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Check out these 12 tricks scammers use to trick you into their work at home scams
Last week I got an email asking about a mailing program. She said she’d sent her money, but hadn’t heard anything and could I help. I asked for more details and she said told me the name of the company, which she knew was in New Jersey, but couldn’t find a number to call. I hated having to write back and tell her she’d probably never see her money or the “mailing” package she’d ordered.
The week before that, I helped stop another person from depositing a fake check in a mystery shopping scam (note mystery shopping can be legit, but this one wasn’t). For everyone who contacts me, there are many others, I’m sure, who don’t and end up losing money and their dreams of working from home.
While there are things you can do if you’ve been scammed, too often, you won’t get your money back. So in this post, I wanted to cover some of the tricks scammers use to lure you in so you can avoid being conned.
1) They hijack the name of a big-name company.
Scammers know that you’ll feel good about a company you’ve heard of or can visit the website and see it’s legit, and so they’ll use the name and spoof the email of big companies. Usually this scam comes to you in email (see below) and says there are positions you should apply to. When you apply, you give your information which the scammer can then sell. Even if you don’t give your social security, these scammers can sell your other information such as email, phone number, and address.
Companies aren’t going to contact you out of the blue about a job. They don’t have to hunt down job seekers. If you get an email out of the blue about job, consider it suspect. If you’re tempted, don’t click on the link in the email, even if it looks legit. Instead search the company website in Google and then contact it that way. Often, these companies are aware they’re being spoofed and will have a message on their site. But even if they don’t, contact it through it’s website asking about the email and job. Odds are you’ll be told that it didn’t send you an email.
2) “The money is to prove you’re interested in the job.”
I don’t see this gimmick quite as much anymore, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is that scams cycle. So just because you don’t see now, doesn’t mean it’s not going to show up again. Legitimate employers NEVER ask for money as a way to show you’re really interested in a job. Legit employers ask for a resume.
3) The interview is over chat.
While many companies now use Skype to interview possible candidates, any job that wants to talk to you over chat should be suspect.
4) “The money is to cover our costs of setting up your account.”
When was the last time your boss charged you money to put you on the payroll or for paperclips? Again, legitimate employers don’t charge you money to hire you. They may require that you have specific tools or equipment for the job, but they won’t sell it to you. They’ll expect you to get it on your own. They may ask you to pay for a background check, but that’s the only thing you should ever pay for in a job search.
5) “Get the secrets…”
There really are no secrets. There might be information you don’t know yet or there might be new techniques to achieving results, but there are no secrets to success. This is a sales ploy, and while it shouldn’t send up red flags, it should cause you to research the opportunity carefully.
6) “You can get this deal today only.”
Nobody likes to miss out and scammers know it. But how many times have you walked away to have a website or car salesman offer a lower price? Further, odds are the price quoted is the standard price all the time, not just for today. It’s critical that you think about and research work-at-home options. If the guy on the other end of the phone or email doesn’t understand or support that, then he should be considered suspect.
7) “I only want to work with serious people.”
Usually you hear this as a biting remark when you say ‘no.’ I’m often surprised at how nasty sales people get when you say no. Do they think by insulting me I’m going to change my mind? “Oh please, please work with me!” I don’t think so. Anyone trying to sell you something who resorts to negative barbs when you give objections isn’t someone you want to work with.
The other side of this is when it’s used to suggest his/her time and space is limited, so only people who really, really want to be rich can be considered. This is a ploy to make you sell the program to yourself or to sell yourself to the biz op person, “Pick me, pick me…I’m serious.”
8) “Earn $$$ Guaranteed!”
Who doesn’t want guaranteed income? You can get a guaranteed income…it’s called a wage or salary. But jobs don’t use the words “guaranteed income,” even in sales. So any work-at-home option that uses the word “guarantee” with income that isn’t a wage or salary should be suspect. Offering a guarantee that can’t be backed up is against the law. Most scammers know that so odds are the process to get your money back when the guarantee doesn’t come through is really difficult.
9) Beware of “Free” especially if it asks for payment information.
While jobs are free, many programs say they’re free when what’s free is a trial period and then you’re charged. Many of these programs make it difficult to cancel and month after month you’re paying money. Does that mean every trial is bad. No. But it should be up front that it’s a free trial.
10) It’s too good to be true.
The old adage of ‘if it’s too good to be true it probably is’ has merit.
11) “We chose you…” emails.
These are the emails that say you’re hired or won money or you look like a nice person to help princess somebody get her money out of the country. The odds of you getting a job or making money from an email is so close to zero that you should delete any money-making email you get. Employers aren’t scouring the Internet looking for employees. Foreign rich people aren’t plucking your name/email off the Internet to send you money.
12) As-Seen-On TV
I’ve been on TV about work-at-home jobs a few times, and never, ever have they endorsed a specific work-at-home idea. In fact, the media tends to be skeptical of working at home, and therefore focuses on delivering information about scams. Any website you come to that advertises a job or work-at-home opportunity that indicates it was enforced on TV should be suspect. If the person from the website was on TV and it can be verified as legit, that’s different. But know that TV news and talk shows don’t endorse any specific work-at-home programs.
Here are some tips for avoiding getting tripped up by the above tactics:
1) Never pay money to get a job.
Legitimate employers never charge money to hire you. This rule is only for employment. If someone is charging money, they’re either scamming you or it’s not a job. Note: some employers are asking people to pay for background checks, but that should be the only thing you’re asked to pay for.
2) Sleep on it.
You’re more likely to avoid getting scammed or experiencing buyer’s remorse if you don’t join up right then and there.
3) Do your research.
The Internet is filled with people sharing their thoughts and experiences with work-at-home programs. Find out about complaints or even good experiences. Glassdoor has personal experiences and ratings from people. The Work At Home Success Kickstart group at Facebook has people who might be able to answer your questions.
4) Read the fine print.
Sometimes you have to search for it. Often it’s way at the bottom of the website in a tiny, nearly transparent colored font. If you’ve received paperwork, read everything before signing and sending money. Pay particular attention to refund policies.
5) Never use your personal bank account to help a company do business.
If a $3,000 check shows up in your mailbox out of the blue, tear it up or give it to the police. Never cash it. For one, if you spend it, you’ll be liable for the money when the bank finds out it’s bogus. Second, you could end up arrested for trying to cash a fake check.