With a rising mobile workforce, scams related to work-from-home jobs are becoming more common these days, and they come in many forms: wire transfer schemes, claims processing, envelope stuffing, refund-recovery work, and other fraudulent offers. These scams will only become more prevalent with the ongoing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to help you identify legitimate work-from-home jobs so you can focus your energy on pursuing remote jobs that won’t waste your time.
Look Out for Red Flags
Since work-from-home scams have become so prevalent, identifying common signs of a fraudulent job has actually become easier than ever.
“You can root out 90 percent of scams with just a few simple rules,” says Rob Holmes, founder and CEO of MI:33, a Texas-based intellectual property investigation firm. “If they are using Gmail, it is a scam. If the only interview is done by online chat, it is a scam.”
Never take online jobs from home if you haven’t at least interviewed by phone or video conference. Make sure to ask the name of your interviewers so you can research the people you’ll be talking with to ensure they’re for real.
Make Sure the Job Description Sounds Legit
Sometimes, the job description is a giveaway that the job’s not what it seems. For legitimate work-from-home jobs, job descriptions almost always include a detailed list of responsibilities and required experience to help you determine whether or not you’re qualified (or interested!) in applying.
If the description only includes a few bullet points, or makes it sound like getting the job will be quick and easy, it might be a scam.
“If a potential employer cares very little about your qualifications for the position, they probably aren’t legitimate,” says Stephanie Foster, career expert at Home With the Kids, an online resource for stay-at-home and work-from-home parents. “Real employers want highly qualified people.”
Research the Company
Before you say yes to any work-from-home or online jobs researching the company is a must. There are so many ways to find out what a company is like (or if it even exists) from sites like Indeed, or you can simply check out a company’s website or social media presence.
“Look at reviews, check online business complaint sites, and try to reach out to people working for the company,” says the chief communications officer at a major job search website located in New York City.
If the company does not have a website, any presence on social media, or a single review it is most likely a scam.
Ask Questions Early and Often
If you’re invited to an in-person (or video conference) interview and are still uncertain whether or not the position is legitimate, make sure to ask the right kind of questions, so you will feel confident about taking the job.
“Learn the exact details of the job and ask a lot of detailed questions about their expectations of you,” says Foster. “Find out how you’re earning your pay and how the company makes money. If these don’t make sense, there’s probably a problem.”
A tactful way to phrase the money questions might be, “What are the company’s top revenue streams?” That way, you’re getting your answer and simultaneously showing interest in how the company operates.
Another non-imposing, smart investigative question to ask is: Where is the home office or corporate headquarters? This will help you research whether or not it actually exists!
Never Part with Any Money
Don’t forget to ask, “What type of training will I receive?” If it prompts a discussion about you, the candidate, paying for your own training, it’s most certainly a scam.
“Any [work-from-home] job that requires you pay a fee to get the job should be an immediate red flag,” says Lavelle. “Honest employers train employees on their dime. You don’t have to pay for training or any other fee such as an application fee, or a processing fee. Any job that requires you to give your bank information or credit card or financial information should be fully vetted before turning that information over to them.”
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