7 Warning Signs that a Work at Home Job Is a Scam and How to Protect Yourself


7 Warning Signs that a Work at Home Job Is a Scam and How to Protect Yourself

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Last updated February 8, 2021

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There are many legitimate work at home jobs and employers who hire remote workers. However, there are also many scam artists who prey on job seekers who want to work from home. I speak from experience.

Probably having viewed hundreds of job postings for work at home jobs at this point, I have a pretty good idea of what a genuine remote work listing looks like. After so much experience, I also know a scam when I see one. Truthfully, work at home job scammers don’t even try that hard to trick job seekers. There are a lot of clues that give them away. I want to make sure you know what to look for so that you don’t fall for their tricks.

Signs that a work at home job may not be what it seems

1. The company contacted you regarding a job for which you never applied.

While I have been personally contacted regarding open positions within a company, they were all initiated through LinkedIn and never included job offers right upfront. However, the scammers that have contacted me, did so from other lesser-known platforms and immediately “hired” me in their initial message. No genuine employer offers a job without at least finding out something about you first.

2. The listed pay rate is too high for the job being described.

In other words, the job is too good to be true. They may claim that you need little to no experience or pay every day or you can work whenever you want. Job seeker beware of claims such as these.

3. The listing claims you will make fast money and become rich.

No. Just no. There is no such thing. Run fast and far from claims like these.

4. You are being asked to pay out money before being hired.

Here are legitimate reasons you may need to spend money before starting a work home job:

  • To purchase equipment like a computer or headset for internet and/or phone service since most employers will require that you have your own tools and established service to perform the job.
  • For a background check since most employers require applicants to pay for their own. This is paid to a company other than the employer, however.

There are some employers that provide equipment for free or provide a stipend for purchasing equipment. However, they are not common. One last thing, please beware if the potential employer asks for your personal financial information such as a credit card.

5. You are being contacted from a non-company email address.

The recruiter is using a Gmail or Yahoo email or some similar free email service instead of an email address that includes the company’s name. This is a huge red flag.

6. The recruiter wants to interview you using Google Hangouts or some other similar messaging platform.

It’s easy to think that having a meeting in this manner for a virtual job is no big deal. However, I can tell you from experience that legitimate businesses that hire remote workers use platforms like Skype or Zoom for interviews. Some use Google’s more secure video platform, Google Meet, but Google Hangouts is more like Facebook Messenger or FaceTime, neither of which is commonly used in professional settings.

7. There are multiple grammatical and spelling typos in the job offer or posting.

A poorly written email or job listing is usually an indication that English is not the writer’s first language which can indicate the offer is coming from a scammer located in a different country – also common.

I have personally experienced or observed each of these scenarios more than once. Thankfully I recognized the signs and either blocked or reported the contact.

How to Protect Yourself from Work at Home Job Scams

1. Follow your intuition.

If it doesn’t feel right, ask yourself if the listing or contact fits any of the warning signs listed above. Then try the recommendations listed below to find out if you’re right to be concerned.

2. Research the company.

I always say that Google is my best friend. That sounds weird but I don’t know how I would survive without it. I can find just about any and everything I need to know about any subject with Google. With that being said, if you find that there is very little to no information to be found about a company, BEWARE.

All companies have some type of digital footprint. Even small businesses have at least a presence on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. You can also do a search of the company’s name followed by “scam” or “review” to see if anyone has reported them.

3. Contact the hiring department of that company directly if a company representative contacted you without you first applying.

Find the company’s website and call the number listed there. Some scammers use the names of legitimate businesses to post fake jobs.

I’ve personally been contacted out of the blue about a remote job and knew immediately it was a scam. However, there were a few occasions when I did a search for the company and found a legitimate business and website. I then searched their website for job or hiring information only to find a notice from the company that stated their name was being used for fake job offers.

4. Only apply to jobs posted on websites or blogs that are known to post genuine work at home job listings.

Check out my post The 13 Best Job Sites to Search for a Work at Home Job for a list of job sites with regular up-to-date postings of real remote jobs.

If you are ever unsure about a potential job offer or posting, remember the warning signs I’ve listed here and take the steps above to protect yourself from scammers.

Have you come across any work at home scams? Share your experience in the comments below!

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