Many people decide that they want work from home for the sake of convenience. It fits in with the dream of being independent, not having to answer to a boss, and setting your own hours. Other people need to work from home. They have small children and no way to get day care, or they are disabled, or they are caring for an elderly relative. And all of these people are targets for work from home scams.
It is important to understand the prevalence and usual appearance of work from home scams. Since most people today have probably received an email or two promising them a great career from home that will make them rich, it’s unlikely you aren’t aware of the issue. But when you need or want to earn an income at home it is easy to “buy” into something just because you really want it to be true.
Fortunately, there are some red flags that you can look for that will help you avoid these scams so that you can concentrate only on the legitimate opportunities. Here are some things to keep in mind:
When you are searching the Internet and come across an ad promising that you can make money from home, read it carefully. If you read all the way through the ad and are still not exactly sure what you would be doing to make this money, move on. Work from home scams are notorious for creating ads that talk around a subject without actually providing any concrete information. “Make Money Placing Internet Ads”. “Earn $1000 Per Week Answering Emails”. Sounds great at first; but the devil is in the details, and the details they aren’t giving you are the scam.
Asking for fees
Many scam artists will tell you that you must pay a “one time processing fee” in order to start working for them from home. No legitimate company would ever ask you to pay a fee in order to get hired. When you work for a company they should pay you, not the other way around. The minute you read that they need you to send them money in order to get started working for them, that is your signal to stop taking them seriously.
Chain letters, now usually in the form of email, have been around for a really long time. Unfortunately, they’re not very easy to spot until after you’ve already lost your money. Basically these ads offer to send you a list of businesses offering jobs in exchange for a small fee. But what you get in exchange for your money is instructions on how to send the same kind of offer (including the request for money) to a number of other people. And you get paid when they respond by sending you all of their money. One way to identify a chain letter scam is to try and track down a phone number or physical address for the person who’s promoting it. If you can’t find any, or if no one ever answers the phone number that’s provided, don’t send your money.
The offer sounds like a sales pitch
When a legitimate company is looking for people to work from home for them, they don’t really need to sell themselves. All they have to do is explain what they are looking for and what they have to offer their employees. If you are reading through a work from home offer and it looks like a pitch from a used car salesman, you can safely assume that it is a scam. Sales pitches are about getting your money, and so are work from home scams. The two go hand in hand.
Some dishonest people advertise work at home jobs that are really self-employment opportunities. These are often the ads that say you can make hundreds of dollars a day or thousands of dollars a month with no experience, and you only have to work a couple of hours. These ads make outlandish promises, but they are written to sound very convincing. By the time you finish reading them it’s easy to believe all of their hype. There are two ways to identify this kind of ad. First, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true. Second, if you need to buy a course or a kit, this is not an advertisement for a job.
To further help you avoid work from home scams, here is a list of the most common ones:
1. The envelope stuffing scam
This scam is so common there is already a page dedicated to it that explains how it all works. This is a pretty old scam but yet it lives on.
2. Work from home assembly jobs
Assemble crafts from home and make great money? Hardly. This scam, like the envelope stuffing scam, has been around for decades and still tricks people into sending in their money for craft supplies.
3. Data entry jobs
While there are a few legitimate data entry jobs, this field contains many scams. If you come across an add for data entry or home typist that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Google jobs
Another scam to avoid. More information here.
5. Medical billing service
This is another common at home job scam. See what the FTC has to say about it.
6. Email processing
While work from home scams do abound you can avoid them by being careful about every opportunity you consider. The best way to put these scam artists out of business is to arm yourself with knowledge and stay vigilant.
7. Pyramid Schemes
Pyramid schemes are designed so that you make money when you recruit other people into your “business”. Typically you have to buy some kind of product or inventory. Then you convince other people to join the organization under your sponsorship. And when they buy their inventory, you get paid a portion of it. Then they make money from convincing people to join the organization under their sponsorship, and both you and they receive money from the inventory that the new people buy. And so it goes. The people at the top of the “pyramid” make the most money from the people at the bottom of the “pyramid”. Many MLM (multi-level marketing) “opportunities” are really pyramid schemes, so you have to be careful.
If you have been a victim of a work at home scam, don’t feel bad. It is easy to be lured in and many people have been duped at least once. But by being skeptical of all offers and taking your time to research any new opportunity you should be well prepared to avoid work at home scams in the future.