7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Work-at-Home Scams

  • 01 of 08

    Protect Yourself from Scammers and Con Artists


    Knowledge is the best defense when you wade out in the modern wild west of the internet in search of home-based employment.

    So before you do, take some time to learn how to tell which opportunities are legitimate work-at-home jobs and which are work-at-home scams. The more that you call through the many job postings and ads for home-based jobs and businesses, the more scams you will encounter and a pattern of deception becomes clearer.

    This, in turn, makes the truly legitimate work-at-home jobs...MORE easier to spot. You begin to discern the tell-tale signs of a work-at-home scam, in part, because of the sameness of all their pitches.

    First Way to Avoid Scams: Next


    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Use Your Common Sense

    Use common sense
    Getty PeopleImpages

    When evaluating an opportunity, first think about the logic of it from the other side, particularly if it seems very lucrative. How would the promoters of the opportunity make money if they are paying you so much for so little work?

    Also if a company's marketing strategy is primarily based on appearing legitimate, that is likely because it is offering a work at home scam...or at the very least a poor money-making opportunity. That's why any job that promotes itself in search engine ads as...MORE a "legitimate work at home job" most likely is not legit.

    Remember if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. But scammers are sneaky so common sense by itself is not enough.

    See What Else You Need to Avoid Scams: Next


    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Keep Your Emotions in Check

    Money thoughts
    Getty/Brand New Images

    The most common way that scammers find victims is to play on people's emotions. When you want something badly, your emotions can lead you to make illogical decisions in pursuit of it. Finding a work-at-home job is not easy, so you will need patience and to keep a clear head. Be especially wary of any opportunity that tries to play on your emotions by saying you "deserve" something.

    Clear Head, Common Sense, See What Else You Need: Next


    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Do Your Homework.

    Woman with computer in kitchen

    Begin by doubting everything you see, then do your research with a clear head. Even if an opportunity looks legit, do not send money to any organization without thoroughly checking it out.  This means know where it is physically based and possibly trying to contact it via phone. Look it up on social media and do an internet search for reviews of it. It often helps to do an internet search with the name of the company and "scam," or "review." You probably have to take the results...MORE with a grain of salt but it can be a starting point.

    Keep in mind that most legitimate companies do not charge job applicants and that business opportunities are never risk-free (and some are, in fact, quite risky).

    Arm Yourself With Information: Next

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Know What a Work-at-Home Scam Looks Like

    Getty/Günay Mutlu

    While the work-at-home scammers are always coming up with new schemes, they tend to be variations on a few themes. Some of the opportunities listed below can be legitimate work-at-home jobs, but often they are not—so be very careful with any of these. And some you should always avoid.

    • Direct Sales or multilevel marketing (MLM)

    • Pyramid Schemes - Always avoid!

    • Business start-up kits

    • Anything involving cashing checks/wiring money - Always avoid!

    • Home assembly/envelope stuffing - Always avoid!

    • Becoming a...MORE product re-seller or wholesaler

    • Stock trading systems - Always avoid!

    • Directories of telecommuting jobs or businesses

    • Taking online surveys

    • Mystery shopping

    • Data entry/call centers (Some are legit but, the lure of these jobs is used to sell bogus start-up kits and other scams.)

    One tricky scam technique is to set up a whole website dedicated to revealing work at home scams but then it funnels people to the few "legitimate" work-at-home jobs, which, of course, are not legitimate. But there are so many other tricks so read on for more scam.

     Be Careful of Your Sources: Next

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Avoid Opportunities on Search Engine Advertising and in Unsolicited Emails

    Use traditional channels for job searches to find a work-at-home job, such as job boards, job search engines and newspapers.  While there is certainly no guarantee leads found in these places are always legitimate, those sent via email or found in internet ads usually are not. Always go directly to a company's employment website if you find a job opportunity in another place. Not only can you check if it's legitimate, you can learn more about the position and the company.

    Keep in mind...MORE that truly companies hiring for legitimate work home jobs, like any other employer, are looking for qualified, reliable people to do the work. Screening applicants is a time-consuming process. So those casting a wide net by using Google or search engine ads or social media advertising are not as likely to be legitimate.

    Keep Your Money in Your Own Pocket: Next

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Don't Pay for Opportunities.

    Computer and Credit Card
    Computer and Credit Card. Computer and Credit Card

    And in the real-world workplace, employers don't charge employees to work for them. And there are so many free resources like this list of legitimate work from home jobs by industry. Scams, posing as "legitimate business opportunities," will ask for money. The pitch is that businesses are expected to have start-up costs. However, true businesses are typically not simple exchanges of unskilled labor for payment, as in home assembly and envelope-stuffing schemes. And a real home...MORE business is developed over time with careful planning and research, not purchased online sight unseen.

    What to Do if Something Goes Wrong: Next

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Report Scams


    If you suspect that you have been scammed, report it immediately. Contact your bank or credit card company if you've given out financial information and report it to your state's attorney general or any number of other authorities. Read more about how to report a scam.