May 20, 2020

How can you tell if a work-from-home job is a scam?

Dear Consumer Ed:

My regular work hours have been cut back, so I’ve been looking for a work-from-home job to supplement my income. I see work-from-home jobs advertised online, but my friend says most of them are scams. How can I tell if a job posting is legitimate or not? 

Consumer Ed says:  

It can be difficult to distinguish legitimate online job offers from those placed by people who are just out to get your money, especially when it comes to work-from-home jobs. Scammers advertise jobs where real employers and job placement firms do, such as online job boards and newspapers. For every legitimate job posting out there, there are plenty designed to con you out of your money. If you fall for one of these scams you could end up paying for useless materials or certifications, discovering that your credit card was charged without your permission or getting caught up in a fake check scam.

You should always research a potential employer carefully and look out for these red flags of a scam:

  • Requests for payment. The number one sign of a work-from-home scam is that you are asked to pay money up-front – whether for certification, training materials, background and credit checks or a job recruiter fee.

  • High salary for simple tasks or minimal experience. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Requests that you deposit payments to your account and then wire money on behalf of the company. This scenario is often used as a means of laundering stolen money. By carrying out this request you could be committing theft and wire fraud.

  • Vague job description. Be suspicious of job listings that are vague or overly generic, never stating exactly who the company is, what they do and what the position entails.

Additionally, you can avoid being a victim of an online scam by doing your homework up-front:

  • Research the company.  Check with the Better Business Bureau or the FTC to find out if any complaints have been filed about a company.  Keep in mind that a lack of complaints doesn’t mean the business is legitimate. Do an Internet search with the name of the company and words like “review”, “scam” or “complaint.” 

  • Know the common scams. Envelope stuffing, rebate processing, at-home assembly work, medical billing or claims processing and refund recovery are commonly used by scammers.

  • Learn about the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule. Under this rule, companies are required to disclose key information about business opportunities they are selling, to provide references and to back up claims about how much you can earn.

Finally, as a rule of thumb, avoid offers that seem too good to be true. If you think you’ve been targeted by a job scam, you can submit a complaint to the Georgia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by calling 404-651-8600.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.


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