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How to Spot Work-From-Home Scams

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Last Updated on November 30, 2020 by Yovana

There are a lot of office triggers I can’t stand. Like the fluorescent lighting, the persistent distraction from pointless meetings and other coworkers and the whole thing about getting dressed in the morning to go there.

That last part is a joke but it’s true. I am pretty lazy. That is why I found myself ways to work from home more and even snagged a couple of 100% work-from-home jobs in the past (but working in I.T. is perfect for that).

My last job before this one was at a company that contracted with the VA and was actually a 100% remote office. Everyone who worked for them worked from all different parts of the country. The President lived in Miami, the V.P. in North Carolina, HR in Colorado, an engineer lived in Florida and Me in Missouri.

Do you know where I found that job? Indeed. That is one of the legit online job boards you can usually depend on finding good opportunities.

But not every listing on a legit online job board is actually legit. Yes, a lot on the internet is very scammy. Especially ads for work-at-home jobs and scams. They squeeze into every platform possible and if you are not careful, you might fall for one.

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Watch out for these red flags when looking for work from home jobs and opportunities. #workfromhome #workfromanywhere #workfromhomescams #workremote #makemoney #sidehustle #workonline #onlinework #jobscams

Red Flags to Look Out For

Let’s talk about what characteristics to look out for with work-at-home scams. It doesn’t matter if you want to work remote part-time as a side hustle or find a full-time remote job, you need to look out for the sleaze-balls!

The Job Posting and Description Lacks Detail

When I was surfing on Indeed for remote jobs, I was surprised to see how many jobs seemed…so empty. The company name would be either familiar or seemed legit, so I would click it thinking it was a going to be a cool gig.

Instead, I found listings that were maybe a paragraph long and vague in detail. Of course, this was a little over 3 years ago when there were less remote jobs available on job boards like Indeed and these sorts of scenarios are less common (but still do happen).

If you see vague job listings anywhere online (not just job boards) that lack detail, are generic or seem fishy in any sense – it is best to steer clear.

They Require Payment Up FrontYoung woman head down hands on head over laptop

Alright, we have all heard of a site called FlexJobs where they do require a monthly subscription to use their job board of remote and telecommuting jobs. They are the exception to the rule that you should never pay upfront for a job because they are selling their platform as the product (not the actual job).

If a work-at-home job ever requires you to pay any fees upfront in order to get started working, that’s an immediate red flag.

Don’t pay to work. Work to get paid. 

Well..that’s a loaded statement. Investing in yourself and your growth is also important.

You Can’t Find Any Information About The Company

On job boards like indeed where you surf their jobs using the “remote” location filter, you will see a rating under each company name on each listing. Pay attention to these.

Glassdoor does this too where they allow employees to rate how well it is to work for a certain company and post reviews. I love this feature as it gives us some additional insight into what might be expected from a job listing.

If a company has no reviews or any information really about it, do a quick Google search. If they have no internet presence and you can’t find anything about it otherwise, chances are they are not a legitimate employer.

Always do your research and fair vetting of the company you want to apply for a position at!

When Things Are Too Good to Be True, They Usually Are

If the position pays $100,000 a year for 20 hours a week (that can be done from home), no experience necessary, start tomorrow with no on-call and pick your own schedule, please don’t do it. That isn’t a good sign.

I have never heard of that job that you can work remote, part-time, make six figures and have no experience. It just doesn’t happen because if it did, I am pretty sure the unemployment rate in the United States would be much lower.

If you see aspects of a job listing that seem too good to be true, turn to the trusted internet once again and start doing your research. The Better Business Bureau is great for researching these.

Side note for ways to make quick cash:

  • Sign up to be either a shopper or delivery driver for Instacart and work when you want.
  • Teach English online and make up to $26 an hour working from home.
  • Complete a paid study on Toluna or Pinecone Research.
  • Rent out your car on Turo or Hyrecar.
  • Get paid for your internet usage with Nielsen.
  • Get a free $10 for signing up for Swagbucks.
  • Make money completing fitness challenges on Healthywage.
  • Play games on your phone and get paid with Mistplay.
  • Get paid for playing with cats or walking dogs on Rover.
  • Earn free gift cards with Drop.

Specific Jobs That Are Bogus

Along with looking out for specific red flags online and on job boards, there are also a couple of “work-from-home jobs” that are just completely bogus.

Medical Billing

While medical billing is actually a legitimate job, it isn’t done remotely. Medical billers usually work directly for physicians, medical facilities or insurance providers and usually required to be on site.

Envelope Stuffing

Ah, I’ve seen this one far too many times. The idea with envelope stuffing is you send in some money to receive your envelopes and whatever you are told to send out. Then you “get $2” for each envelope you mail but really you are just trying to rope others to send you $2. I don’t get it but the claims of high earnings from these opportunities are completely false.

Mystery Shopping

While some mystery shopping jobs from companies like Bestmark are totally legitimate, there are a lot out there that just aren’t. The ones that are scammy are ones you haven’t heard of, offer false certifications and ask for money to “wire”. This is when they ask you to deposit money so they can wire it back which is really a fake check scam.

How to Find Legitimate Work-From-Home Jobs

In addition to taking the tips mentioned above, the following job boards and websites are usually safe to look for work-from-home opportunities.

In addition to these, you can also contract out your skills as a freelancer using sites like Fiverr and Upwork (which are also 100% free to use and get started on). Or set up streams of passive income that can be generated from anywhere with something like a blog, course, ebook, podcast, etc.


The thing is, the internet is as shady as it is awesome. There are always going to be people out there trying to turn a trick.

If you know what to look out for and have realistic expectations when searching online for work-at-home jobs, then you will be able to avoid most of these.

However, if you find yourself in the middle of one you can take these next steps:

  • Alert all of your financial institutions.
  • Report it to the BBB Scam Tracker.
  • File a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
  • Contact the Attorney General’s office in your state to see if you are protected by any home worker laws.

If that is where you are at currently, take action immediately.

And if you are the start of your remote work job search, I wish you luck!

This post originally appeared on The Money Mix and has been republished with permission.

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3 thoughts on “How to Spot Work-From-Home Scams”

  1. Pingback: What To Do When You Can't Find a Job - My Life, I Guess

  2. Hi Daniella and Alexandra, I wanted to thank you so much for the info, good by the way, I have always wanted a work from home job, but could never find one, of course being 53 yrs old does not help who really out there would really hire a person at my age. You kinda know what I mean from my side, I know age shouldn’t have much to do with it, it should be the skill, but also when your not that tech savy and don’t know much about the internet, but Pinterest, it’s kinda hard. So thank you again for the info, You both have a wonderful day, Sincerely Carolyn Garcia.

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