Despite Yahoo! and HP’s decision to bring telecommuters back to the office, the availability of work-at-home jobs continues to increase. Nevertheless, many people are still finding it difficult to find legitimate work-at-home jobs. Scam artists have created an illusion that all one needs to do is sign up and pay a fee to have a high-paying home-based job. While millions of people work at home, millions more still lose money to work-at-home scams.
Here are 4 tips to evaluating work-at-home offers to determine if it’s a job or scam:
1. Legitimate work-at-home jobs never cost money. You never have to pay to get hired. Many scammers will tell you the money is to cover their expenses, but when have you ever been charged for paperclips or to be put on payroll in a traditional job? Never! The only expenses that are okay in getting a work-at-home job are access to a quality telecommuting database and paying for a background check. That’s it. Anything else should be suspect.
2. Avoid jobs by companies whose website is on a free webhost. Any company that can’t afford web hosting probably can’t afford to hire anyone. Websites on WordPress.com (i.e. company.wordpress.com), Blogger (i.e. company.blogspot.com), Weebly (i.e. company.weebly.com) or any other site in which the company name isn’t the main domain name should be suspect.
3. Free and commercial email accounts should raise a red flag. Commercial accounts are those such as AOL or MSN. The free accounts are Yahoo or Hotmail. The only exception is Gmail, which is used by many professional solo-preneurs who hire help for their businesses. I have also worked for a few people who had AOL accounts, although this is less and less. In those cases, I knew the businesses personally, so I knew it was legit. The use of a free or commercial account is often used by scammers and biz op promoters because they’re easy to dump. So while a commercial or free account doesn’t automatically mean it’s a scam, it should be a red flag to proceed with caution.
4. Never use your personal bank account to help a company do business. I frequently see jobs of various titles that ask you to accept “payment” or “process payments” using your bank account. In this scam, you deposit a check into your account (usually thousands of dollars), get a cashier’s check for most of the amount (you keep 10%), and send it to the “company”. Within days or weeks, the check you deposited is discovered to be bogus, and now you need to cover the thousands of dollars you sent to the “company”. Because it’s a cashier’s check, you can’t stop payment nor trace it. Further, because you deposited a fake check, you could be criminally liable.
Most people I talk to about finding a work-at-home fail to understand that work-at-home jobs are like any other job. Companies don’t pay you to sit home and stuff envelopes, assemble doo-dads, or send email. They are looking for qualified employees to fill a specific position. When searching for work, stick to job search sites, focus on your skills and experience, and remember the five rules of sniffing out the real jobs from the schemes.
For detailed instructions and over 400 resources to find work-at-home jobs, check out Work-At-Home Success University’s Get a Work-At-Home Job.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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