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How to Avoid Work-From-Home Scams

4 minutes

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially concerning work-from-home job opportunities. More businesses are filling positions with remote workers, and more people want to try working from home. In part, this is due to job losses caused by the pandemic and enforced social distancing, but also because people have become more aware of the benefits of working from home. Unfortunately, scammers are cashing in, too.

According to AARP, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 58,000 consumer complaints regarding fraudulent work-from-home or business-launching opportunities. If you see a job ad for a work-from-home opportunity that sounds too good to be true, you must do your due diligence.

Smartphone displays a call from an Unknown caller

Shutterstock; Photo by Tero Vesalainen

Fortunately, there are several ways to spot a work-at-home scam. In addition to advice from the FTC, here is what to look out for:

  • Contact via Direct Message:
    While receiving a direct message can make it seem that someone has personally selected you for your experience and skills, it’s more likely they’re seeing if they can scam you. Verify the identity of the individual or firm before responding or clicking a link.
  • Grammatical and/or Spelling Errors:
    Scam messages are often full of grammatical and spelling errors. Typically, these are obvious. Example, we are Working Solutions, but scammers sometimes use Working Solution.
  • Requests for Personal Information:
    Legitimate work-from-home businesses do not begin communications by asking for personal information. Scammers do.
  • Suspicious Email Addresses:
    Reputable firms usually use business emails, rather than web services like Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo!. Many scammers also include fake company names in their email addresses, mimicking the names of big firms to make their communications seem official.
  • Requests for Money:
    If the sender asks for money upfront, such as an investment in equipment, this is probably how the sender intends to make money during your (short) business relationship.
  • Pushy Demands:
    You can often spot a scammer because they ask you to send personal information or money urgently. If the sender insists that things need to happen fast, cease communication.
  • Interview Requests via Instant Message:
    An interview via an instant messaging service is normally less about convenience and more about hiding the interviewer and his or her location. A reputable firm is far more likely to conduct interviews via videoconferencing or phone.
  • Job Offers in Blog Comments:
    These areas are often targeted by spammers. The same applies to scammers who wish to profit from jobseekers with good intentions.
  • Immediate Job Offers:
    Most genuine work-from-home jobs will require you to provide evidence of your relevant skills and experience. Be suspicious about any message offering you instant work without qualifications or an assessment.
  • Hidden URLs:
    Be especially wary of URLs that hide the true name of the target website. Many scammers encourage people to click links to direct the individual to advertising or to infect their computer with malicious software.
  • Buzz Words That Are Too Good to Be True:
    While potential employers want to make their positions attractive to potential candidates, scammers tend to go further than most. Consider the following keywords, phrases, and claims to be warning signs.
  • “No experience required”
  • “Unlimited earning potential”
  • “Guaranteed success”
  • “Full-time pay for part-time hours”
  • “Excellent money with little work”

 

Illustration of neon lights in the shape of a computer monitor with a red error sign and the words Scam Alert written below it in neon lights

Shutterstock; Photo by bohlam

Reporting scammers and suspicious communications to the FTC helps protect the entire online community.

Increasingly, scammers are seeking victims via social media. If you spot the previous warning signs, stop communicating with them and report them to the FTC. Reporting scammers and suspicious communications helps protect the entire online community.

Legitimate work-from-home opportunities are out there, but protect yourself by reading messages carefully, looking out for the signs of fraudulent activity, and reporting suspicious messages. A reputable business will have a track record, verifiable details, realistic claims, and a professional approach. Research individuals and companies before communicating with them and stay safe online. Above all, trust your instincts when vetting opportunities.

Working Solutions has provided legitimate work-from-home opportunities for 25 years. If you’d like to work as an independent contracting agent and be part of our WooHoo! Crew, check out our current openings and start your application today!

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