Having worked from home now for over five years, one of the most common questions I’m asked is whether all work from home jobs are scams.
And the short answer is no.
Then, of course, there is a logical next question.
How Do I Know If the Work from Home Job is Legit or a Scam?
First, it’s important that you understand the difference between a business opportunity and a work from home job. Direct selling of products (such as make-up, essential oils, or health products of some kind). Just because it is direct sales doesn’t mean that it’s a scam. There are a lot of great companies out there that offer the opportunity for you to become involved in direct sales. You generally have to pay a start-up fee, may have to buy a certain amount of the product each month, and will also be encouraged to sign others up, too. There’s no guarantee you will ever break even or make a profit. Again, though, that doesn’t mean it is a scam. It’s a lot of work and it isn’t the right option for everyone.
What Danny and I do still involves sales (everything you do in life involves making a sale…you’re either selling yourself to get a gig or you’re providing goods or services as a result of a sale). We still don’t have a guarantee that we’ll make money. That’s just the risk of running your own business. In the beginning of my business, we did not have to really spend money to make money. I worked at the same time I built the business. So did he.
Over the last several years, I’ve been approached by probably every type of work from home job scam out there. And there are a lot of them out there. Here are my top tips for avoiding a work from home job scam.
A Person Wants to “Hire” You to Work for a Big Name Company from Home
I still see this one all over Facebook. Some random profile is asking in groups whether others are willing to let “big name company” put a sticker on their personal vehicle and they will be paid for it. Another one is some random person stating that they are hiring on behalf of “big name company” for work from home reps.
To be clear, there are some great companies (including but not limited to Apple, AmEx, United HealthCare, and Aetna) that hire people who work from home. But those are big companies with a budget to advertise and use their actual HR department to recruit and interview potential workers. They don’t use some random schmuck on social media.
They Want to Send You Money to Pull Out of Your Bank Account
I use the term “bank account” loosely. This could be PayPal, Venmo, your credit union account, or whatever. If it is a place that you can deposit and withdraw money, they’ll be after it since thoughts and prayers don’t pay the bills.
Think about this: you’ve had a traditional job or you at least know someone who has or held one. Outside of, say, buying certain work-related clothing, transportation of some kind to get to your job, or being a teacher, there is pretty much zero reason why you would pay to work. Again, though, I am not talking about a business opportunity…I am talking a work from home job. They don’t say to you, “Hey, put this money in your account, pull it out and keep part of it in cash for yourself and give the rest back to me.” Doing so could be part of money laundering. Jail isn’t nice. Not that I personally know…just what I’ve heard.
So, if anyone ever offers you any sort of work from home job, regardless of its title, and wants you to do that with money, you tell them to straight fuck off. Or just politely say no. Whichever one better matches your personality.
They Say They Need Your Bank Log-in Credentials
I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will. This is the granddaddy of red flags. Again, think about traditional jobs. Even for direct deposit, all you do is provide routing information, your bank name, and your account number. You do not give your boss the log-in for your bank account.
If someone says they need your bank log-in credentials so that they can hire you, it’s a big ole’ nope.
Email “Processing” for $25 Per Email
This one has been my pet peeve for ever. It doesn’t matter what it’s called or what person tries to hook you with it. “Earn $25 per email every day! Process four emails? That’s $100!”
Sure it sounds good…but you are the product and the service. There’s a $25 start-up fee. So, read the subheading above. Get it? You convince people to send you $25 to tell them to do exactly what you’re doing: telling people to send you $25 and an email to learn how you can “process” email.
This is not virtual assisting. This is not data entry or data processing. This is bullshit.
Legitimate Work from Home Jobs
There are legitimate work from home jobs in practically every industry. With a legit work from home job, you may be an independent contractor (or freelancer) or you may be a remote employee who works part or full time. If you’re an independent contractor or freelancer, you’re responsible for your own taxes. You may still be presented with a contract of some sort (read it carefully). If you’re an employee, the employer will handle your taxes for you.
Some of the most sought after work from home jobs include data entry, virtual assisting, call centers, freelance writing, editing, and even teaching English online. Of course, that isn’t a full list. There are lots of programmers, engineers, and even lawyers who work from home and who may also hire others who work from home.
You will likely provide your own equipment and your own software. You may still be required to attend online meetings or complete status reports. If you’re an independent contractor, you can choose your own hours. If you’re an employee, you will have certain hours scheduled.
Resources for finding legit work from home jobs are popping up everywhere. They include Upwork, Indeed.com (use the word “remote” in front of the type of job your need), good ole’ Google search (use the word “remote” or “work from home” with the name of the job; the job listings pop up toward the top), and FlexJobs. That’s not a full list, obviously. Those are just some places you can start. I always advise caution to anyone using Craigslist. Always do your research.