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3 Ways to Spot a Work-From-Home Scam


Who wouldn’t want to work from home, possibly in their pajamas, rather than deal with the stress of a commute and the inflexibility of a normal corporate schedule? Unfortunately, scammers know this, and create opportunities that are anything but. If you’re interested in telecommuting full-time, but aren’t lucky enough to have an employer who would consider a WFH arrangement, it pays to know how to spot the fakes and frauds among the genuine job listings.

(Photo Credit: Tax Credits/Flickr)

1. Do I have to pay to work?

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When you go to work for somebody else, they pay you. Not the other way around. One of the biggest red flags of work-from-home scams is the money you need to send them in order to get started. Often, workers are required to purchase kits, software, even hardware equipment from scam artists. If a legitimate company needs people to telecommute, it can supply the software necessary to get the job done.

Even if it’s just a dollar, don’t do it. One scam asks you to supply your credit card information so they can charge you one dollar for to download a “Google Success Kit.” Nothing ever downloads, and now they have your credit card information.

2. How will I be paid, and how much?

Which brings us to the next red flag: if a company claims you can make thousands of dollars per day working from home, it’s a scam. You can’t.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that Zaken Corp. must pay $25 million back to consumers who bought their package to get started on Zaken Corp.’s work from home opportunity. After initially buying into the program (remember question no. 1) consumers were inundated with advertisements to buy more things from Zaken Corp. Allegedly, less than one percent of the 110,000 consumers who bought into the program made any money at all.

Always find out how much you will be paid and how often before seriously considering a work-from-home opportunity. Some gigs may pay you on commission, others on a per-piece basis. For example, a legitimate mystery shopping opportunity may pay you to visit a customer service desk, and may pay out every other Thursday. They will not charge you money to “register,” nor will they claim you will make a few thousand dollars per day. If you ask about payment and don’t receive clear and direct answers, steer clear and avoid a scam.

3. How does the company make money?

Nobody makes $3 per envelope stuffing envelopes, because there is no need to pay anybody such amounts. No company can make enough money sending out flyers to pay a worker $3 per envelope. If it sounds crazy, it probably is.

While companies may not want to explain all of their proprietary information to you, there should be enough transparency for you to know what the company does to make money. For example, some companies sell products. If you sign up as an affiliate for any company that sells products, you will likely be paid a small commission on every product you sell. This makes sense. Legitimate mystery shopper companies are paid by the place you will mystery shop; they are paying to have their customer service evaluated, which also makes sense, but only if you don’t have to pay to work.

If they want you to pay to work, are offering riches for part-time hours, and they don’t seem to be selling anything except your starter kit, they are a scam.

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