2010 - 08:29 Comment #: 14

[...] MomVesting – How to Avoid Work at Home Scams [...]

Anonymous's picture

Aloysa’s Reading Picks » Aloysa's Kitche wrote:

Mon, 02/07/2011 - 22:18 Comment #: 15

[...] Want to get a job but don’t want to work in an office? Be careful and know How to Avoid Work At Home Scams@MomVesting [...]

Anonymous's picture

AJ wrote:

Tue, 08/23/2011 - 07:15 Comment #: 16

Quite a useful read Jessica. I work from home now and I did follow most of your tips before I joined to ensure that the companies were genuine. Completely agree with you - instead of getting carried away by any extravagant claims that such fraudsters tend to make, it is indeed important to apply some common sense and do our own research before signing up!

Anonymous's picture

Ultimate Guide for How to Work at Home | MomVesting wrote:

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 21:48 Comment #: 17

[...] are a few other tips for how to avoid WAHM scams. Research, common sense and asking questions are always [...]

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