There are plenty of untrustworthy sites out there in the world of working from home, right along with the legit money-making opportunities. You need to learn everything you can about spotting scam sites because there's always going to be somebody looking to take you — and your wallet — for a ride. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from this:
Be Suspicious of Payment Requests
While some work from home opportunities do come with charges (starter kits, background check fees, etc.), you should never have to pay to get a job. The exception to this rule is of course starting a home-business (like direct sales, Arise, etc.). If you are asked to pay, always make sure you fully understand why. I am personally immediately suspicious of sites asking for payment to process your application, a membership/training kit, etc.
If you're being asked to pay something and you are feeling unsure about it, read this post for help. It breaks down the circumstances where it is and isn't OK to pay for a home job.
Be Suspicious if There Is No Contact Info
If it is a real business, there will be a way to contact the company. There should be an email address, contact form, or phone number at the very least. If the website you visit doesn't have any way for you to contact someone who is affiliated with the company, watch out. Many fraudulent sites won't list any contact information at all because they don't want you to be able to find them after they've ripped you off. If something about the company seems suspicious to you and they do have contact info listed, go ahead and try to contact them. If you can't reach anyone or no one ever responds to your email, you might need to stay away.
Do Your Research
Visit a popular search engine like Google or Bing and type in the name of the company followed by the word “scam.” If this company ever ripped anyone off, the people who were ripped off have probably mentioned it online in order to warn others. You might also consider looking the company up on the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to see what their score is. Keep in mind that finding just one negative review of a company does not mean it's untrustworthy. You can find negative reviews on almost any company, but if there are no – or very few – positive reviews to go along with the negatives, it's likely you should stay away. Always do your own research before signing up for anything.
Be Wary of Vague Info
Many shady sites will have a long, drawn-out testimonial complete with pictures of fancy houses and cars. The testimonial will likely be the life story of someone who was poor but became rich by getting involved in the “wonderful money-making opportunity.” The odd thing is, the webpage never really tells you what the money-making opportunity is or what you have to do to make these millions. When you get to the bottom of the page, you'll probably find a form where you can put in your credit card information to get the details you want. If you pay, you either won't get anything or you'll find that you've just registered yourself for some shady get rich quick biz opp “system.”
Guard Your Personal Information
You can never be too careful when it comes to identity theft! Don't give any major details away (example – your social security number) before you've done your research on the company and you know they are operating a real business.
Did you get an email about a work at home job?
Don't respond unless you know that you contacted that company first, or if you are 100 percent sure it's a reputable company that found your resume on an online job board. Companies offering real work at home will never contact you unless you made the first contact or you posted your resume publicly at an online job board.
Common Types of Work at Home Scams
If you see any of these “jobs” listed, be on your guard because it's almost definitely a scam:
The following types of jobs aren't always scams, but you should still be very careful and do your research before agreeing to this type of work:
- Mystery Shopping – list of safe, reputable mystery shopping companies here.
- Data Entry – see list of safe, reputable data entry companies here.
- Paid Surveys – see list of safe, reputable paid survey panels here.
More Resources to Help You Avoid Scams
- IMReport Card
- WAHM (go to the forum section and type the name of the job in search to see if it has ever been discussed there)
- Rip Off Report
- Better Business Bureau
- My Scam Warnings section addresses some of the more common work at home scams
Even if the sites above do not indicate that an opportunity is a scam, it's still very helpful to know what others say about the work. Reading about others experiences with different work from home jobs should help you decide whether or not the jobs are for you or if you should pass.
Already been scammed?
If you've already been scammed and need to report it, this post has extensive information on exactly how and where to do that.
Follow this advice, and you'll soon become a pro at spotting scam sites in your search for legitimate work-at-home jobs.
Also, I won't list any untrustworthy sites on my blog, and I do extensive research before listing anything to be 100 percent sure that the things I list are legitimate opportunities. While learning how to spot scams, I came to expect a certain number of negative reviews from just about anything. Remember that negative reviews don't always mean something is a scam — but it might mean the company isn't worth bothering with.