Some common Work-From-Home (WFH) job scams you should be aware of include reshipping job scams, MLM job scams, job placement service scams, envelope stuffing and data entry job scams.
Continue reading to learn about the most common work-from-home scams you should be aware of, the signs that point to a work-from-home job scam and how to avoid becoming a victim.
What Is a Work-From-Home Job Scam?
A work-from-home job scam is a scam that lures job seekers who only want a job they can do remotely. Typically, these job scams claim to offer amazing benefits and compensation so job seekers are more likely to fall for them. The main goal of work-from-home job scams is to steal a job seeker’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or get them to send money to the scammer. If a scammer is successful in tricking a job seeker, the job seeker is vulnerable to financial loss and having their identity stolen.
5 of the Most Common Work-From-Home Job Scams
Here are five of the most common work-from-home job scams.
Reshipping job scam
In a reshipping job scam, the job responsibilities would require you to receive, repackage and reship packages to a specific address, typically overseas. These packages are often filled with devices that you’ll sometimes be asked to test to determine if they work. Packages in reshipping scams contain items that have been purchased with stolen credit cards, meaning you essentially act as the scammer’s “mule” by sending it overseas for them.
MLM job scam
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies recruit people to sell their products and services through person-to-person sales. While some MLM jobs are legitimate, most are pyramid schemes that haven’t been caught yet, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In an MLM job scam, recruiters will lure you by making extravagant promises about how much money you’ll make if you join them. They may also emphasize that you should be recruiting new people into the MLM to make more money. In a legitimate MLM program, you should be able to make money by selling the products they offer, even if you do not recruit others. Some MLM companies also sometimes charge an upfront fee for people to participate and often ask participants to purchase excessive amounts of inventory they won’t be able to sell, meaning no profit is made.
Be cautious of jobs that are clearly MLM scams because instead of making money, you may end up losing money.
Job placement service scam
Job placement services are firms and agencies that work with companies to find candidates for job positions. While many job placement services are legitimate, some are not and are actually scams. These scams lie to job seekers and promote fake or outdated job openings. They also charge job seekers fees for using their “services.” Legitimate job placement services will never charge you a fee, they charge the company that is hiring you. So if you run into this scam while looking for a work-from-home job, avoid interacting with the recruiter.
Envelope stuffing job scams are when scammers advertise a job to stuff envelopes for a company and offer high weekly pay. Because the job sounds easy to do and supposedly pays good money, people tend to fall for this scam. The only way someone can start doing this job is if they make a one-time payment, which is usually $99-$399. When you send the payment to the scammer, you’ll eventually receive your first assignment in the mail. When you open the mail, there’s a paper saying that you won’t be stuffing envelopes as your job, your actual job is to recruit more people and make them fall for the same scam.
Data entry job scam
Data entry jobs that are illegitimate claim that you can earn a lot of money from doing very little work. When a person falls for a data entry job scam and is offered a position, they’re told they need to pay for training or share their bank account information. If a data entry job has a higher-than-average wage, you need to investigate the company further before you choose to apply.
Signs That Point to a Work-From-Home Job Scam
If you’re looking for a work-from-home job, these are the signs you need to know that point to a work-from-home job scam.
An offer that seems too good to be true
How long it takes a job seeker to find a job varies. For some, it can take several months and sometimes an entire year. This often results in job seekers looking past red flags and taking a job offer they think is exactly what they’ve been looking for. In some cases, these jobs turn out to be scams and people tend to fall for them because the job offer just seems too good to pass up. If you know a job offer seems too good to be true because the compensation is way above average, look further into the company to determine if it’s an offer you can trust.
Requests for personal information
Once you get a job offer, it’s normal for job recruiters to request that you send them personal information, but only after you’ve signed the offer. If a job recruiter is asking for personal information early on in the interview process, this should be an immediate red flag. Note that job recruiters will never ask for credit card information, so if a recruiter is asking you for this, cut off contact with them immediately.
Requests that you deposit a check or send money
No legitimate business will ever ask that you send them money to get started, so if a potential employer ever mentions this, it’s best to walk away. Check bouncing is also very common in job scams, so you have to be very careful about depositing checks. If a potential employer asks you to deposit a check but tells you to send some of the money on the check back to them once you’ve deposited it, this is a scam and you should not follow any of their instructions. Eventually, this check will bounce, so sending money to the scammer would mean you lose money.
An important part of the job interviewing process is making sure that you’re paying attention to how the recruiter is communicating with you. If they’re communicating through email and the emails they send contain errors such as misspellings, you should be cautious. Some other signs of an unprofessional email include not having an email signature at the bottom of the email. Most companies require that employees always have an email signature. These email signatures typically display the company logo.
If the recruiter reaching out to you has misspellings in their emails and no email signature, you need to be cautious about moving forward.
Company doesn’t have a website or their website looks rushed
A website can say a lot about a company. If a company’s website has spelling errors, grammatical errors, blurry images or the text on the website just doesn’t make any sense, the job position is likely a scam and the company doesn’t actually exist.
Official company websites go through various approvals, so any text on them should make sense and shouldn’t have glaring spelling or grammatical errors. If they do, research the company more in-depth before choosing to take an offer.
Lack of a proper interview process
Another sign of a scam to look out for is a lack of an interview process. For example, if there’s no interview process at all, this is an immediate red flag. Some other red flags you should be aware of during an interview process include the following:
- The interviewer doesn’t know what to answer when you ask questions about the company
- Inconsistencies when the interviewer talks about the company (e.g. they say one thing about the company and then, later on, say the complete opposite)
- The interviewer is not organized (e.g. they show up late, don’t have questions prepared)
How To Avoid Work-From-Home Job Scams
To avoid falling for a work-from-home job scam and losing money in the process, here are the steps you need to take when job searching.
Research the company or person offering the job opportunity
Before applying to a position or taking a job offer, be sure to research the company or the person who is offering the job. Look at online reviews and check to see if anyone mentions if they’ve been scammed. In addition to online reviews, you’ll also want to check the company’s social media profiles, especially their LinkedIn. If a company’s LinkedIn profile has no posts and says that it has no employees, this is an immediate red flag and you should avoid moving forward.
Never pay a potential employer who asks for money
The main goal of a job scam is to steal your money. No job will ever ask that you pay a fee to apply or require that you make any payment to them at all. If a potential employer is requiring that you send money, never send it and stop all contact with them.
Never deposit a check from a potential employer
When a job scammer sends a check, they typically require that the job seeker deposit it and send some of the money back to them or to someone else. These are faulty checks and will eventually bounce. When checks bounce and you’ve already spent the money or sent it back to the scammer, the money comes out of your balance.
If a potential employer ever instructs you to deposit a check and only keep some of it, never deposit it.
Compare the salary range to similar positions
Work-from-home job scams will typically offer a salary that is above the typical salary range for the position, which is why people tend to fall for these scams. While a higher salary sounds tempting, you must investigate how much the salary is for similar positions. If the salary being offered is not even close to the range that you’re supposed to be making, you’ll want to be cautious moving forward with the job offer.
Trust your gut
If you ever feel uncertain about going through with a job application or moving forward with a job offer because you believe the job might be a scam, don’t move forward with it, trust your gut.
Keep an Eye Out for Work-From-Home Job Scams
As the number of work-from-home jobs has increased, so has the number of work-from-home job scams. It’s important that when you’re searching for remote jobs, you’re paying close attention to possible red flags that could point to the job position being a scam. The more red flags you’re aware of, the less likely you are to fall for a work-from-home job scam.