How to Avoid Work-From-Home Job Scams

  • By David Lukic
  • Dec 16, 2020

Working from home offers you flexibility, freedom, and autonomy. It sounds like a dream come true, but for many Americans, the dream becomes a nightmare when they are conned by a work from home scam. 

More than 4 million people work remotely in legitimate positions, but the FTC says they see more than 8,000 complaints per year of victims of work from home types of scams. Only 1 out of every 55 remote job listings is legitimate. You have to be extra careful when applying for jobs online, and if they sound too good to be true, they probably are. 

How to Prevent Work From Home Scams

Work From Home Scams

If you get involved in a work from home scam, you may lose some money, but even worse, you might end up in legal trouble and be a victim of identity theft. At the very least, it will be a hassle to work with credit card companies and banks trying to recoup your losses. Always be on the lookout for these types of scams when searching for work. Some tips and red flags to be aware of are: 

  • Trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so walk away.

  • If the employer asks you to pay money upfront or fees of any kind, it is not a legitimate job position. 

  • Be extra careful of job offers you receive when you haven’t even interviewed or spoken with a real person. In this digital age, a lot of business is done through email, but at some point, before a job is offered, you should speak to a real human being.

  • Do your research and find out about the company before accepting any job. Check them out at the Better Business Bureau first.

  • If a company representative sends you correspondence from a generic email address (AOL, Gmail, etc.), it could be an indication of a scam.

  • Read the job description carefully, does it sound like marketing fluff or does it provide a detailed account of the duties?

  • If you can’t find information online about the company, stay away. 

Different Types of Work From Home Scam

These are a few common variations of the work from home scam that you should watch out for.

Medical Billing

Remote Work Scam

Although medical billing is a real profession, it is rarely outsourced to work from home individuals. Anyone offering a job which involves billing patients for medical procedures is probably a scam. If during discussions they offer to send you the software and equipment you will need, but you have to pay a fee, you are being scammed. 

Envelope Stuffing

Envelope stuffing is often a pyramid scheme in itself where you end up stuffing envelopes and sending them to other victims and getting them to pay you $2 each. Envelope stuffing jobs are almost never legitimate. 

Telemarketer or Call Center Employee

Work From Home Fraud

If you are hired as a remote telemarketer or call center employee, your profits will most likely end up in the pocket of your employer. These types of positions are often scams designed to use you for free or cheap labor.

Mystery Shopper

If a potential employer wants you to deposit a check that they send to you and then test a money transfer service that you use to send the money back to them, you have been scammed. The check you deposited was fake, and your funds are now gone.

Survey Schemes

There are legitimate cases where people are paid or given small prizes for taking surveys. However, if you are being asked to pay to take surveys, then this is a big red flag, something is not right. Pass on this one. 


Start an Internet Business 

Starting an Internet business can be a great way to make money, but if you are approached by a total stranger who wants to help set you up, all you have to do is pay a fee, you are probably being roped into a scam. 

Pyramid Schemes

Everyone knows this one; you are paid next to nothing to entice everyone you know to sign up for this same product/service/program, but even if you do, you never see the profits promised in the interview. Think Amway and walk away. 

What to Do if You Have Been a Target of Remote Work Scams

Remote Work Fraud

Scammers play on the emotions of others, and if you are desperate to find work and love the idea of working from home, you could be a victim. If you have been scammed in one of these ways, follow the steps below:

  • Contact your state consumer protection agency and report the incident.

  • If your job includes the mail service, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

  • Contact the local authorities.

  • Call your bank or credit card company to report it to fraud services and see if they can help you recoup your losses. 

  • When evaluating potential jobs, use common sense and not emotion. 

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