5 Common Work-From-Home Scams (And How to Spot Them)

Updated December 13, 2022

As you search for work from home job opportunities, it's important that you make sure they are legitimate. Scammers may pose as companies or independent contractors to try to offer you fake remote jobs. By being careful, you can protect your identity, your finances and your wellbeing. In this article, we offer tips on how to tell if a work-from-home job is a scam and share common scams you may encounter.

Related: How To Find Real Work-at-Home Jobs

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What are work-from-home scams?

Work-from-home scams are when deceitful people create fake job postings to benefit themselves. They may use these as a means to steal your personal information or financial assets. As work from home jobs become more popular, scammers are starting to target this market with seemingly lucrative job offers. They may pose as a company or reputable person to get you to trust them.

Related: Work-From-Home Jobs That Pay Well

Here are several general tips for avoiding scams:

  • Do not respond to calls, text messages or emails from unknown numbers or suspicious addresses.

  • Never share sensitive personal or financial information over email, text messages or over the phone.

  • Do not click any links in a text message from a number you do not recognize. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.

  • Consider adding your number to the National Do Not Call Registry to prevent telemarketing calls.

  • If you think you've been a victim of a coronavirus scam, contact your state consumer protection office and report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.

  • File a report with local law enforcement if you have lost money or possessions due to a scam.

Please use Report a Job to flag any posting that appears fraudulent, fake, spam or misleading on indeed.com.

How to tell if a work from home job is a scam

Follow these steps to see if a remote job offer is legitimate:

  1. The job is too good to be true.

  2. There is little information on the company.

  3. A second contact cannot confirm the legitimacy of the job offer.

  4. There are warnings online.

  5. The employer is overly eager to hire.

  6. You have to pay to work.

  7. The employer communicates poorly.

1. The job is too good to be true

If you find a job offer that is unbelievable, it's likely fake. Trust your intuition if a work-from-home opportunity seems too good to be true. For example, if a company is offering an extremely high salary or incredible perks, enter the situation with a bit of skepticism. Likewise, if the company is offering you an amazing job that you aren't qualified for, this could be a sign of a scam.

Related: The Benefits of Working From Home

2. There is little information on the company

When researching a company, they should have a website and some kind of social media presence. If you can't find anything about it online, it may be time to move onto a different job application. If you do find a website, but can't figure out what kind of work they do, this is also a sign of a scam. Many scammers use vague descriptions to get a wider pool of candidates.

3. A second contact cannot confirm the legitimacy of the job offer

It's a smart idea if you can get in touch with someone else from the company. Try to find this contact information on your own, rather than asking the employer. You could ask this person to provide more information about the company. Keep in mind that many scammers work with a team, so this doesn't necessarily guarantee a job offer is legitimate.

Related: A Parent's Guide To Working From Home With Kids

4. There are warnings online

Use a search engine to look up the name of the company or employer. Search results may show you that other people have experienced this scam. If you see job boards with warnings about a company, this is often a red flag. Likewise, if there are poor online reviews about the company, this can tell you to look for a job elsewhere.

5. The employer is overly eager to hire

One major warning sign of a work from home scam is when the employer wants to urgently hire you. Most legitimate employers are busy with their own work and don't have time to respond to you right away. Real employers make candidates feel comfortable, so if a company is pressuring you to accept the job, stop responding to them.

Likewise, a good employer wants to screen candidates to find the right fit. If they are willing to hire you on the spot or require little credentials for high-level work, it's likely a scam.

6. You have to pay to work

A common scam is when employers claim that you need to invest some money into your work to get started. Employers are the ones who are supposed to pay you, not the opposite. Although, you may need to pay a subscription fee for various legitimate online job boards, so keep that in mind while searching for remote jobs.

7. The employer communicates poorly

When emailing with the employer, they should seem professional and well-spoken. If words are misspelled or punctuation is off, this is a sign of a scam. When you receive an email from an employer, make sure to look at their email address to see if it looks like other employers'.

Related: 14 Job Hunting Tips To Get the Job You Want

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Potential work from home scams

These are common work from home scams to look out for:

  • The faulty check

  • Part-time work for full-time pay

  • Requiring you to recruit others

  • Pay for training

  • Medical billing

The faulty check

Scammers use a tactic where they send you a check for way more than they owe you and then act as they made a mistake. They instruct you to send them the difference of the check before trying to cash it. After you send the check and try to cash the one they sent you, the check will bounce. This is one way they can take your money and leave you with a fake check.

Part-time work for full-time pay

Getting paid a lot to do little work sounds like a dream come true, which is why many scammers use this job tactic. They claim that you can make a ton of money in a short amount of time and pay over the market average. Legitimate employers pay you for what your work is worth.

Requiring you to recruit others

Although some multi-level marketing (MLM) companies are legitimate, there are others out there who promise you many benefits for recruiting others to work for them. Many of these companies require you to spend a lot of your own money on their products. They often focus on the maximum money you can make rather than an entry-level salary.

Pay for training

People who are looking to start their own business at home may encounter companies that claim to enhance their business skills. Their advertisements often show how their resources and lessons can help you quickly grow your business. Although there are online courses and resources to help you get started as an entrepreneur, there are also scams that promise instant sales and wealth for a large training fee.

Medical billing

Medical billing can be a great work-from-home opportunity, which is why scammers often use this job opportunity to make some money. They will often require you to buy your own equipment and promise reimbursement later on. That's why it's important to only apply to jobs that come straight from medical facilities and hospitals. Reach out to a representative before agreeing to anything.

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