Hope For Finance was created to help you take charge of your life by giving you the tools and information you need to build a successful career working from home. In amongst all our comprehensive how-to guides, it’s essential that we take a moment to tackle one of the biggest issues faced by those seeking remote work – scams.
Out for a quick and dirty buck, scammers will plant their fake ads in amongst genuine listings on job boards and social media pages. They’ll even create legitimate looking websites and send unsolicited emails with job offers. If you’ve been applying for plenty of remote working opportunities, it can be easy to mistake one of these scam emails as the real deal.
If you’re uncertain about a work from home opportunity, follow the steps in this guide to determine if it’s a scam.
Red flags of a work-from-home scam
- The pay is unusually high for the work on offer
- The job description is vague, very short, or makes the work sound ridiculously easy
- Danger combo – they’re offering pay that will make you rich for work that requires no experience
- The website is filled with gushing testimonials from people who became insta-rich from the job
- There’s a celebrity or big news service endorsing the work from home opportunity (these are almost always fake)
- You received the offer in an unsolicited email (bonus scam points if it’s not directly addressed to you)
- The job appeared in a sponsored ad or search engine ad (real recruiters don’t tend to use such an untargeted approach)
- The copy is poorly written and riddled with grammatical errors
- They’re using a generic email account (gmail, live, hotmail, yahoo, or any other free email service)
- You’re asked to provide personal details right away
- You’re asked to pay an upfront fee for applying, being trained, or literally anything (delete, delete, delete – employers pay you, not the other way around)
- You can’t find a legitimate website for the company
- The company doesn’t have a street address
- The work involves transferring money for someone (this is likely to be a money-laundering operation, so that should be a hard pass!)
- The job involves making money by recruiting other people (that’s most likely a pyramid scheme and another hard pass)
- The work involves envelope stuffing (these are usually pyramid schemes)
- You’re offered a job without having gone through a recruitment process (even for remote work, there should be interviews and skill testing)
- Your gut is telling you something is wrong (seriously – never underestimate your own instincts)
What to do if you suspect a work from home opportunity is a scam
If an opportunity you’re interested in has ticked off one (or even a few) of these red flags, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a scam. What it does mean is that, if you’re really keen on the job, you need to do some research before contacting them.
Do not provide any personal information, especially not your bank account details, before verifying that you’re dealing with a legitimate company.
To do this, start by checking the company’s website. If it’s a legitimate business, it should have a professional, secure website with copy on every page. You should be able to read about them on their “About Us” page, there should be a phone number, address, and email or submission form on their “Contact Us” page, and the design should be on par with what you’ve seen from other businesses in their industry.
From here, you want to check the legal status of the business. You can do this at the following government websites:
- North America (USA, Canada, Mexico) –the Better Business Bureau
- Australian – The Australian Business Register and ASIC
- The UK – Companies House
These sites offer varying degrees of detail. However, at the very least, the business should be registered.
If you’re not hitting any issues yet, it’s time to check out the company’s social media presence and any information that may have been shared about them on review sites.
A thriving social media presence isn’t necessarily proof that they’re legitimate (likes, comments, and reviews can be bought). Likewise, absence from social media isn’t necessarily suspect. However, these channels can offer valuable information.
Sites like Glassdoor offer insight into what it’s like to work for a company. This will tell you whether anyone has reported working for the company, and if so, what their experiences were like.
If you’re still feeling uncertain, show what you’ve found to a trusted friend or family member – a second opinion from someone who’s not emotionally invested in the outcome may reveal something you’ve been missing.
Scammers tend to use a combination of emotional triggers and pressure selling to rope you in. So, step back and get a second opinion if you feel you’re being hurried or if you’re getting too excited about the money you’re about to start making.
Scam-prevention resources for remote workers
- Keep yourself up to date with the latest scams at ConsumerFraudReporting
- Check out the Better Business Bureau’s real-time scam map
- Report scams in North America to the Federal Trade Commission
- Report scams in Australia to the ACCC’s ScamWatch
- Report scams in the UK to the Scams Action Service
- Report international scams to eConsumer
Have you had any experiences with scam job offers? Are you aware of any red flags we didn’t mention? If so, please feel free to comment below.
If you found this guide useful, please share it with your fellow freelancers so we can work together to keep each other safe from scammers.