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Agent Beware: Do Your Due Diligence

The other day, a colleague sent me a Forbes’ story about FlexJobs 2015 list of Top 100 companies for remote work. I’m familiar with the list as CEO of Working Solutions, which ranks #13 out of the 100—based on job postings of 30,000 companies analyzed by FlexJobs.

Published earlier this year, the list focuses on “legitimate work with trusted companies that have a successful track record recruiting and hiring telecommuters.” For Working Solutions, it’s good company to be in, recognized as a leader in on-demand agents for business process services for almost 20 years.

For all of its opportunities, however, remote work for independent contractors does have its dark side—scams are pervasive, as reporter Laura Shin points out in her Forbes piece.

She writes: “So many of us wish we could work from home. But with work-from-home scams taking the top spot for Internet crimes in 2011, we’re understandably wary of such offers.”

In a companion story, Shin cautions applicants about:
1. Fake urls.
2. Being contacted directly by a company you’ve never contacted yourself.
3. Conducting interviews by chat.
4. Lack of verifiable contact information.
5. Being asked to give your personal banking information.

To be better prepared, it’s worth reviewing the scams she outlines. Beyond her advice, I’d like to add a few more points for independent workers to consider:

  • Watch for companies charging fees to gain entry into their workplaces. Pay us before we pay you. I don’t condone this practice. At Working Solutions, on-demand agents are recruited and educated to work on client programs—with no money out of their pockets. In return, we ask them for a commitment to perform on their programs, as agreed upfront.
  • Know the character and culture of any company—before you apply. Glassdoor offers candid reviews of companies by workers. While any company might have a few negative comments, look for patterns of questionable conduct or repeated concerns.
  • Go to the source and check out FlexJobs’ rundown of job scams, with advice from an industry leader in avoiding trouble and finding remote work. Its blogs cover everything from scam keywords to common rip-offs.

Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, says “remote work options are a part of successful 21st century workplaces.”

So is due diligence to be part of a modern, mobile workforce. Be sure to check out any and all companies—and don’t let a disreputable one cash in on you.


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