When it comes to online jobs, there are as many scams out there as there are legitimate opportunities (and there are MANY legitimate opportunities these days). But with a few checkpoints, you can avoid being taken for a ride.
Avoid the desperation trap and temptation for a fast paycheck that can lead to lost money and discouragement.
When you need money coming in sooner rather than later, there is temptation to jump on every opportunity you see. But some of these “opportunities” are designed specifically to cheat you: they are known as scams.
Here are a few of the most common red flags to alert you to a likely scam.
One major red flag is being asked for money, including upfront payment for things like background checks or equipment. Another common version of this “pay-in” scam is claiming that you’ll make back any investment within a specific time. When you work from home, you are expected to furnish your own computer and basic setup. Legitimate employers won’t ask for money, and they have no need for your credit card information!
If the company offers to outfit you with all equipment and technology required to do the job, that’s a red flag. In fact, I saw this exact scam just this week. For a $15 per hour position, this “company” was going to outfit the employee with a very specific set of equipment that would easily cost thousands of dollars. For jobs with a very specialized set of skills, some version of this MAY be required, but that’s usually an industry standard and would be very clear to all parties well in advance.
If payment is offered in atypical formats such as Bitcoin or only by a personal check, it’s likely a scam. While it's true that different businesses are set up to issue payments in different ways, most have the ability to pay you via ACH transfer or credit card so there is a trail and so you get paid immediately. If a company pays in Bitcoin or other non-traditional methods, it’s a red flag.
Does the company exist? Have you seen a website anywhere? Of course anyone can create a website or a business Facebook page and seem legit. But is there anything about this company online? A functional website with well-written copy? A legit email address (and no, @hotmail or [email protected] don’t count)? Can you find reviews? New companies may not have a strong internet presence yet and that doesn’t mean they are not legitimate. But if you’ve made it past the job description, this is the next thing to evaluate.
If you never meet the hiring manager in person, over video, or on the phone, that is another red flag. Why would someone put their trust in you to do quality work on their behalf without looking you in the eye first? A good employer will check your references, and you should hold an employer to the same standard. If they won’t “meet you,” then run.
Some good sites that offer information on at home jobs and careers include Indeed.com, CareerBuilder, Monster.com, Flexjobs.com, and Upwork. Obviously, scams can always slip through, but these sites tend to have at least basic pre-screening in place.
Many at home job searches involve the words “at-home work opportunities” or “at-home jobs.” Those are pretty vague, and if those terms make up the bulk of the job listing, they aren’t going to help you. Adjust your search terms to be specific for the type of work you want to do.
Always do your homework. This includes researching salaries for the type of role, company atmosphere, opportunities for advancement, and more. Online companies probably won’t perform face-to-face interviews, so communication skills that involve email, video, social media, and texting will help you go far.
Just because you are working from home does not mean you’ll make fast or easy money. It’s still a job and it requires skills and commitment. Be sure you have researched appropriate pay for the job/hours required, and when you get the job, be the best employee or contractor you can be. Earning quality references goes a long way in your career development.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you still aren’t sure, have a trusted friend or family member read the job description as well.
Don’t let your need for a paying position cause you to skip your due diligence. No one cares about your own career more than you do, so be sure that you are your own best advocate.
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