We’ve all seen them at some point – that work from home job advert that seems too good to be true. Maybe it offers you a way to earn thousands of pounds for reviewing products from the comfort of your sofa, or claims you can make a huge salary by filling out online surveys lazing in bed, or by doing some local mystery shopping for big rewards.
When you’re looking for work, and need to bring in money urgently, it can be all too easy to fall for one of these scams. They’re always evolving too, and given the fact that more and more businesses are coming around to the benefits of remote working, some scams are becoming increasingly hard to spot.
Having said that, there are normally a few common themes employed by all work at home scams. Once you know what to look for, they’re much more easily avoided. Here are few things to bear in mind:
1: It Sounds Too Good to be True
It might seem obvious, but this is actually one of the most reliable ways to spot any kind of scam – work-related or not. Anything that seems like you’re getting something for nothing is almost guaranteed to be dodgy.
Firstly, if it really is so good, and so easy to make money, why isn’t everyone doing it? Secondly, if it’s so popular, why are you only hearing about it now through a strange-looking email or suspiciously vague job post?
While these points are important to remember, many more recent scams will try to legitimise themselves using fake testimonials and web pages. Sometimes, these are very convincing. You can find out more about how to spot these more advanced schemes below, but always trust your gut instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, then there’s a good chance it isn’t.
2: Dodgy Contact Details
This is a dead giveaway. Ask yourself this – how many legitimate companies have you seen with an email address that reads: [email protected], or something similar? Any genuine organisation will have a proper, registered email address, and more often than not their own domain as well.
Watch out for mimic email accounts too. They’re easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. If you receive an email from am3z0n.co.ca for example, you can guarantee it’s not actually from Amazon. if you spot anything like this, metaphorical alarm sirens should start blaring.
Web addresses can be an easy to spot warning sign too. If you hover your mouse over any link, you’ll see the URL itself in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen. It’s extremely unlikely a legitimate company will have a web address/URL that reads www.ghg$”!HomeWorkeasy -$$$.sc.am. Always check the URL, even if you see a thumbnail image for a site that looks real. The URL will give the game away in most cases, regardless of how real everything else might seem.
3: They Ask for Money
Another immediate red flag. No company should ever ask you to pay for a job application. If you’re required to make any kind of financial investment for a work at home job, then it’s time to think twice. While there might be cases where you do need to purchase some equipment for yourself (a telephone headset for a remote-based customer service job for example), most of the time a legitimate company will either supply what you need, or make it very clear in the advert what equipment you need to purchase yourself. They won’t (or shouldn’t) ask you to send them money to buy any equipment for you.
You should never send money for ‘equipment’, ‘welcome packs’, or ‘training’ to anyone, whatever they’re advertising.
What you can do
If you’re still in any doubt about whether a work from home opportunity is genuine or not, there are a few simple steps you can follow to double-check.
Taking the time to do a bit of a background check on any potential employer is always a good idea, even if they’re a credible company.
Any genuine company will be fairly easy to find online, have a well-populated website, and active social media channels. If you spend a few minutes browsing a potential employer’s site, you can usually see if it’s real or not fairly quickly. Fake sites will usually have very little content, apart from a lot of fake testimonials or forms wanting your personal and banking details.
Checking whether a company is registered at Companies House is another effective option. Also, keep an eye out for scam companies operating from overseas, as these are quite common.
The golden rule here, again, is that if something doesn’t seem right about a work from home opportunity, or you’re suspicious for any reason, then trust your instincts and move on.
2: Use Trusted Sources for Job Searching
Keeping your job search to trusted job sites (like ours of course) is the best way to avoid scam work at home job posts. That said, sometimes unsavoury adverts will slip through the net on any site.
The best thing to do if you spot one is to report it immediately. Most job search engines and job boards also require employers to list their company name by an advert, which also helps to deter scam posts.
3: Don’t Give Out Your Details
Whatever you do, never give out your personal or financial information to anyone if you have even the slightest suspicion about their authenticity. Also, remember that no employer will ever ask for your financial information until you’ve been officially hired, and recruiters only ever need basic contact info to take your application to the next stage.
Anyone asking for more is probably trying to get their hands on your cash or personal information.