By Wendy Betterini
With all the work at home opportunities advertised today, it
can be difficult to pick out the true jobs from the scams.
are some tips that will help you determine whether a job is
legitimate or a scam in just minutes.
Do they charge a fee? - If so, it is a scam. A legitimate
company will not charge you to work for them. Period.
Occasionally, you will come across companies that charge for
training, but most often they will deduct the cost from your
first few paychecks. This is rare, however. Most companies
provide free training. There are also a few companies that
charge for the cost of having a background check performed on
you. Again, this is pretty rare. Home business opportunities
will often charge a start-up fee, which includes a kit
containing product samples, training information and more.
Don't confuse these opportunities with telecommute positions.
Very often they are advertised only as "work at home" -- not
telling you whether it's a job or a business opportunity. If
there is a start-up kit you need to buy, it is a business
opportunity. If there is a "fee" to begin working for them
(often called an application fee, or administrative fee), it
Is the website sloppy? - This alone doesn't always point to a
scam. I've seen some legitimate companies with horrible
websites too. However, scammer websites are usually very
sloppily put together, with tons of spelling and grammatical
errors all over the place. Not always - sometimes they do have
web design knowledge and a spell-checker. Also, are they using
a free web host like Geocities or Bravenet? (Example: If the
domain name reads XYZClerical.bravehost.com or
www.geocities.com/XYZClerical - they are using a free
web host. Owning their own domain, it would read like this:
www.XYZClerical.com) Website hosting is so affordable
nowadays, it is rare to find any legitimate companies that
would use a free web host.
Contact information - Click on the "Contact Us" (or "About
page of the website. Is there a street address and telephone
number? Or just an email address or P.O. Box? Legitimate
companies will give you their true contact information. Is the
email address from a free email provider like Yahoo or
This doesn't always mean it's a scam, sometimes companies
want to use their main address and get bombarded with resumes.
Still, use caution if you see a free email account being used,
especially if it's the only form of contact available. If a
phone number is given, call it. Do they answer with the
name like a real business? Or do you get dumped right into a
voicemail box? Again, that might not mean it's a scam by
itself, just something to consider.
Testimonials - Does the website feature testimonials? These
usually glowing reviews from people who are allegedly working
home for this company. Why would a company want to do this?
Remember this: testimonials are most often used in sales copy.
They are trying to "sell" you something if they use
testimonials. Legitimate companies will rarely use them. I
seen a couple of real companies with testimonials on their
websites, so it does happen, but not often.
Excessive income claims - "Easy work, great pay!" That's a big
red flag. No legitimate employer is going to flaunt easy work
for great pay. Instead they usually say, "Salary commensurate
with experience." Meaning, if you have experience in that
field, you will probably earn more money than someone who
doesn't. If an ad claims, "No experience necessary!" - be
There are certainly employers who will train you and don't
require experience, but if an ad is flaunting the fact that
don't need experience and will earn great money, watch out.
Especially for jobs you would expect to need experience for,
like typing or data entry. If the job is extremely simple
stuffing envelopes), ask yourself why a company would pay so
much money for someone to stuff envelopes when they could buy
machine to do it for far less money? Use common sense. Compare
the job to the income. Does it sound near what you'd earn in
your local area? (Most work at home jobs pay LESS than what
you'd earn outside the home, not more.)
Targeting particular groups - Does the ad focus on one
particular group of people like Moms, retirees or college
students? This is usually a warning sign. Why would a
legitimate employer care if their employees are moms, dads,
grandparents or anything else? The only exception I can think
of is perhaps contracts for models and actors. Obviously
sometimes agencies have a need for people with a certain look,
or from a certain age group. Otherwise, beware of any company
advertising only to Moms or other groups.
Involving your personal accounts - This is a biggie. There is
common scam going around right now that involves an overseas
company wanting you to sell products on eBay using your own
account, and accept payments from the buyers. You then
your "commission" and forward the rest of the money onto the
company and they ship the product out to the customer. Wrong.
What actually happens is the company takes the money and never
ships the products, and you are now in big trouble with eBay
for taking the money and not delivering the product. It is
incredibly easy for legitimate companies to get a merchant
account nowadays, there is no reason why they would need you
use your own account and forward the money to them. Don't fall
for it. Another similar scam is a company (or individual)
needing to send a large amount of money by check to you, they
ask you to deposit the money into your account and then
withdraw most of it (you get to keep a portion of it for your
troubles) and send it to them by Western Union or other money
transfer system. Unfortunately, the check takes a few days or
even a few weeks to bounce, and you now owe that money back to
the bank. Except you don't have it, because you already wired
it out to the person who sent you the check! Steer clear of
type of "job" that requires you to use your own accounts.
Asking for too much information - Does the application ask
personal information like your marital status, how many
children you have, your age, ethnic background, etc? Employers
have no business asking these questions. It is illegal for
to base your eligibility on these factors, and you are not
required to give this information. Also do not give your
card number, social security number or banking information to
any company unless you know they are legitimate. The company
will only need this information if they are actually hiring
you. I recommend leaving that blank when applying for jobs. If
you get hired, they should furnish you with a real tax form to
fill out, where you will supply your social security number.
(Don't just send it through email to them.) For banking
information, they only need that if you are signing up for
direct deposit, and they should give you an actual direct
deposit form to fill out and fax or mail back. They should not
need your credit card number for any reason. If they are
you through Paypal or another online payment system, you can
provide your Paypal email address to them, but do NOT give
the password! (Yes, I've actually seen a "company" requesting
that of applicants before.)
Whois Search - Go to www.whois.com and search for the
domain name (www.company.com). Who comes up as the
Registrant? The company name, or an individual? It is possible
that the website domain could be registered under the owner's
personal name instead of the company name, so this alone
doesn't mean they are a scam. Is it a private registration
can't get the details)? Again, that alone doesn't mean it's a
scam necessarily. Finally, look at the date the domain was
registered. If the website gives details about how long the
company has been in business and the domain registration
differs greatly from that, be wary. If they claim they've been
providing work at home jobs for 10 years, but upon looking up
the domain name you see they've been online for a couple of
months, that's a red flag.
Do some research - Write down the company name and the name
domain is registered under (if applicable). Go to
www.google.com and type the company name in quotations,
plus the word Scam, like this: "Company Name"+scam - see what
comes up. Any negative experiences detailed on message forums?
Do the same with the individual's name that the domain is
registered under. (Also try replacing the word "scam" with the
words, "scheme" or "fraud.") You can also search for pages
mention the company domain name, like this:
"www.companywebsite.com" - Google will return results on any
page that mentions that term. Then go to
www.BBBOnline.com - www.RipoffReport.com - and
www.ScamBusters.org and search for the company and
Ask around - If you still haven't found any negative
information (or any information at all), ask around. Visit
at home message forums and ask about the company. Use the
search function to search for the company name and
name. If it's a scam, surely someone has heard about them.
Finally, compare any work at home position with positions
available in your local area. Does the online job seem like
something you'd do in an office setting? Does the pay match
level of experience needed? Does the pay match the complexity
the job? Could a company automate the job functions rather
paying you thousands of dollars to do it? Remember that most
companies are trying to save money, not make their employees
Most importantly, listen to your gut. If something seems too
good to be true, it probably is. I hear so many people say, "I
had a bad feeling about it, but I wanted it to be true, so I
took a chance." Don't do it. If you have ANY doubts or
concerns, pay attention to them. You'll save yourself a lot of
grief later on.
About The Author: Wendy Betterini is a freelance writer, web
designer and owner of www.CreativeWorkAtHome.com, a
resource center for home business owners and telecommuters.
Visit today for information on how to make your work at home